Longtime Lakewood High School football coaches James Lewis and Telfair Simpson were honored on their retirements during the school’sathletic banquet on Thursday, where it was announced that Lewis’ legend will be immortalized with the naming of the school’s football field.
The recognitions came during the end-of-year banquet for Lakewood’s 2017-18 sports seasons.
Lewis wasn’t merely honored on his retirement, but showered with accolades. After 21 long years of dedication to Leopards athletics, Lewis was bestowed with the highest recognition a civilian can receive in North Carolina. Lewis received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, signed by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper.
Then, with emotions flowing, a banner was unveiled that showed Lakewood football stadium’s new name “James E. Lewis Field.”
“I love Lakewood High School. I’ve been around here all my life, I graduated from here and I think it’s the best school in the county. I have always been and always will be a Leopard — thank you,” said a beaming Lewis.
Students, parents, teachers and friends were in abundance to celebrate and honor Lewis, Simpson and the many others who contributed to the athletic program, notably the student athletes. The night kicked off with a good hardy meal of some classic country soul food. With bellies full, guests had the privilege of watching an inspirational video that showed the dedication of the athletes at Lakewood off the field helping out those less fortunate and in need in their community.
Special awards and acknowledgements were the first accolades presented, including the honoring of outgoing and incoming booster club members.
That was followed by highlighting and honoring the seniors that will soon depart from the proud Leopards home. During the special awards, Lakewood earned the prestige of two very big honors. The school was recognized for being chosen as the 1A school for the Commissioner’s Cup as well as the receipt of the 2017-18 Wells Fargo Cup.
Team awards were next as athletes from cheerleading, cross country, soccer, volleyball, football, bowling, basketball, indoor track, softball, baseball, golf and track & field were recognized. Many athletes were given letters, pins, service bars and all-conference rewards.
After all those big announcements, the rest of the team awards ceremony went by with many more athletes being honored. With the last on the awards being given out, Athletic Director Darren Hulen shared some closing words for the guests.
“I just really want to thank the parents. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you,” he said. “Please continue to support these kids and remember to always keep your Leopards pride.”
Reach Michael Hardison at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.