September 19, 2017

Heard County Athletics inducts 17 into first Hall of Fame

2017 Inaugural Heard County living Hall of Famers (L-R): Thomas “Red” Keith, Annesley O’Neal, Kathy Scott, Edward Potts, Jodie Davis, Carlos Brown, Hazel Reeves, Roy Awbrey, Arthez Woodruff, Jeffrey Davis, Rodney Wilkerson, and Sonny Archer (Not pictured: Sedrick Robinson)

(Franklin, GA) — A star-studded lineup of athletes, coaches, and members of the community were inducted into Heard County High School’s inaugural athletic Hall of Fame class last Friday prior to the season opening football win over South Atlanta.

Over 200 friends and family members were present as the 17 esteemed members of the first class were officially inducted in the school cafeteria and then ushered down to Staples Stadium to be introduced to the large crowd in attendance for opening night football.

Following the stadium introductions, inaugural community class member and long time HHS employee Mr. Edward Potts cut the ribbon in front of the ‘wall of fame’ where names of inductees are engraved and will be proudly displayed for years to come.

At the initial induction ceremony in the cafeteria, those in attendance were able to hear remarks from one guest of honor for each inductee and in most cases from the inductee themselves.

Some of the speakers such as teachers, pastors, and administrators were right at home at the podium while others were speaking publicly for the first time, but each and every one captivated the audience with stories and anecdotes about each inductee.

The final honoree to be inducted was Edward Potts (Class of 1978), arguably the most beloved resident of Heard County who has been a vital part of Heard High School and especially Heard County Athletics since the mid 1970’s.

Edward’s sister Toni Blanchard spoke fondly about her brother and the way he has overcome his physical limitations and been so independent over the years.

“Edward was born with cerebral palsy and the day he was born our parents were told by doctors that he wouldn’t live through the night. Our heavenly father said otherwise. Look at him now. He’s 58 years old,” said Blanchard.

The local icon entered into the work program at the high school while attending and has been employed by the school for over 40 years. Potts described to those in attendance just how much Edward has overcome.

“Although his condition caused him to have physical limitations such as not being able to walk until the age of five, not being able to have the full use of his thumbs, and having a speech impediment, Edward never once used his physical inabilities as an excuse,” said Blanchard.

“He went on to use those skinny little legs to run in many races and he was able to use his hands to work at the recreation department where he manually kept score. He’s also able to use his hands to navigate day after day through the many keys on his key ring to open the doors of the school daily and even after hours and weekends for some of you here today.”

“His speech has never hindered him from communicating with others and even telling others when to leave him alone. Living with cerebral palsy, Edward was and is still able to do almost everything that he wants to do. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t want you to show him any special treatment. He’s very independent,” added Blanchard.

Fittingly, upon receiving his Hall of Fame plaque, Edward used his speech to thank the audience and then used his hands to cut the ribbon at the stadium.

There were very few dry eyes in the house as he addressed to crowd. “I can see you saved the best for last,” quipped Potts as he stepped to the podium. “But I want to thank all of you for all that you do for me.”

Inaugural Hall of Fame inductee Mr. Edward Potts cuts the ribbon at Staples Stadium Friday night

Edward Potts received a standing ovation from everyone in attendance.

Heard County Athletic Director and Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Shane Lasseter was excited about the event and thankful for the people who worked hard to make it happen.

“I am just grateful that we were able to do this and hopefully everyone was pleased. The turnout proved that this was something that people wanted, appreciated and I think it was long overdue. We are just so glad everyone was able to make it and especially thankful to all the guests that came to speak,” said Lasseter Friday night.

“I am very thankful to Amanda Horn, Lori Cabe, Maggie Bonner, Chef Tilman, Sandra Holtzclaw, Principal Tisdale, our administration, the selection committee and my wife Nickie for all they did to help organize this event. We look forward the next year and hope this generates more interest and nominations.”

Other Inaugural community and coaching Hall of Fame inductees included community members Hazel Reeves and Bob Norton, along with coaches Mason Alford, Robert “Chief” Canady, and Kathy Scott.

Athlete nominees included Sonny Archer (1989 Football, Baseball), Roy Awbrey (1960 Basketball), Carlos Brown (2006 Football), Jeffrey Davis (1977 Football, Track), Jodie Davis (1983 Football), Thomas “Red” Keith (2003 Basketball, Football), Annesley O’Neal (2004 Basketball), Sedrick Robinson (1993 Football), Paul Rogers (1935 Basketball), Rodney Wilkerson (1991 Football), and Arthez Woodruff (1983 Track).

The family representatives of the four deceased members of the Hall of Fame were especially touched by the recognition of the committee.

“I just want to say thank you to the committee and the school for inducting our daddy into the Heard County Hall of Fame,” said Wade Norton, son of the late Bob Norton. “We are grateful for everyone who helped make this such a special night for me and my family. It was a first class event and truly a special night all around.”

Guests speakers representing and speaking for each nominee were Tim Barron (Carlos Brown, Hazel Reeves), Joseph Turner (Thomas Keith), Ralph Sanders (Jodie Davis), Jeff Folkard (Rodney Wilkerson), Grace Davis (Jeffrey Davis), Kathy Scott (Annesley O’Neal), Opal Rogers Cannon (Paul Rogers), Ty Alford (Mason Alford), Grady Woodruff (Arthez Woodruff), Annesley O’Neal (Kathy Scott), Jackie Robinson (Sedrick Robinson), Bobby Goldstein (Sonny Archer), Neil Awbrey (Roy Awbrey), Harry Dunson (Robert Canady), Sharon Norton (Bob Norton), Toni Blanchard (Edward Potts).

The Heard County Hall of Fame committee is already accepting nominations for the 2018 Hall of Fame Class. Click here to download a nomination form.

Stay tuned to HeardCitizen.com in the coming weeks for further information and bios on each inaugural 2017 Hall of Famer.

 

 

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