Two coaches who each owns four football state championships and two runner-up finishes at high schools eight miles apart are among the 17 men and women who will be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 26 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Vic Grider has a 197-49 record in 19 seasons as head coach at South Pittsburg, his alma mater where his father preceded him as a state-champion leader, and Ken Colquette has a 257-94 record that mostly was fashioned in 17 years at Marion County High in Jasper, including a 56-1 four-year span that included three state titles.
Going into the area hall of fame with them are Dale McDowell for auto racing, Joe Adams for baseball, Herbert "Book" McCray and Zandra Ownby Morris for basketball, Johnny Labbous for boxing, Teresa Lawrence Phillips and Leon Rash in the officials/administration category, Calvin Harrison for softball, Stan Corcoran for swimming, Bayly Taff for tennis, Jeff Gaither and Stephanie Strickland Sheridan for track and field, James Lowe for weightlifting, Gary Speegle for wrestling and B.B. Branton for sports media.
Six special award winners, including area male and female athletes of the year, also will be honored at the induction banquet, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. that Monday. Tickets cost $40 and may be bought through Catherine Neely at 423-842-7274.
McDowell, who lives in Chickamauga, Ga., is a former dirt-track racing national champion who has finished in the top eight in national series points nine times. He won the inaugural Battle of Bristol in 2000 and the 2005 World 100, and he had two $10,000 wins last year. He also has been a longtime race-driving instructor.
Gaither, a McCallie graduate who has coached at Girls Preparatory School since 1997, has directed nine state-champion cross country or track and field teams. He guided the Bruisers to state track titles in 2005-07 and a cross country championship this past fall and has coached 48 individual state champs.
Corcoran, a water polo standout at Indiana, has been McCallie's swimming coach for 26 years with seven team state championships and five runner-up finishes. One of his swimmers, Sean Ryan, became a 2016 Olympian in the open-water competition.
Adams, after going 43-9 with a state-runner-up finish in two seasons coaching baseball at Cookeville High School, came to Bradley Central and directed 387 wins in 18 years with two other second-place state finishes and two thirds. Like Grider, he was the son of a legendary coach, and Adams' daughter Jody and son Travis have become accomplished coaches as well.
Morris is another accomplished coach, most notably at Cleveland High, who like Jody Adams played basketball at a high level for Bradley Central and later for Pat Summitt at Tennessee. She scored 2,455 points in her Bradley career and was MVP in the state-title win in 1970. She then starred for two years at Cleveland State, leading the Lady Cougars to a fourth-place national finish as the state player of the year, before helping the Lady Vols to a No. 1 national ranking.
McCray, is the fourth selection in recent years from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga team that won the 1977 NCAA Division II championship after finishing second in 1976. The four arrived together from Louisville, Ky., but McCray is the one who stayed in Chattanooga, making a continued mark on the community as a teacher, coach, administrator and foundation director.
Phillips played basketball at Vanderbilt after starring at GPS, but she is being honored primarily for her nearly 16 years as athletic director at Tennessee State after coaching the women's basketball team there from 1989 to 2000. She was the USA Today national coach of the year in 1990 and the Ohio Valley Conference coach of the year three times, and as AD she made history as the one-game coach of the TSU men.
Harrison was a high school and college official, not a coach, but he was player-manager of two Combustion Engineers teams that reached men's fastpitch national tournaments and went another time as a player. He played 17 years in the Dixie Major League and was a league all-star 10 times and made three all-tournament teams each at the state and South Atlantic levels.
Rash likewise officiated high school and college games, and the longtime Jasper resident and public official worked three TSSAA state basketball tournaments, was supervisor and assigning officer for the Southeast Tennessee Basketball Officials Association for many years and was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2012. He played baseball at Middle Tennessee State.
Sheridan was part of a state champion basketball team at Brainerd High and won two state long-jump titles before going on to Jackson State University to compete in volleyball as well as track and field. She holds a doctorate in nursing practice from UTC and is a past president of the American Nephrology Nurses Association.
Speegle, now living in Tampa, Fla., won a state wrestling championship at Red Bank High after two years as runner-up and went on to wrestle and earn a physics degree at Georgia Tech. He won an SEIWA title there and is listed a co-inventor on three systems with U.S. patents.
Taff, who lives in Atlanta and serves as treasurer of the Georgia Tennis Foundation, was on Baylor's state championship team in 1979 and was captain of its Rotary champs in 1980, when he was ranked No. 3 in the South in 18-under singles and won USTA state titles in singles and doubles. He then went to Navy, where he played No. 1 singles and doubles his last two years.
Labbous won four Chattanooga Golden Gloves titles from 1960 to 1965 and the Southern Golden Gloves at 17 years old in 1964. He competed in track and field and golf as well as boxing while a student at Brainerd High, and he went on to a drag racing career that landed him in the NHRA Hall of Fame last year, when he was still winning big-money races at age 71.
Lowe, who is deceased, was a Mr. Tennessee bodybuilder who in weightlifting went undefeated at the local and state level from 1940 to 1949, that last year earning "outstanding lifter" at the Junior Nationals with a total weight just 10 pounds short of a national record. He became a Goodwill Industries executive in 1963 and served as its president from 1984 until retiring in 1989.
Branton has been a sports writer for the Lookout Mountain Mirror, the Chattanooga Free Press and most recently Chattanoogan.com, and he also served as a sports information director or media liaison for Athletes in Action, Seattle Pacific University, Chapman College, Major League Volleyball and Sewanee. He was part of McCallie's Mid-South wrestling champions in 1966-68 and was All-Mid-South in 1966.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.
2018 Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame inductees
JOE ADAMS (baseball) The Athens native and former Tennessee Tech catcher won two baseball district titles at McMinn County in his first two seasons as a head coach and then went 43-9 with a state-runner-up finish in two years at Cookeville High, but he is best known for his 18 years coaching Bradley Central's Bears. His Bears teams won 387 games and nine district titles and made four trips to the state tournament, finishing second twice and third the other times. He was the son of a legendary coach, Ace Adams, and the father of two children who have had coaching success of their own: daughter Jody, a former standout point guard for Pat Summitt at Tennessee who became a Division I basketball coach, and son Travis, now the Bradley baseball coach. Joe was inducted into the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association hall of fame in 2015. ___ B.B. BRANTON (media) He has been a sports writer for the Lookout Mountain Mirror, the Chattanooga Free Press and most recently Chattanoogan.com, and he served as sports information/media relations director for Athletes in Action, Seattle Pacific University, Chapman College, Major League Volleyball and Sewanee: The University of the South. The McCallie School and Ole Miss graduate was into sports from an early age, leading a Lookout Mountain youth basketball league in scoring at age 12. Branton was a two-time all-star in the mountain's Little Boys Baseball League, scored a run in the 1961 Little Boys World Series and scored the winning touchdown at age 11 for his school football team in a bowl game. He was a member of McCallie's Mid-South wrestling champions in 1966-68 and was All-Mid-South in 1966, and he was part of recreation league champions in baseball, basketball, bowling, golf, softball, tennis and touch football. ___ KEN COLQUETTE (football) He coached Marion County to four state football championships and two runner-up finishes, completing a 17-year tenure at the Jasper school in 1996. After earning their first TSSAA title in 1990, the Warriors won three from 1992 to 1995, going 56-1 in those four seasons. Coaching at Bridgeport (Ala.) before Marion and at Vidalia (Ga.), Grundy County and Sequatchie County afterward, Colquette compiled a 257-94 record. ___ STAN CORCORAN (swimming) The McCallie School swimming coach for 26 years was an All-American swimmer and water polo player in high school in Pennsylvania and participated in both sports at Indiana University. He was a three-year Hoosiers starter in water polo. He's an eight-time Tennessee high school boys' swimming coach of the year with seven state championships and five runner-up team finishes, and his McCallie standouts are headed by Sean Ryan, who represented the United States in the 2016 Olympics. Corcoran made the USA Swimming national A team coaching list in 2009-11 and was the Southeastern coach of the year in 2010, and he has coached 56 swimmers and water polo players to All-American status. He has coached Chattanooga Area Swim League and year-round club programs since 1992, and he started the McCallie masters team in 1995 and coached Jimmy Welborn of the Chattanooga River Rats to victory in the Tampa Bay 24-mile open-water race. He also has taught community swim lessons, lifeguarding and CPR classes and hosted triathlon and masters clinics and Special Olympics meets for years. ___ JEFF GAITHER (track and field) The Girls Preparatory School coach since 1997 is a reigning cross country state champion and has been the Times Free Press Best of Preps girls' cross country coach of the year the last two seasons. He was the Best of Preps girls' track coach of the year in 2000 and after GPS state titles in 2005-07 as well, and he twice has been a National Federation state coach of the year with the Bruisers. The former McCallie three-sport athlete (basketball also) and University of Georgia cross country runner coached Baylor to a boys' state cross country title in 1988 and was a local and state coach of the year then also, and he coached Darlington in Rome to two boys' and two girls' state championships and earned four Georgia Athletic Coaches Association coach-of-the-year awards in seven years. Gaither has coached 48 individual state track and cross country champions and is a two-time Boston Marathon finisher who has completed 20 other races of marathon distance or beyond. ___ VIC GRIDER (football) The son of longtime South Pittsburg High School coach Don Grider himself has coached there for 27 years, 19 as the football head coach, and has a 197-49 record with four state championships, two runner-up finishes and 18 district or region titles. He has coached 47 all-state players and 21 who went on to college programs from the Class A school, and he has served 20 years as its athletic director. As a player for the Pirates, he was All-Sequatchie Valley Conference and All-Tri-State in 1985 before going on the University of Tennessee and working as a manager in the football program. ___ CALVIN HARRISON (softball) The U.S. Army Vietnam veteran played 17 years in Chattanooga's renowned top men's fastpitch league and was a local all-star 10 times and three times made all-state and All-South Atlantic Region tournament teams. He led the Dixie Major league in batting average two years and in stolen bases five times, and he played two full seasons without making a fielding error. He went to three ASA national tournaments, two as a player-manager for Combustion Engineering, where he worked for 37 years and traveled internationally as manager of sales from 1992 to 2007. A three-year basketball letterman as well as a baseball captain at Central High School, Harrison became a TSSAA basketball and softball official and called college basketball games as well, and in 2004 he was the club champion at Creeks Bend Golf Club. ___ JOHNNY LABBOUS (boxing) Now a resident of Goodlettsville, Tenn., he is an NHRA Hall of Fame drag racer as well as a Southern Golden Gloves champion fighter - at the age of 17 in 1964 - and he also competed in golf and track and field while a student at Brainerd High School. He won the pole vault in one meet. He won four Chattanooga Golden Gloves titles from 1960 to 1965. Labbous is a five-time division champion in the National Hot Rod Association and has double-digit race wins in national events, including four in Spring Nationals. He won the 2003 Million Dollar Race in Memphis and earned the last two of his multiple Dick Moroso five-day race victories 27 years apart in 1986 and 2013. He was still winning races at age 71 in 2017, including a $10,000 first place at Bowling Green, Ky., and a $5,000 prize in Nashville. And as a golfer he was the senior club champion at Oak Hills Country Club in 2010. ___ JAMES LOWE (deceased, weightlifting) Like Labbous, he counted the late Rye Bell at Frye Institute as a mentor. Lowe represented Frye in weightlifting and bodybuilding and was Mr. Chattanooga and Mr. Tennessee in 1948 and 1949. In lifting he was undefeated in his weight class from 1940 to 1949, winning city and state championships all 10 of those years, and in 1949 he was the "outstanding lifter" in the Junior Nationals, where his 720 pounds of total weight for the press (230), snatch (215) and clean and jerk (275) were within 10 pounds of a national record. He was a Mid-South champion as early as 1939 and received the Southern Perfect Physique honor the following year, but then he served four years in the Army Air Force in World War II. Graduating from City High and then in the top five of his class at the University of Chattanooga, he taught chemistry and was a vice principal at Lakeview High School before entering the business world with Container Corp. He was the director of personnel and rehabilitation at Goodwill Industries from 1963 to 1984 and then served as Goodwill's president until retiring in 1989. ___ HERBERT "BOOK" McCRAY (basketball) The latest Greater Chattanooga hall of fame inductee from the "Louisville connection" on UTC's Division II national runners-up in 1976 and champions in 1977, McCray was a four-year starter at forward for UTC. Then he stayed in Chattanooga and became an educator. He was a teacher, coach and administrator in his 26 years in the local public-school system, from elementary grades through middle school and high school until retiring in 2009. Even as a school administator he coached in his spare time, through his Chattanooga Basketball Foundation that evolved into the Independent Youth Services Foundation with a focus on male mentoring. He also founded the Project Success youth development program and was the Omega Psi Phi Man of the Year in 1994. ___ DALE McDOWELL (auto racing) The Chickamauga, Ga., resident is a 1999 dirt-track racing national champion and 1994 Southern All Stars champion who has finished in the top eight in Xtreme (Hav-A-Tampa), World of Outlaws and Lucas Oil Late Model national series points nine times and is in the Xtreme Millionaire's Club. He won the inaugural Battle of Bristol in 2000 and the 2005 World 100 in Eldora, Ohio, and he had two $10,000 wins last year. He has 40 career SAS race wins, 31 in the Xtreme (Hav-A-Tampa) series, 10 in the World of Outlaws series and eight in the Lucas series. He also has been a longtime race-driving instructor and went into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2017. ___ ZANDRA OWNBY MORRIS (basketball) A successful coach at various school levels in Bradley County for 39 years, most notably at Cleveland High from 1986 to 1993, she was sensational as a player. She was the most valuable player in state-championship triumphs in the eighth grade and in 1970 at Bradley Central High, where she scored 2,455 points in her career, and she was the MVP of the state all-star game as a senior. Then she went to Cleveland State and was all-state and all-region both years and all-tournament when the Lady Cougars finished fourth in the nation. She was the state player of the year as a sophomore, and in her two seasons at the junior college she averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds a game and the team went 56-7. Then she went to Tennessee and totaled 651 points and 311 rebounds in two seasons and received the Lady Vol Torch Award. Her top highlight as a Lady Vol was in February 1978, when Tennessee supplanted LSU as No. 1 in the nation after the 5-foot-10 Zandra managed 29 points and 16 rebounds in an inside battle against the Tigers' two 6-2 posts. UT won 86-68. ___ TERESA LAWRENCE PHILLIPS (officials/administrators) She played basketball at Vanderbilt after starring at GPS, but she is being honored primarily for her nearly 16 years as athletic director at Tennessee State after coaching the women's basketball team there from 1989 to 2000. She was the USA Today national coach of the year in 1990 and the Ohio Valley Conference coach of the year three times, and as AD she made history as the one-game coach of the TSU men. Her 1993-94 Lady Tigers won the program's first OVC regular-season and tournament championships, and the next year they went 22-7, 12-4, and shared the regular-season title. She previously coached the Fisk women for four years, with two regular-season and tournament titles. Before that she was an assistant coach for three years at Vanderbilt, where she had been the inaugural Lady Commodore overall athlete of the year. She was the first female black athlete at Southeastern Conference school. ___ LEON RASH (officials/administrators) He played football, baseball and basketball at the old Bridgeport (Ala.) High School and was a three-year letterman in baseball at Middle Tennessee State University, but the longtime Jasper resident is best known in the area sports world for his 40-plus years as a TSSAA official. Inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2012, he has worked numerous postseason games, including three state basketball tournaments, served as supervisor and assigning officer for the Southeast Tennessee Basketball Officials Association, was a TSSAA officials camp director and received an A.F. Bridges "official of the year" award for his teaching and promotion of citizenship and sportsmanship in high school athletics. He helped organize te baseball umpires association in the Sequatchie Valley in the mid-1970s and he is in his 18th year as alderman for the town of Jasaper. ___ STEPHANIE STRICKLAND SHERIDAN (track and field) Now a nurse practitioner, she was a two-time state long jump champion and played on a state-champion basketball team at Brainerd High School, where she also played volleyball. A high school All-American in track and field, she competed in that sport and volleyball at Jackson State University. Sheridan holds a doctorate in nursing practice from UTC and is on the advisory board for registered nurses at Chattanooga State, and she is a past president of the American Nephrology Nurses Association. She has had articles published on subjects such as the need for a comprehensive foot care model and the implementation and sustainability of electronic health records. ___ GARY SPEEGLE (wrestling) He now lives in Tampa, Fla., but was a wrestling state champion, cross country and track runner and 1967 salutatorian at Red Bank High School and added a Southeastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association title as a senior at Georgia Tech, where he received a degree in physics in 1971. He came back to Red Bank and coached wrestling and cross country the next two years, but he has made his mark as a co-inventor on three systems with United States patents. Speegle began his wrestling career with a 10-15 record at Red Bank Middle School but was a state runner-up as a sophomore and junior and won the championship as a senior. In his three years of high school, he won his match in every dual meet except one tie as a sophomore and two losses in Oklahoma his senior season. ___ BAYLY TAFF (tennis) He was on Baylor's state champion tennis team in 1979 and was captain of the school's Chattanooga Rotary champions in 1980, when in USTA play he was ranked No. 3 in singles in the South (seven states) and won state 18-under singles and doubles titles. He was ranked No. 3 in the South also in 16s singles in 1978, when he won the state singles title in that age group and was a doubles runner-up, and he finished third in 14s singles and first in doubles in 1976. Taff went on to play tennis at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he played No. 1 singles and doubles in 1983 and 1984 and was a 1984 captain on the team that won the conference. He had 106 career singles and doubles collegiate victories and spent 12 years in the U.S. Navy, eight as a tactical pilot. While still in college, he placed third in the 1982 Singles National Amateur Championships and won the 1983 Tennessee men's singles tournament. An Atlanta resident, he was the Georgia state 45s champion and a U.S. grass court singles quarterfinalist in 2009, and he is a board member and treasurer of the Georgia Tennis Foundation.