Having covered or been invited to many hall-of-fame ceremonies in my day, I’m often fascinated by the evolution each of the inductees took to attain their level of success.
I imagine the day-to-day process each of them dealt with, for example, handling schoolwork, studying, managing their time between school, sport and personal life.
For many of them, I was well acquainted with what they went through because I either played with, against or covered them.
Saturday night, during the Carroll County Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, I looked at the list of this year’s honorees and it occurred to me that I played against or covered five of them. That’s probably true of most similar ceremonies like this where I was privileged to be in the audience over the past 10 years or so.
But the stories these folks tell during their acceptance remarks are often inspiring. Lynn Brandon spoke of what it was like to play football at Huntingdon in the 1960s and how, in those days, kids rode their bikes and played baseball in the summer.
Erin Grant joked about annoying fellow inductee Dexter Williams during her father’s basketball practices at West Carroll. Roy Grant coached Williams at West Carroll. She then talked about her father and others who helped shape as an athlete and person.
The late James Harris was remembered for being an exemplary, selfless human being who, when it came to crunch time, knew what to do with the ball.
Jerry Robinson recalled his relationships with coaches he had and that, even though they wanted to beat each other, there was a healthy level of respect and friendship among the colleagues. He also humorously spoke of hiring his mentor, legendary Huntingdon coach Paul Ward, as a line coach for the junior high Mustangs.
James Hartsfield seemed to be genuinely humbled by his honor and gave credit to his coaches and family members for his success at Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central.
Williams, who thrilled so many with his scoring ability at West Carroll in the early 1990s, spoke of the backboard and basketball goal his father built for him on his dirt driveway as a youth. He then spoke, with a hint of astonishment, how a bouncing ball enabled him to earn a full ride scholarship to college and begin his career debt free. It also enabled him to embark on his path to mold others by paying it forward.
McKenzie’s Drew Hayes recounted all those who influenced him, whether it was family members, coaches, administrators, teammates and offered his gratitude. His success at McKenzie has parlayed itself into a spot on a Major League roster and eventually as a coach in professional baseball.
The remarks of these fascinating people demonstrate why they are different and how the world of sports couples with the education process to bind us all together.
Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m CT, Monday-Thursday on WRJB, 95.9 FM, Camden, Tenn.