The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame welcomed and celebrated its 2017 induction class on June 2 and 3. The 2017 inductees were Chantelle Anderson – Three time All-American at Vanderbilt, Julius “Chuck” Meriwether – Major League Baseball umpire, Chad Clifton – Former University of Tennessee standout and Green Bay Packers Hall-of-Famer, Haskel Stanback – Former University of Tennessee and Atlanta Falcons star performer, Candy Reynolds – Professional Tennis Player and Grand Slam Champion, Willie Gault – University of Tennessee two sport All-American and Olympian, Al Wilson – Former University of Tennessee All-American and Denver Broncos All-Pro player, Ashley McElhiney Ayers– Former Vanderbilt University Women’s Basketball standout, Graham Vowell – University of Tennessee’s first football All-American (post-humous inductee), and Burnis “Wild Bill” Wright – International Professional Baseball Headliner (post-humous inductee).
The weekend began on Friday afternoon with a banner reveal, where each inductee along with their close friends and family were able to view the new induction class’s banners displayed in the hall for the first time. The reveal was accompanied by light refreshments and a few welcoming words from the Hall’s Executive Director, Dr. Bill Emendorfer. The celebration continued with the 2017 class, board members, and guests attending the Reunion of Champions Reception sponsored by Adams and Reese, LLP. This amazing location offered the guests a beautiful view overlooking the Cumberland River and the skyline of downtown Nashville.
The 2017 Induction weekend continued Saturday with the Champion Within Luncheon held at the Omni Hotel. The guests heard amazing, inspirational stories of character and courage from this year’s recipients of the Champion Within Awards. Ronnie Woodard, Coach of Tennessee SC 16, the most decorated soccer team in Tennessee history, received the Championship Award. Mario Reed received the Perseverance Award and awed the crowd with his inspiring story of how he has overcome obstacles after being paralyzed from the neck down during a kickoff return in high school. King University Women’s Wrestling Team, a nationally prominent program that has won eight national championships in the past four years while also maintaining a high GPA, received the Champions as Pioneers Award. Matthew Drumright received the Heart of a Champion Award for his inspiring performances as an Olympic star and reoccurring medalist in gymnastics. The Luncheon concluded with a video from Tim Shaw, a former Tennessee linebacker and current writer battling ALS, who received the Character Award.
The 2017 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet began with a welcome from Bill Emendorfer followed by a delicious meal. The night continued with each honoree accepting their awards and sharing a few words with the audience. Roy Kramer, the SEC Commissioner from 1978-1990, received the Pat Summitt Lifetime Achievement Award. Haley Augello received the Female Amateur Athlete of the Year Award after being the first King University athlete to compete in the Olympic games. Rhodes College Women’s Golf Team, 2016 NCAA Division III National Champions, received the Amateur Team of the Year Award. Five-time Olympic medalist Justin Gatlin received the Male Professional Athlete of the Year Award. Following the honoree awards, the inductees were given their awards to signify their induction in the Hall of Fame. Dr. Emendorfer then closed out the program, ending the 2017 Induction Banquet.