When I first heard back from basketball star Charlotte Smith about doing a program at the library I noticed a message at the bottom of her note, “Your outlook will determine the outcome!” Elon University women’s basketball Head Coach Charlotte Smith spoke at the Iredell County Public Library as part of our Smithsonian Institute “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” exhibit on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. That same evening at 7 p.m. Iredell County educator and historian Phyllis Bailey held a panel discussion on “Sports in Iredell’s Black High Schools: Morningside, Unity, and Dunbar.” The library received the Smithsonian exhibit through a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council which is sponsoring the exhibit in N.C. and providing speakers for the hosts.
Charlotte Smith was born in Shelby, N.C. and excelled playing high school basketball at Shelby High School in Cleveland County. After graduating she attended UNC-Chapel Hill where she was ACC women’s basketball Rookie of the Year as a freshman Tar Heel. In 1994 Charlotte hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer under Carolina Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell to win the NCAA Women’s Division I Championship. She was named the Most Outstanding Player and tied an NCAA Tournament record with 23 rebounds in the game. ESPN named her National College Player of the Year in 1995 and she became only the second female college basketball player in history to dunk during a game on Dec. 4, 1994.
Charlotte graduated from UNC with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology Charlotte Smith and went on to play several years of professional basketball including six seasons with the Charlotte Sting in the WNBA. Following her professional career Charlotte coached as an assistant for the UNC-Tar Heels women’s basketball team before being named head women’s basketball coach at Elon University on June 22, 2011. If you are a basketball fan or especially a student playing basketball Charlotte Smith is someone you want to meet.
Iredell County has had over 20 high schools over the years. Most were consolidated over the years and disappeared. Iredell at one time had three black high schools, Morningside, Unity, and Dunbar. Morningside was in Statesville, Unity was the Iredell County school, and Dunbar was the black high school in Mooresville. These high schools ended in 1969 when all Iredell County schools became integrated. Phyllis Bailey’s program Tuesday evening will include a history of Iredell County’s black high schools along with photographs and information on their sports teams. Former students at Morningside, Unity, and Dunbar are invited to bring their own photographs, memorabilia, and memories to share with the audience.
As part of the Smithsonian Institute’s Hometown Teams sports exhibit the Iredell County Public Library has set up displays with photographs of Iredell County sports history. Steve Hill with the Statesville Historical Collection in the old Gordon’s Furniture building on Center St. has loaned us Iredell County memorabilia, photographs, and sports uniforms for display. The library is hosting sports programs each week during the exhibit with the Friends of the Iredell County Library providing refreshments and money for exhibit costs.
This article appeared in the Statesville Record and Landmark as “Tar Heels icon to speak Tuesday at library” on Nov. 16, 2015