The Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame celebrated the six newest members on Saturday at Belmont Church in Calhoun.
Michelle Palmer Griffith, Jayne Curtis Maupin, Jeffery McBee, Sabrina Bell Poole, Lindsey “LJ” McDaniel and Dr. Bettie Smith became the Class of 2019, the hall of fame’s fifth class to be inducted. A video featuring photos from either athletic and/or coaching careers was prepared on each inductee’s behalf.
“It’s months of hard work and its definitely a pleasure to be able to see it come together and be able to share the stories I’ve been able to learn over the last few months, gathering information from the inductees and the Red Bud basketball team,” Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame Board President Barry Blevins said. “It’s always fun afterwards to hear from our guests about things they didn’t realize about our inductees and that’s really the cool part about what we do.”
The banquet also took time to honor the late Jerry Smith, who died earlier this year at 84 years old, with a tribute video, featuring photographs from his life and coaching career.
“It was an honor ... to just pay tribute to Coach (Jerry) Smith,” Blevins said. “He just meant a whole lot to everyone here. He was a very selfless person, always thought about the student-athletes. Even when he wasn’t coaching anymore, (he) was very active in trying to promote, whether it was through his newspaper articles or if it was just walking into a coffee shop to talk sports, he was always very focused on the students.”
Coach Jerry Smith Commitment to Excellence Team Award
This year’s team Commitment to Excellence Team award was named in Smith’s honor, and the 1965 Red Bud Lady Cardinals basketball team became the first team to be recognized under the new naming.
“It’s a great honor because I knew Coach Smith personally and he loved sports, and he loved children, and he always encouraged people to play sports,” Freda Hunt-Glass, a member of the inaugural Class of 2015, said.
Members of the Red Bud Lady Cardinals gathered on stage, and Hunt-Glass said it was the first time the team had been together in over 50 years.
“That’s the first time we’ve been together as a team in 54 years,” Hunt-Glass said. “I saw some ladies tonight that I haven’t seen in a long, long time. I’m honored to be a part of that team because it’s a great group of girls.”
The Red Bud Lady Cardinals captured the state title in spring 1965. The state championship game would be the final coached by Rex Shugart, who died in August of the same year.
“It’s hard to put into words because, as players, we didn’t know he had any type of heart condition,” Hunt-Glass said. “When he died in August (1965), ... the last (game) that he coached was our state championship game. It was a gift from us to him, and a blessing for us to be able to do that. It just can’t be put into words what that means.”
Thoughts from the 2019 Inductees
Sabrina Poole lettered in track and field, basketball, softball and tennis at Calhoun High School. After her career at CHS, Poole went on to Hiawassee Junior College, competing in softball and basketball, then onto Georgia Southern and West Georgia to play basketball.
“It’s a huge honor to be in the midst of all these other people that have been inducted before me,” Poole said. “The most fun I had was just remembering all this stuff. I always tell people that I don’t really remember all that that they talked about, but mostly what I remember is the friendships I made and my coaches and my teammates.”
Poole recounts the phone call she got saying she was to be one of the inductees of the 2019 class.
“I thought they were joking,” Poole said with a laugh. “Until I heard all the things they said about me, I just didn’t think I deserved it. Still not sure if I do or not, but I’m just shocked and I was really happy.”
Jayne Maupin competed in softball, basketball and golf at Calhoun High School. She won won region and state championships during her junior and senior seasons. After graduating from CHS, Maupin attended Berry College on a golf scholarship.
Maupin said the recognition was a true honor.
“To be a part of this hall of fame is a truly humbling experience,” Maupin said. “It’s an honor cause such great athletes have come out of Calhoun.”
Maupin said she was emotional when she first received the news of her upcoming induction into the hall.
“Honestly, being pregnant, I was emotional,” Maupin said. “I actually started crying because its one of those things that it’s like ‘Woah,’ to be honored with such a great class and then the inductees before, I was just overwhelmed from that.”
Michelle Griffin was a multi-sport athlete at Calhoun High School, lettering in tennis, softball, basketball and track. She later went on to Berry College on a tennis and basketball scholarship.
“It’s such an honor and humbling just to know I’m joining such a select group of athletes,” Griffin said. “Having been in this community for many, many years and knowing the community support and the talents that we have here certainly makes it very important to recognize the hard work.”
Michelle and her son, Adam, become the first mother-son duo inducted into the hall of fame. Adam is a member of the Class of 2018, after his football career at Calhoun High School and the University of Alabama.
“It’s nice to share something in common,” Michelle Griffin said. “Most importantly tonight, being able to share that with him while he’s here in the audience, as I kind of jokingly say, I’ve always kind of been known as Adam’s mom for most people around here these days, so it’s just kind of par for the course that he’s inducted prior to me being inducted.”
Griffin credits her family and said she would not have had the opportunities if not for their support over the years.
With the banquet now behind them, Blevins said the Hall of Fame Board of Directors is now entering a slower period of the year.
“We’re going to start debriefing this year’s banquet, then we’ll later in the year start putting together an effort to try to get more nominations,” Blevins said. “That’s what I really want to stress is for the community to go visit our website and nominate somebody because there are a lot of great athletes and coaches as well that we know have not been nominated. A board member cannot nominate them, so we have to rely on the community.”