The inaugural class for the Clinch County Sports Hall of Fame has been announced.
Sixteen individuals will be inducted into the new Clinch County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, January 16. A reception and ceremony will be held prior to that day’s Clinch/Lanier basketball games at Clinch County High School.
The 16 chosen for the Hall’s first class are: Jolene Ammons, Cecil Barber, Kingston Clark Jr., A.C. Cooper, Jerry Edwards, Lottie Jeffords, Herbert Mingo, Hal Peagler, Dr. A.I. Robbins Sr., Allen Robbins Jr., Danny Smith, Jonathan Smith, Terry Swinson, Donald Tison, and Tara Williams.
The Clinch County Sports Hall of Fame was formed a year ago with the goal to recognize outstanding achievements and contributions to athletics in Clinch County. A committee of nine was formed and by-laws were created. Committee members are Madalene Gore, Dennis Morgan, Sean McCall, JoAnn Tomlinson, Jerry Edwards, Billy Cunningham, Jack Hart, Winston Peterson and Len Robbins.
To be eligible for inclusion in the Hall, a person must have been a Clinch County resident at one point, or have attended Clinch County High School at least five years earlier, or been an employee of the Clinch County School System.
The committee received nominations from the community, and considered over a hundred people before deciding on the 16 for the inaugural class. Committee members had to leave the room if relatives were nominated, and weren’t allowed to vote for those individuals.
Plans for January 16 include a presentation of Hall of Fame red blazers to each living member of the Hall, and presentation of plaques for each inductee. A matching plaque will be placed in a Hall of Fame case in the gymnasium lobby at CCHS.
“The committee would like to thank the Clinch County Lions Club for their generous donation that allowed us to get this started,” said Hall of Fame committee chairman Len Robbins. “We’d also like to thank those who agreed to be sponsors in our program, which we will have for inductees and their families at the induction ceremony. This process of selecting this first class was a difficult one, as there were so many worthy candidates. We plan on making this an annual event, and will name the second Clinch County Sports Hall of Fame class sometime later this year.”
Robbins said others who would like to put advertisements in the program, congratulating inductees, can contact him at the Clinch County News office – 912-487-5337. He said program sales are paying for Hall of Fame costs, and any donations are needed and appreciated.
Here are short bios of the inductees:
• Jolene Ammons – Clinch County High graduate who went on to be a star player for the professional women’s basketball team, the All American Red Heads. Her Red Head jersey is in the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame.
• Cecil Barber – Longtime coach at Clinch County High who helmed six baseball state championships and one football state title as the Panther head coach. Already in the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame, and it was recently announced he will join the GACA Hall of Fame in 2020.
• Kingston Clark, Jr. – Clark was the star player on the Panthers’ first state basketball team, in 1987. Went on to play collegiately at College of Ozarks, and is now the head basketball coach at Ware County.
• A.C. Cooper – Cooper was a member of six Panther state championship teams, in three different sports. In 1988-89, he was the quarterback on the state champion football team; point guard on the state championship basketball team; and shortstop on the state championship baseball team.
• Jerry Edwards – Was head coach for two Pantherette state championship teams – in 1991 and 1993, and also was an assistant coach for most of the other Clinch County state champions in baseball and football. Also served as the Panther basketball coach.
• Lottie Jeffords – Outstanding basketball player for Clinch County High’s first state championship team – the 1976 Pantherettes. Recognized as an All-State basketball player.
• Herbert Mingo – Was Georgia’s All-Classification Football Player of the Year for the 1988 season – Clinch County’s first football state championship team. Holds school records for most rushing yards in a career, most rushing yards in a season, and most rushing touchdowns in a season and career.
• Hal Peagler – Outstanding fullback/linebacker/punter for the Panthers in the early 1960s. Was named All-State in 1962.
• Dr. A.I. Robbins, Sr. – Family physician who created the Clinch County Athletic Booster Club, and helped start the football program in Clinch County. Longtime midget football coach was a champion for youth recreation in the community.
• Allen Robbins, Jr. – Led the Panther basketball team to their only state championships – in 1987 and 1989. The Panthers won eight region championships in his 12 years as head basketball coach.
• Danny Smith – Dominating pitcher for the Panther 1986 and 1987 state champions. Pitched in all three games of the 1987 state title series, prompting a rule to limit innings pitched. Named the All-Classification Baseball Player of the Year his senior season.
• Jonathan “Fred” Smith – All-State football and basketball player as a Panther who went on to be a record-setting receiver at Georgia Tech. Played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.
• Terry Swinson – Outstanding basketball player for the Panthers in the mid-1980s, ranking as one of the top players in the state. Played collegiately at Valdosta State and College of the Ozarks.
• Donald Tison – Panther football coach for 20 years, helming the first two Clinch football state titlists in 1988 and 1991. Football stadium is named in his honor.
• Andrew “Smiley” Wells – Standout player for the 1976 Panther basketball team, which was the state runner-ups that season.
• Tara Williams – All-State player who led the Pantherettes to state titles in 1991 and 1993. Later was an All-SEC player at Auburn, and is the only CCHS graduate to play in the WNBA.