The second class of the Weakley County Sports Hall of Fame has been announced.
On Aug. 12 of last year, the Hall of Fame inducted 10 members while honoring one team during the banquet held at UT Martin. Over 330 people attended the celebration as the inductees were enshrined as the inaugural class of the Weakley County Sports Hall of Fame.
One of the goals of the Hall of Fame is to highlight teams who have represented Weakley County by reaching the pinnacle of their athletic competition in the state or national level. This year’s honoree is the 1984 Greenfield High School Yellowjackets. The small town in Northwest Tennessee made a historic run to capture the TSSAA State Championship, the first in the history of Weakley County.
This year, the Hall of Fame will induct eight members.
Hugh Adams is a 1964 graduate of Dresden High School where he starred in football and basketball. During his junior year in 1962, Mr. Adams was 1st team all-conference, and repeated that feat in 1963 as the Lions football team tied South Fulton for the Reelfoot Conference Championship. Not only was he named the Most Valuable Player of the football team, but he garnered the same award in basketball that season as well as he led the Dresden Lions to the 1964 state basketball tournament. After high school, Mr. Adams received an athletic scholarship to Mississippi State University where he played football for the Bulldogs. As a junior in 1967, he was placed on the All-Academic team for the Southeastern Conference. The following season as a senior, he was named a captain for the Bulldogs. Mr. Adams returned to Weakley County where he became Coach Adams, taking over the Greenfield football program in 1970. He led the Yellowjackets to the Reelfoot Conference championship in 1971, and he was selected as the conference coach of the year.
One of the criteria for induction in to the Hall of Fame is service to Weakley County in excess of 25 years. Although born in Newbern, Tennessee, Jerry Carpenter has been a staple in the Weakley County community since receiving his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1966. Mr. Carpenter officiated high school football and basketball for over 50 years. During that time, he officiated 30 sub-state games and seven state tournaments in basketball. He also officiated in contests featuring junior colleges and NAIA members. He also spent 10 years calling men’s and women’s games in the Ohio Valley Conference. On the gridiron, he served as commissioner and assigning officer for the Northwest Football Officials Association for 26 years. He called 82 state playoff games, including eight state championships. Mr. Carpenter transitioned to Coach Carpenter in 2002. After managing the bookstore at UT Martin for 36 years, he took over the golf program and took it to unprecedented heights. He was named the OVC Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2016. In 2016, the Skyhawk golf program qualified for the NCAA Regionals after capturing the first OVC championship in the program’s history. Mr. Carpenter was elected to the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2006, the UT Martin Hall of Fame in 2021, and the OVC Hall of Fame in 2023.
It is quite fitting that Coach Don Durden is being inducted the same year as his 1984 Greenfield Yellowjacket basketball team is being nominated. Despite beginning his career as a football coach, he is best known for his abilities as a basketball skipper. In 1984, Coach Durden navigated the treacherous waters of west Tennessee Basketball, leading the Jackets to the first state championship in school, and county history. Coach Durden has remained a consistent figure on the basketball floor in Greenfield where he has mentored multiple coaches and been a part of several runs for both the Jackets and Lady Jackets.
For 25 years, Randy Frazier patrolled the sidelines for the Gleason Junior High and High School Lady Bulldogs basketball program. The Greenfield High School and UT Martin graduate spent his entire career in Weakley County. While coaching in the high school ranks, he amassed 613 wins against only 123 losses. Gleason advanced to the state tournament nine times, capturing three state titles (1992, 1999, and 2007) and a runner up finish (1993). His junior high squads tallied a 299-68 worksheet, 12 county championships, four runners-up, and 16 invitational tournament championships. When it was all said and done, Coach Frazier won 82.7 percent of the games he coached, finishing with a 912-191 combined record. During that time span, Coach Frazier was the district coach of the year 17 times, was named the Jackson Sun Coach of the Year on three occasions, TACA Coach of the Year 15 times, and was the “Best of the West” coach of the year six times. Through his tutelage, 20 players earned athletic scholarships, 11 state tournament honorees, 13 All-State selections, five Miss Basketball finalists and three Miss Basketball Award winners (Kara Sanders Adkins, Ashlee McElhiney Ayers, Kayla Hudson Irvin)
In 2022, Mr. Frazier was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame.
In 1963, Brownsville, Gleason, Martin, Bolivar, and Memphis Catholic were regarded as some of the best football teams in West Tennessee. However, the best player was clad in Purple and Gold. Phil Gordon was a scoring machine for the Sharon Eagles. In his final two games, he visited the endzone nine times as the Sharon Eagles routed Decaturville and Alamo. He finished in the top 10 in the state in scoring finishing with 90 points, which was tops in the county. Gordon was the only player from Sharon named to the All Reelfoot Conference team. He did so on the strength of 7.4 yards per carry. He also hauled in 21 passes for 384 yards. The next closest receiver to him had six for eighty yards. Gordon was also a standout on the hardwood. The guard had an uncanny ability to “score amongst the trees” and was an integral part of the 9 overtime win against the Dresden Lions that captured the District 27 title.
The most amazing part is that he did all this with while being blind in one eye.
A 2002 graduate of Westview High School, Justin Harrell was a commanding presence on the gridiron and hardwood. On the court, he averaged 17 points per game in his career, logging time as a freshman. The size and athleticism dominated the football field on both sides of the line of scrimmage. A sure handed tight end and edge setting defensive end, Harrell was named Mr. Football in 2001 and helped lead the Chargers to their first ever appearance in the state championship game. Harrell signed with the University of Tennessee, where he was dominate force at defensive tackle for the Vols. He was an all-SEC performer in 2005 and named the Cotton Bowl Classic Defensive MVP that same season. He was a first-round draft pick (16th overall) in 2007 by the Green Bay Packers and captured the Super Bowl XLV championship in 2010.
Leigh Avery Hart
One of the most impactful individuals in the history of Weakley County Schools is the late Leigh Avery Hart. Originally from Memphis, Leigh Avery was as student-athlete at UT Martin, graduated with a teaching degree and immediately made her presence felt in the Dresden Community. A long-time girls’ softball and basketball coach, “Coach Hart” mentored hundreds of young ladies through her work in the classroom, court, community, and region. An Olympic torch bearer and Dresden Iris Festival honoree, her ability to inspire people in her community left an indelible mark on those who encountered her. Coach Hart had the honor of coaching over a dozen sets of mother/daughters in her time in education. Despite her passing away in 2021, her kindness and ability to help those in need still permeate through the halls of Dresden Middle School in the “Lion’s Den”, and student reward-based store that she created.
A winner. That’s the one word that sums up Kayla Hudson-Irvin’s playing career as a Bulldog. After the completion of her 8th grade season, Hudson Irvin was an immediate impact player for Coach Frazier and the Lady Dawgs. Her five-year playing career saw her score 2,292 points while dishing out 686 assists. She was a 4-time All- District performer, three-time All- State Selection, and two-time district MVP her junior and senior year. She led her team to a 36-1 record her senior season (2007) capturing a state title, the State Tournament MVP, Class A Miss Basketball, West Tennessee Player of the Year, Gold Circle All-Star Game MVP, and a member of the TACA East/West All-Star Game.
She continued her winning ways in her second stint as a Bulldog at Union University. Hudson Irvin started every single game (149), garnering All- American Status all four years, capturing back-to-back NAIA national titles in 2009 and 2010. She is the all-time leader in assists, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage.
While at Gleason and Union University, she posted 265 wins against only 20 losses … a winning percentage of 93 percent.
The newly-announced class was inducted at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, in the ballroom inside the University Center at the University of Tennessee at Martin.