A pair of former UTC student-athletes who played in the NBA (Gerald Wilkins) and NFL (Brent Adams), world skeet shooting champion Carl Poston Jr. and UTC women’s All-American basketball player Karen Mills head the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame 20-member class of 2017.
Tickets: The annual induction dinner is Monday February 27 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased by contacting Catherine Neely at 423-842-7274.
A talented induction class consists of all-state, All-Americans and world level competitors in a variety of sports ranging from baseball, football, basketball, golf and tennis to skeet shooting, sailing, bowling and wrestling.
Wilkins played 13 years in the NBA scoring 11,000 points after leading the Mocs to post season appearances in the NIT and NCAA, while Adams was a Little All-American offensive lineman with the Mocs in 1974 and played five years in the NFL with Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Poston was crowned world champion in 1973 and follows his father, Carl Poston Sr, into this HOF, was an alternate on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team and is in the Armed Forces Skeet Association Hall of Fame.
Mills was a two-time All-American for the Mocs and is the school’s all-time assist leader with 787 and today is a touring comedian.
Inductees by Sport
Baseball (Ray Stephens)
Basketball (Karen Mills, Gerald Wilkins)
Boat Racing (Brainard Cooper Jr.)
Bowling (Gary Workman)
Football (Brent Adams, Dale Jones)
Golf (Kip Henley)
Skeet Shooting (Carl Poston Jr.)
Softball (Letha High)
Sports Media (Stephen Hargis)
Swimming and Diving (Myra Creighton, Don Waters Jr.)
Tennis (Elisabeth Donnovin, Laura Duffy Moore)
Track and Field (Larry Cooke, Terry Topping)
Volleyball (Debbie Shipley Hill)
Wrestling (Yogi Anderson and John Lennon)
Area High Schools: Chattanooga area high schools represented are Bradley Central (Dale Jones, Karen Mills, Ray Stephens), Chattanooga Central (Kip Henley), Cleveland (John Lennon), East Ridge (Carl Poston Jr.), GPS (Myra Creighton, Elisabeth Donnovin, Laura Duffy Moore) Howard (Letha High), McCallie (Brainard Cooper Jr.), Notre Dame (Yogi Anderson, Don Waters Jr.), Red Bank (Terry Topping), Sale Creek (Debbie Shipley Hill), South Pittsburg (Stephen Hargis), TMI (Dale Jones), Tyner (Larry Cooke)
Colleges and Universities:, UC/UTC (Brent Adams, Karen Mills, Carl Poston Jr. Gerald Wilkins), Carson Newman (Larry Cooke) Duke (Brainard Cooper Jr., Cleveland State/MTSU (Debbie Shipley Hill), Cleveland State/Troy State (Ray Stephens), LSU (Laura Duffy Moore), ,Memphis State /Eastern Kentucky (Don Waters Jr.) Memphis State (Terry Topping), North Carolina (Elisabeth Donnovin) Sewanee (Yogi Anderson), Tennessee (Dale Jones), Vanderbilt (Myra Creighton)
BRENT ADAMS (football)
A four-year starter in the offensive line at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, he was voted the team’s most valuable player as well as its most valuable offensive player as a senior in 1974, when he was a second-team Little All-American. He was an eighth-round draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons and broke into their starting lineup as a rookie in 1975. He played with Atlanta through 1978 and finished his five-year NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams. He was voted to UTC’s all-century team and is in the school’s hall of fame.
YOGI ANDERSON (wrestling)
An individual wrestling state champion in 1968 and part of Notre Dame’s team state title his senior season, Attended Sewanee (The University of the South) and lettered four years in football, wrestling and baseball; one of only two Sewanee student-athletes to earn 12 varsity letters. He helped lead the Tigers to four conference wrestling championships and was a three-time conference champion individually, and he served two years as a wrestling captain and one as a baseball captain. He was Notre Dame’s head wrestling coach for five years, with two third-place state finishes, and Sewanee’s hed coach for six. He also was a TSSAA wrestling official for more than a decade and is in the Sewanee and Lookout Mountain halls of fame.
BRAINARD COOPER JR. (boat racing)
The McCallie and Duke graduate is a three-time past commodore of the Privateer Yacht Club and an internationally recognized sailing official who began sailing in 1948. He was the play-by-play announcer in Savannah, Ga., for the sailing portion of the 1996 Olympic Games and in 2003 was the Snipe Class international commodore, managing a class of more than 4,000 sailors worldwide and overseeing the World Championship regatta in Sweden. He also directed the Snipe Worlds in 1997 in California, a Junior Worlds in Russia and a Snipe Women’s Worlds in 2010 in Florida and has been the chief Snipe official at numerous national regattas, several North American and Western Hemisphere competitions and the European Championships in Portugal in 2008. In 2007 he was designated US Sailing race officer, and in 2015-16 he headed the Snipe Class’s U.S. organization.
LARRY COOKE (track and field)
Now a South Carolina resident and 30-year Bi-Lo manager, he was a Tyner High School co-captain in 1974 when he was a county champion in the 220- and 440-yard dashes, long jump and three relays and a region champion in the long jump and 4x440 relay. He was a two-time long jump All-American at Carson-Newman and made school history as the NAIA national indoor long jump champion in 1977, when he also won the event at the Georgia, Western Carolina and Davidson Relays and was the Tennessee Collegiate meet MVP. He set Carson-Newman records in the long jump and 400- and 600-meter runs and helped set multiple relay standards, and he qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials as a long jumper. He is the only track inductee in the Carson-Newman hall of fame.
MYRA CREIGHTON (swimming and diving)
At Girls Preparatory School in 1979 through 1981, she won five gold medals and a silver in six events at the state swim meet, and she helped win three golds in relays. She was an All-American in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events and earned a scholarship to Vanderbilt, where she was a Division II All-American from 1982 to 1985 and set school records in the 50 and 100 free. A Top 10 academic athlete at Vandy, she was named most valuable, hardest worker and most improved and was a team captain as a senior. She’s in the GPS hall of fame.
ELISABETH DONNOVIN (tennis)
She was the GPS tennis most valuable player from 1980 through 1984 and a Prince All-American in 1984. She won a TSSAA state singles championships in 1982 and a doubles state title a year later, and she was a Rotary doubles champion in 1982. She was ranked No. 1 in the South in Girls’ 18s and won the Southern 18s singles crown in 1983, when she was selected for the Southeastern Intersectional. She went on to North Carolina but had shoulder surgery and could not compete for the Tar Heels in tennis. The Donnovins were the USTA national family of the year in 1982.
STEPHEN HARGIS (sports media)
The South Pittsburg High School graduate has written about sports for the newspaper for 26 years and became sports editor in 2015 after 10 years as assistant sports editor overseeing high school coverage. As a reporter he has won 49 awards at the state, regional and national levels and was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation at the Associated Press Sports Editors’ conference in Kissimmee, Fla., in 2012. He has received two Green Eyeshade Southeast Region awards and an AP national award for a season-long story about the Taft Youth Center, and he has been the Tennessee Sports Writers Association's prep writer of the year 17 times and the overall sports writer of the year three times in four years. He also was an AP selection as Tennessee's top overall sports writer, and in 2013 he co-authored a book with Jay Greeson about UT football: "Game of My Life."
KIP HENLEY (golf)
He was a City Prep champion and a winner of the Ewing Watkins Award as the outstanding junior golfer in Chattanooga, and the son of Hall of Fame softball honoree Sammy Henley later won the Men’s Metro, the Tennessee State Scramble with different partners, the Tennessee Assistant Pro Championship, the Tennessee Section Championship (four times) and the Tennessee State Open as an amateur in 1982 and as a professional in 1997. A five-time Tennessee PGA player of the year, he won The Golf Channel’s “Big Break II” in Las Vegas and has been part of many high-level tour events as a player and a caddie. He famously ran an alligator back into a pond with a rake while carrying Brian Gay’s bag in the 2012 RBC Heritage.
LETHA HIGH (softball)
She was a four-time Amateur Softball Association first-team All-American and two-time industrial national tournament most valuable player (1980 and 1992) with the dynastic Provident Vets, with some second-team All-American selections mixed in. In her first year with the Vets, 1979, she played part of the national tournament in St. Louis with a broken jaw, and the next year she was the MVP as they won the championship in Cleveland, Tenn. She began getting notice as a 13-year-old with the Alton Park Slicks and quit playing only when her children got old enough to take the field in competition. Now she's out there with her grandkids.
DEBBIE SHIPLEY HILL (volleyball)
She played basketball and tennis as well as volleyball at Sale Creek, where she was the salutatorian in 1976 and where she continues to excel as a teacher and coach. Her volleyball Lady Panthers won their sixth consecutive district championship this past fall, when she surpassed 500 wins in that sport, but she also has coached basketball, softball, cheerleading and even baseball while teaching and coaching at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Her 2011 volleyball team finished third in the state tournament. She was inducted last year into the hall of fame at Cleveland State as a basketball player, having helped the Lady Cougars to a 54-6 record and back-to-back national No. 3 and 5 rankings. She went to Middle Tennessee State on a full basketball scholarship.
DALE JONES (football)
He was an all-state player for Bradley Central but was told he was too small for major college football, so he played a year on TMI’s postgraduate team and then went to the University of Tennessee, where he was a two-time All-SEC and All-America selection and the outstanding defensive player of the Vols' 35-7 defeat of Miami in the 1986 Sugar Bowl. UT coach Johnny Majors called Jones "the greatest leader I ever coached." He was a 10th-round NFL draft pick but soon moved into coaching himself. He has spent the past 20 years on the staff at Appalachian State, which won three FCS national titles and has made a successful jump to the FBS level.
JOHN LENNON (wrestling)
He was 102-2 and a first-team Blue Chip All-American in high school, with the losses both coming in his fourth-place state tournament finish as a sophomore. He was part of Cleveland High's first team state championship, was the "outstanding wrestler" at every tournament he entered as a senior and of the USWF Junior Freestyle Nationals. He was a three-time state freestyle/Greco-Roman apart from high school. He went on to wrestle for the University of Tennessee. He was an assistant coach for three state wrestling titles at Notre Dame and helped guide Central to two region championships. He also is very accomplished as an educator in theater, having won the Governor's School for the Arts outstanding teacher award five times.
KAREN MILLS (basketball)
She finished her UTC career in 1981 as a four-year starter and is the school’s all-time assists leader with 787 (and the top two seasons of 262 and 234) and is No. 2 in steals with 332. An All-American her last two seasons, including historic first-team status in 1981, she was honored with “Karen Mills Day” by the city of Chattanooga on April 10 of that year. She was on Bradley teams that won 90 games in a row and won back-to-back state titles and No. 1 national rankings, and it was her 25-shot at the final buzzer that got the Bearettes the 1976 TSSAA championship. She was all-region as a member of Bradley's first volleyball team. She now is a nationally touring comedian.
LAURA DUFFY MOORE (tennis)
As a junior player she won state singles and doubles titles in 10s, 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s, and she was GPS’s No. 1 singles player from the seventh through 12th grades. She was a three-time City Women’s singles champion as a teenager (in 1967-69), a City Women's doubles champ in 1972, a TSSAA doubles champ in 1971 and a two-time Rotary titlist in both singles and doubles. She was the No. 1 women’s player in Wisconsin in 1981 and taught tennis in Kansas and St. Louis for six years.
CARL POSTON JR. (shooting sports)
A world champion skeet shooter (1973) who has excelled in both the American and International versions of the sport, he is an eight-time All-American, a 1980 Olympic team alternate and an Armed Forces Skeet Association Hall of Fame member. He began his long run of success as a Tennessee state junior champion and followed that with state International Skeet and Individual Gun titles and two Interservice individuial championships. He was a four-time Tennessee All-State team member, a five-time AFSA individual gun champion and a three-time member of the World Family team champions.
.RAY STEPHENS (baseball)
He starred in football and baseball in his one year at Bradley Central after his family moved from Texas and then moved along in the diamond sport to Cleveland State and Middle Georgia, the latter as a catcher when he failed to make the team as a walk-on third baseman. He became a Division II All-American at Troy State, was a 1985 sixth-round draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals and had a nine-year pro career. He was a minor league all-star at the Class A, AA and AAA levels, hit a home run in his first major league game in 1990 and ultimately got to catch Nolan Ryan with the Texas Rangers. A successful contractor and businessman, he has spent nearly a decade as a volunteer baseball coach with Bradley’s Bears.
.TERRY TOPPING (track and field)
A two-time all-state competitor for Red Bank High School, he set school records in the 110 and 300 hurdles, the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the 4x400 relay and held the state standard in the 300 hurdles for six years. He was an All-American and listed in the Top 10 nationally by Track & Field News, and he participated in three AAU Junior Olympics national meets. Recruited by the entire Southeastern Conference as well as other universities, he accepted a full scholarship to Memphis State, where he competed in the 110 and 400 hurdles, 400 dash and 4x100 and 4x400 events outdoors and the 60 hurdles, 60 dash and 500 dash indoors. He then was recruited by athletic company retailers to help expand their running shoe and apparel business and wound up working with Nike and Reebok designers to help grow the Footaction company. Topping ran against the likes of Willie Gault, Herschel Walker and Al Joyner, but through the past 20 years he has used his speed to catch numerous suspects as a Chattanooga police officer and narcotics detective.
DON WATERS JR. (swimming)
He swam competitively in Chattanooga from 1965 until 1975 and was second in the YMCA state meet in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events and qualified three years in a row for the YMCA nationals. He finished third in the 100 breast at the Southeastern Championships and starred in breaststroke competition for Memphis State and Eastern Kentucky after his five-sport high school career at Notre Dame. He coached Olympians Gabrielle Rose and Jon Olsen as a 1982-86 assistant coach at Memphis State and was a Southeastern All-Star team coach. After 12 years at Lausanne Collegiate School, where he was athletic director and coached track, cross country, basketball, football, tennis and golf as well as swimming — during 10 of those years heading the Central Church summer swim team that won 205 straight meets, went 246-18 and won 10 Memphis city titles — he founded and served as head coach for the powerful Collierville Swimming club.
GERALD WILKINS (basketball)
UTC's most accomplished NBA player scored 1,449 points (averaging 17 a game) in his three-year UTC career, married a local woman and went on to 13 years in the pros, starting as a second-round draft pick of the New York Knicks in 1985. He later played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Vancouver (now Memphis) Grizzlies and Orlando Magic and totaled 11,736 points, 2,697 assists, 2,646 rebounds and 907 steals. He was considered one of the top defensive guards in the league. The younger brother of Atlanta Hawks superstar Dominique Wilkins also has a son, Damien, who had an NBA career. Gerald's UTC teams won 74 games with an NCAA tournament appearance in 1983 and NIT participation the next two seasons. The 1982-83 team finished with a No. 15 national ranking.
GARY WORKMAN (bowling)
In 56 years of competitive bowling, Workman has rolled 26 300 games, six 299s and eight 800 series, with a high of 837, and he was a Top 32 qualifier in the national Senior Masters in 2005 and 2006. He also was on a five-man team (Pro Bowl West) that held the national three-game scratch record (3,937) from 2009 to last year and rolled 142 out of a possible 160 strikes; he had 27 of those strikes. In his military days, he was on the Shaw Air Force Base bowling team, won the singles and all-events titles in a Tactical Air Command tournament and represented TAC in the 1968 USAF World Wide Tournament. He was part of two Tennessee scratch team titles and finished 11th in 2005 and 12th in 2006 in the "Super Hoinke" scratch tournament in Cincinnati.
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