Laurens County's Hall of Famers
For the first time ever, this March, Laurens County will honor some of its own who have seen outstanding success in athletics.
The Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame will induct its first class, likely numbering seven, of the most famous athletes to live, play and serve in the community. The organization’s chairman, Billy Dunlap, made the announcement Monday at the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce.
After each induction, identical plaques commemorating the inductees will be presented for display at the Clinton and Laurens Family YMCAs.
Dunlap said the hall is modeled after York County, which has inducted more than 70 outstanding citizens who have excelled in athletics.
Many people from Laurens County are in state and national Halls of Fame, Dunlap said. Some of these, and others, are in the Laurens District High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
But, up until now, there has been no honor on a countywide basis for outstanding athletes. “This hall of fame is created to honor the men and women who have brought pride and honor to Laurens County,” Dunlap said.
He said people likely could name 25 inductees “right off the bat.”
“These first few years,” Dunlap said, “are going to be very competitive.”
But first, a person has to be nominated. The potential inductee is unlikely to nominate himself or herself, Dunlap said, so that duty falls to family members, friends and people in the community interested in athletics.
All on-line nominations go first to a nominating committee, designated to recommend 10 to 15 of the most outstanding nominees. The nominating committee is Eddie West, Robert Lytes, Kaye Monroe, Brian Shealy, Melvin Allen, Willie Fortson, Beano Brown and Sandy Cruickshanks.
The organization also will have a steering committee of Scott Tollison, Annette Patterson, Buddy Bridges, John Avery, Rhonda Cruickshanks and Greg Alexander.
The nominating committee will submit recommendations to the selection committee. These members will remain anonymous.
To support the Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame, businesses and individuals will have a chance to buy sponsorships at two levels. Individual tickets for $25 also will be sold for the late March induction dinner.
The on-line nominations can be made Sept. 15 through Oct. 30. In January, 2017 inductees will be announced. Then, the steering committee will announce the March date for the induction dinner. Dunlap said they are waiting on spring sports schedules to determine a date that does not conflict with anything else.
Nominees must have lived in Laurens County for five years, must have been out of high school for 10 years, and must epitomize the positive aspects of sports in general.
Induction is open to all Laurens County residents past and present without regard to where they live(d) or what aspect of sports they excelled in. The athletes do not have to have “made their mark” only in Laurens County to be eligible (as long as they meet the other criteria). NFL players are just as eligible as high school all-state football players. Outstanding tennis players are just as eligible as outstanding football or baseball players. Outstanding officials, administrators and coaches are just as eligible as on-the-field athletes.
“The sports history in Laurens County is tremendous,” Dunlap said, “and we all have seen lives made better because of athletics.”
To submit a nomination, go to laurenscountysportshalloffame.com and fill out and return the form. Nominations are open Sept. 15 through Oct. 31. No one will be considered for induction without first being nominated.