Jim Foster already had taken three Division I women's basketball programs to NCAA tournaments before he moved to Chattanooga, and he quickly made it four.
Also selected for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame before being hired to coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Foster merely enhanced his reputation in the next five years. He retired in 2018 with a 903-347 record at St. Joseph's, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and UTC, and he also had served as president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and had helped coach five United States teams to international gold medals, including two as head coach.
But he's not the most globally renowned member of the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame's 2020 induction class. That distinction goes to Ted Turner, the McCallie School alumnus who became an America's Cup sailing champion, the owner of the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks and builder of a media empire.
Turner and Foster will be ushered in along with 17 other new members at the GCSHF banquet Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Six special award winners also will be honored, including the Reggie White and Catherine Neely athletes of the year.
Tickets are available for $40 through Laura Pitman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-304-3208. Eight-person tables can be reserved for $320.
Turner, who received a president's special recognition from the GCSHF last year — when Foster was the group's Fred Gregg Award winner — is going into the hall for boat racing. Foster is joined in the women's basketball category by Gloria Scott Deathridge, whose brother Terry Scott will be a men's basketball inductee along with Darryl Yarbrough.
Greg Dennis and Mike Turner are being inducted for baseball, Rick Allen for softball, Julie Garner for golf, Wendy Oakes Wilhelm for swimming and diving, Jeff Clark for tennis, Lee Pride for track and field, Judy Rominger Pruett for volleyball, Earl Condra and Joe Scruggs as officials/administrators, James Beach for sports media and David Hannah, Brent Johnson and the late David Douglas for football.
Before venturing into yacht ocean racing, where he won the America's Cup in "Courageous" in 1977 and the deadly storm-ravaged Fastnet race in "Tenacious" in 1979, Turner did much of his sailing out of Privateer Yacht Club in Hixson. He was named national yachtsman of the year four times in the 1970s.
While building his gigantic Atlanta-based cable-television business, he also was very active in that city's professional sports realm. The former home of the Braves was named for him.
Foster became enamored with Chattanooga when his Vanderbilt teams visited for the Southeastern Conference tournament in the arena that would be his own final coaching home. His Mocs teams were 120-40 overall and 64-10 in Southern Conference games, with four consecutive league regular-season championships.
Deathridge and Scott join their brother Alvin Scott (2000) in the Chattanooga hall. Gloria was the first black player on the Bradley Central High School girls' basketball team — an all-state defender in the six-on-six era and a key member of the 31-1 1970 state champions — and played three years at Tennessee just before Pat Summitt took over as coach. The Lady Volunteers went 25-2 and reached an AIAW region final her junior season.
Deathridge stayed in Knoxville and still is involved in the sport as secretary of the board of directors for the Women's Hall of Fame.
Terry Scott, the first black athlete to enroll at Bradley, went through Middle Tennessee State on a basketball scholarship and was on a school-record relay and set a triple-jump record there in track. He got involved in coaching at Oral Roberts University and became an Oklahoma high school hall of fame coach with three basketball state titles and more than 400 wins in 25 years.
Kentucky all-stater Yarbrough was part of UTC's Louisville connection that led the Mocs to back-to-back Division II national finals, and he got their "best defensive" award in 1977 when they won the title. He was the team MVP in 1979. Staying in Chattanooga, he has been an assistant coach at several local high schools.
Chattanooga State coach Dennis was the starting shortstop and the city hits leader as a sophomore when Notre Dame won a baseball state championship in 1979, and he was two-time all-city there and two-time all-conference and a 1983 All-American as McLennan in Texas finished third and first in the NJCAA World Series. Then he started at third base at Florida State for a year and transferred to Baylor University, which had its best record ever with Dennis as the unanimous all-conference shortstop.
As a junior college head coach he has more than 900 wins, and his Tigers reached a No. 1 national ranking in 2007 and No. 2 in 2011, the season after a World Series trip.
Mike Turner played four years of football, basketball and baseball at Charleston High School and two years of football at Tennessee Tech, but he is best known for his baseball head-coaching success at Charleson, until it closed in 2001, and then Walker Valley. He's been the latter's athletic director since 2006.
A member of the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, he compiled a 688-247 record with 20 district championships, 12 region titles, two second-place state finishes and seven other state appearances.
Allen played basketball four years and baseball three years, with a state appearance his senior season, at Rossville High School, and continued his diamond career at Dalton Junior College and UTC, where he was the leading hitter and team MVP as a senior in 1976. But the Ringgold resident is being inducted for his fastpitch softball exploits. He was a 1977-92 local Dixie Major/Martin-Thompson League all-star with a career .468 batting average and .605 on-base percentage.
Allen was twice an All-American and two other times the Chattanooga softball player of the year, and he was the league's all-star MVP four times.
Garner, who lived in Chattanooga from 1965 to 1984 and attended Girls Preparatory School, won the Tennessee Women's Amateur golf tournament in 1984, the Golfweek Orlando Amateur in 2004 and 2006 and the Florida Mid-Amateur in 2005 and 2006. She's in her 24th season as the Rollins College women's golf coach, and her Tars have won a record six NCAA Division II titles and been runners-up five times. They've finished in the top four at nationals 13 of the last 18 years.
Garner has been the DII national coach of the year four times and just over a year ago was inducted into the WGCA Hall of Fame.
Wilhelm swam for GPS but finished high school with two years at Baylor, where she was the first girls' individual All-American and USA Swimming national qualifier and the school's first individual TSSAA champion in any sport. She was a state champion all four years of high school and set state records in 1989 and 1990, and she swam for the University of Tennessee before becoming an orthodontist and dentofacial orthopedics specialist.
Clark is the tennis coach at McCallie, which won three prestigious invitational tournaments and the state championship last season, going 16-1. He was the captain and No. 1 singles player on McCallie's 1991 state-title team, and four years later he was the captain and a No. 1 doubles player on a historic Vanderbilt team. He won multiple City Closed titles and was both a singles and a doubles finalist in the 1996 Irish National Indoors.
Clark has a 208-133 Division I college coaching record, and his 2000 UTC men won the SoCon title. In 2012 he directed the UTC women to a No. 63 national ranking — the first ranking in the program's DI history.
Pride, too, is a McCallie graduate, and he won the state decathlon in 1981 with 8,305 points. He also played football for three years for the Blue Tornado and then four years at Sewanee, where he earned all-conference honorable mention. Now he's a neuro physician in Dallas.
Pruett was an all-state volleyball player at Bradley Central who went on to a four-year career at King College. She coached two years at Chattanooga Christian, reaching the state tournament both times, and then went back to Bradley (1993-97) and won Class AAA state championships in 1993 and 1994. She was state coach of the year both of those seasons.
Taking a few years off while her daughters were young, Pruett was the head coach from 2006 to 2017 at Walker Valley, where her teams reached 500 wins.
Whitwell's football stadium is named for Condra, a 1946 WHS graduate and longtime educator who coached American Legion baseball for eight years and junior high basketball for 12 and had a 65-15-3 "midget football" record from 1954 to 1965. He's being honored mainly for his 1967-91 work as Whitwell High's principal and his extensive community involvement.
Scruggs was an all-city athlete at Brainerd who played baseball at UTC, and at age 67 he has been officiating basketball games for nearly 50 years. He's worked four state tournaments and was honored as East Tennessee's official of the year in 2003.
Beach came from Tyner to the Chattanooga Free Press sports staff in 1981, and he has covered local and regional athletic events since — in recent years as a correspondent even after he joined the business world. Beginning with widely varied prep coverage — he covered 28 area state championships in football, baseball, volleyball and softball — he also reported on high-profile events such as the SEC women's and men's basketball tournaments and Final Fours, college bowl games and the Masters.
He handled all things Vols while attending Tennessee and over his career covered six of the Lady Vols' national-title runs.
Hannah followed his brothers John and Charley at Baylor School and Alabama and now joins them in the Chattanooga hall of fame. David was an all-state two-way lineman for Baylor's 1973 state and national champions, after the Red Raiders were state runners-up his junior football season, and he also excelled in wrestling and track and field. Then he helped Alabama win four SEC football championships and two national titles despite multiple knee injuries that kept him from following his dad and brothers into NFL careers.
Johnson starred at Red Bank and then started every game in a 1982-85 UTC offensive-line career that included 26 wins and the 1984 SoCon championship. He earned a master's degree before completing his Mocs playing days and now is a BlueCross BlueShield account executive. Professionally in football, he was an All-Arena League player and played three games in 1987 with the Chicago Bears.
Douglas, who died in 2016 at the age of 52, was a Spring City native who went from Rhea County renown to walking on with Tennessee's Volunteers as a 200-pound offensive lineman and growing into earning a scholarship and ultimately a starting role. His 1985 team blasted favored Miami out of the Sugar Bowl, and Douglas became an eighth-round NFL draft choice. He played five seasons with the Bengals and Patriots, reaching the Super Bowl with Cincinnati following the 1988 season, but a neck injury ended his pro career in 1991.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.