Special to Iredell Free News

The Iredell County Sports Hall of Fame announced its latest class of inductees on Thursday.

The 2024 class includes five highly honored athletes during their Iredell County careers but the accomplishments after they moved on to the next stages of their lives and careers are especially noteworthy.

The new inductees, announced by Executive Director Steve Rankin and selection committee chairman Kenny Miller are:

♦ Josh Ladowski;
♦ Matt Matheny:
♦ Jimmy Popp:
♦ Amy Cartner Rogers; and
♦ Keith Walker

Retired Mooresville Police Captain Frank Owens will be recognized as recipient of the annual Harold Johnson Community Partner Award.

The annual induction banquet is scheduled for May 20 at the Statesville Civic Center at 6 p.m.

Josh Lawdowski played quarterback at Lake Norman High School from 2010-2014, and delivered eye-popping statistics. He set a state record for total offense of 5,647 yards in 2014. Ladowski is sixth all-time in North Carolina high school history with 155 career TDs and fourth all-time in total yards from scrimmage with 13,361. Ladowski also played baseball at LNHS, and took those talents to the University of North Carolina to play for the Tar Heels. An accident during his freshman year that damaged a vertebra in his back cut his college career short.

Matt Matheny, who played quarterback at North Iredell High School, led the Raiders to their lone 10-0 football regular season and would later move on to an ongoing successful college basketball coaching career. A 1988 graduate of North Iredell, Matheny was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, tennis) for the Raiders. He was a three-time all-conference performer on the tennis courts. During his college days, he lettered four years as a quarterback and wide receiver for Davidson College’s football team and two years as a point guard for the men’s basketball squad before graduating in 1993. Following a brief pro football career in Germany, Matheny returned to his alma mater as an assistant basketball coach under legendary head coach Bob McKillop. After a 10-year (1993-2003) stint as an assistant coach, he was promoted to associate head coach in 2003. In 2009, Matheny was named the head men’s basketball coach at Elon University, where he remains the winningest Division I head coach for the Phoenix. Matheny returned to Davidson in May of 2022 for his second stint on the men’s basketball staff.

Jimmy Popp was a 1983 graduate of Mooresville High School where he won 11 letters in four sports (football, basketball, baseball, golf). He was all conference in all four sports at one point and as a high school senior won team MVP honors in football, basketball and baseball. Popp earned athletic scholarships in football and baseball to attend Michigan State, but an injury curtailed his playing career but not his ability for continued success in the field of athletics. He became a successful coach at the college level with stints at the Citadel, North Carolina, Alabama State and UNC-Charlotte. The true success for Popp came as a general manager for 21 seasons in the Canadian Football League, directing three different franchises to five Grey Cup titles, three of those with the Montreal Alouettes. Popp was most recently a Vice President of the USFL.

Amy Cartner Rogers was a1984 graduate of North Iredell High. She played on the team that won the first state girls basketball championship for the Lady Raiders at the end of the 1983-84 season. Rogers was named conference player of the year and followed that up by claiming the Associated Press 3-A girls basketball player of the year. She was also named to the West squad in the annual East-West All-Star Classic. Rogers played volleyball for four seasons and was team captain in 1983 as a senior. She also was on the track team and softball teams as a North Iredell student. She was the Valedictorian for the North Iredell Class of 1984. Rogers skills and accomplishments earned her a scholarship to Wake Forest University. She was a successful player for the Lady Deacons and was a GTE Academic All-American selection and led the Lady Deacons to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

Keith Walker has had a lifetime of achievement playing and coaching basketball. It started with a record-setting career at Statesville High from 1975 to 1977. He averaged 23.7 points as a junior and 28.3 as a senior and also averaged over 10 rebounds per game both seasons. In 1978 he played for Mitchell College and was the highest-scoring junior college player in the nation at 33.6 points per game. He was named team MVP, all-conference and all-region in the juco ranks. Walker left Mitchell for Clemson from 1979-81 and was a co-captain for the Tigers. He continued as a player overseas, performing for teams in Turkey, Belgium, Italy and France. His first coaching stint was at Indiana University in Pennsylvania from 1987-1993 as an assistant. He was head coach at Shaw University from 1993-2000. He moved to Delaware State from 2000-2018 and served as head coach from 2014-2018. Most recently he was head coach at Allen University in Columbia, S.C., from 2021-23.

Community Partner Service Award 

Frank Owens served as athletic director for Gresham-Baker American Legion Post 66 and its baseball program for over 30 years. Owens has been an ardent booster of many sports and athletes at many schools for over 50 years. He served as score keeper and compatriot to many youth athletes and teams in the county for years. In 1996 he was named to the North Carolina American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame and in 2009 was presented the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine honor by Gov. Bev Perdue.


Tickets for this year’s banquet are $50 per person and include a buffet-style meal. For tickets email srossrankin@yahoo.com. Tickets are limited so early reservations are encouraged.


The Hall of Fame committee is already accepting candidates for the class of 2025. Visit iredellsportshalloffame.org to download the nomination form.