GASTONIA, N.C. --- North Carolina head women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell was honored with "A Tribute To Our Hometown Hero" Thursday night at the Gastonia Conference Center Thursday night. The event, which included a roast of Coach Hatchell by friends and family, featured Hatchell receiving the key to the city of Gastonia and The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of North Carolina's top civilian honors.
Speakers included former Carolina radio voice and Carolina Panthers play-by-play announcer Mick Mixon, Gastonia councilman Dr. Dave Kirlin, Gastonia mayor John Bridgeman, Gaston County Commissioner Chad Brown, former state senator Marshall Rauch and former Hunter Huss High School coach and administrator Don Saine.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is an honor conferred by Governor Pat McCrory and recognizes North Carolinians who have provided exceptional service to the state and have excelled professionally. It empowers recipients to propose the following North Carolina toast in select company anywhere in the free world:
"Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here's to "Down Home," the Old North State."