Eight former Blount County sports standouts called to Hall
By Leonard Butts | (email@example.com)
Charlie Headrick’s football prowess many years ago earned him entry into the Blount County Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night, but the former Maryville High standout and long-time real estate developer may have missed his calling.
Headrick, armed with a notebook of stories, offered the most comedic moments of the evening when he delivered an acceptance speech along with seven other former coaches and athletes from the area during their induction at the Airport Hilton.
The annual ceremony also honored a Special Olympics Athlete of the Year, Robby Ellis, and two great teams of the past — the 1961-62 Walland High School girls basketball squad and the 1961 Walland High School football team.
Among the thanks given and memories exchanged, however, it was Headrick’s standup comedy recounting of his athletic career that drew laughter from the crowd.
“I have two more years of eligibility left,” said Headrick, who graduated from Maryville High in 1952 and played a year each at Tennessee and Maryville College before being drafted into the military.
“And I was thinking about sending out this video (made for each inductee) to see what happens.”
Other inductees included Peggy Ballard, Steve Cobble, Wayne Dixon, Kenneth Hodson, Kelvin Richardson, Mike Stuart and Ron “Yogi” Wilson.
Ballard, a long-time girls volleyball and basketball coach, continues to play basketball herself on a Senior Olympics team, the Tennessee Shooting Stars, that won a gold medal in 2011.
“I didn’t expect this,” Ballard said of her selection, and then vowed to keep playing basketball into her 80s, if possible.
Cobble, who scored 1,000 points as a member of the Alcoa basketball team and played minor league baseball for the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates, said he was grateful to be remembered so long after his athletic career ended.
“You can’t have success without a good coach and teammates,” he said. “It was special to be brought up in Blount County.”
Dixon, who quarterbacked Alcoa football to 29 straight wins and was one of the best basketball players ever at Bryan College, scoring 2,139 points in his career, was effusive in his thanks for having been selected to the Hall.
“I thought I’d been long forgotten,” he said.
Hodson, who is deceased, was known as “the Kid from Battle Branch,” who left a legacy of hard work that was rewarded many times over. A standout in football and basketball at Maryville, Hodson said in a 2009 interview that being captain of the 1941 MHS team was one of the best things that ever happened to him.
Richardson, an Alcoa High and Maryville College basketball legend, dealt with personal tragedy and went on to earn his college degree. Along the way, he became the Scots’ record-setter for 3-pointers. A member of the MC Wall of Fame, he also played basketball in the Dominican Republic and Belgium.
Richardson, who was still a teenager when his father died, thanked his mother for guidance.
“My mother is only 5-foot-2, but she’s a stick of dynamite, and I had no choice but to walk the straight and narrow,” he said.
Stuart, who turned his love of athletics into an ongoing career as a Division I college basketball official, credited Blount County officials who inspired him and other officials who gave him his first breaks at the high school and collegiate level. But he wasn’t quite certain how his acceptance would be received.
“It makes me nervous speaking to you because there’s a lot of coaches in this room,” Stuart joked.
Wilson, who is deceased, was remembered for his fiery disposition and knowledge of the game of basketball that resulted in a long career as one of the best high school girls coaches in the state at Heritage. He was also a high school state champion wrestler, the first from Blount County.