A pair of ‘for’s’ highlight 8 inductees
Key words and numbers, which best describe top accomplishments from the Farragut High School Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023, have a familiar “4” sound: four consecutive state titles, 45-0 state champ, 4 X 800-meter state record, District 4-AAA champion — and most importantly, “for our country” and “for”tunate to be alive despite “for”midable challenges.
The pitching arm of Rob Catapano (Class of 2006), ex-Admirals star senior southpaw, proved to be a huge weapon for an FHS baseball team — in the rare position of being a post-season underdog — that captured the 2006 Class AAA state crown.
One of eight soon to be inducted — with FHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, April 22, in the FHS Commons — Catapano helped the Admirals win three state crowns in his four high school years. He went on to pitch collegiately at both North Carolina and Tennessee, appearing in the 2007 College World Series for the UNC Tar Heels.
All of this, however, pales in comparison to his biggest performance “for our country.”
“After I graduated (college) and moved on from baseball, I enlisted into the United States Army and served 10 years as an 11B infantryman, and recently medically retired from wounds suffered during combat operations in Afghanistan,” Catapano stated in an e-mail.
Teddi Childress Sharpton is a Class of 1980 inductee and one of four Lady Admirals 2-mile relay runners, which is today’s 4 X 800-meter relay, who hold an almost 44-year state championship record.
However, she might be fortunate to be alive — yet faced a formidable challenge for years.
“Right before I started high school, my family was living in California where my dad worked as a special investigator for the FBI,” Sharpton stated in an e-mail. “He was the lead investigator on a case where a bomb had killed two police officers.
“As dad was close to making an arrest, an undercover agent informed us that there was a hit on our family,” she added. “We were careful during the days and weeks that followed — and still there was an abduction attempt on my life.
“Somehow I was able to get away from two men who tried to grab me and throw me into a van. I was able to run back home.”
Within a few weeks “the FBI transferred our family from Santa Barbara, California, to Knoxville,” Sharpton said. “It was 1976 and it was the first year for a brand new school — Farragut High School.”
Despite the move, trauma remained inside this young teenager. “I would begin high school as a freshman, although not as a confident self-assured teenager (one who had just made it on the high school track team in California) but as the new kid in Town, and with something I didn’t even know existed — something called PTSD,” Sharpton stated.
“As a 14-year-old girl, I didn’t understand PTSD or know how to articulate its effects — I just knew I had trouble sleeping. I jumped at a sudden noise and sometimes screamed when someone came up from behind me,” she added. “What I understand now is that, with PTSD, the terror lingers long after you are no longer in danger.
“I remember being sent to the school counselor, where they asked if I was OK. Nothing really helped me — except for running.”
Catapano, Sharpton and their fellow Class of 2023 inductees will be individually recognized, with biographical information on each to be presented by emcee Erik Gerhardt (The Voice of Farragut football and basketball on WFIV-FM 105.3) before each receives an official Hall of Fame plaque from a former coach.
Three other inductees join Sharpton (also a talented cross country runner) who set that still-standing 2-mile relay record of 9:15.7 (equivalent to the 4 x 800): Betsy Baymiller Jones (track & field and cross county, Class of 1979), Denise Berry Griffin (track & field and cross country, 1979) and Judy Sexton Lett (track & field, cross country and basketball, 1981).
Other inductees are Stan Davis (basketball, 2001), who helped lead the 2000-2001 Ads to a District 4-AAA Tournament title; Justin Knox (wrestling, 2005): perfect at 45-0 as state champ in the 171-pound class — and ranked No. 7 nationally — his senior season; and Philip Pfeifer (baseball, 2011): a southpaw staff ace pitcher during most of an FHS career who, prior to a strong college career and periods of success in Minor League Baseball, helped lead his Admirals to Class AAA state championships in each of his four seasons (2008-2011).
See our special Farragut Hall of Fame section inside this week's farragutpress newspaper for more information about the ceremony and the individual inductees.