Newspaper archives hold the historical key

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 8/9/19

I’ve always fancied myself a Chatham County historian of sorts when it comes to the sports history of our area.

Over the weekend I felt like I was doused with a bucket of cold-watered …

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Newspaper archives hold the historical key

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I’ve always fancied myself a Chatham County historian of sorts when it comes to the sports history of our area.

Over the weekend I felt like I was doused with a bucket of cold-watered reality.

I say that because I had the pleasure of meeting the famous Himi Headen and his wife, Jaqueline, a wonderful couple who look as if they should be walking down a Red Carpet aisle in Hollywood.

Born and raised in Siler City, I had always heard of Himi Headen, but I never remembered meeting him, and more disappointingly on my end, I failed to try to find out more about his athletic prowess. In our almost 30-minute discussion, we talked families, friends, sports, work, and Siler City, but little about him specifically as far as the athletic circles go. Fortunately, his wife Jaqueline filled me in some about her humble husband, and how he was the Athlete of the Year in 1969, the final year of Chatham High School. A three-sport star, Headen, at the age of 70, still looks like he could suit up and do some damage today. Headen played football and basketball, and ran track for the Rams.

As I was lying in bed Sunday night thinking of all the work that lay ahead on Monday, it dawned on me that I may not be the sports historian that I felt I was.

Sure, you get into the 1970s, I know quite a bit, especially the famous points such as Jerry Siler, Northwood’s famed Green Machine defense, Chatham Central winning the 1976 state title in baseball behind Mike Brewer, the plethora of talented basketball players that came through in the mid to late 70s such as Mike and Sherman Bowden, Chuck Snipes, Tony Hayes, Angelita Horton and Kelly Marshall to name a few, and the 1979 Jordan-Matthews football team, still the MMFOE, and regarded as the top gridiron team ever in Chatham County..

It continues into my era of the 80s with teammates Robert Siler and George Edwards in football, two-sport Northwood stars Kenny Alston and Amp Craven, and Adina Kidd and Tracy Burnett leading the Chatham Central girls to the 1986 1A State Title in Basketball. I could go on and on about the players, teams, coaches, and all the titles and success during the 1970’s through the present time.

But that’s just it — during my time.

I think back to some interesting conversations I’ve had about sports in Chatham County through the years with the likes of Ronald Scott, Ronald Horton, John Phillips, David Hart, and the late Parker Price, among others, and I realize I’ve missed out by not dedicating more time to learning more in the years preceding my time.

The Himi Headens of our county should be remembered, honored and talked about more, and those stories passed down to younger generations.

The most disappointing fact staring me in the face is that I have all these historical archives here right in front of me at the Chatham News + Record, at my disposal, to read and learn more at any time.

Don’t get me wrong, I have done my share of research and could spend hours and hours reading the back issues; its an incredible experience doing so and provides one with a wealth of knowledge about our history. But the everyday rigors of life often take over and you put off for tomorrow what you could easily set aside a small amount of time for each day.

As a sports editor in Chatham County I owe it to the readers to learn more and discuss more about all of our rich past athletic history, and I plan to do just that.

I think as a community and county we should all take the time to do so to make sure the generations after us understand the rich athletic tradition of players and teams that they are now representing.


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