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Maybe hall idea will take root

David Elwell
Sports Editor Decatur Daily
August 28, 1988

Plant a seed and watch it grow.

Maybe that has happened.

Several weeks ago we wrote a column suggesting that one thing Morgan County needs is a way to recognize some of the people who have contributed to this community through their athletic achievements.

Our reasoning was that as the years go by the deeds of these people go from becoming larger than life to fleeting memories.

A perfect example is the late Decatur football coach H.L. "Shorty" Ogle. In 50 years the Ogle name will be nothing more than the name of a football stadium to most of the people in the area. There will be few people around who will understand who Ogle was and what he meant to this community.

A perfect way to keep the past from being forgotten would be to make an effort to keep the memory alive. That's what a Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame could do.

A few weeks after that column we were contacted by Phil Garrison and A.D. Ashcraft of the Boys' Club of Decatur. They liked the idea, felt it was something the community needed and, at the same time, could prove beneficial for the Boys' Club.

What the two had in mind was letting the Boys' Club sponsor the hall of fame with an annual banquet. Proceeds would go to the Boys' Club.

"We are a non-profit organization and we receive some funding from the United Way'" said Garrison. "While we appreciate the United Way's contribution to our efforts it does not fully fund our work. We have to raise the remaining operating funds.

"We feel like a Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame would be a good once-a-year fund-raising project for our organization. It will fund our efforts, but more importantly, we will be giving something positive back to the community."

Meetings have been held. A committee of men representing a wide interest of sports in Morgan County has met and decided that there is a need for a Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame. Plans are in work for it to become a reality in 1989.

Members of the committee are Garrison, Ashcraft, Veron Lang, Dr. Bob Sittason, Dr. Lloyd Nix, Mayor Bill Dukes, J.P. Cain, Earl Morris, Jack Allen, Wes Thompson, Jim Frances, Leon Felts, "Red" Caudle and Lorenzo Jackson.

A recent meeting of the committee included a presentation by John Lee, executive director of the Boy's Club of Knoxiville; Tenn. Lee's club has sponsored a sports hall of fame in that city for seven years. It's been a huge success. Members of the committee hope to pattern Morgan County's after Knoxville's.

The objectives of the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame are:

1. Raise funds for the Boys' Clubs of Knoxville.

2. Honor area athletics and coaches.

3. Market the Boy's Club.

4. Provide the community with a class event.

The Knoxville event features a golf tournament and banquet. The banquet is used to honor the people being inducted. An added bonus each year is a famous sports personality speaking at the banquet. One year Knoxville had basketball's Al McGuiree. Another year it was Dallas Cowboy quarterback Danny White.

The criteria to enter Knoxville's Hall of Fame is being a native of the area or having attended school in the area for four years of which three were in high school or living in the area long enough to be considered a permanent resident or a combination of one of the first three requirements and at least 15 years in coaching.

Those criteria would open up the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame to a number of people from Morgan County. But the awards don't have to stop there. The committee has discussed having a special award for an athlete or coach from the Decatur area (Lawrence, Limestone and Cullman Counties). That would allow someone like Lawrence County native Jesse Owens to be included.

Another award mentioned is honoring THE DAILY'S high school Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Members of the committee have thought long and hard and searched high and low to find some reason why the project would not be successful. Frankly, there is no reason why it cannot be a huge success. It can truly be something that the people of this community would be proud to call their own.

The only possible stumbling block would be the people not caring enough for it to become a reality. We think that is impossible. Too many fine people have already committed themselves to it becoming a success.

What we need now is help from the community. There are two ways you can help. One is become of the group of people organizing the effort. It does not matter who you are or where you live. If you love sports and want to see Morgan County's sports heroes honored, join the effort.

If you want to help, but for various reasons can't or really prefer not be included in the organizing of the event, you can still help by nominating candidates for the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame.

Right now the method of selection has not been completely decided. No one is ready to receive any formal nominations.

But what you can do is think about candidates. We don't everybody to nominate the obvious people like Ogle, Joe Jones and Don Whitmire.

We want anybody and everybody who you think is worth of consideration to be nominated.

So think about it. Think how much this can mean to our community. If you have any questions or comments contact us at 353-4612 or write P. O Box 1527, Decatur, 35602 or contact Ashcraft at 358-8782 or P.O Box 1431, Decatur, 35602.