The Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame will select its newest members of the class of 2019 on Wednesday. The organization is a 501c3 non-profit and has been operating since 2014.
The hall of fame is overseen by a board of directors. There are currently 14 members on the board, but Barry Blevins, president and current chairman of the board, said the hall of fame is very much community-centered.
“Our job as board members is to basically oversee the process and make sure it’s fair,” Blevins said. “The community really has a big part in this hall of fame. They’re the nominating body, basically.”
Blevins has served in his current position since December 2017.
“The main thing for me is to keep the board engaged throughout the year,” Blevins said. “Keeping the board active in the community, telling the story about the hall of fame, (and) also trying to encourage the community to nominate someone for the hall of fame and keep that list growing. We enjoy having a big list of folks to review and we want to keep that going.”
How the Process Works
Nominations are accepted from any members of the community. There is a $25 fee associated with each nomination. The money collected from nominations is used to pay expenses for the banquet, including renting space, catering, set up and break down, as well as the plaque inductees are presented with at the ceremony.
A nominee must be at least 40 years old at induction or no longer active in playing athletics locally for at least five years. For example, a long-tenured coach could be on the ballot.
Admitted nominees will have their name on the ballot for up to three years, unless said individual receives at least three votes. If this occurs, their name will remain on the ballot until such time as they do not receive the required vote threshold.
About two months before the banquet, the board members, as well as current members of the hall of fame, come together to vote on the upcoming class. Each person will be presented with a list of the nominees and are asked to vote for 10 individuals they feel exemplify worthiness of enshrinement. Each individual can only vote for a nominee one time, so everyone will select 10 different names. After selection, the votes are tabulated on the spot.
“We’ll gather at the chamber of commerce and we go through each nominee,” Blevins said. “At that point, we open it up, we allow someone to say whatever they want to say about each nominee and then we cast the vote. If there’s a tie, we go into a tiebreaker vote … and it’s based on board (member) votes.”
This year, the committee will pick six individuals for the Class of 2019. One of the six chosen must be an “Old Timer,” meaning they participated in athletics prior to 1970. Those chosen will be officially inducted into the hall of fame in August.
“We divide it up amongst the board to make contacts,” Blevins said. “Usually, someone on the board knows each of the six. We’ll divide that up, and we’ll call them, congratulate them and share with them what the next steps are.”
How it all Started
Dewayne Bowen is one of the original founders of the Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame and currently sits on the board.
Bowen is a native of Marshall County, Alabama. Back in 2013, a close friend of Bowen’s was inducted into the county’s sports hall of fame and Bowen attended the celebratory banquet.
“I had always been impressed with the sports history here (in Gordon County),” Bowen said. “I’ve lived here since the end of ’04, and at one time, we had five kids from this county playing for SEC teams in football. I was amazed because this town is smaller than where I’m from and it has a lot more athletes.”
After attending his friend’s banquet, Bowen approached Scott Fletcher about the idea of a sports hall of fame.
“(Scott) was a big supporter of Calhoun football,” Bowen said. “I knew that I couldn’t do it by myself, so I approached him first and he was excited about the idea. He and I developed that first six (board members).”
“We laid out our vision and what we wanted to do,” Bowen said. “Then we moved to a 12-member board, mostly fundraising that first year. (But) that banquet I went to kind of started it.”
New Space Awarded
Just last week, the Gordon County Historical Society approved the sports hall of fame to lease space within the historical society’s building on South Wall Street in downtown Calhoun.
“We’re going to have a reception and a ribbon-cutting at the first of August is what we plan on,” Bowen said. “Probably after our banquet, we will really start in earnest trying to get that decorated like we want and all the memorabilia we’re going to put there.”
Those nominated will be honored at the Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame annual banquet on Saturday, August 10. The event will take place at Belmont Church.
“Our vision is once a year having a reception prior to the banquet … and we have the new inductees and the (previous) inductees,” Bowen said. “We plan on a couple of times a year doing tours, we’ll volunteer and go over there and invite maybe some school tours. Plus, (the historical society house) be open a lot so our stuff will be there when the historical society has their events too.”