PINETOPS – The SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars honored three distinguished women Monday night during the annual athletics banquet. One inductee was an athlete and the other two spent more than 20 plus years coaching for SouthWest.
All three inductees were very dedicated to the Cougars athletic program and felt very honored to be inducted into the SouthWest Hall of Fame.
Tynesha Lewis, Cindy Harrell and Roberteen Pettaway were all inducted into the Cougars hall of fame.
Lewis was inducted for her performance on the basketball court during her career at SouthWest. Lewis had an excellent career on the hardwood for the Cougars. She was named to the AP All-State team from 1995-97, a Parade All-American Honorable Mention in 97, and helped lead the Cougars to three NCHSAA regional finals, where they were runner-up in 95 and crowned state champions in 96. Lewis finished her career with 2,207 points.
She went on to play college basketball at NC State and helped lead the Wolfpack to the final four in 98. After college, Lewis was drafted by the Houston Comets in the WNBA and also played for Charlotte and Minnesota. She played seven years in the WNBA.
"It is humbling to be inducted and for the school to think of me to do something like this," Lewis said. "It is a bunch of people from this community that they could have picked to be inducted."
Lewis said coming through school she didn't think about being inducted or things like that. She just wanted to be the best she could at the sport.
"The greatest lesson I learned while in school here was to be a servant," Lewis said. "If you serve the community and great things will come back to you."
Things have come back to Lewis, because she was rewarded with the great careers in college and in the WNBA.
She is currently coaching in the Fayetteville area and has recently started the Tynesha R. Lewis Academy. The academy promotes academics, leadership, integrity and basketball skills in young women.
"North Carolina has been so good to me so I decided not to leave," Lewis said. "I am who I am, because of the people in this community – from elementary all the way through high school. So I decided hey why not give back to the community that was so good to me."
Harrell was inducted for her services to the school. She coached cheerleading for 29 years and led her team to four CANAM National Championships in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011. Her team was also the first runner-up in nationals in 2010 and second runner-up in 2007.
In 1997, Harrell was voted as a top 10 coach by the National Cheerleading Coaches Conference. She was also named conference coach of the year seven times during her career.
Harrell has also been a Nationally Certified cheerleading judge for 23 years.
She also coached softball for two years at SouthWest and four years at South Edgecombe Middle School.
"It is an honor to be inducted with a group of friends and former co-workers and athletes," Harrell said. "It is just an overwhelming feeling."
Harrell built the cheerleading program at SouthWest. Her first year as coach she had only a few young ladies on the team. Since then she has put the program on the map as a well known cheerleading program.
"We wanted to be a cheering team, but athletic as well," Harrell said. "We had students buy into that and that helped build the program up."
Harrell also said things just didn't happen over night and it took years to build, but it was all well worth it.
Pettaway was inducted for her services as the track coach at SouthWest for 24 years. She also taught for 37 years in the Edgecombe County School system.
She was named teacher of the year in 2000 and 2001.
For her dedication and services to SouthWest, the athletic program named a track award called the "Roberteen J. Pettaway Award" in her honor. The award is given anually to a female who is dedicated and gives their all to the sport of women's track.
Pettaway coached some state champions during her career as coach. Delphine Mabry won the 800 meters, Vickie Saton won the 400 meters and Darnisha Norwood won the discuss state championship.
Pettaway also coached Special Olympics for more than 20 years. In 1995 she was selected as the World Games Coach for the Special Olympics.
In 1991 Pettaway received the Jefferson Honorable Mention Award from Neighborhood Heroes.
"It is exciting, overwhelming and just an honor to be inducted," Pettaway said. "For them to think of me an honor me with this is just great."
Pettaway said she would go out to the track with her teams and run with them. She wanted to teach them the fundamentals of what they had to do to be successful.
She also said throughout her years of coaching the attitudes of the runners changed which made them so successful.
"When I first started out the athletes were really dedicated," Pettaway said. "During the later years I had some good runners, but they just weren't dedicated to the sport. They just wanted to come out and run and not practice. Running is hard."