Inducted May 25, 2023





Played center on the Valdese High School Basketball Team
First Champions of Burke County Basketball League
A teammate on the 1927-28 Valdese High School basketball team had this to say:
    “We had a one-armed boy who was our center. He was really good. His name was Wayne Owens, and he could do about anything. He was just as good as anyone with two arms.”
Began work at the new Valdese Community Center
First director of gymnasium activities

Director of Sports and Youth Activities at Valdese Community Center
Coached Little League Baseball
Coached Adult Men’s Basketball Team
Coached Women’s Softball Team
Coached Youth Flag Football Team
Coached girls and boys “Biddy Basketball” Teams
Conducted and oversaw other youth activities and sports for all ages

Established Youth Biddy Basketball Leagues
Wayne was instrumental in the innovative approach of installing 8’ basketball goals, introducing the use of a smaller ball and with the assistance of local civic organizations formed after school, “Biddy Basketball” leagues for the youth of Valdese. At one time he was responsible for 16 teams. The smaller ball and lower goal height, revolutionary at the time, made it easier for the young people to learn the fundamentals of dribbling and shooting the basketball as he taught a generation of young Valdese athletes to play the game. In so doing, Wayne indirectly influenced the fine basketball teams at Valdese High School. Many of his former “Biddy Basketball” boys and girls went on to become All Conference, All Burke County and All State performers.

Coach of Boys Biddy Basketball North Carolina State Champions
Coach of Boys Biddy Basketball North Carolina State Champions

Wayne Owens lost his left arm in a grist mill accident at the age of eleven, went on to be a standout basketball and baseball player for Valdese High School. As a newlywed, turned down a contract to play professionally with the One-Armed Wonders, a national, traveling baseball team. Handpicked by one of the founding families to join the staff of the Valdese Community Center (Francis Garrou Memorial Hall) upon completion of construction, and became a tremendous friend, leader and champion for Valdese athletes and the Valdese Recreation Department. Once called the “Pied Piper of Valdese”. When he spoke, Valdese youth listened and followed. Considered the grandfather of the Valdese Recreation Department through his efforts at the Valdese Community Center from its very beginnings in 1939 until his death in 1973. Wayne was an iconic figure to those who grew up in Valdese in that era. One of the most influential people in the history of basketball in the Valdese Community as he taught, coached, mentored, and otherwise influenced a generation of Valdese athletes. Known as a Valdese legend, the renovated gymnasium at the Valdese Community Center is named in his honor.