The four inductees in the class of 2013 were honored, as well as the state champion Cherokee girls basketball teams from 1967, ’68 and ’69. There was also a period to recognize current athletes from each of the county’s six high school, and one of the hall’s founders, Lowell Lawson, who died in the fall of 2012.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame were former Sequoyah and Creekview wrestling coach Kevin Higgins, former Cherokee basketball standout Brenda Poole Jones, former Woodstock football coach Mike O’Brien and former Cherokee golfer Kyle Owen.
Each inductee took time to thank the people who helped them accomplish all they did in athletics, but it was Higgins who perhaps summed it up the best.
“I am here because of the efforts and sacrifices of those around me,” he said.
Higgins, who now serves as the athletic director at Creekview, coached wrestling in Cherokee County from 1994-2012. He won 11 county Championships and is the winningest wrestling coach in county history with 291 dual-match victories.
“I wasn’t looking to be in a hall of fame,” Higgins said of his coaching beginnings. “I was just looking for a job.”
Jones, who was member of the three Cherokee basketball teams that were recognized, was choked up during his acceptance speech.
“It’s hard for me to share how much this means to me,” she said.
Jones played at the height of girls basketball in the county, when the girls were known as the Warriorettes. She was named an all-region and all-state player in 1968 and ’69.
O’Brien coached football for 41 years — the last eight of which were spent at Woodstock.
During his acceptance speech, he revealed that he once coached girls basketball when it was 6-on-6.
“I don’t care if you are playing tiddlywinks — it’s hard to win three straight state titles,” O’Brien said, referencing the Cherokee basketball team’s run of titles.
O’Brien himself won a state championship himself while coaching football at Valdosta in 1998.
O’Brien, who said Cherokee County will be his home for life, had this to say of coaching: “The more I do it, the more I like it.”
Owen, the final inductee, also had a connection to girls basketball. His mother was a member of the 1969 teams that was recognized, and he said it was an honor to share part of the night with her.
Owen, who turned pro in 1997 and won four tournaments, said he preferred to be remembered for what he is doing now than what he did then.
“Being a fall of fame dad and husband — that is the most important thing I have ever done and ever could do,” he said.
The Hall of Fame also recognized the top male and female senior athletes from each of the high schools — Cherokee’s Sara Byers (basketball, track and field) and Brady Sandercock (football, wrestling), Creekview’s Anna Dunn (track and field) and Hunter Udall (football, wrestling, track and field), Etowah’s Caroline Waters (soccer) and Michael McCauley (football), River Ridge’s Parker Nayman (basketball, volleyball, track and field, cheerleading, tennis) and Austin Terrell (football, track and field), Sequoyah’s Maggie Hartman (basketball, volleyball, track and field) and Blake Ingleton (football, track and field) and Woodstock’s Makensie Block (basketball, cross county, track and field) and Trey Alexander (football, basketball).