5 get the call for Northwood Athletics Hall of Fame

Posted 9/27/19

The 2019 class of the Northwood High School Athletics Hall of Fame, inducted Friday, includes Ronald Brooks, Kathryn Dispennette, Bill Hall, Tobias Palmer and Will Shambley.

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5 get the call for Northwood Athletics Hall of Fame

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PITTSBORO — The Northwood High School Athletics Hall of Fame will gain five members prior to the Chargers’ football game against Cedar Ridge High School at 7 p.m. Friday.

The 2019 class includes Ronald Brooks, Kathryn Dispennette, Bill Hall, Tobias Palmer and Will Shambley.

Brooks was a standout offensive tackle for Northwood, distinguishing himself as an all-conference performer for two years, all-county for two years and all-state during his senior season.

Also a star on the baseball diamond as a third-baseman for Northwood’s baseball squad, Brooks made the all-conference team for three years, all-county for three years and was the conference player of the year in 1977.

“I took great pride in wearing the green and gold,” Brooks said. “I wanted to represent my school, town and community to the best of my ability. Northwood athletics taught me toughness and to compete with great intensity in everything I do. I was also very fortunate to have great men as coaches in my life. Coach Horton, Coach Tilley, Coach Arthur and Coach Shaw were all great men that had a positive effect in my life.”

Brooks graduated from Northwood in 1977 and matriculated to what would become Chowan University. The school was a junior college when Brooks was there playing both football and baseball. At Chowan, Brooks was all-Region 10 in football and participated in the North/South Region 10 All-Star Game in 1979.

In baseball, he was Chowan’s most valuable player and made the all-region team.

Brooks moved on to Campbell University, emerging during his senior season in 1981 as the baseball team’s most valuable player. He finished his career with a .375 batting average.

In 2016, Brooks earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Bethel Bible College.

The former Northwood star has coached the junior varsity baseball team at Northwood and for two seasons was the assistant coach for the varsity baseball team. He spent 12 years coordinating the football team’s offense and coaching its offensive linemen.

Brooks, a dispatcher for Pilgrim’s Pride in Sanford, said he plans to continue serving his community, which could include establishing his own ministry in the near future.

Dispennette was a standout for Northwood in soccer, cross country and both the indoor and outdoor track teams. Her Northwood records in the 5K, 3,200-meter and 1,600-meter races still stand and she was all-state in cross country in 2007 and was the indoor track state-champion in the 3,200-meter run in 2009.

After graduating from Northwood in 2009, Dispennette matriculated to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she was an Academic All-American in cross country and both outdoor and indoor track.

In 2013, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and also earned one in psychology. Dispennette earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from Western Kentucky University in 2018 and is pursuing a doctorate in that field of study from Ohio State University.

“Northwood athletics has opened many doors for me, specifically allowing me to run cross country and track at UNCW, where I then discovered my love for academia and research,” Dispennette said. “Being on a team every year in high school gave me the dedication, confidence and teamwork skills needed to succeed in life.”

Bill Hall won more games as Northwood’s head football coach than anyone in school history with a 114-64 career.

“For 14-plus years, not a day went by where I didn’t take the time to think and write down what I could do to make the Charger football program better,” Hall said. “Northwood football was my life. I was consumed with it. To this day, the Charger football program means the world to me.”

He served Northwood’s director of athletics for eight years, coached the varsity football team for 28 years, coached the softball team for two years, coached the girls basketball team for two years and coached the golf team for a year.

But the football field is where Hall set himself apart. The Southern Pines native was one of the most successful head football coaches in the history of Chatham County. He said his teams never lost in overtime or in the rain because he regularly had his guys practice for those situations.

Hall’s Chargers won three conference championships and for five consecutive seasons made it to the third round of the state playoffs while his players competed in the Shrine Bowl and the NCCA East-West All-Star Game.

A 1988 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Hall was selected to coach with the NCCA West staff in 2016 and prided himself on positioning his student-athletes to play college sports and earn degrees.

In 2006, Palmer set Northwood records with 35 total touchdowns including 28 rushing touchdowns. In 2005, he had 503 all-purpose yards against Carrboro High School, is Northwood’s career rushing leader with 4,708 yards and 82 touchdowns — 70 of those scores on the ground.

Palmer also excelled in track and field, in 2006 legging it out for a state championship in the 100-meter dash.

“Northwood athletics was a start to create my platform and gaining a positive image of myself, family and friends,” said Palmer, who in 2019 returned to Northwood as an educator and assistant football coach. “Northwood made an impact on my life to continue to strive and go get what I want in life.”

Following his career at Northwood, Palmer played football under head coach Tom O’Brien at North Carolina State University, where he set a single-game Atlantic Coast Conference record with 496 all-purpose yards against Clemson. That mark ranks third in the NCAA. Palmer also is the second all-time leading kick returner in the NCAA and is first in the ACC with 1,396 return yards.

Palmer would graduate from N.C. State and sign as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also had stints with the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers. His last season of professional football was with the Birmingham Iron in the Alliance of American Football.

Shambley is a 1993 Northwood graduate who distinguished himself as a state champion in wrestling. During his senior season, he emerged as state champ with a 34-0 record in the 189-pound weight class. For his career Shambley was 97-22.

Shambley said Northwood coach Darrel Bradshaw was influential in his development.

“Coach Bradshaw went above and beyond the call of a teacher or coach,” he said. “He drove us all over the state and spent countless hours and used his own gas to take us to camps. I credit him with instilling the values that enabled me to succeed at Northwood, Penn and life.”

Shambley’s hard work and dedication both on the mat and in the classroom landed him an opportunity at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrestled four seasons in the Ivy League, even grappling as a heavyweight for the Quakers, before graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering.


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