LINVILLE — As Hall of Fame football coach Jerry Moore chatted with some old friends, first-year football coach Eliah Drinkwitz was a few feet away interacting with more Appalachian State supporters.
At one point, new men’s basketball coach Dustin Kerns posed for a picture with former coach Bobby Cremins.
With Cremins serving as the keynote speaker, the 2019 Legends Gala was another opportunity to bring together App State Athletics dignitaries from the past and present.
The sold-out event was held at Camp Yonahnoka, part of The Eseeola Lodge at Linville Golf Club, for the third straight year, with Cremins joining Mack Brown and Joe Gibbs on the list of keynote speakers.
Appalachian State alum and Yosef Club member Charley Belcher, a three-time Emmy Award-winning feature reporter for WTVT-TV, the FOX television station in Tampa Bay, Fla., served as the event emcee.
Moore, Marcus Cox (football), Larry Hand (football) and Dino Hackett (football) were among the returning legends on hand to welcome a new legends group that included Avery Hall (football), Anne Horton (field hockey), Darryl Robinson (men’s basketball player under Cremins), Gill Beck (football), Jim Jones (administrator and tennis coach), Jan Watson (field hockey), Marques Murrell (football) and A.J. Howard (football).
“It’s fun because we’re all passionate about Appalachian, and you’re around a group of folks who just really want Appalachian to be successful,” App State Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said in a statement.
Recently married, Howard returned to Boone with his wife and a popular piece of jewelry of his own — the shiny Super Bowl ring he received as a rookie member of the championship-winning New England Patriots.
It was the first Legends Gala for new App State coaches such as Drinkwitz and Kerns, who were part of a large crowd of Appalachian sports legends, current App State coaches and student-athletes and Yosef Club members. Kerns takes over a program that Cremins directed as a young head coach from 1975-81.
Cremins led App State to its first NCAA Tournament appearance during a 23-6 season in 1978-79, won three Southern Conference regular-season titles, was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year three times and went 100-70 with the Mountaineers.
That stretch began a lengthy coaching career highlighted by 579 overall wins, a Final Four appearance with Georgia Tech in 1990 to go with the Naismith College Coach of the Year Award and a gold medal from working as an assistant coach for Team USA during the 1996 Olympics.
“We’re all here because we love Appalachian State and what this school has done for us,” Cremins said. “With so many people here tonight, it’s a great opportunity for me to say thank you, and it’s a great opportunity for me to go back in time.”