SPORTS HALL OF FAME
Please note that member bios are not visible on phones or tablets.
Robert "Bob" Hanson
The “Editor” as so many knew this man of sports. Bob was truly a friend of the athlete. Having been one of Rome High School’s greatest athletes in the ‘20’s, Bob knew the price the athlete had to pay to play the game, whether it is football, baseball, or what have you.
Bob had been an athlete who scored as many as 214 basketball points in a year when the basketball game was a game of low scoring points. Bob’s magic toe won many a football game for Rome High School and he did it the hard way with a drop kick. In one season when Rome High won the Northwest Georgia Football Championship, Hanson defeated Darlington 10-7 with a drop kick field goal, and previously unbeaten Anniston 6-0 with two drop kick field goals.
Bob earned his letter as a freshman at the University of Georgia and then had to drop out of college because of unforeseen circumstance. His love for sports and the athlete led him into the Sports Writing field and here his fame grew. His coverage of all sports in this area was job that most men would not have undertaken. His closeness to every athletic contest and his knowledge of every sport brought the reader in this area the most complete coverage in the state. His sports coverage brought honor to his newspaper, the Rome News Tribune and Bob’s planning played a major part in the development of the sports section.
The familiar cigarette hanging from his lip and the pencil at his ear became as much as a part of the contest as the participants themselves.
His “Hi Pal” on the phone or on the field of play and was always welcomed by coaches, officials and other men of the sport writing and sports broadcasting field. In later years when Bob was not too well, he always had time to step in and help with covering and reporting athletic events.
John Maddox, Sr.
Athlete, gentleman, good citizen, friend of the community in which he lived, John Maddox, Sr. filled these qualities as best a man can in a lifetime.
To quote the Atlanta Constitution, 1930, “Weather conditions there (Birmingham) were abominable, a slashing, driving rain had been falling all day and the track was, to use the old reliable phrase, a sea of mud.” “Maddox was figured to run well behind the highly touted DeColigny of Tulane, but the scrappy Rome, Ga., boy rose to the greatest height of his career. As the race was being run, the rain reached its maximum intensity and I am told that spectators could hardly descry the hurdlers. Hurdling called for such precision of step at sprinting speed that Maddox’s feat must be ranked one of the finest performances in Southern Athletic history.” (The above article was published after John Maddox, Sr. set a new record for the 220 yard low hurdles, 24.7.) This was John Maddox, Sr. always at his best when the situation was toughest.
(Below a look at Maddox’s college track highlights.)
- 1929: Southern Conference Meet-3rd in 220 yd. low hurdles and 3rd in 120 yd. high hurdles 10th Annual Invitational State Championship Meet-3rd in 120 yd. high hurdles.
- 1930: Southern Conference Indoor Meet-1st in 60 yd high hurdles. Southern Conference Meet-2nd in 120 yd high hurdles and 1st in 220 yd. low hurdles (new record) Southeastern Association AAU Championships- 2nd in 120 yd high hurdles and 1st in 220 yd high hurdles. 11th Annual Invitational State Meet-1st in 120 yd high hurdles, 1st in 220 yd low hurdles, and 1st in 100 yd dash. He was captain of the University of Georgia track team in 1930.
- 1931: Southern Conference Indoor Meet-2nd in 70 yd high hurdles. Southern Association AAU-2nd in 120 yd high hurdles. He graduated 1931 Magna Cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
- 1932: Track Coach and Teacher at Darlington School. District Olympic Tryouts-2nd in 110 meter high hurdles (held in Memphis, TN.)
- 1933: Entered Emory Law School on Athletic Fellowship and coaches swimming and track at Emory while attending school there. He won 1st place in Southeastern AAU diving competition.
- 1934: While at Emory, participated in intramural football, baseball, basketball, swimming, and track and was named to the all Emory athletic team while studying law. He was a member of the 2nd place Southeastern Association AAU mile relay team and named best All-round athlete at Emory. On April, 21, 1971 a sports editorial by Sports Editor, Don Biggers, appeared in the Rome New tribune, here are portions of that editorial, “I recall that is was Bill Brown, then track coach at Darlington and Paul Kennedy, who started the sport at West Rome who came up with the idea of a Relay.
The News Tribune agreed to serve as the sponsor. But an event of that magnitude that they had in mind required to serve as the sponsor. But an event of that magnitude that they had in mind required other outside support, so the logical person, in their minds, was the late John Maddox, Sr. He was approached and he wholeheartedly endorsed the idea”. “Better that that, he volunteered his services in those early years as one of the head officials.”
“A lot has happened in area track since 1961. One by one area schools constructed their own tracks and slowly but surely, schools that never before fielded a track team saw a need for the sport.” “The real shot in the arm occurred when the City of Rome constructed an all-weather facility at Barron Stadium. Just ask the people in the know, and they’ll tell you John Maddox, Sr. had a lot to do with this. He twisted arms in his own quiet way and he persisted in his belief that a city the size of Rome needed a municipal track. Not just any track, mind you, but one that would attract the attention of the rest of the state.”
“Maddox’s dream became a reality when the first Relay was presented in 1968 at Barron stadium on a seven lane resilite surface.”
Only weeks after Maddox’s sudden death lin 1969, his friends went to work to insure that his contribution to track would be remembered. On Saturday, May 1, 1970, the track at Barron Stadium was named in honor of John Maddox, Sr.
Ralph began his athletic career in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1918 when he was a student at Horner Military School. From 1918 through 1920 he participated in football, basketball, and baseball. He entered Darlington School for Boys in Rome in 1921 and before he graduated in 1924 he played football, basketball, baseball, and was a member of the track team.
While at Darlington he also coached midget football. Ralph enrolled at Auburn in 1924 and played freshman football, basketball, and baseball. Primm established quite a reputation as an amateur and professional boxer while at Auburn and afterward. He also launched much interest here in the boxing game, not only as a boxer himself but as a referee and promoter.
This great Floyd County athlete found time to play semi-pro baseball for several years and in 1927 managed a baseball team. Primm umpired in the famous Northwest Georgia Textile baseball league for 12 years (getting his tutoring under famous “Steamboat” Johnson of Southern League fame). When baseball season ended Ralph refereed football and basketball in the area.
Ralph Primm organized the Northwest Georgia Football Officials Association and the Baseball Umpires Association here. He has served five terms as president of the Football Association and in 1970 completed 46 years as a football official and intends to serve longer. Mr. Sam Burke, executive-secretary of the Georgia high School Association confirmed that at one time, Primm was the oldest active official in Georgia and possibly the nation. Primm served as an official for the giant swim meets in Rome. He has worked untiringly on behalf of the track program at Barron Stadium. He served as vice president and president of the Rome track club. As a player, as a coach, as an official, as a friend of the athlete, Ralph Primm excels in every aspect.
Ralph Primm was honored as the first inductee into the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame.
A gentleman, a believer, a coach, N.S. Woodard, coach at Model high School for 10 years, 1945-1955. Coach Woodard began his coaching at Davisboro high School in Washington County in 1933.
He coached both girls and boys basketball plus track and baseball. In 1942 he came to Rome, Georgia as an assistant football coach at Rome High School and held this position from 1942 until 1944. While at Rome High he coached girls and boys basketball for one year each.
In 1945 Coach Woodard moved to Model high School as head basketball coach for both boys and girls plus track and baseball. Coach Woodard decided that Model should play football and he sent out a call to candidates. Some 90% of the prospect for the first Model football team had never even seen a football game and none had played. Model’s first football season saw the Blue Devils win 5 and lose 2. The fundamentals plus Block and tackle that was the theory that Coach Woodard went on to teach at Model.
In 1953 and 1954 Coach Woodard reached the pinnacle of success as his team won the Georgia State Class B championship twice in a row and rack up 25 consecutive victories and these two teams are rated by many as the two best high school teams developed in this area in 20 years. Under Coach N.S. Woodard the Model team played 110 football games and they won 91 and lost 19. N.S. Woodard, a master at getting the job done and no matter how tough the job might be.
Dr. Garland M. Dickey
Dr. Garland Dickey is a Professor and Head of the Physical Education Department and Director of Athletic Activities at Berry College in Rome. Dr. Dickey is consultant for the Rome City System, planning the first physical fitness program for elementary white and colored schools.
He developed a handbook on Physical Fitness for the local schools. A leader in the development of folk and square dance programs for area schools. He is a charter member and twelve times secretary-treasurer of the GIAC. He organized and directed first championships in track, cross country, and volleyball in GIAC.
Dr. Dickey is a member and three times president of Northwest Georgia Basketball Officials Association. He is a charter member of and secretary-treasurer of the Rome Baseball Association. He has conducted clinics in basketball, baseball, and track. He is a charter member of the Rome Track and has directed track meets for junior and senior high schools, elementary and “Y” groups as well as colleges. He originated and directed the first track meet for high school girls in Northwest Georgia and also directed the first bowling and volleyball programs.
He originated and directed the Northwest Georgia cross country championships for ten seasons. He has served on the board of Trustees of the YMCA; served on physical fitness re-evaluation committee for twenty three schools and colleges. Dr. Dickey is listed in “Who’s Who in Education” in America. He has directed the National Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp. We could go on and on, but if you’ve never know Dr. Garland Dickey personally, you have certainly missed out on those coveted best things in life. A man who has always had nothing but good things to say about his fellow man. A man of even temper, great character in everything he does, a bulwark of strength at Berry College and a family fan unequalled in annals of his life. Truly a man of meritorious service to his family, his school and his community, a Hall of Fame individual of the finest degree, Dr. Garland Dickey.
Paul Kennedy, A native of Tennessee came to Rome in 1956 as an assistant football coach under Coach Dick McPhee. In 1957 he served as an assistant under Coach Wallace Wilkinson at Rome High was named by football players on the squad as the Hilltopper Man of the Year in 1958. Paul became head football coach at the then, new West Rome High School in 1958 and served in this capacity until 1967.
In 1959 he was named WRGA’s Coach of the Year and was named the Regions Coach of the Year in 1965, 1966, 1967. In 1965 he coached West Rome to the State AA championship and was named Football Coach of the Year in Georgia by the Atlanta Touchdown Club. Paul coached the North Georgia All Stars in 1966 to a 22-0 win over the South Georgia All-Stars in their annual all-star game. Kennedy is the co-organizer and charter member of the Rome Track Club.
He brought high school wrestling to West Rome High School. At the time, Darlington was the only school with wrestling. Kennedy is the co-organizer of the popular Northwest Georgia Wrestling tournament that began in 1963 and directed the tournament for nine of its ten years.
Paul helped to organize the Northwest Georgia Wrestling Officials Association in 1967 and served as secretary. He was the Chairman of 7th district lifetime sports federation; a member of the Governors council of Physical Fitness; taught Physical Education on staff of the Governors Honors Program in Macon, Georgia. Paul, along with Hall of Fame member, the late John Maddox, Sr. worked hand in hand, day and night to get the beautiful track facilities at Barron Stadium.
In 1971 Kennedy headed up the first Special Olympics for Special Children at Barron field in which some 200 youngsters participated.
Lee Mowry, Jr.
After attending Darlington School and Rome High School where he played junior varsity baseball and football plus two years of varsity football under Jim Caven, at Rome High, Lee joined thousands of others in the armed services during World War II.
On returning to Rome from service he was in the newspaper business for awhile writing sports for the weekly paper known as the Floyd County Herald. In 1947, Lee joined the staff of the then new radio station in Rome, WLAQ, owned at that time by the Rome News Tribune.
His sports venture began with broadcasting play by play of the Northwest Georgia textile League Baseball games and then into high school football, broadcasting Rome High and Darlington football. In 1954 Lee joined the staff of WRGA and became sports director. Here he has spent 17 and half years in broadcasting the many sports events that the Rome area has been fortunate to have.
Lee was very active in the Youth Activity baseball program since its inception and broadcasted the sumer "behind the levee" baseball games. He served as Player agent of the Colt baseball program and one year as an assistant coach in the original Little League program.
In the field of service to the schools of the area, Lee served twice as president of the Chieftains Club at West Rome High School and it was Lee who first instilled the idea of three phase parent organization in the high school which includes athletic, music, and academics.
Three of his most coveted passions are a plaque presented to him by the West Rome band, making him a lifetime member of the West Rome band. A plaque presented to him by the Student Council at West Rome and a handmade replica of a sports announcer sitting high on a telephone pole, broadcasting the state football championship game between Model and Claxton at Claxton, in 1954.
Lee saw area teams win state titles over the years and stated that those accomplishments were his biggest thrills; Model winning back to back state football titles; Coosa winning over Lincolnton at Sanford stadium for State C title; Pepperell winning state baseball championships at Thomaston; west Rome winning the State AA title from St. Pius at Grady stadium; West Rome’s two state baseball champion series; East Rome winning the state baseball crown from Headland; Coosa taking Fitzgerald for the State A title in football; Dick Hackett winning the state amateur golf crown for Jack Key; and 9-12 Pony and Colt baseball teams winning numerous State baseball crowns.
Lee later served as master of ceremonies for numerous athletic banquets in the area and was honored by many schools by being asked each year to handle their award dinners for athletes. He served on the Rome Recreation Committee for one term and was a member of the Chamber of Commerce Recreation Committee.
It was Lee along with former Roman, Don Roberts who had the idea and organized the first Santa Bowl Football for Cheerful Givers at Christmas time.
When Lee was selected to be inducted into the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame, he stated, “It is and has been an honor to know all the members of the Hall of Fame, but to think that someone thinks I am worthy to be a member of the Hall of Fame, is my proudest memory. I and my family thank you.”
J. Walter "Buck" Ransom
In 1950, “Buck” Ransom and his very good friend, Kelly Byars had a vision of an organized baseball program for the little fellows in the Rome area.
Through the cooperation of Rev. Forrest Lanier and the First Baptist Church of Rome, a boy’s baseball team was born, with the sponsor name, The Brotherhood Class. It was good but another team was needed, so “Buck” helped to get another team on the field.
The interest spread rapidly with Pepperell and Brighton taking a great interest and bringing two more teams into the fold. Thus Rome and Floyd County were getting their first taste of Little League baseball, for boys 9 to 12 years.
Then there was a league and another and another and “Buck” Ransom knew that the boys needed something to continue their play after reaching the age of 12. Thus came Pony baseball for boys 13 and 14. A few seasons passed and the Prep (or Colt) league came into being for boys 15, 16, and 17.
The City of Rome and City Manager, Sam King, saw the merit of this program and established the playing fields and then lights in the area behind the levee. Industries and businesses came into the program as sponsors to help purchase uniforms and pay the franchise fee under the nationals’ set-ups and etc. “Buck” Ransom served as State Director of Little League Baseball, the Regional Head of the same program.
Not only did he give his time for those jobs but he found time to manage a team of his own and helped to produce what later became the first high school state baseball champion for the area. “Buck” found time to officiate football games from 1946 and holds 25 year service plaque in that effort. He completed 18 years of service on the Rome Recreation Committee. Countless thousands of boys in this area have benefited from the hours of service this man had given to his community and to the national youth baseball program.
J. Horace Anthony
Horace Anthony spent most of his life fostering a finer, better organized, well-rounded athletic program for the youth of our area.
His field of interest was not confined to one sport or event but to all sporting events that are for the betterment of the youth. He helped form Rome’s first organized softball program in 1935 and was appointed by the state softball commissioner to head up the first district softball tournament ever played in Rome.
This man found time in the early days, not only to head up athletic programs but to umpire in softball and Little League baseball (there was no compensation in those days for “men in blue”). He was the first president of the Rome-Floyd County Bowling Association and instrumental in getting the local group affiliated with the American Bowling Congress.
He is a charter member of the Boys and Girls Club committee and served as its first treasurer. He played basketball himself in his early days and later coached the St. Mary’s team and his team won the grammar school title in 1955. He was chairman of the first Father’s Club at East Rome high School and in 1962 was named president of the Gladiator Club of east Rome High. In the same year, the East Rome student council named him “Citizen of the Year”.
When the new Barron Stadium was built, Horace originated the idea of honoring two former great educators in Rome, Mr. B.F. Quigg and Mr. H.C. “Foxy” Brewer, by having gold plaques placed on the doors of the two dressing rooms of the stadium.
He served as the first secretary of the Braves Booster Club, the first one organized outside the city of Atlanta, in 1966. Through the combined efforts of Horace Anthony and Dr. Garland Dickey, the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame became a reality in 1970.
Horace Anthony has served as chairman of membership for the Rome Track Club, chairman of Rome Night at Atlanta Stadium in 1972, a member of the Recreation Committee of the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce for ten years and served as its chairman in 1971-1972. In 1973, he was appointed Chairman of the First Rome-Floyd County Recreation Authority and spent countless hours in this capacity.
Louis "Gigi" DeAngelus
Louis "Gigi" was a total stranger when he arrived to the Rome community in 1953 from Dalton, Massachusetts. Dalton’s loss was certainly our gain. In Dalton, Mass., he was the organizer of such programs as Adult Softball, Youth Baseball and Basketball. He played baseball for a short time in the New York Yankee organization.
His first contact with the athletic and recreation program in Rome was through the first man inducted into our Hall of Fame, Ralph Primm. In the beginning of Little League Baseball (operated by the Parks and Recreation Authority at that time) he volunteered to umpire and scorekeep. This program became the foundation of the Youth Activity baseball program.
Gigi gave freely of his time year after year in timekeeping and judging in the large swim meets here. He probably is best known for his basketball officiating and was presented with two plaques in 1974 for representing 20 years of service to the Georgia High School Association basketball and baseball program.
The plaques were presented by the Executive-Secretary of the GHSA, Mr. Sam Burke of Thomaston. Gigi officiated in over 7,000 basketball games and of this number, 427 were handled at no enumeration, for Booster Clubs, Charity Organizations, pre-season contests, etc. On 11 different occasions he donated his official returns to youth organizations such as The Boys Club, charity groups, United Fund, etc. In 1969 he served as president of the Northwest Georgia Basketball officials Association located in Rome and Floyd County.
In the baseball program, he has served as president of the Umpires Association from the years of 1959-1964. Again many games were umpired at no charge because of his devotion to his fellow man such as games like Boys Club Tournament, Police Softball Games, and Toys for Tots, and etc.
He volunteered thirteen weeks of his spare time to help re-weld all the grand stands at the site of the old Coosa High School. He headed up a small group to construct bleachers at the Boys Club. Through his efforts along with others of his caliber, the Garden Lakes Booster Club was formed and he served on many committees of the Coosa Booster Club and Boys Club.
Gigi was instrumental in the organization of the General Electric Athletic Association. While he was president in 1969-70 a small golf course was turned into a beautiful country club. Gigi asked to host the annual Boys Club Classic in which proceeds were used to fund Boys Club programs. He also volunteered his time to teach new officials for Youth programs in basketball and baseball.
James "Shag" Knowles
Almost any boy and/or young man in this area who has ever participated in any form of athletics in the Rome area know and love this man. If the boy has come in contact with him, then that boy is better men for it, if he has let the principals of this man rub off on him.
There is probably no man in the area that has had more bearing on more lives of young men than has this man. As a boy he learned the “hard way” that life was no “bowl of cherries”. He learned early in life how to put up his fists and fight for right when he knew he was right and never gave in to wrong.
As a lad he attended McHenry School and Rome High School and participated in both junior varsity and varsity football. Young in life he put on the boxing gloves and fought on the Maple Street boxing team. As a Golden Glover he held the State Lightweight Championship of one year and the AAU Lightweight for one year.
Of those who know him best and have known him for many years we can vouch for his stinging fists that he could throw in those days and he still carries a few marks of the old ring days. At the early age of fifteen he like other boys, especially younger boys who wanted to participate in any form of athletics and at the age of fifteen he was coaching his first team of young boys. This was team of lads in the Anchor Rome area who wanted to play and so this man became their head coach in football. The biggest thrill for this team was to walk out to Darlington School and play Mr. Robert Cobb’s young Tiger Midgets.
Mr. Cobb used to worry a little about the Anchor Rome Team in that they had no signs of any uniforms but he knew they wanted to play and so they played on. On this Anchor Rome Team was one young man who was later to become one of the finest high school players ever to wear the Rome High football uniform, Arvie Pilgrim.
Upon entering the service of his country, this man became much interest in recreation when he was playing softball with an Army team in 1953. Soon he was umpiring, refereeing and coaching adult and youth teams without enumeration. Returning here he continued coaching and very soon his teams were gaining recognition locally and statewide as well. There is not space here to name the football players who learned under this man that later when on to become stars of high school teams all over the area.
In 1957 this man was employed full time by the Recreation department and became Parks and Maintenance Supervisor for the department. His time was pretty well taken up with physical work of keeping playgrounds in shape, baseball fields cut and lined, and etc. As busy as he was he still found time to coach those boys and girls who just wanted to play the game and the time he spent on his own has payed off invaluably building the lives of young people in this community. Had it not been for his extra effort many of these youngsters would have found other forms of “recreation” that would not have been so profitable perhaps.
This man helped coach the first Santa Bowl football team that played for the Cheerful Giver Empty Stocking Fund. He coached the first Midget football team in Rome. At one time he was coaching four teams during one season and often was coaching two and three teams at a time. Some of the people he coached are now doctors, coaches, lawyers, teachers, and business people in the area. Not long ago he finally received the recognition that he had deserved for so long.
He was named Director of Parks and Recreation of Rome and Floyd County and in a short time he has held this position, where he worked to grow the programs. He was a man who believed that every citizen owes some of his or her time to youth and every youngster deserves a better break and good guidance.
Otis Gilbreath spent the greater part of his life, raising and coaching other people’s children. A man, quiet and reserved in his way but quick to speak out on what’s right and what’s wrong. A man who will defend right with his last ounce of strength. A man who has lent his great knowledge of athletics to numerous thousands of youngsters in the Rome and Floyd County area.
After serving his country in World War 2, he returned to college to receive his degree from Oglethorpe University.
Otis was very instrumental in the formation of Little League, Pony League and Colt Baseball in the Rome area and through his efforts along with the late Buck Ransom ( Hall of Fame Member), the Rome Youth Activity Baseball program grew into the strongest and highest rated in the south.
He managed the first Rome Little League All-Star Team that went on to win the first state Little League title for Rome. His Pepperell teams have always been dominant in the field of baseball in the Youth program and he always found time to manage a Little League team as well as a Colt team at the same time.
The hours and hours of free time Otis gave to recreation cannot be compared by any other person. He was not just interested in Pepperell young people but all young people who wanted to work hard, improve and become champions. Otis was associated with Pepperell schools and West Point Pepperell Manufacturing Company. For four years he served as an assistant coach under late J.W. Sutton and served as head baseball and football coach for 21 years.
His Pepperell High School Baseball teams brought numerous honors to the Rome area having won 7 state baseball titles. He was the Georgia’s Baseball coach of the Year 5 times. His State Championships Baseball team of 1977 was honored on the same night as his induction.
Otis was a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia High School Coaches Association and served many terms. He thrived on coaching and working with youngsters.
Tennis has probably made the biggest strides in popularity among all other sports in Rome and Floyd County. George has been as much responsible for this growth as anyone we know. In 1963, this man along with Scott Henson, made a survey of all tennis facilities in the Rome area and determined that there were about 30 courts in all and no recognized tournament tennis being played here.
Thus in 1964, this man with Henson founded the Coosa Valley Tennis Association. Our nominee served as president of the Association in 1966 and 1968 and served on the Tournament Committee for 15 years. In 1968 while serving as Vice-President of the Georgia Tennis Association, Rome was awarded the Georgia Junior Open (second stop on the National circuit). Top junior players from 29 states and four countries competed here and Rome area tennis was on its way. He was unable to accept the Presidency of the Georgia Association because of extensive travel involved but has continued to serve on the Board of Directors.
He was involved in the formation of the Coosa Women’s Tennis Club, the Rome Women’s Tennis club, the Rome Men’s Tennis Club and later aided in combining them all into the Rome Tennis Club.
In the first year of existence, the Rome Tennis Club presented this man with the Service Award at its first annual banquet. Besides his tremendous efforts on behalf of the growth of tennis here, he is quite a player himself, having won the Floyd County Senior Singles title three times that we know of. He and his partners won the County Senior Doubles title at least four times.
He has won the Coosa Country Club singles and doubles titles numerous times. He has held State Ranking in the 35 year doubles bracket and to show his great love of the game, he returned from a heart attack to be a finalist in men’s doubles.
Born in Houston, Texas and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis Mo., he moved to Rome in 1948.
Samuel T. Burrell
Involved in the athletic affairs of this city and county since gaining adulthood. Samuel Burrell began a very illustrious career in area athletics as assistant football coach at Main High School in Rome, he became an assistant director with the Rome Recreation department in 1948 and continued in that capacity in the summer months until June of 1975.
He helped develop a Youth Club organized to offer young people a place to go away from the streets. He was instrumental in organizing the Junior and Senior midget football program at the South Rome recreation Center. He helped the Basketball program for boys and girls 14 an under and 12 and under.
Samuel served as the director of the Hardy Street swimming pool from 1952 until 1972. He attended the aquatic school and became qualified to aid and instruct in the Red Cross Swim Classes at Hardy Street pool for 13 years. He served as principal of West Rome Junior High School.
For years Samuel gave of his time at Christmas to see that all persons in the area had Christmas and although cheerful givers is not an athletic phase of our community life, it has many times, seen that youngsters did eat correctly at Christmas and grow into manhood and womanhood to become some of the finest athletes developed in the state.
A staunch believer in the fact that a man gets from life what he puts into it; Samuel dedicated himself to a better educational, athletic, and religious community for our youth to grow up in.
Lewis L. Clark
Lewis Clark is a man who spent over twenty-four years coaching "behind the levee" baseball. He guided young men through the rights and wrongs of how to play the game.
He spent countless hours of his time (when not working a night shift job) of helping to direct the youth Activities organization that operated the Colt, Pony, Bronco, and Mustang baseball programs. The program was envied by every youth baseball organization in the state of Georgia.
Lewis' was dedicated. He gaveup his limited off time to line baseball fields, talk with parents about a boy’s problems, l, disciplining a boy when maybe his language got carried away in a split second, conferring with other managers to make a tournament go as smooth as possible.
Talking with a company executive who sponsored on of Lewis' teams for years stated that he never had one concern knowing that Lewis was the man at the helm of the team.
Lewis strived to save the sponsor money wherever possible. He kept in close contact with parents of boys who played on his teams and had the utmost respect of all other team managers in the program. He was elected by other managers numerous times to represent them in meetings and in the planning of major tournaments for this area.
Pride, discipline, and unity are the works that can best describe this inductee. Since 1954, when he came to Tome from Fayetteville, North Carolina, he has been a major contributor to the sports and education scene of Floyd County.
This inductee has been an absolute master of the art of getting the very utmost effort from the players and students he has been associated with. You can ask anyone who has ever been around this man and the word that always comes to the surface is respect.
For three years, 1954-57, our inductee was the head basketball coach at Berry Academy. From the Academy he moved to the west side of Floyd County to take over as athletic director, head varsity football coach, head basketball coach and varsity baseball coach at Coosa High School. He was the head coach of the basketball and baseball teams at Coosa for six years, having outstanding records in both sports. His boy’s basketball team reached the semi-finals of the 1962 state basketball playoffs in Macon.
During his tenure, his basketball and baseball teams won several region championships. Our inductee has also coached the Coosa Golf Team for 15 years and his squads have been Georgia State Runners-up twice. But the sport our inductee is most notes for is football. Under the leadership of this man, the Coosa high School “Eagle” football teams won the Georgia State Championship twice. In 1960, his Eagles worked like a well-oiled machine knocking foe after foe to the wayside scoring 284 points that regular season and giving up only 28.
In the State Championship game at Sanford Stadium in Athens, the Coosa “Eagles” rolled over Lincolnton High School 19-0. Lincolnton was highly favored in that game but our Bragg’s squad of 29 dressed our griders took to the field and the Lincoln county squad was never in the game. The championship in 1960 was in the Class C school division. Ultimate success came again in 1969 when his Class A Coosa Eagle football team won the State Championship.
As with Lincolnton, his eagles were the decided underdogs taking on what was thought to be a superior Fitzgerald team. The final score was Coosa 28, Fitzgerald 8. Playing the underdog was always the roll of Branch Bragg; during his career his teams recorded 164 wins, 43 losses, 8 ties, and two Georgia State Football Championships.
Ralph Tuggle spent most of his adult years guiding and coaching the youth of Rome. In the early days of youth baseball, Ralph was instrumental in forming the colt Baseball Program behind the Levee.
With Hall of Famer, Otis Gilbreath of Pepperell, Ralph built the Colt Baseball Program for high school aged boys into a highly skilled program, respected and envied by the southeastern states.
After spending the falls and winters coaching football and baseball at Model high School, he found time in the spring and summer to coach and develop some of the finest young baseball players in the state, within the Colt Program in high school coaching. He took the Model baseball team to State playoffs five times and won three consecutive State Baseball Championships. This man coached football, baseball and basketball during the school term and his teams won numerous sub-region and region honors.
His service in the Marine Corps in his younger years brought a sense of discipline to the youngsters he coached and certainly aided these youngsters toward a sounder and wiser adult life. His knowledge of the game of life and the game on the field has had a great influence on our community and the area.
Ralph served on one of the first recreation committees in Rome.
Ralph was known as a “Stickerler” for being prepared to play the game and to play at 100% capability.
Zeke McDaniel is best known for his dedication, commitment, love for the youngsters at the Georgia School for the Deaf. Through his guidance, he shaped many lives and improved the self-confidence of these special youngsters, preparing them to meet the challenges of life.
Born April 2, 1935 in Calhoun, Georgia, he attended Savannah State College graduating his education at the University of Tennessee, Mercer University, Tuskegee Institute and Galavdett College (the only deaf college in America in Washington, D.C.).
During his career, he was a member of the old G.I.A. operations ceased; he joined the Georgia High School Association as an official of football and basketball. He became the first black individual to officiate integrated basketball, football, and softball games in Rome-Floyd County.
While pursuing his career of coaching and working extensively with Rome-Floyd County Recreation Authority’s playground and athletic programs. He has coached at the Georgia School for the Deaf for 21 years. For 11 of those years he has been the head basketball coach. At one time he coached 8 different teams at the Georgia School for the Deaf that included: Varsity Girls Basketball, Jr. Varsity Boys Basketball, Varsity Boys and Girls Track, and elementary boys and girls track. Throughout his career as teacher and coach he has received many awards and honors. In 1965 he served as member of the “Deaf Olympic” coaching staff that defeated the Russians in Washington, D.C. In 1974, 1976, and 1978 his teams won the “National Deaf prep” championships. In 1976, 1977, 1978 his teams won the Georgia High School Association region Championships.
In 1976, 1977, and in 1978 he was named “Coach of the Year” in Region6B (Now Region 6A). In 1976, 1978, 1982, and 1983 his teams won the Mason-Dixon Championships, competing with 10 different state-wide schools. In the thirty-two year history of the Mason-Dion, he is the only coach to have won the championship four times. Form 1976-1983 he lead teams to the second round of the Class “A” State basketball Tournament. His highest honor came when he was named the National “Deaf Prep Coach of the Decade” for the seventies (70’s).
This gentlemen and coach is the “silent hero” but not the unsung hero.
Lamar Partee 1986
Lamar Partee's services to the community and especially to youngsters were greatly respected. His love for baseball and children, his drive and dedication, and his endless hours of working behind the scenes combined to produce valuable civil services.
This man more than exemplified the meaning of “volunteer” for over 31 years. He played an important role in planning the Rome and Floyd County’s youth baseball program.
He was born in Oglethorpe, Macon County, Georgia on November 12, 1917, moved to Floyd County in 1919 and returned to Oglethorpe in 1928.
He completed his education and graduated from Oglethorpe in 1933 where he participated in basketball and baseball. In 1934, he returned to Rome, where he played as forward on Rome’s only Semi-Pro basketball team sponsored by the Forrest Hotel.
During the 30’s era he assisted in organizing the first men’s fast pitch softball league in Rome, where he also played. From 1937-1939 he worked as Rome’s first playground leader at the Open Door Home, Myrtle Hill and Maple Street playgrounds for $15 per week.
In the early 40’s he served his country during world War II and afterwards returned to work as a basketball and softball official. He was called again to duty where he served in the Korean War from 1951-1952. Upon completion of the war, he furthered his education at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, Speed Electronics School. During this period of time, he had to pursue other interest, but by no means did he forget Rome, his love for kids, or his personal desire to improve youth baseball in the area.
In 1954 he returned to Rome to help coach, direct, and expand the Youth Activities Incorporated (YAI) organization that operated the Colt, Pony, Bronco, and Mustang baseball program “behind the levee”. He also served as an American Softball Association volunteer, officiating and maintaining fields for local league play.
From 1965 to 1978 he served as the YAI player agent and program coordinator. In 1965, under his direction, the program expanded from four to seventeen teams. In 1969 he was appointed by the national Pony League Organization to serve as District Director for Northwest Georgia’s District 1, representing eight leagues.
In 1972, he was appointed State Director for Pony Baseball. In 1974 he brought the Pony League baseball Division Tournament to Rome. This tournament decided which teams would advance to the Pony League World Series. In the local baseball program he coached the Elks Club pony league team for nineteen years where he was respected by all as an outstanding coach.
Overall this man was involved in the Youth Activities Baseball Organization with an outstanding record of commitment, dedication, and love. He influenced the lives of hundreds of youngsters and in turn increased the quality of life in our community.
Graham Woodell was a legend in his time. This individual deeply enjoyed working, developing, and shaping the character and talents of young boys and girls during his coaching and basketball career.
His very presence in the gym excited the spectators, awed the opponents and kept officials on the alert. His dedication, discipline and love of the game were passed on to his players making them the best ever. The legend began with his birth in Emmanuel County, Georgia, November 6, 1928.
He attended Emmanuel County High School, graduating in 1945. Upon graduation he trained in the Merchant Marines and was a member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Paratroopers Division for two years. Following training, he attended Georgia Teachers College (now Georgia Southern) from 1948 to 1952 receiving a degree in English and Physical Education.
His coaching career began at Collins High School, Tattnall County, where he coached girl’s basketball and boy’s basketball. During this time in basketball he established an impressive combined record of 36 wins and 11 losses. In 1953, he moved to Cave Spring, coaching and teaching for 29 years. It was here he broke several coaching records. He coached track for 20 years (having several state winners), boy’s basketball for 22 years, and girl’s basketball for 29 years. He retired with honors from Cave Spring High School in 1982.
During his basketball career he established an impressive win-loss record in a small school of 150-180 students in enrollment. In the 1950’s and the 1960’s there was no limit on the number of games to be played and he would schedule as many as 28 games in one season. It was because of this that Cave Spring became known as “basketball country”. The maximum number of games today is 20. While coaching boy’s basketball, he obtained a record of 351 and 240 losses. The boys won the region championship once, and were runners-up three times. Indeed coaching girl’s basketball had to be his favorite. Over a 29 year coaching period he acquired an amazing record of 669 wins and 144 losses. His lifetime record totals 705 wins and 155 losses. It is believed this record will never be equaled in Georgia. He saw girl’s basketball evolve from three on three offense and defense to the rover system to the present five on five system.
To him, basketball was great with the 6 girl game and he enjoyed the “rover” system much better that the five on five. But, whatever system the girls played he developed outstanding players and teams. His astonishing team wins were attributed to the philosophy of the two “D’s”- dedication from the girls and himself and discipline on their part. He had talent, and instinct to take young athletes with very little ability and make them outstanding ball players in Floyd County and throughout Georgia.
He was the only coach noted for the tough man to man or girl to girl defense and the slow down offense that constantly wore down the opponents. It was this and his philosophy that gained him and the girl’s basketball teams these accomplishments: 1954-1975-for 21 consecutive years won more than 20 games and lost fewer than five; 1967-Claimed State Championship with a record of 34-0; 1967-1968-Had a 59 game winning streak; 1969-1971-State runner-up honors; 1967-1975- Won 9 consecutive Region championships. Also they won Region Championships in ’63, ’65, and ’78 for a total of 12 Region championships. In their prestigious Christmas Invitational Tournament, Cave Spring won 10 of the 17 years it was held.
During this period he was also selected Rome Area “Coach of the Year” several times. This man coached many fine young men and women during his years of leadership.
Jack Pinson was born on July 29, 1929, to Mr. and Mrs. John C. Pinson, Sr. The youngest of three sons, Jack and his brothers, John and James, spent their youth in Rome. Jack graduated from Rome High in 1946, where he played varsity basketball. At the time of graduation, he was 5’9” tall and weighed a strapping 130 pounds.
Following graduation, Jack enrolled at West Georgia College where he played varsity basketball and participated in spring football practice. During his freshman year, Jack hit a growth spurt and reached his present height of 6’4”. Back in Rome for summer, Jack began playing semi-pro baseball with the Celanese team in the Textile League. Jack was hitting .400 when the plant went on strike and the team was disbanded. Yet, jack had caught someone’s attention.
In November, 1948, Mercer Harris, scout for the St. Louis Cardinals signed Jack to a professional baseball contract. The 1949 season found Jack in Tallassee, Alabama, with the St. Louis’s Class D Georgia-Alabama farm club. The year 1950 found Jack in West Frankfort, Illinois in the Mississippi’s-Ohio Valley League. That year Jack experienced important at the plate, batting .281. More impressive were the 105 RBI’s in only 119 games. Jack led the league in triples and he hit 16 during the season.
During the late fall of 1950, Jack was called to active duty with Rome’s United States Marine Corps reserve Unit. After discharge in the summer of 1951, Jack joined Lynchburg of the Piedmont League where he was hitting .321 when his contract was purchased in mid-season by the Pocatello, Idaho team in the Big Sky League.
During that year, Jack’s roommate was a young pitcher named Larry Jackson who went on to have good years with St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies.
By 1952, Jack was promoted to the Paris Texas team class B. Jack enjoyed his best year at Paris. By August, Jack was hitting .331. In one game that year, Jack was 4 for 5 with 2 home runs, 6 RBI’s and 4 runs scored. Jack spent the 1953 season in Tyler Texas in the Texas League. The season had barley started when on May 25th Jack and three teammates equaled a record for professional baseball. Joe Campbell, Dean Stafford, Jim Kirby, and Jack combined to hit four consecutive home runs. Also that year, jack led his teams to the play-offs, stealing home off the pitcher in the season ending game. In one of the key play-off games, Jack hit a home run and a triple. A serious ankle injury ended Jack’s professional career in 1954. His former general manager, Dick King, related in later years that “Jack Pinson would be playing in the major leagues if her were playing baseball today.”
After returning to Rome, Jack played briefly, with the Rome Red Sox, a local semi-pro team. Jack christened Rome’s new Legion field by hitting the first home run there over the flag pole in center field. Jack also turned his attention to helping others pursue careers in baseball. A team of local college All-Stars he organized that summer played teams throughout the area. Jack also signed on as a part-time scout with the St. Louis Cardinals. During the next few years, Jack played on “Doc” Elliott’s-Elliott’s Sales slow pitch softball team that won the district title for 2 consecutive years. The third year, Jack helped Elliott’s Sales win the state softball championship.
After old back and ankle injuries forced him to discontinue softball, Jack served a year managing a little league baseball team and took responsibility for the Rome Colt League. For five years, he served as director of the league. As his sons entered high school, Jack turned his attention to their activities. For two years, the school years of 1964-65 and 1965-66, he served as president of the Gladiator club at East Rome High School. Jack later filmed East Rome Football Games, providing “expert” services from 1967 to 1971. Along with other boosters, Jack spent the winter evenings in 1966 building the field house at the school.
Upon receiving a degree in Biology from Shorter College, Linda Holder began her professional career in the Floyd County educational system in 1967 at Coosa High School where she served as chairman of the Science Department and Biology teacher. During her initial year at Coosa, 1967-68, she founded the Coosa High School Boys and girls tennis teams and coached both teams for the next 16 years.
The first five years of this coaching experience was voluntary, as a supplement was not instated until 1973. Under Linda’s leadership the tennis teams never had a losing season. She led them to numerous sub-region and region championships as well as two state titles; Boys 7A Singles in 1971 and Girls 7AAA Doubles in 1983.
She is the co-founder of the Rome Tennis club and served on committees for formulating USTA League play for men and women. Linda has served as president of the club for four terms, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and over the years has held all the officer positions.
She served on the Board of Directors for the Coosa Valley tennis Association. She was vice-president in charge of Junior Development and a volunteer instructor and coordinator of indoor winter drills, transporting local youth to the Atlanta Health and Racquet Club for three years. Linda, as vice-president in charge of Grassroots Tennis, formulated and initiated the first summer tennis drill sessions for local youngsters.
She served as an instructor for the Parks and Recreation Authority, assisted with the first USTA Junior League Tennis Program. She has also assisted with the Labor Day and Hall-of-Fame Tennis Tournaments. Her contributions to the local tennis scene are many; area high school CVTA Director, coordinator of CVTA Awards Banquet for high school, college, and local ranked players, and was Director for the Rome-Floyd County USTA Schools Program serving over 9000 students.
From 1983-1988, she served as Director of the Coosa Valley Invitational Tennis Tournament, which was voted to be the “Best Small Tournament” in Georgia in 1985.
Linda has personally held Georgia State rankings in women’s 3.5 singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
Don Biggers has been associated with the Rome News Tribune for the past 30 years and currently is Managing Editor. His work with the paper has earned him recognition and many honors from Georgia Associated Press, including news writing and photography, sports writing, and local sports coverage. He was elected to membership in the Georgia Prep Sports Hall of Fame as a representative from the press.
As Sports Editor of the Rome News Tribune in 1961, Don organized the Rome News Relays, currently known as the Rome Relays, and was instrumental in the development of the High School Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament. Don has covered the accomplishments of hundreds of local athletes.
In doing so, he has helped turn visions of college and professional sports careers into a reality for many athletes. Don served on the Floyd County Board of Commissioners from 1973 to 1976 and was instrumental in helping to appropriate local funds and secure federal funding to develop and improve six county parks.
In 1973 he became an active Board Member and Vice-Chairman of the newly formed Rome-Floyd County Parks and Recreation Authority, followed by his election to Board Chairman in 1974. He served on the Authority Board until 1983. In addition, he served on the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce Recreation Committee for a number of years promoting the values of sports throughout the community.
In 1980 Don was honored by the Boys Club with their Community Service Award and in 1982 he received a State Award from the Georgia Recreation and Parks Society in recognition of his devotion and contributions to parks and recreation services in Rome and Floyd County.
Robert "Bob" Kinney
Robert “Bob” Kinney, a native of the small Polk County Town of Aragon, made a decision to move to Rome in 1949. The most popular activity in Rome at that time was Textile Baseball league and Bob was an employee and baseball player for the Pepperell Manufacturing Company in Lindale.
In 1953 Robert put on a different uniform; that of an umpire. For 22 years he was seen behind the plate of Little League, Colt League, and Pony League baseball games. At the start of his umpiring career, Little League games were played at Rotary Park and were later moved to their present site, Riverview Park.
Dedication to the sport and with a keen desire to help provide youngsters an opportunity to play, he volunteered his services for the first 5 years he umpired. He also umpired on a volunteered basis in the newly formed Rome Softball Association. His children grew up attending Little League baseball games; a program that developed and grew with his assistance.
Tom improved officiating at the high school level, Bob was instrumental in forming the Rome Umpires Association. He has umpired Berry and Shorter College games along with local high school games for 37 years. And, with a new season approaching, he plans to be right back where he has become such a familiar figure, on the baseball field in an umpire’s uniform.
Bob’s contributions to his community are not limited to the ballfield. He served as President of the Pepperell High School Band Club for 5 years and helped raise $15,000 to purchase new band uniforms. In addition, he helped form the Pepperell Middle School football program.
Special Olympic sports events for the handicapped have often benefitted from Bob’s interest and service. His decision to leave Aragon nearly 41 years ago was definitely Rome’s gain.
Known to be one of the true pioneers in the establishment of women’s collegiate basketball, Peggy Collins’ coaching record is the envy of many of her colleagues. Peggy, a native of Rome, attended Berry College and graduated in 1969 with a degree in Physical education.
In 1970 she joined the Mercer University staff and immediately began organizing a women’s college basketball program. Her hard work and dedication paid handsome dividends in her second season with a 21-1 record and a Southern Conference Title. During the next 5 years at the Georgia School, Peggy and Mercer both gained national notice in college polls and the press.
Her 1973 team won the Region III Title and finished fifth in their national Tournament. The 1975 Teddy bear squad ended their season with the 4th place finish in the NWIT. During this time, Collins was vital in the development of All-American players Sybil Blalock and Cindy Brodgon, both veteran of international basketball after their years with Peggy. After her 7th season at Mercer, she signed on with Mississippi State in 1977 and undertook the task of making MSU’s Lady Bulldogs program competitive. She signed honorable mention All-American Mary Boatwright, the SEC’s top scorer in 1979-80, and took MSU to the Region III tournament in 1980-81 season.
Peggy was instrumental in the growth of women’s basketball in the Southeastern Conference as her Lady Bulldog Classic, which originated in 1977, grew into the SEC Women’s Tournament by 1979 and helped promote the SEC as the nation’s best women’s conference. Peggy is a successful clinician and speaker.
Over the years she shared the podium with such contemporaries as John Wooden, Dean Smith, and Bobby Knight. She served on Regional Selection Committees in both the NCAA and the AIAW. She holds Master’s Degrees in Education from the University of Tennessee and has been named an “Outstanding Young Women of America”. In addition she served on the National WBCA Recruiting Committee. In 1982, she became the first women’s coach at a Southeastern Conference School to total 200 career victories. The dynamic Collins compiled career mark of 230-136 in fourteen seasons, seven at Mercer and seven at Mississippi State. Her career winning percentage as well as her 230 wins ranked her among the NCAA leaders in both categories. At that time she was among the prestigious NCAA “Top Twenty” list of active coaches in career victories. Upon completion of the 1983-84 season, Peggy decided it was time to pursue other interests.
Andrew "Zeke" Lumpkin
Andrew “Zeke” Lumpkin began his volunteer coaching career in the late 1950’s with the youth baseball program behind the levee. After coaching for several years in the Bronco League, he moved up to the Pony League as the coach of the National City Bank team where he remained for 14 years.
“Zeke” was always a man with a sincere, never failing interest in his players. He set an example of character and fairness in every phase of his life, both on and off the baseball field. Everyone who knew “Zeke” knew of no one who loved baseball and athletics more. In addition to coaching a league team during regular season play, he was a member of the coaching staff of All-Star teams participating on local, district, and state tournaments for several years.
In the middle of baseball season, June 1975, “Zeke” learned that he had leukemia. Hospitalized most of that summer, several of his players’ parents helped out with his coaching responsibilities and finished the season for him. Even the periodic chemo-therapy treatments could not keep him away when the 1976 season came around. He was busy as ever getting uniforms ready and performing the usual duties in preparation for another summer of baseball.
Whenever he was unable to be present, his baseball parents would stand in for him. Throughout this time he was also maintaining a full time job at Southern Natural Gas Company.
Able to discontinue treatments early in 1977, he continued coaching the Pony League team during that same year; he accompanied the Atlantic League All-Stars to Valdosta, Georgia, where he coached them to a runner-up finish in the State Championship Tournament.
His final coaching season was to be that of 1978, which was the same year he was diagnosed with diabetes at times his vision was so badly affected he could hardly see a baseball. However, it did improve and he was finally able to complete the 1978 season. in 1979 “Zeke” turned his team over to one of the parents and that year won the City-County Tournament saying their motto, “let’s win this one for Zeke”, carried them to the top and they presented their trophy to him. The 1979 State Pony League Baseball Tournament was played in Rome and was named in his honor.
“Zeke” loved life and he loved baseball. There are very few people who would have had the physical or mental strength to stay with it when it would have been so much easier to give up.
Robert A. "Pete" O'Dillon
A noted athlete, public education official, and friend to the community perhaps best described the life of Roberts A. “Pete” O’Dillon.
As an athlete, Pete starred on the Model High School’s state championship football teams in 1953 and 1954, earning regional and All-State honors as a lineman. He was voted Most Outstanding Lineman by his teammates in 1953 and was elected team captain his senior year-a sign of the leadership ability that would soon become symbolic with his career. Following his high school career, Pete became an active participant in the City of Rome’s softball program.
1966 proved to be one of his banner years as Pete served as president of the Rome-Floyd County Softball Association; he played on Elliott Sales’ state championship softball team, and participated in the world Softball Tournament. Pete served five years on the Rome-Floyd County Recreation Board, and during his term, he placed much emphasis on the development of community recreation facilities to insure greater access for area citizens.
His service on the Floyd County Board of Education spanned 16 years, 14 of which he served as Board Chairman. Pete was instrumental in developing and implementing plans for adequate educational and athletic facilities for the county school system. His leadership helped secure revenue for various athletic facilities at Model, Armuchee, and Pepperell High Schools which have enabled the Floyd County School System to better meet the needs of thousands of area youth.
As a private business leader, Pete helped secure sponsorship teams and special events for the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority and other leisure service providers.
Pete’s community service contributions are many-he served on the Board of Directors for the Rome Kiwanis Club from 1982-1988; he was president of PRIDE in 1983-84; he served on the Board of trustees for the United Way of Rome-Floyd County from 1986-1991 and currently serves on the Floyd College Foundation Board. His athletic accomplishments led to his induction into the Model High School Hall of Fame in 1989.
This year’s inductee is a man who should be praised for going above and beyond the realm of community service. Bernard Neal has dedicated his time and energy to the sport of tennis not only locally, but also on the state and national levels. Born in Atlanta in 1927, he attended high school in Alexandria, Virginia, where he played football and ran track.
Bernard continued his love of sports in college by joining the Georgia Tech and Emory University Swim Teams in intercollegiate competition. After serving on the U.S. Navy in 1945 and 1946, he returned to Georgia and graduated from Emory University in 1950. Bernard then made his move to Rome and has been associated with Rome’s professional business community for the past 43 years.
Bernard Neal has been a key figure in the growth and development of tennis for youth and adults. Since 1976, he has served on the Board of Directors for the Coosa Valley Tennis Association and was President in 1982 and 1983. He has also served as Treasurer in 1984-1986 and President in 1986-88 for the Georgia Tennis Association, yet hasn’t let his involvement with the tennis stop at local or even state levels.
In 1990 he was elected President of the Southern tennis Association and has served on numerous committees with the United States tennis Association. One of Bernard’s most recent accomplishments was being chosen as Chairman for the Federation Cup, an international team tournament event representing 47 countries and held in Atlanta in 1990.
One might think that for such as avid tennis supporter, Bernard wouldn’t have time to participate in other activities. He has, however, been involved in numerous civic organizations. He served on the Board of Directors for three years and was Treasurer for both the Community Concert Association and the YMCA. He has also served as President and treasurer for the Rome rotary Club, President for the Rome Area Heritage Foundation, and President for the Rome Arts Council.
Because of his attempt to fill in and keep baseball alive during the War years when most Textile Leaguers were away in military service, Earl Donaldson become known as “Mr. Baseball” to many Lindale youngsters. One former “Hall of Famer” recalls Earl Donaldson and his A-Model Ford parked behind the old Grandstand waiting for school children and the shift workers to appear for their afternoon workouts. That Ford and Mr. Donaldson were always first in the eyes of local players and fans. Born August 19, 1891, Roman, Earl Donaldson, had an illustrious baseball career that extended over a period of more than 30 years.
As a youngster, Mr. Donaldson played baseball and football at both Darlington and Rome High School. After completing high school, he played end on the famous gridiron eleven of the old Rome Athletic Club. Prior to his professional baseball debut, he played on various semi-pro teams in this area.
Our inductee began his professional baseball career with Anniston, Alabama in 1914 in the old GA-Alabama League. He played shortstop there for 3 years, and then was traded to a Winston-Salem, NC team where he signed and played for a brief period. He was then traded to the Rome Club and finished the season with the Romans who won the pennant that year.
After playing in Birmingham and Spartanburg in the Million Dollar League, he came to Lindale in 1920 and played 2 years. He then moved to the Appalachian League and after 3 seasons, returned to Lindale where he worked at Pepperell Manufacturing for the next 21 years. It was during his years at Pepperell Manufacturing that Earl dedicated himself to baseball and its’ players. After a long day at work, he would always be the first one on the field in the afternoons and on weekends. If there was a kid in the community, that was participating in a baseball program and the local folks thought that kid was headed for trouble they would go to Earl and ask for help.
After a long day at work, he would always be the first one on the field in the afternoons and on weekends. If there was a kid in the community, that was participating in a baseball program and the local folks thought that kid was headed for trouble they would go to Earl and ask for help. He would always give them the same reply, “I’ll see what I can do about it.” With that statement the community knew that the kid would be headed in the right direction, thanks to Earl. Mr. Donaldson was dedicated to discipline and instilled that virtue in the young men of the Lindale community. As a mark of esteem, “Earl Donaldson Day”, was observed in Lindale on August 25, 1940 where a capacity crowd filled the baseball park in his honor.
The record books will testify that “superlative” was the word for Earl’s prowess on the diamond as a player, manager, and coach. Earl Donaldson loved baseball and his community. He volunteered and dedicated his life to baseball and to the young men in the Lindale area.
Pee Wee Coffia
Since its beginning in the early 1950’s, thousands of area children have participated in Youth Activities Baseball. Many families have passed down the tradition of playing “behind the levee”. Kids learn more on the fields than just the sport of baseball; they learn lasting lessons in dedication, teamwork, and responsibility.
Volunteer coaches are an important part of this learning process. Their influence can affect a child for much longer than one season; in some cases, the coach is one of the few role models a child will have. Pee Wee Coffia was an exceptional veteran volunteer coach and role model.
For over four decades, Pee Wee was involved in coaching the youth of Lindale. He motivated generations of teams into winning seasons and coached in over one thousand games. He accumulated an impressive record of 871 wins and 136 losses.
In giving so many years of coaching, Coffia displayed dedication to the sport of baseball and to the many of youngsters he has taught. He has created team goals and rules that promote discipline and values in the lives of individual players. With 27 Area Championships, 22 District Championships, and 18 State Championship titles earned, it is clear that his coaching methods worked well.
Many observers will never forget the 1967 Lindale team that played 16 straight games with no runs scored by opponents. That same team went on to accumulate a 166 to 0 runs scored record. Under his guidance, the 1994 Lindale 14 and under team won the Continental Amateur Baseball Association’s State Championship. The team then traveled to Dublin, Ohio to place 4th in the CABA World Series.
Charles Davidson's illustrious career in football began during high school at Richmond Academy in Augusta, GA, where he played in the backfield for four seasons. He went on to attend Presbyterian College, where he displayed both athletic and leadership qualities. For two years, he played football for the Presbyterian Blue Hose and during his Junior and Senior years, he served as the Head Coach for the Freshman Football team. As if accomplishments in one sport were not enough, he also lettered in baseball for tow of his college years.
After college, Charlie Davidson went on to a long successful career of coaching high school football. His coaching record accomplishments began at Washington-Wilkes County where, with a record of 156 wins, 40 losses, and 12 ties, he had the most football wins in the history of the school. While at Washington-Wilkes, he also served as Golf Coach, and led the golf team to 12 Region and 2 State Championships.
In 1971, Davidson brought his coaching expertise to the Darlington Tigers, where he remained as Head Coach until 1985. At Darlington, he again repeated the feat of having the most wins of any coach in the history of the school. His record at Darlington included 88 wins, 52 losses, and 2 ties. Under Davidson’s guidance, Darlington won the title of Regional Champions in 1981.
Charlie Davidson was a successful and very dedicated coach. He was very involved with the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association for many years. He served on the GACA Board of Directors for 18 years and as President in 1966-67.
In 1990, he was awarded Lifetime Membership in the GACA. Davidson was also in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for five years. Davidson was a Charter Member of the NHS/ACA for many years. Davidson’s dedication and excellence in coaching football led to several prestigious awards. The Atlanta Touchdown Club voted him State Coach of the Year twice, he was voted Region Coach of the Year six times and in 1981, after leading the Tigers to the Regional Championships, he became the Georgia Nominee for National Coach of the Year.
Also in 1981, he was voted the Rome Area Coach of the Year. In 1982, Darlington showed appreciation for his work in creating a highly successful football program by inducting him into the Darlington School Cum Laude Society. In 1987, Washington-Wilkes paid tribute to his coaching abilities by inducting him into their Hall of Fame, and in 1992, he received Presbyterian College’s Bob Waters award for outstanding service in the coaching profession. Perhaps his most fitting award come in 1982, when he received the Dwight Keith Award from the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association. That award, given to the “highest and best in competitive athletics”, is based on the overall coaching record, service to the association, sportsmanship, and dedication.
“Do as much as possible…and then some…” Those words should bring back memories of our Meritorious Service inductee-Houston Franklin Wheeler.
Moving to Rome in 1960, Houston quickly began to contribute to the community. He could be seen on the sidelines of the high school football games spotting for the local sports radio broadcast.
As owner of Wheeler’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear, Houston’s love for football gave birth to the tradition of the Wheeler’s Lineman and Back of the week and the annual Lineman and Back of the Year. He believed that this way was a way to get regional coverage for local football stars. He was right. Coaches from all around would lobby for “their man” every week.
Coach Jerry Sharpe recalls the ward as on of the greatest honors he had received as an amateur athlete. Other notable winners were Danny Wiseman and Lynn Hunnicut. Each winner would receive a new shirt and a pair of jeans, a handsome trophy and a day of work in the store itself. This was also accompanied by a photo in the local paper and much talk on the sports radio stations.
Houston cared about his community and those who grew up here. He stressed excellence on and off the field for his award recipients. Thus the motto “Do as much as possible…and then some…” The Wheeler’s Lineman and Back awards ran from 1960 until his untimely death in July of 1974 in a plane crash.
If there is a will there is a way. This is the philosophy of our Meritorious Service inductee-Randy Davis. Randy has been bringing the picture home to thousands of radio listeners since 1968.
Every imaginable sport was subject to his coverage and adept play by play. His love of sports carried across the radio waves and won the attention of many. Randy has been a sports fan all of his life, participating in baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, track and football as youth.
Later in life, he played first base for the Rome Indians in the Northwest Georgia Senior Baseball league and was a member of the 1991 Championship team. In October 1996, he had a hole in one at Meadow lake Golf Course. His activity in sports led him, naturally, to talk about it. As a teenager, Randy took a part time job with WLAQ, the station he now owns.
His first chance at broadcasting came with WROM. Station owner Charlie Doss was looking for a play by play announcer for the Darlington Tiger football team and Randy volunteered. The radio had him hooked and he found a place to excel.
In 1969, Randy was selected as the Top Play by Play announcer and Sportscaster in the Georgia medium size market by the Associated Press. As outstanding as his talent as a broadcaster is, so is his dedication to the craft. Pug Carver says “There have been some really difficult times during his career, but there was never a game that was supposed to be broadcast that did not go on the air one way or the other”. He stressed getting the job done even if that meant he carried all the equipment, strung his own wire and paid for telephone lines himself.
When other media outlets dropped youth sports from their programming, he saw the opportunity to emphasize it on his schedule. His radio station was the first local station to carry the Braves when they first came to Atlanta. There are many standout achievements in the career of Randy Davis, including the chance to broadcast so many local state championship games by West Rome, East Rome, Darlington, and Coosa. But the memories of the people he has met or worked with and the thousands of young people he has talked to on the radio really make the fabric and flavor of his career.
Charles "Bunk" Hyde
Meritorious service is defined as the act of unselfish giving. For twenty-two years, Charles “Bunk” Hyde served the youth of Rome and Floyd County as a volunteer coach, mentor, and friend. Working with both the Boys Club and the youth activities, Inc. baseball program, “Bunk” built a legacy of helping others through the sport he knew best, baseball. “Bunk” began his coaching career with the Boys club in 1968 as coach of the Bears team.
In 1971, he accepted an invitation from Wally Brown to help coach the Jaycees Bronco Team with the YAI organization. From there, “Bunk” moved to the Pony League to assist Lamar Partee with the Elks Club in 1975, and eventually took the reins of that team in 1977. Throughout the decade of the 1980’s, “Bunk” coached teams to the 20 championships, winning league, district, area, and state competitions. “Bunk” led his teams to undefeated seasons in 1983, ’84, and ’87. “Bunk’s” 1987 championship season became an especially memorable one, for his son, Chuck, led the Broncos League Jaycees team to a state championship that same year. “Bunk” loved the game of baseball, but more than that he loved the kids.
On any given afternoon, one could find “Bunk” driving through the neighborhood rounding up his team. “Bunk” coached many players, including Ray Donaldson, Johnny and Eric Tutt, Chris Jefts, Jimmy Yarbrough, Norris Allen, and many others who went to play college and/or professional baseball. As a coach and mentor, “Bunk” instilled in those young men a love for the game and an appreciation for hard work and dedication. He also encouraged them to further their education through involvement in sports.
When Bruce Hamler made his first visit to Rome, Georgia in 1939, the thought of becoming an employee of the City and retiring after 38 years of faithful service never entered his mind. It also probably never occurred to him that his accomplishments would shape the future of parks and recreation services for the citizens of Rome and Floyd County for decades to come.
As Director of Public Works and as manager of the City of Rome, Mr. Hamler was responsible for vast improvements in roads, water systems, fire departments, and many other public works projects. As City Manager, Mr. Hamler was also instrumental in the construction and development of a major recreation Department, including ball fields, tracks, and other recreation facilities. Two city swimming pools, ball fields to replace horse racetracks behind the levee, boat ramps, tennis courts, Hamler and Memorial Gyms, these facilities are all credits to Bruce Hamler and his work in developing the city parks and recreation system.
Many citizens of the area can’t remember when the football field at Barron Stadium ran parallel with Second Avenue. That’s because in 1966, under Mr. Hamler’s direction, the stadium was reoriented and the field was constructed to be played as it is now. At the same time, steel bleachers replaced wooden stands, and Barron Stadium took on a new look. Mr. Hamler was also instrumental in the acquisition and development of football and baseball fields for East Rome and West Rome High Schools.
From Mr. Hamler’s guidance, assistance, and commitment to the City of Rome, we gained the valuable foundations that led to the vast parks and recreation facilities and services that we enjoy today.
Mr. Hamler will always be remembered for his contributions, time, and tireless efforts in improving the quality of life for citizens of Rome and Floyd County.
Joan Dunn Jones
Meritorious is defined as deserving reward of praise. Joan Dunn Jones has given twenty-four years of volunteer service to the youth of Rome and Floyd County - this deserves praise.
From 1944 to 1948, Joan Dunn Jones was a star basketball player at Etowah High School in Tennessee. She was named “Best All-Around Player” and participated in the state tournament in 1948. She led the Virginia Intermont Junior College basketball team as Captain form 1949 to 190, and went on to major in physical education and general science at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1950.
In 1952, Mrs. Jones became a teacher and coach at Model High School, and led students in Junior High, Junior Varsity, and Varsity Basketball. In 1956, she moved to Model Junior High and coached basketball, track, and softball until the State of Georgia ruled out all junior high athletic programs in 1961.
Needing to share her gift of coaching, Joan began her volunteer career with the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority that lasted 24 years. Throughout her career, over 15 local basketball championships, five Georgia Recreation and Park Association District All-Star titles and 3 GRPA State All-Star titles for the 12 and 14 and under age group were won by Joan. Not being partial to one sport, Joan also coached track for ages 10-14 and led many girls to local meet victories and qualifying berths for District and State meets.
In softball, four local 12 and under championships were won under her direction. In 1992, she led her team to the local championship and finished runner-up with her District All-Stars. These players continued to play as a team from the Model area and went on to state competitions and one Final Four after entering high school competition. Coach Jones has already received numerous awards for her dedication to coaching, including the Recreation Authority Youth Sport Coach of the Year in 1982, the 30 year award from the Scorebook Club in 1993-94, and the Etowah High School Sports Hall of Fame honor in 1983.
Dr. Sidney A. Bell
Meritorious Service is the act of giving unselfishly to the community and it individuals. In the area of sports, Dr. Sidne A. Bell has exemplified this model and the resulting impact of his contributions can be seen and felt throughout Northwest Georgia.
Dr. Sidney A. Bell has for the past 27 years worked to make available high quality, easily accessible care to area athletes with sports related injuries. Much of Dr. Bell’s service has been provided at no cost to the athletes or their families. Beginning in the mid 70’s with physical therapists Steve Wright, Bob Sloan, and his nurse Betty Silvers, a program to provide annual standardized physical examinations for all area high schools was established. This program was no limited to just Floyd County, but by enlisting other physicians, nurses, and physical therapists Dr. Bell was able to include Cedartown, Trion, and Chattooga County. This program continues today through the Health Department and with the assistance of many local physicians and physical therapists.
Also during the mid 70’s Dr. Bell began a free Monday morning sports medicine clinic. With the help of Dr. Darrell Lowrey, Dr. Jonathan Krome, and Redmond P.T. associates this program still operates today to provide evaluations and treatment for all are high school year for all sports. Dr. Bell somehow also found time to serve as the team physician for the Darlington School football team, a position he has held for the past 25 years.
He has also worked closely with the football programs at Pepperell, Cedartown, East Rome, and West Rome high schools to provide medical assistance and treatment. While serving these schools, Dr. Bell established an evaluation and treatment program to have a physical therapist attend at least one practice at each school during on the sidelines at all varsity football games.
His compassion for serving the youth of this community led Dr. Bell to serve on the YMCA Board of Trustees for many years and as chairman for three of those years. He also served on the Darlington School Board of Trustees of the athletic committee for several years.
William C. Pinson
As a young child, this inductee’s dream was to become a ballplayer, just like his dad. His memories of moving to Eastman, watching dad play for the Dodgers, returning to Rome, and going to Cole Stadium to watch the Red Sox are still vivid today.
While this inductee never made it to the Big Leagues, his amateur sports record and his subsequent services as coach qualify him for meritorious service accolades. A long bout with Rheumatic Fever kept Bill Pinson in bed seven months, slowing down the dream of playing in the big leagues; however, learning to make his legs work again after such a long period of recovery was, perhaps, a blessing. Leg strength and speed turned out to be great assets, helping to jump-start his little league career at age 12.
After a couple of years of fundamentals and good coaching, Bill was picked to play on the 1958 Pony League All Stars. As a freshman at Coosa High School, he teamed with a great group of guys that won the Class C State baseball Championship. This turned out to be the beginning of an unforgettable high school sports experience. While Bill was lettering 4 years in baseball, 3 years in basketball, 2 years in football,1 year in track and 1 year in golf, Coosa’s teams were prospering under leadership of Coach Branch Bragg.
A remarkable group of athletes helped capture the 1961 football State Championship against powerhouse Lincolnton at Sanford Stadium in Athens, followed by winning the 8th annual NW Ga. Basketball Tournament at Memorial Gym, Region 7C Basketball Championship, and following up with a 3rd Place finish in the State Tournament.
The school year was capped off with a 2nd place finish at the State Baseball Championship. As a senior at Coosa in 1963, Bill helped win another Sub Region baseball Title and after the Floyd County Baseball Tournament, was named to the 15 player All Tournament Team.
Bill’s childhood dream of playing baseball like his dad was truly coming to reality. In 1964, Bill walked on as freshman at Auburn University and made the freshman team. As a sophomore he joined the Varsity traveling squad and the team finished 2nd in the SEC after losing to Mississippi State in the final game. While at Auburn, as a pledge of Phi Kappa Tau, Bill helped win the Intramural All Sports Crown and ran intramural track, winning the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash and set a new record of 1:39.5 in the 880-yard relay. Bill came back to Rome and played softball and officiated football until he joined the Navy in 1966. Bill’s mother has said he should write the Navy a letter thanking them for his 4 years of playing fast pitch softball all around the world. Those places included California, Nevada, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Philippine Islands, Japan, and Greece.
After the Navy years, Bill pursued and received an Electrical Engineering degree from Auburn University, and after years later, a career move eventually brought him back to Rome to work with his Dad. With 2 sons loving sports as much as he did, Bill’s coaching career began. In 1981 and again in 1984 he coached “t” ball teams, and in 1983 teamed up with Bob Saylors to coach a North heights track team. Boys Club baseball was next in ’85 and ’86 along with YBA basketball and Church league RA basketball. With the Recreation Authority, Bill coached baseball form ’87 through ’92 with side stops along the way to play “over 40” softball tournaments with E & B in 1989, achieving a 2nd place finish in the State tournament.
1990 brought a new experience when he helped Tom Shaw coach the local 4H skeet shooting team and took them to Rock Eagle for the State competition. That summer, he coached a Youth Activities Baseball team while still playing softball and coaching the church RA basketball team. In 1991, Bill was elected as president of the Model Boosters Club, and followed that by coaching Model teams in baseball leading to a Dizzy Dean State Tournament.
In 1996, he retired to the stands to watch his son coach. Being able to play on the same team as both his sons in softball and basketball will always be a highlight of Bill’s career.
Bill Thornton spent 30 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator. He served as Berry Academy’s athletic director, Dean of Students, and coached basketball, baseball, and soccer. But for more than 30 years, Bill has devoted his time, talents, and efforts to the community through his love for sports and his desire to work with young athletes.
In 1967, Mr. Thornton began coaching with the local recreation program as a youth baseball coach. Continuing throughout the years, Mr. Thornton has coached youth basketball, tennis, and softball teams with the Parks and Recreation Authority.
As Berry Academy’s Athletic Director, Mr. Thornton served as the Physical education teacher, Head Boys Basketball Coach and Baseball Coach for 8 years. In the mean time, he instituted outdoor camping programs, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking and wilderness survival classes for the Academy.
As Dean of Students, he was charged with overseeing all students’ activities, school discipline, and academics. In 1967, Mr. Thornton moved to Armuchee High School where he taught physical education and social studies and helped coach girls and boy’s basketball, football, softball, cross country, and tennis. Through his tenure in education,
Mr. Thornton also found time to devote to his community through his love for tennis. As a tennis volunteer for more than 20 years, Mr. Thornton has served as the Local league tennis Coordinator for the Rome Tennis Club, an instructor for the USA 1-2-3 Tennis program, and served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Coosa Valley Tennis Association. Bill served as Associate Tournament Director for the Georgia State Adult League Tennis Championships for 2 years, and is in his third term as Director for the Georgia Tennis association’s District 1.
Mr. Thornton was honored with the George Wallis Award, an annual award given by the Coosa Valley Tennis Association, to recognize individuals for service in the tennis community and has been honored with the Horace Anthony Volunteer of the Year Ward by the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority. Very few people in the history of education and recreation in Rome and Floyd County have devoted as much time and interest to promoting positive activities for children, youth, and adults, as Bill Thornton.
Dr. Darrell Lowery
Despite a busy schedule that goes hand in hand with being an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Darrell Lowrey has never been too busy for sports. The Floyd County native, played sports through high school and even played in the First Santa Bowl at the New Boys Club. As a student at Armuchee High School, he played football, basketball and ran track and even set a school record for the 880 yd Run. After graduating from the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia, Lowrey returned to Rome in January 1984 to practice orthopedics.
Since his return to Rome, he given back to the community that he called home and has been truly a valuable asset to local high school and college athletic teams. He served as the on the field Team Physician for Armuchee High School for 17 years and Darlington School for 6 years. Additionally, he served as the Team Physician for Shorter College for 23 year and Berry College for 15 years. He has also served as Event Physician for National NAI College Soccer Championships when they were held at Berry College and also as Northwest Medical Director for the Georgia Games held in conjunction with the 1996 Olympics.
Lowrey was instrumental in beginning a Sports Medicine Program for all local high school and college athletic departments and as a result of his hard work and support from community businesses, there are trainers for each school in the service area. He also provides a free Sports Medicine Clinic to all local high school and college team members at the Harbin Clinic Orthopedics that numerous athletes have benefited from.
He also serves as an Orthopedic Physician for Rome Braves and a sideline physician for the Shorter College Football Team.
Not only, has Lowrey served the athletic community of Rome and Floyd County through his work as a physician, he has a also served the community as a coach of youth athletics, coaching various sports for Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority, the YMCA and behind the levee. In addition, he serves on the board for Rome First United Methodist Church, Boys and Girls Club of Rome, Rome YMCA and River City Bank.
Frank Pinson’s love of competition began as a toddler in the stands watching his father, Jack Pinson, play baseball in the minor leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals. As a student at East Rome High School, he lettered in football and track, and holds the school record for intercepting the most passes in a single game. It was while at East Rome that he developed a love for track and field that he would continue to nurture for 40 years. In 1965 Frank first participated in the Rome News Relays, not knowing that he would eventually serve a 25 year tenure as director. A three year letterman in track and field at West Georgia College, he was a member of teams that won four consecutive Georgia Intercollegiate Conference Championships, winning four consecutive Rome News Relays titles in the College Division. During his track career at West Georgia, he held school records in the Intermediate Hurdles and Distance Medley Relay.
After graduating from West Georgia Frank began his coaching career in Manchester Georgia, it was here he coached his first state champion in track and field. In 1972, Frank and his wife Ruth returned home to Rome. While at East Rome his teams won several Rome News Relays titles and he had the privilege of coaching outstanding athletes, and Hall of Fame members, like Larry Kinnebrew and Len Traylor. In 1974, his 440 relay team won the state championship.
Coach Pinson moved to Pepperell High in 1977 and became the head football coach for the Dragons. In the next few years to follow at Pepperell, Coach Pinson’s love of pure competition rejuvenated for track and field.
In 1980, Frank Pinson became the Rome Relays Director, a position he would hold until 2005. By combining a committee of local track and field enthusiasts; the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority staff; the financial backing of the Harbin Clinic and numerous community volunteers, the Rome Relays were taken to a higher level. Annually, hundreds of athletes from middle school, high school and college participated in the Rome Relays, the oldest track meet in the State of Georgia. In 1991, Frank Pinson not only served as the meet director, but as the coach of the Pepperell Dragons track team. That year the Dragons won the Division 2 Boys Title in the Rome Relays which began a 9 year winning streak.
From student athlete to coaching students; Frank has served as a volunteer; a meet official; and a 25-year tenure as Meet Director. Frank Pinson has been associated and involved with the Rome Relays for 40 years and worked countless hours coordinating meets for over 50,000 athletes. When Frank Pinson was asked why he gave of his time and talents, he stated “Rome and Floyd County has provided my family and me a great place to live and call home. My affiliation with the Rome Relays gave me an opportunity to say thank you to Rome.”
Felton Creamer is a man who embodies sacrifice and dedication in working with the youth of various communities. Felton Creamer has given 33 years to coaching youth where his main objectives were to instill character, discipline and ultimately wisdom. Through his influence as a coach, he encouraged education and motivated many children who had not considered college to continue their education. He served as a mentor to all youth, and many who developed into successful athletes including Hall of Fame Members Ray Donaldson, Larry Kinnebrew, Iris Kinnebrew and Nat Hudson.
Felton grew up in West Rome and saw first-hand the importance of strong adult leaders in positively influencing a child’s life. His mentors, Calvin and Samuel Burrell were great influences in his life and helped him ultimately find his own life purpose. After serving in the United States Marines from 1967 to 1969 including 13 months in Vietnam, Felton returned to the United States seeking more ways to serve. Felton wanted to have a positive influence on the youth in his community and made it his life purpose, “to serve as many people as possible”. With this motivation, Felton focused his efforts in the North Rome Area, helping low-income, single-parent kids from the housing projects.
In 1971, Felton started coaching both boys basketball and girls basketball for the recreation league. He also helped coached girls softball at the high school level where he mentored many student athletes including Hall of Famer Barbara Kennedy. Throughout the 1970’s Felton worked with hundreds of high school kids from East Rome, Coosa and West Rome. He coached North Rome teams for 13 years where his teams won numerous championships, but more importantly they learned life skills.
From 1984 to 1994 Felton coached Youth Football in North Rome. Not only did he coach the kids, but he provided all the equipment and supplies for his teams. He believed in using football to instill the importance of education, dedication, discipline and self confidence to help dissolve and overcome some of the bad situations or home life environments of his players. Because Felton was consistent, dedicated, and giving, he served not only as a coach to many, but also as a father figure to many.
Felton said his biggest reward in his service is seeing youth achieve their goals. As a man of integrity and a man of service, it is our honor to recognize Felton for his dedication to youth sports, but most importantly, his passion for helping people.
Robert "Bob" Grizzard
Bob Grizzard has been involved in soccer in the Rome area as a player, coach and benefactor for many years. Bob Grizzard has a passion for sports - which became most evident in high school where he was a 3 sport letterman at Darlington School. After graduating, he attended Davidson College where he earned All Conference Honorable Mentioned Honors. Bob coached soccer at Charlotte Country Day and Durham Academy where his team won the North Carolina Independent School State Championship. While at Durham Academy, he was named the North Carolina Soccer Association Coach of the Year.
After establishing himself as a premier high school soccer coach in North Carolina, Bob returned to Rome and became active in the local soccer scene. He teamed with his brother, Vernon Grizzard, along with other local soccer patrons to create the Grizzard Park soccer complex on the Rome bypass. This action enabled the land locked YMCA soccer program to have high quality fields and grow it’s player participation.
Bob has worked tirelessly to support local youth soccer programs to grow the sport while maintaining high quality of play. His service includes coaching a group of “Under – 6” soccer players all the way to the “Under-17” Classic I Level (Classic I is the highest soccer level in the state). Through Bob’s coaching direction, his team achieved the ranking of one of the top 6 teams in the state. Bob also helped establish the Darlington Soccer Academy attracting quality coaching as well as local, national and international students to this program.
In addition, to coaching competitive teams and building programs, Bob has mentored at-risk youth through the local YMCA soccer program and coached youth soccer teams for 10 years. He has helped organize and coordinate numerous soccer tournaments at Grizzard Park resulting in great economic benefit to the Rome area.
Bob continues an ongoing leadership and management relationship with Grizzard Park to ensure it’s continued success.
Vernon Grizzard has been involved in soccer for the better part of 40 years. As a 3 sport letterman at Darlington School, he was a member of the Darllington 1970 Mid-South Soccer Championship team and served as Captain of the 1971 Georgia State Soccer Championship team receiving All State honors. In tennis, he won the 1971 Georgia State Tennis Doubles title helping to bring home the 1971 Georgia State Tennis Championship to Darlington School.
Vernon has given not only as a player and a coach, but as a benefactor and an innovator. Vernon recognized that the Rome YMCA soccer program was limited due to to lack of playing fields and was determined to create more fields for games and practices. He teamed with his brother Bob, along with other patrons to create Grizzard Park.
Due to Vernon’s work to secure high quality playing fields, the participation from local residents playing soccer grew from approximately 500 participants to over 2,000 participants. The quality of soccer play soared allowing Rome area teams to successfully compete with more established teams from the Atlanta area.
Vernon also worked with the Hispanic Community and encouraged residents to use the park resulting in regular play for 24 adult Hispanic teams. The park also provides a venue for hosting large soccer tournaments and is the home game site for the Shorter College soccer program.
Vernon continues to maintain an ongoing leadership relationship with Grizzard Park. He also helped establish the Darlington School Soccer Academy. He continues to play soccer recreationally and to serve the Rome area community.
Bob Williams, has a passion for supporting sports in our community.
His interest in sports began as a young child who played basketball in elementary school and on into high school where he played both basketball and baseball. It was from his great experiences in playing sports that he developed a strong work ethic which helped him develop an Award Winning Auto Dealership and Service Business. Williams has used the success of his business alongside volunteering his own time and talents - to promote and build local athletic programs in Rome-Floyd County.
Starting in 1970, Williams started his service as local sports commentator on our radio waves (where he has worked alongside Randy Davis at WLAQ) and has given countless hours since to promote local sports. Williams sponsored the radio broadcast for numerous high school and college sports including football, basketball and baseball.
It could be said that Williams has sponsored more athletic events than any other businessman in Floyd County. He helped sponsor the Tour of Georgia Bicycle Race in 2004 and 2005; the NCCA Road Championships (cycling) in 1992, NAIA National Soccer Tournament from 1990 to the present. He has been a strong supporter of Berry College’s men’s athletic programs and Berry College’s Women’s basketball program. He gave major financial contributions for the construction of Cage Center -Berry’s indoor Athletic Facility.
Over a 30 year period, Williams has donated considerable funds to local high school and college athletics from transportation services, radio broadcast fees, team banquets, special awards and special projects for an estimated total of donated funds approaching one million dollars.
Williams is intensely motivated to support sports in our area because he understands the value that sports bring to a young person’s life. Most importantly he understands that behind every aspiring athlete, there must be sponsors and supporters to help make it all possible.
Al Thomas is a graduate of West Rome High School and Berry College. He is currently recognized as one of the top softball coaches in the intercollegiate ranks is Head Coach at Shorter University. During this time, he has led the Lady Hawks to two national championships; the first in 2012 in Shorter’s final season in the NAIA and the second in 2014 as a member of the NCCAA. In 2014 he was named Coach of the Year.
Thomas was named the program’s sixth head coach in 2010 and has been affiliated with the Lady Hawk softball program since 2005. Shorter has risen to national prominence with 9 consecutive seasons with more than 42 wins; 3 seasons with more the 50 wins; 39 All-Americans; 54 All-Conference performers; 66 scholar athletes; 8 All Freshman Athletes and 5 Mizuno Golden Glove Award Winners. Thomas’ record speaks for itself; he has built a program on a foundation of respect, responsibility, integrity, leadership and sportsmanship.
Prior to starting his career with Shorter University, Thomas worked for 20 years with several Major League Baseball teams in their scouting and player development departments.
He coached locally at Berry College and Rome High School, and has served as the color analyst for the Rome Braves and continues to do sports broadcast for WLAQ 1410AM and WATG 95.7 FM in Rome.
Al Thomas is a man of the highest character and loves this community with all his heart. Coach Thomas represents excellence in all his endeavors.
A dedicated youth athletics supporter in our community, David has contributed to the growth and success of many local programs and scholarship opportunities for our youth. Under his leadership as Tournament Director for the GHSA invitational, regional and state basketball tournaments held at Georgia Highlands College (GHC) each year (he has been Assistant Director of Athletics and PHED Program Manager at GHC for 26 years), over $175,000 has been raised for non-traditional student scholarships. He was Project Administrator for the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP), a program for disadvantaged youth sponsored by the NCAA. He is Camp Administrator for the Foundation Camp, a program for at-risk males ages 10-14. He was a member of the Pepperell Athletics support team for over 25 years, volunteering his time working on the sidelines for the Dragons football team. He has received numerous awards through the years for his diligent efforts including: GHC Vivian Benton Staff Person of the Year; Floyd County School’s Business Partner of the Year; Rome-Floyd Recreation Authority Horace Anthony Volunteer of the Year; GHC President’s Meritorious Service; and in 2017 he received the Heart of the Community Award as well as the Rome-Floyd Commission on Children and Youth’s George Pullen Award.
If you mention the word tennis and Rome, Georgia in the same sentence, odds are the next sentence will include the name Jaleel Riaz.
Riaz has played a huge role in the Rome tennis scene for five decades. Riaz came to Rome to play tennis for Shorter College after earning All-America honors at Wingate College in North Carolina. At Shorter, Riaz compiled a phenomenal record in both singles and double, earning All-American honors in doubles along the way. His senior year, his doubles record was 35-2.
After Shorter, Riaz continued his tennis legacy working as Director of Tennis at Coosa Country Club, coaching at Shorter, Berry and West Georgia. He also coached at the American School in Pakistan and served as captain and head coach of Pakistan’s Davis Cup Team.
Along with all of those duties, Riaz has also been giving private tennis lessons to kids and adults of all ages for the last 40 years.
Countless kids in Rome and Floyd County have learned the game from Riaz with some of them going on to earn honors in high school and receive college scholarships. Riaz also volunteers at numerous summer camps and local tennis events.