Apex unveils its second hall of fame class
On Friday night, Oct. 20, Apex High School announced the second class for the induction into the Apex High School and Apex Consolidated High School Athletic Hall of Fame during halftime of Apex’s home football game against Middle Creek. Even with the switch to the Green Level facility temporarily, and demolition taking place at the Laura Duncan Road location, administration continues to celebrate these individuals who represent Apex High School’s rich history. These former Cougars have not only excelled in athletics as coaches and players but have also contributed to the success and reputation for which Apex High School is so greatly known.
With so much athletic success here at Apex, the induction and nomination process is a challenge. Any person tied to Apex High School athletics can be nominated by anyone, but the HOF committee must narrow down the list. Those who are inducted are accomplished in athletics in some way at Apex and are usually associated with multiple sports. Those who have left the greatest legacy or mark on Apex High School will have an advantage.
I had the chance to sit down and talk to some inductees, get a closer look into their accomplishments at Apex, and ask them a few questions.
In what ways did Apex High School prepare you for the future and affect your life?
“Apex was just such a great place. Everyone here was so welcoming and kind, and the community at this school was unlike any other I had been to. I arrived at Apex after serving in the Vietnam War, and to me this place felt like home. I also learned a lot from my students and players too.”-Robert Matthews
“One of the biggest lessons I learned while at Apex was to be confident no matter what you do. Coach Cooper instilled a sense of confidence in me as freshman, and his coaching shaped me into the runner and person I later came to be.”-Douglas Noreen
What does being inducted into the HOF mean to you?
“It truly is an honor. It means a lot to me to be recognized for my accomplishments at a place I love so much, and I am very thankful for this school in many ways.”-Phil Howard
Information on the 2017 Inductees:
Rex Hawley: As one of the greatest athletes in Apex history, Hawley lettered in four varsity sports, playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track & field for the cougars. On the gridiron, Hawley rushed for over 1,000 yards in his junior and senior seasons and led the team in interceptions during those seasons too. On the baseball diamond, he batted .585 as a senior, set the state record for stolen bases with 41, and was named the Wake County 3A Baseball Player of the Year. On the court, Hawley played starting forward and helped lead the Cougars to the state playoffs his senior season. Graduating in 1985, Hawley went on to play football at the University of Richmond while leaving a legacy unlike any on Apex High School.
Phillip James Howard: As a three-sport letterman in soccer, outdoor track and field, and cross country, Howard graduated in 1985 known most for his soccer ability. Howard was selected to the all-conference, all metro, and all region soccer teams three times during his high school career. His leadership and skills helped transform Apex from a small program into a regional and state powerhouse. Howard earned Apex High School’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1983 and served for three years as an assistant coach for Apex soccer after graduating. Outside of Apex High School, Howardhas served our community for twenty-eight years in law enforcement as a police officer and detective for Raleigh, Cary, and Morrisville Police Departments.
Douglas Noreen: Also a multisport athlete, Noreen competed in six sports while at Apex: cross country, basketball, swimming, golf, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field. During his junior and senior years, he earned six all conference awards, two each in cross country, swimming, and outdoor track and field, but Noreen was most known for his running. He ran his way into the record books in his senior season of 2002-2003, by earning Runner of the Year honors for winning the conference cross country meet in the fall and by winning conference titles in the 800-, 1600-, and 3200-meter races in the spring. He even went on to win the state championship in the 800 meters that spring and finished seventh nationally. Noreen went on to run competitively at Davidson College where he earned seven all conference awards. He continues to serve his community as a partner in the Howard Stallings Law Firm and through his work in several charitable foundations.
Mr. Bill Booth: Graduating in 1952, Booth was a two-sport letterman in basketball and baseball. He earned all conference in basketball during his senior season and later attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after graduating. At UNC, Booth joined the indoor and outdoor track and field teams and ran on the ACC champion mile relay team in both the indoor and outdoor conference meets. After earning his Bachelor’s degree, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy. But most importantly, Booth became the first president of the Apex High School Cougar Club and supporter of all athletics at Apex High.
Robert G. Matthews: During his time at Apex High, Matthews was a social studies teacher and baseball and soccer coach for the cougars. He quickly made his mark at Apex as both a teacher and coach, and built the soccer program into a juggernaut. He led the Cougars to four conference titles, was named Coach of the Year four times, coached the baseball team until 1988, and had a 110-60 career record in two sports at Apex. Matthews was an accomplished teacher too and received numerous teaching awards throughout his tenure at Apex.
Mr. Bob Wolfe: As arguably Apex’s most accomplished football coach ever, Wolfe led the Cougars on a run of great success. During his time Apex won 104 games and two conference championships. Wolfe also led the squad on a run of eleven straight winning seasons, making the playoffs ten of those seasons. He was recognized twice as the conference Coach of the Year and was even selected to coach in the N.C. East-West All Star game in 1999. Wolfe was also known as an excellent mathematics teacher at Apex as well.