Rugg finds path to hall of fame in coaching, teaching|[3/31/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2005

This is the seventh in a series profiling the inductees

By the time he was 20, Charlie Rugg was washed up and trying to find his purpose in life.

His lively arm was supposed to carry him to the major leagues and, maybe one day, Cooperstown. Instead, a bad back derailed a pro baseball career and Rugg seemed destined to be just another great “what if?” story handed down on dusty southern baseball fields.

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After a few years of doubting, however, Rugg changed his destiny. He picked up the pieces of his shattered dreams and forged a new career in coaching that satisfied his competitive nature and influenced a generation of young men.

Now, more than a half-century after one hall of fame dream ended, another is being fulfilled. On Friday, the longtime tennis and basketball coach at Belhaven College will be inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

“This kind of made it complete. Local, state and national,” said Rugg, who was inducted to the Belhaven College Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 and the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1996. “It’s just a great honor. I said in my little speech that it’s the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a person. It’s real nice.”