Five former Bradwell Institute student athletes were honored recently with induction to the Liberty County Athletic Hall of Fame.
The ceremony was Dec. 12 at the Dorchester Civic Center in Midway.
Some of the inductees said it will be an experience they soon won’t forget.
Donny Woods said it was a bit surreal to be inducted into the same shrine that honors his dad, Donell Woods, uncle Harold Woods and cousins Faye and Derrell Baker.
“I was truly honored,” Woods said. “I wasn’t expecting to be inducted on my first time on the ballot. Being honored alongside my dad and cousins was really special.”
Known for his collegiate basketball career at Mercer University, Woods said the sport was something he had to work hard at.
“I think I was more of natural football and baseball player when I was younger,” Woods said. “I had to work on being a good basketball player. Knowing that the work paid off in high school and college was satisfying.”
Woods said his best memory happened during his senior year, when Bradwell won 13 of its last 14 games to beat out Savannah High for the region trophy that year, all in front of the Blue Jackets’ fans.
Woods said sports helped him adapt to his professional career.
“In the corporate setting, there is not much that you do on your own,” Woods said. “You have to complete projects as a team, so involvement in sports pays off. It’s funny, I can start working with a group and can tell after the first meeting who played sports when they were younger. In sports, you always come into a competition with a plan, but it can all be changed by not having the matchup or advantage that you expected. You can quit or you can make adjustments and continue to compete. Life is the same way. Things are not always going to go as planned but you have to be able to adapt to it and keep plugging along.”
For Victoria Standard Davis, being inducted will be one of her most treasured memories. That speaks volumes when one considers Davis’ extensive sports resume’.
Davis — who participated in swimming, track, basketball and softball — recalled being on Bradwell’s 440-meter relay team that set a school record in 1977.
“That team was also Bradwell’s first team to ever go to state,” she said, adding they finished fourth overall.
Davis, who lettered in track from 1976-78, also recalled how proud she felt when she was named to the varsity basketball team while only a sophomore in 1977.
“We went to the Georgia High School Association State Basketball Tournament,” she said.
Davis also was on the Lady Tigers’ inaugural softball team in 1978 and earned letters during her junior and senior seasons on the team. That opened the door for Davis to play softball at Georgia Southern and make her the county’s first female to earn a sport scholarship for softball.
She said sports are something everyone can use in their professional careers.
“Participating in sports helps you build self-confidence. You learn to adapt and prepare to handle different situations,” Davis said. “You also learn social and organizational skills and other life lessons. You experience firsthand how being part of a team, each person contributing to the best of their ability, works in unison to achieve a mutual goal. That same practice is applicable in the business world; now your teammates are called co-workers.”
Rickey Gilliard said it was wonderful to be selected by his peers and co-workers.
“It was an honor and a privilege to be inducted by my home town,” he said, adding this will be his 30th year as an employee with the Liberty County Recreation Department.
Gilliard said he loves going to work each day and probably has seen hundreds of Liberty’s kids go through the LCRD and start their athletic careers.
“I’ve seen them come up through rec and go off to high school and then some go and play in college … others went into the military instead but they always come by and visit and it’s great to see that a lot of them are doing well,” he said.
He said influencing young kids and providing them with a positive outlet is rewarding.
“I started off playing basketball and baseball here at the LCRD, and it got me involved and made me want to stay around sports,” he said. “There is so much more to sports … you learn about life and that is what I hope to carry and pass along to others … you want them to do the right things ... things happen all the time, and it’s a different world these days, but I just hope they will try and do the right things and do right by others.”