Before Floyd Nicholson was Greenwood’s mayor, a state senator or a pillar of Greenwood County in education, business and politics, Nicholson was a lineman at Brewer High School from 1964 to 1967.
Nicholson’s time on the gridiron, he says, was the precursor to everything he accomplished later in life. His prowess earned him a scholarship to South Carolina State, where he played football and graduated in 1972.
“It’s a great honor, because I’ll never forget my high school days and the impact it had,” Nicholson said. “And really, that’s what opened the door for me. I was able to get a scholarship to go to South Carolina State. That just opened the door for me because otherwise I may not have been able to go to college or anything.”
Nicholson is one of nine new Greenwood High School Athletics Hall of Fame members who were inducted Friday evening in a ceremony at halftime of the Eagles’ football game against Woodmont.
The inductees spanned five decades and showcased Greenwood’s deep history in soccer, track and football.
Former football players LaVern Thrailkill, Edgar “Andre” Elam, Beau Hollingsworth and Robert Lee Hamrick were inducted. Former track standout Asia Delaney, who ran for South Carolina from 2010 to 2013, was also inducted. Longtime girls basketball coach Susan Scott Thompson was honored after her 30-year career. From Greenwood’s juggernaut soccer teams in the 1990s, Bubba Self and Charles B. Mauldin III were inducted.
Thrailkill, who played at Greenwood High 50 years ago, attended Friday’s ceremony wearing the same uniform he wore when he played center on the Emeralds’ team from 1966 to 1970.
Thrailkill said his experience playing for J.W. “Pinky” Babb stuck with him for his whole life. He wore a green hat that Babb used to wear on the sideline when he coached Greenwood to nine state titles and 336 wins.
“I’m just blessed to have Coach Babb as a coach and he helped a lot of young men throughout their lives,” Thrailkill said. “He taught me tenacity and winners never quit and quitters never win.”
Hollingsworth, who graduated in 1991, quarterbacked Greenwood’s football team and played on the 1990 state champion tennis team. He was named the Greenwood Touchdown Club’s Player of the Year in 1990.
“A lot of people always think of me as the high school quarterback, but I had a lot of fun playing high school tennis,” Hollingsworth said. “We had a close knit tennis team. We won the state championship in 1990, so tennis was a big deal.”
Elam, who graduated in 1984, played football and was a standout track athlete. Elam led the track team in points and led it to three region championships.
“Greenwood’s a great place,” Elam said. “I grew up here and sports was everything to us and the whole community, so it’s just an honor to be in. There’s a lot of great talent that came out of Greenwood, so to be selected by them, it just means a lot. Not just to me, but my family too.”
The Hall of Fame inductees and their families attended a dinner in Greenwood’s basketball gym ahead of the game. The visit back to the gym brought back memories for Susan Scott Thompson, who played for Greenwood and later coached the team for 30 years.
“The most awesome thing is I played basketball here, I coached here and now I’m at the same gym all these years later for this honor,” Thompson said. “This has been home for all these years to me, playing here and coaching here.”
Thompson won eight region titles and made the playoffs 14 times. It was more important to her, however, to take care of her players.
“When I first came here as a coach, I didn’t know a lot about what I was doing,” Thompson said. “I got involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and everything started clicking when I realized that wins and losses didn’t mean everything, it was more about developing young ladies.”
Self and Mauldin’s soccer careers coincided with the best three-year run in Greenwood’s boys soccer history. Self, who later played college soccer at Furman, graduated in 1992 and scored 22 goals as he led Greenwood to the Upstate final that year.
Mauldin, who graduated in 1994, still holds the Eagles’ career goal and assist record. He was named in 1999 as one of the Index-Journal’s top 100 sports figures of the 19th century.
“It’s a privilege and it’s a little overwhelming,” Self said. “I have a lot of good friends that are getting inducted in this class and that makes it special.”