The five men inducted into the 2008 Liberty County Athletic Hall of Fame each shared a story with the audience at Thursday night’s banquet at Club Stewart, and while they all had different memories to relive, they were linked by a common theme: the lessons they learned from sports.
The introduction began after Derek Sills, first vice president and head of financial services at The Heritage Bank, showed a heartwarming video about Dick and Ricky Hoyt, a father and son racing team that did not let Rick’s cerebral palsy stop it.
Sills was a football coach at Metter, Tattnall County and Swainsboro high schools. His coaching career spanned 12 years.
“I met him in person, and you learn what it takes to overcome obstacles and persevere,” Sills said.
Sills said he showed the video because it epitomizes what sports do for people beyond the playing field.
“Athletics will carry you through anything you do in life,” Sills said. “It’s not necessarily the ones with the best talent that succeed. It’s the ones with the most heart.”
Sills’ sentiments were echoed throughout the night. Inductee Marty Hutchinson said he may not remember every play and every stat, but it was traits like dedication, hard work and honoring your elders that took him beyond sports and made him successful in life.
Along with Hutchinson, also inducted were Ronnie Waller, Phil Lindsey, Jimmy Porter and Kenny Fussell. All five are graduates of Bradwell Institute. Lindsey was the quarterback for the 1965 state championship team, while Waller played football and excelled in track. Fussell played football, later became active in the booster club, and was the voice of Tiger football for more than 25 years.
Porter played football but was better known for his accomplishments on the baseball diamond at Brewton-Parker and West Georgia colleges. Hutchinson was named the best offensive lineman at Bradwell and played one season for the Georgia Bulldogs.