Sports Hall of Fame dream comes true
by Marguerite Cline
May 02, 2013 10:10 PM | 1727 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tonight is a big night in the lives of four outstanding local athletes. Dr. Kevin Higgins, Brenda Poole Jones, Mike O’Brien and Kyle Owen will be inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame.

Also being honored are the members of the girls’ basketball team at Cherokee High School, who were state champions in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

The idea of a Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame originated with then Canton Mayor Cecil Pruett. A native of Alabama, Cecil was driving home after attending a ceremony where his former high school coach was inducted in the Sports Hall of Fame in the town where Cecil had grown up.

He decided Cherokee County should have a Sports Hall of Fame, too.

If you know Cecil Pruett, you know he gets things done. He began calling people around the county asking them to meet to talk about his idea.

At the meeting there was discussion of many people of the community who deserved the honor. On the list were pro-basketball great Joe Thomas, Adam Moorehead, who played football for Tulane, and Pat Turner and Victor McConnell who had played football for the University of South Carolina.

`Two of the first females named were Debbie Groover and Cindy Ely. After playing basketball for Cherokee High they dominated the court at the University of Tennessee under revered coach Pat Summit.

Another candidate high on the list was Cherokee County native Charles Martin, who played for the Green Bay Packers.

Someone remembered that Greg Key had caught the winning touchdown pass for Furman University in the Division 1-AA National Championship Game.

There was some confusion. Some had thought they would be raising money to construct a building. There were sighs of relief when they learned that was not a part of Mayor Pruett’s plan. The planned display would be located in the community center that was to be built by the city of Canton in the near future.

The group that had gathered at Mayor Pruett’s invitation went to work. A board of directors of 24 people who had been involved in sports in Cherokee County representing all areas of the county was named.

The discussion continued. Would outstanding fans be eligible for membership? Blanche and Mike Lawson had been named Number One Fans by Cherokee High School because of their decades of support. Lil Jones was mentioned as one of the greatest sports enthusiasts of the area.

The leadership of the Sports Hall of Fame board was selected. Then was when I met one of the most unique people I ever knew. While I became the chairman of the board, Lowell Lawson, named secretary, was really the untiring leader of the pack.

At times, both of us laughed about how we got those responsibilities. Lowell and I considered ourselves the only two people on the entire board who would never be deemed worthy of membership in the Hall of Fame.

The work began. Board members had different tasks. Judge Jackson Harris agreed to be on the committee to write bylaws and rules. Howard Ray and Ty Adams Jr. worked on a form for nominating people to the Hall of Fame.

Early on, we realized we needed to raise “seed money.” Believe it or not, that was one of the easiest things to do. Realizing they might or might not get their money back, board members were asked to loan $100 each to the Hall of Fame. They did.

Board member Thelma Rogers opened a bank account. At the end of the first year, after all the expenses — food, plaques, rings, postage, etc. — were paid, we had made a profit. The board members got their money back with some left to finance us for the next year.

John Heard headed the publicity committee and along with Lowell spread the word far and wide about the birth of our Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame.

It was decided we would have our first induction dinner at Reinhardt College. Fifteen Cherokee County athletes were honored.

The Reinhardt chef, Lowell and I spent serious time together. We sold more tickets than Reinhardt had chairs. Since we had packed the dining room, it was more than a little uncomfortable when the air conditioning went out.

At the end of the evening tonight, a total of 88 worthy people will be members of the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame.

Many good things began when one person had a dream. Thus was the case with the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame. Cecil Pruett was the dreamer and many others including Bill Groover, Marvin Satterfield, Dianne Moore, Lawrence Fitts, Charles Hopkins, Clyde Lawson, Jack Street, Will Heath, Larry Prather, Ronnie Smith, Millicent Fox and Ferrell Sparks made the dream come true.

Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.
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