By Louis Mellini and Luke Brantley
HAMILTON — The Marion County Sports Hall of Fame will induct its 29th class during a ceremony at the Bevill Center in Hamilton on Saturday, Aug. 6, at 6 p.m. The 2022 class consists of 31 members.
Inductees are as follows: Brilliant: Tony Autrey, Jillian Gibbs Cox, Steve Nelson, David (Dwayne) Pollard, George A. Wideman and Henry Wideman; Hackleburg: Tamela Smith Frost, Joel Ingle, Ricky Joel Kennedy and Davey A. Reed; Hamilton: Ashley Hall Cochran, D.J. Emerson, Michael Gann, Billy Owen and Alan West; Marion County: Nick Clifton, Christie Roberts Crow, Hanna Baker Fox, James H. Junkin, Josh Markham, Morgan Aston Tidwell and Randy Wallace; Phillips: Christie Hulsey and Gene Mize; Winfield: Alex Aultman, Brooke Beasley, Whitney Tilley Bostick, Brad Cunningham, Jarod Lenahan, Caleb Simmons and Kerrick Thomas.
Tickets for the event are $10 each and can be purchased at the door. A ticket will be required for admission. There will not be a meal.
Board members for each school are Jack Hayes (Brilliant), Ronnie Anglin (Hackleburg), Mark Dearen (Hamilton), Larry Akers (Marion County), Scott Veal (Phillips), Kim Hubbert Lee (Winfield) and Susan Seals (secretary).
(Editor’s note: No photos were submitted or could be located for Alex Aultman.)
Tony Autrey attended Brilliant High School from 1968 to 1974. He helped with football and played baseball, track and basketball. He was the football team manager in seventh grade and kept stats his senior year. In baseball, he played catcher and first base. In track, he ran hurdles and the 880-yard run. In basketball, he averaged double figures in points and rebounds. He was named all area tournament and Tuscaloosa News honorable mention all-state in 1974.
Autrey went on to attend Northwest Alabama State Technical College and earned his drafting certificate in 1981. He was a park and rec coach for 20 years at Brilliant, Guin and Winfield. He coached the Guin 12U girls’ all-star team to a regional championship in 2000.
Jillian Gibbs Cox is a 2003 graduate of Brilliant High School. While there, she played volleyball, basketball, softball, track and cheerleading from 7th grade to 12th grade. She was a member of the 2003 track team that finished the season as the 1A state runners-up. She qualified for the state meet in the 3200 and 1600-meter runs, finishing third and fourth respectively. She won the defensive award in volleyball and was named team captain her senior year, the year her team won the Marion County Tournament. She was named all county that season, as well. Her team also won two area tournaments in 2000 and 2002. In softball, she was once again named team captain and helped her team make it to the first round of sub-state playoffs. She was named all county in basketball and was a team captain her senior year. She was also the head cheerleader her senior year.
Off the field, Cox was senior class president, SGA president, salutatorian, Miss BHS and homecoming queen. She was a Wendy’s high school Heisman nominee, won the army student athlete award and received all state academic team honors. She went on to attend Bevill and the University of West Alabama, where she ran cross country, and continued to excel on the court and in the classroom. She currently teaches seventh grade science and coaches volleyball at Helena Middle School.
Steve Nelson played three sports but performed best on the football field. He made up for his small frame with speed and agility. In basketball, Steve was an agile ball handler with a smooth left-handed shooting stroke. He made the all-county and all conference teams his junior and senior year. In football, he was twice named captain, and was a do-it-all kind of player. He was a defensive back, punter, punt returner and running back, and accounted for 34 touchdowns from 1966-1968, once again making the all-county and all conference teams, and made all state in 1968.
Steve was active in his community as the owner/operator of Nelson’s Grocery and as a coal miner. His greatest joys in life were spending time with his family and friends, and his work with youth as a Sunday school teacher and youth worker at Mt. Olive Free Will Baptist Church in Twin. His hobbies included golf, fishing and watching Auburn sports. Nelson passed away in a drowning accident in July 1993.
David (Dwayne) Pollard started attending Brilliant School from 9th grade and graduated in 1982. Pollard played football, baseball and basketball. His senior year, he played running back, inside linebacker and extra point kicker. In one game against Carbon Hill, he rushed for over 200 yards. In basketball, his team set the standing record for most wins in a single season and was the second team to play in the state tournament. That season, he was named district all area and was named permanent captain. In baseball, he was the pitcher on the team that won Area 14. In 1982, he was named MVP.
Henry Wideman, who graduated Brilliant High School in 1993, played football, basketball, baseball and track under coach Mark Franks.
He was named all county and all conference multiple times in football and basketball and played football for the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
George Wideman, was principal at Brilliant High School and taught physical education at Brilliant Elementary.
He built and purchased sports equipment during his time in education and helped build the concession stand, bleachers and bathrooms at the old Brilliant High School baseball field.
Tami Frost, who graduated Hackleburg High School in 1982, played volleyball under coach Carolyne Lynch and basketball under coach Larry Vickery.
She was a basketball MVP in 1981 and 1982 and the captain of her team in 1982.
Joel Ingle, who graduated Hackleburg High School in 2010, played football for coaches Johnny Harden and Rod Hudson.
He also played basketball for Coach Ronnie Anglin and baseball for Coaches Rod Hudson and Jason Murray, winning a state championship with the team in 2007.
Ingle served five years as a marine in California.
Ricky Joel Kennedy, who graduated Hackleburg High School in 1972, played football, basketball and baseball under coaches Max Ray, Gene Dickenson and Gary Smith.
He was named in the all Marion County team in basketball in his junior and senior years and was named in the Northwest Conference all-time squad in football.
Davey A. Reed, who graduated Hackleburg High School in 1985, played football, basketball and baseball under coaches Mike Watts, Ronnie Anglin and Bill Smith.
Following high school, he coached at Cherokee High School for 15 years and coached 13 years at Carbon Hill and Hillcrest High School.
In 1999, he coached the football team through an undefeated season and won 4A state football coach of the year.
Ashley Hall Cochran, who graduated Hamilton High School in 1996, played basketball, volleyball and softball for coaches Larry Wiginton, Charlotte Beasley, Rodney Stidham and Mike Shaw.
She was named in the 2003-2005 all-county team for basketball and volleyball as well being awarded most athletic in her class.
D.J. Emerson, who graduated Hamilton High School in 2004, played football and basketball under coaches John Holladay, Blaine Hathcock, Ryan Hollingsworth and Scotty Peoples.
He was named in the 2004 all-state first team and is in the state record books for receiving yardage for a single game and receiving yardage and receptions for a season.
Michael Gann, who graduated Hamilton High School in 1983, played baseball and basketball under coaches L.E. Tyra, Neal Childers, Scott Strickland, Mark Dearen and Bobby McCracken.
He was on the 1983 all-state baseball team and an honorable mention on the all-state basketball team in 1982.
Billy Owen, who graduated Hamilton High School in 1972, played football under coaches L.C. Fowler, Burnett and L.E. Tyra.
He was named in the all conference football team, received the sportsmanship award, the leadership award, most valuable lineman award and was the team captain.
Alan West, who graduated Hamilton High School in 1977, played football and was a member of the Hamilton Boxing Club under coaches L.C. Fowler and Willard Frye.
He was the 1977 Alabama Golden Glove state champion, Alabama American Athletic Union state champions and won the Southeastern AAU tournament best boxer award.
Nick Clifton graduated from Marion County High School in 2004. While there, he played football and baseball. In football, he played quarterback and was named team captain. He won the Hustle award his senior year and was also named North Mississippi Medical Center Player of the Week that same year. In baseball, he played second base, short stop and pitcher. His freshman year, he won the infielder award, and his junior year he won the hustle and most runs batted in awards. He was named first team all-state as shortstop that year and was a member of the Final Four team that season. His senior year, he won the hustle and infielder awards again and was named team captain. He achieved the highest on-base percentage and the most runs batted in that year. He also won the Roy Jr. Baird MVP Award.
Clifton went on to the University of Alabama, where he attended the school of engineering.
Christie Roberts Crow attended Marion County High School from 2005-2009, where she played softball, basketball and volleyball. In softball, she received the best outfielder, most home runs, best infielder, highest slugging percentage, highest on base percentage, highest batting average and most walks awards. She was named to the all-county, conference and area tournament teams. In basketball, she was named most improved her first two seasons, and her senior year she was team captain and was named all state and all county and was the leading rebounder. In volleyball, she was named most improved, all county, NAC all conference, team captain and all state. She also won the most improved, hustle and most digs awards.
After high school, she went to Bevill State Community College and then on to the University of North Alabama. She graduated with a degree in social work and currently works at the University of Alabama as the program assistant in the Bachelor of Social Work program.
Hannah Baker Fox attended Marion County High School from 2002-2008 and played volleyball, basketball and softball. In volleyball, she was an all-state honorable mention two years, all county tournament team four years and NAC tournament team four years. She received the off-season strength award, most ace serves, the hustle award and the captain award. In basketball, she was named Lion’s Club all-tournament team and all county tournament team four years, northwest regional all-tournament team, most rebounds, most steals, best field goal percentage, best free-throw percentage, Doyle Dabbs Earnest MVP awarded, 1,000+ points award and 1,000+ rebounds award. In softball, she received the most home runs, most runs scored, hustle, most walks and best infielder awards.
She received a softball scholarship to Northwest Community College after graduation. Her husband, Casey Fox, is the defensive coordinator and the head boys’ basketball coach at MCHS.
James Hubert Junkin accepted the position of principal of Marion County High School in 1966. Hubert invested his life in both teachers and students without fanfare or personal attention while maintaining a balanced home life and community service.
One of his greatest achievements was assembling a teaching and coaching staff whose dedication to excellence led to the creation of marching bands, winning sports teams and many successful graduates. Hubert led MCHS through a period in the early 1970s that was “the worst of times and the best of times.” He helped MCHS remain strong through a fire that destroyed the school building and a tornado that almost wiped out Guin, while overseeing classes that met in mobile units for several years and supervising the design and construction of the current school building. Those same years, the Red Raiders won three consecutive football state championships. His contributions often escaped public notice. He quietly moved behind the scenes doing campus repairs, maintenance and janitorial jobs, as well as providing confidential financial assistance and counseling to students in need. He always drove the Beta Club to state conventions and was honored to serve on the National Beta Club Council for 17 years.
Hubert and his wife Elaine finished their careers at MCHS in 1989. Hubert went on to serve on the Marion County Board of Education from 2000-2006. Hubert and Elaine remained avid Red Raider supporters until health issues sidelined their attendance. To date, three generations of his progeny and his MCHS family continue to benefit from his legacy at MCHS.
Josh Markham attended Marion County High School from 1992-1997. He played basketball and baseball. In basketball, he was named all county, all conference and all area, team captain and MVP his junior year. His senior year, he repeated the feat and added all-state, Northwest Regional MVP and Journal Record MVP to his list of accolades. In baseball, he was named all county, all area, all conference and team MVP his junior and senior years. He was named all state his senior year. After graduation, he attended Chattahoochee Valley Community College and Andrew College, where he signed scholarships to play baseball.
Morgen Aston Tidwell attended Marion County High School from 2006-2009, after moving from Naples, Fla. She made the Area 21 all-tournament team for three years at MCHS, as well as the all-county tournament team and NAC all-tournament team. One year, she was named NAC MVP. She received the most steals, most blocked shots, most assists, most 3-pointers, leading scorer and offense awards. She was also named Lion’s Club tournament MVP and won the Doyle Dabbs Earnest MVP award in 2009 and the 1,000+ points award. In volleyball, she was first team all-state in 2009, all state honorable mention, NAC all-tournament team and all county tournament teams. She won the most blocks, most kills, most ace serves and most improved player awards. She played softball for two years and won the most sacrifices award two years. She also received the Tubby award, which is given to a senior that has played two or more sports and contributed the most to the MCHS athletic program.
Randy Wallace attended Marion County High School from 1978-1983, and played football, ran track and was involved in FFA. He was named all county in track in field, where he competed in shot put and discus. In football, he received the best defensive lineman award and was named all state first team and team captain.
Christie Hulsey, who graduated Phillips High School in 2000, played basketball and softball.
She was named basketball MVP, softball MVP, softball golden glove and best offensive player in volleyball.
Gene Mize served as a math teacher and football coach for Phillips High School as well as Hackleburg High School and Mount Hope High coaching basketball and teaching math and science. He also played a role on the football team in his 10th grade year.
In adulthood, Mize lived an unselfish life, always giving of himself to others. He was a teacher, coach, World War II veteran, veterans farm program administrator, junior high principal, insurance agent and businessman for 24 years.
He was also a cattle and poultry farmer for 50 years, a former officer and leader in the Phillips High School Alumni Association.
Alex Aultman graduated from Winfield in 2010. He played baseball and basketball. In baseball, his team advanced to the final four his senior year, and that same year he was named all county. He had the highest batting average his junior year, along with the best ERA, most home runs and most RBIs. He was also an honorable mention for all state on third base. In basketball, he was named all county and second team all-state his senior year. He was named all region his sophomore year, and all WAC his 9th, 10th and 11th grade years. His team won the area championship his sophomore year. His junior and senior years, he received the Mr. Basketball award and was named team captain. He scored a career total of 1,627 points.
Aultman was recognized as an all-state academic and won the Mr. Citizenship award. He went on to attend Shelton State Community College and the University of Alabama-Huntsville, where he played baseball and studied chemical and aerospace engineering.
Brook Beasley graduated from Winfield City High School in 2011. She played volleyball, basketball and softball. In volleyball, she was named to the Marion County and WAC all tournament teams her freshman year. After that, she averaged the most kills each season. She would go on to be named to multiple county, conference and area all tournament teams. Her team won the WAC her senior year. In basketball, she averaged the most blocks and rebounds each season from her freshman year to senior year. Her junior and senior year, her team won the Marion County and WAC tournaments, and her senior year they won sub-region and appeared in the regional tournament. In softball, she won both offensive and defensive player of the year, was named to the county and WAC all tournament teams and helped her team to a final four appearance her junior year.
She went on to attend Wallace State Community College and Alabama State University. She currently works as a 7th grade math teacher at Winfield and as a travel volleyball team coach.
Whitney Tilley Bostick graduated from Winfield City High School in 2007. She played varsity basketball and ran track and field and was also a cheerleader. In basketball, she was named all area team, Christmas tournament most valuable player and was awarded for the highest free throw percentage. Her senior year, she was named Marion County all area team, won highest free throw percentage again, won highest three-point percentage and was named Miss Basketball. In track, she qualified for state in the 100-meter hurdles and the 4x400 relay her seventh-grade year. She would go on to be named all section team, all county team, all West Alabama Conference team and a state finalist. As a cheerleader, she was selected as an all-state cheerleader, camp champion, state champion, regional champion, COA National Grand Champions and Big Apple Classic Nation Champions.
She went on to attend The University of West Alabama, Bevill State and The University of Alabama.
Brad Cunningham has coached at Winfield City Schools since 1999. He has coached boys' and girls' junior varsity basketball and boys B-team basketball. He is an assistant coach for varsity boys’ basketball, who have appeared in the Final Four the last two years. He has coached JV boys’ football for 15 years and has helped coach varsity boys’ football for five years. Across all these teams and sports, he has never had a losing season. When he was a student, he played baseball, basketball and football. He was named all county in baseball in 1982 and was also named all county and all WAC in football during the 81-82 and 82-83 seasons.
He played and coached football and the University of North Alabama, and coached Ronald McKinnon, who won the Harlon Hill award in 1995 and went on to play 10 years in the NFL. He also coached at Westbrook Christian from 1997-98 as a defensive coordinator. There, he coached Brodie Croyle, who also went on to the NFL. Brad and his wife, Shelly, have one son, Trey, who is a World Championships silver medalist in the 110-meter hurdles.
Jarod Lenahan graduated from Winfield in 2010. He played football and basketball and competed in land judging for FFA. His senior year, he was the land judging state champion and travelled to compete at the national competition in Oklahoma. He was named all county and all conference in football and basketball. His team were the regional champions in basketball his sophomore year. He was also named all-conference, all county, all sectional and all state in track and field. He was state runner-up in javelin his sophomore and junior year and won state his senior year. He set the state record at the time with a distance of 173 feet, two inches. His junior and senior year, his team finished second at the state meet. Lenahan went on to attend the University of Alabama, where he graduated with a degree in athletic training.
Caleb Simmons graduated from Winfield in 2006. While there, he played football and threw shootout and discus for track and field. In 2004, his football team ended their season as state runners-up. He played offensive line for the team that held the state record for rushing yards in a season until 2014. It is currently the third most rush yards in a season in state history. He was named all-county, all-WAC and all-state. He was also named the 2005 offensive and defensive player of the year. His team had the most wins in Winfield football history (14) and were back-to-back region champions. In track, he was undefeated in shot put in 2006, and was named all-state in the event. He was the 2006 county, conference and sectional champion in shot put, and the conference champion in discus. He qualified for state in both events that year, and won shot put. He placed fourth in discus. He won the 2006 Gatorade Will to Win Athlete Award, and set a school record for shot put.
After graduation, he attended Harding University, where he played football and earned a degree in kinesiology.
Kerrick Thomas graduated from Winfield in 1993. He played football and basketball and ran track and field. In football, he won the captains award, received the Bryant Jordan Scholarship award, was named all county and all area, and in one game, he made four interceptions. In track and field, he won a bronze medal in the 4x800 meter relay at the state meet. In basketball, he was a member of the 1993 state finalist team and won the Mr. Hustle award.
He graduated as valedictorian and senior class president, then went on to attend Furman University, where he continued to play football.
See complete story in the Journal Record.