A soccer team, soccer player and three former local football players were among the athletes inducted into the 2018 Liberty County Athletic Hall of Fame.
The ceremony, held Thursday, took place at the Liberty County Community Complex in Midway.
2013 FPCA Girls Soccer Team, state title winners
Soccer coach Tom Sukaratana, proudly spoke about the First Presbyterian Christian Academy girls’ soccer team who shut out Monsignor Donovan 3-0 for the state title in 2013. Sukaratana, who also started the Hinesville Gator Soccer Program more than three decades ago, said FPCA first introduced soccer in 2009 and were quickly on the path to success. By 2011 the strong core of Lady Highlanders had played their way to a region championship. In 2012 the girls made it all the way to the state title game.
“After playing for two hours and going into triple overtime we lost,” the coach said adding it crushed his players but also ignited a fire within the team.
In 2013 the girls had 11 shutouts only lost one game went undefeated in their region and undefeated in the state final enroute to the state title.
“We did something spectacular that season,” Kelsey Higgasson said.
Higgasson closed out that season as the top scorer. Her teammate and highlander Captain Brooke Standard, who spoke via video as she prepared for her final exams, took Defensive MVP that year. Goal-keeper Summer Mehalko earned the shut out in the championship game.
Bradwell Institute graduate Pat Parris was also recognized in the sport of soccer. The former Tiger was a three year letterman in soccer, earning player of the year and Coastal Empire player of the year in 1994. Parris went on to play for Georgia Southern propelling the Eagles’ soccer team into their first ever national ranking.
Parris said it was coach Sukaratana that introduced him to soccer we he joined the Hinesville Gators. Throughout his acceptance speech Parris thanked family, friends and mentors who he said, “Inspired me to be great and play without boundaries.”
“This is for all of us,” he said.
Current Hall of Famer and Bradwell all-around athlete Candler Boyd introduced his friend of 50 years and new inductee Hardy Cone.
Boyd said Cone was the best offensive lineman to come out of Bradwell and added that his induction into the Hall Of Fame, “Was highly deserved.”
Cone said he was honored and credited his parents for all the support they offered during his high school football career.
He also recognized former coach and mentor, Hokey Jackson.
“I not only played alongside great athletes but also good friends,” he said. “They were like family. And Mr. Jackson was more than a coach…he was like my second dad.”
Jamar Bacon introduced his older brother, Kareem Bacon by saying his brother taught him all about unconditional love and how to treat others.
“You see by the time I was eight years old, my brother was my guardian,” Jamar Bacon said. He said he learned how to be a great father and brother from Kareem but joked that he was a better football player.
Kareem Bacon said he was honored and thanked all the coaches he had throughout his career. But he singled out coach Willie Graham saying it was Graham who went above and beyond in ensuring he would pass his SAT test and also got him recruited to play football at Clark Atlanta University.
Alan Stagmeier intro-
duced his father, former Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier calling him, “My first and only hero.”
George Stagmeier said he started playing football at the age of 10 during a time that, “The entire community supported the football team.”
Businesses would hang school signs on their windows and on game days they would close early,” he said. “It made a big impression on me and it made me want to play the game.”
He clearly remembered when Bradwell won the state title and soon start learning the fundamentals of the game from Coach Charles Shuman.
Bradwell pole vaulter Eddie Smith was unable to attend the ceremony due to a snow storm in North Carolina. He will be inducted into the 2019 Hall of Fame class.
All the inductees had major accomplishments in their athletic careers. Read more about them at: https://coastalcourier.com/sports/hall-fame-inductees-be-honored-december-13/