Star Athlete Didn’t Quit Life After Paralyzing Injury
Steve Streater ’ 81 led the charmed life of a high school sports hero. He didn’t have to
boast: His pitching record for Sylva-Webster in
the North Carolina mountains was 23-1 in
1977, and that was the team’s record. The
Golden Eagles were state champs, and Streater
was national high school baseball player of the
West All-Star football game and earned a foot-ball scholarship to UNC, where he was a fan
favorite for his intensity and talent.
perhaps one of the best leaders
that we’ve had in the 35-plus years that I’ve
been taking care of the Tar Heels,” Taft said.
Playing just one year of baseball at UNC,
Streater helped lead the football team to the
“He was a charismatic guy, and the team rallied around him.”
1980 ACC title, with a record of 11-1 and an
ACC record of 6-0. As a senior, he had five
interceptions, including three in the season
Streater wasn’t drafted in the NFL but was
still considered a league prospect.
Things weren’t always so comfortable for his
coach, N.C. high school legend Babe Howell,
who took heat for sending Streater to the
mound every game — you’re ruining his arm,
other coaches told him.
“If you polled the fans at our games, he was
one of the guys who excited them the most.
AL STEELE /GAA FILES
He was a good football player, but his personality was tremendous,” said former defensive
assistant coach Larry Marmie.
Later, Streater gave his energy to Students
But Streater was no ordinary athlete, and it
was football that won him his star at Carolina.
He died June 19 at age 51 after battling
complications from paralysis. The charm had a
sadly short time limit. At the wheel of his new
black-and-gold Datsun 280ZX, after signing a
free-agent contract with the Washington
Redskins in the spring of his graduation year,
he skidded on a rain-slicked road. Roommate
and teammate Tyress Bratton ’ 81 escaped with
cuts and bruises, but Streater was paralyzed
from the chest down.
Carolina running back Kelvin Bryant ’ 83 hands the football to
former teammate Steve Streater ’ 81 after scoring one of his
six touchdowns in a 56-0 victory against East Carolina in
Against Drunk Driving (although alcohol
played no part in his accident). He was hired
by the N.C. Department of Administration to
help organize a statewide SADD conference.
He became a spokesman, helped organize
chapters and became director of the state program, which expanded to colleges.
He held many jobs, including working in a
dance studio, coaching semi-pro football and
managing an auto-detailing business, but his
passion was public speaking.
In 1984, he was selected to carry the
In the accident’s aftermath, he devoted himself to rehabilitation, determined to walk again.
He did not, but he left his mark in service to
Olympic torch on its cross-county trip to start
the Los Angeles games. He carried it in his
A charter member of the Jackson County
Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993, Streater was
one of a brood of athletes. His late brother,
Jimmy, was an All-Southeastern Conference
quarterback at Tennessee. Another brother, Eric
’ 86, played wide receiver for UNC and was in
the Canadian Football League. A sister, Faith,
was a basketball standout in high school.
Taft worked with him intermittently
through the years, but the memory that stands
out to him is how Streater treated Taft’s son
Todd. Todd adored Streater for the simple reason that he wore No. 5, and Todd was 5 years
old. Streater would always make an effort to
hang out with or talk to Todd whenever he
was around the field.
Steve starred in baseball, football, basketball
and track in high school. He pitched every
inning but one that senior year; his mound
record still stands. He played in the 1977 East-
“Those were just the kinds of things he
would do,” Taft said. “He was always trying to
make everyone around him better.”
— David E. Brown ’ 75, Beth Mechum ’09
and Sally Walters
finale against Duke. He was the defensive most
valuable player in the Bluebonnet Bowl with
an interception that set up the winning touchdown against Texas.
He is the only player in ACC history to
earn all-conference honors at two positions,
safety and punter.
Dr. Tim Taft, an orthopedist who works
with UNC athletes, remembers Streater well.
“He was just an incredible athlete, and he was
Atlanta; May 18, 2009. A Web developer, Gossett
lived and worked in Washington, D.C., for 10 years.
At UNC, he belonged to the Order of the Bell Tower.
u David Ben Schauer (’ 83 BSZOO), 48, of Auburndale,
Mass.; June 7, 2009. Schauer was a professor of biological engineering and comparative medicine at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He ran a laboratory at MIT that focused on the effects of bacterial
infections. At UNC, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
’ 84 Tom Conlon (’ 84 ABJO, ’ 86 MPA) of Asheville has moved to the mountains to be the innkeeper of the 15-room Cedar
Crest Inn, built in 1891. In May, he retired from the
St. Paul, Minn., school board as the city’s longest-serving elected official. u Wilbur Spear Hemby Jr.
(’ 84 AB) of Clayton has been promoted to lead
adviser for the Platinum Select Producer Group of
PPC Financial Group LLC, a subsidiary of Pittard
Perry & Crone Inc. CPAs. u Kevin Darrow Jones (’ 84
AB) of Oak Hill, Va., represented UNC at the inauguration of Sidney A. Ribeau as president of Howard University. Jones, president of Prince Global Solutions
LLC, served on the GAA Board of Directors (1996-
99). u Donna Palmer Moffitt (’ 84, ’ 83 JD) of Kure
Beach has been recognized as a Woman of Achievement by the Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Moffitt is the director of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort
Fisher and has been named Director of the Month by
the Zoo and Aquarium Visitor Web site. u Leslie
Firman Roberts (’ 84 BSBA) of Colonial Heights, Va.,
has joined Goodman & Co., a regional public
accounting firm, as a partner in its Chester, Va.,
office. u Sally Smith Shutt (’ 84 ABJO) of Wade has
been appointed county communications manager for
Cumberland County. u Carla Earp Starr (’ 84 BSN) of
Raleigh has received the President’s Award from
Mulkey Engineers & Consultants, where she is a principal and director of administrative services. u
Kenneth Arnell Ward (’ 84, ’ 90 AB) of Washington, D.C.,
has been named executive director of College Bound
Inc. Ward has worked with the nonprofit for 12 years,
most recently as the site leader. Ward has been key
to the creation of programs such as Young Ambassadors, which takes inner-city youth to Africa annually,
and a step team and a ski club.
Joseph Alexander Shoff (’ 84 MEd), 62, of Marietta,
Ga.; May 23, 2009. Shoff worked in information technology.