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Hall of Fame 2007: Tom Sukaratana
Tom Sukaratana
The names of five people who will be inducted into the Liberty County Athletic Hall of Fame for 2007 has been announced.
The induction ceremony is planned for Dec. 13 at Club Stewart.
The honorees were selected from among 26 nominees by the Hall of Fame board in September.
They include:

Tom Sukaratana

In the early 1980s, a soccer program began and developed in the Hinesville/Liberty County area due, in large measure, to the efforts of Tom Sukaratana.
The goal was for children to have something to do and teach them the value of life and all based on a Christian foundation. This was possible through his involvement with the Liberty County Recreation Department and his formation in 1983 of a club soccer program called the Hinesville Gators.
In the early years, the Liberty County Recreation soccer program and The Hinesville Gators provided a venue for all interested young residents to compete locally and at Fort Stewart. But game and practice facilities were limited. With the growth of these programs under the direction of Sukaratana and the Shumans, there became an increasing need for improved facilities, hence, the birth of James Brown Park.
In 1984, he received a merit award from then Maj. Gen. Norman Schwarrkopf for his services to the soccer program.
Sukaratana led the Liberty County All-star teams to eight Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) state titles, as well as one runner up in various age groups.
The first Hinesville Gators team (under 14 age group) had 14 players and was formed as a traveling team to allow more opportunities for competition. The Gators grew into 16 teams with more than 176 players. The teams have had 35 undefeated soccer seasons in the various age groups as well as 15 sportsmanship awards.
Examples of the numerous invitational soccer tournaments Gators teams have won include: U.S.A. Cup; Cocoa Beach Expo. Georgia Games; Concord Invitational; Disney International; Kingsport Invitational; Canterbury; Augusta Shootout; Deerfield Classic; Thomasville Rose Tournament; Charleston Soccer Shootout; Savannah Classic and Ormond Beach Invitational. He also coached his Gators’ teams (in various age groups) to ten Georgia Youth Soccer Association (GYSA) state championship titles. Consequently, many of his former players are coaching at the high school level, club level, and in the division 1,2,3 and NAIA colleges.
In addition to working with the youth through the recreation department and club ball, he also coached high school soccer at Bulloch Academy in Statesboro where his team won the 2004 GISA state championship. Here, he also earned three-region coach of the year titles as well as coach of the year for 2003.
This nominee has directed numerous soccer tournaments and day camps for Liberty
County youth. The tournaments have brought more than 80 teams and families to Hinesville for weekend competitions and were highly praised by participants.
Since 1983, Sukaratana is founder and chairman of the Board of the Hinesville Soccer Association and director of coaching. He has been devoted to Liberty County soccer and the lives of his young players. He led by example, and with determination and patience was able to make soccer an exemplary athletic program for our community.
While his contribution to the development of soccer in this county is monumental, his positive influence on the lives of hundreds of local youth is even more impressive.
Sukaratana and his wife, Debra, have worked tirelessly and unselfishly these many years to make a difference in their community. And so it is with great pleasure we nominated him for a spot in the Liberty County Athletic Hall of Fame.
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