This is an opinion column.

When I learned my brother, Jeff, had been chosen as a member of the DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2022, I immediately thought of our late parents and how proud they would be of him.

Mom and Dad nurtured our love of sports when Jeff and I grew up. As adults, they encouraged and supported our careers and taught us to be servants and not self-serving.

Jeff’s athletic career began as a baseball player for the late Thurston “Skin” Johnston of Crossville, a man who came to be known as “Mr. Baseball.” Jeff always called him “Coach,” and now he joins Skin in the DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame. Skin was a member of the inaugural class in 1997.

Before I was born, my parents and Jeff lived in Crossville, where their neighbors included the Cole family. Richard Cole is one of the greatest football players in Crossville High School history, and he’d sometimes come over and play in the yard with Jeff.

Richard went on to become a national champion and All-American for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame inducted him in 1998, and Jeff now joins his former neighbor in the hall.

At Crossville High School, Jeff played basketball for another legendary coach in Jerry Rice, who served two tenures as the Lions’ varsity boys coach. Coach Rice was inducted into the DCSHOF in 2002. I know Coach Rice taught Jeff lessons about life and not just basketball, and Jeff still applies those lessons today.

Jeff is the fourth member of the Hammonds side of our family to be chosen for induction.

In 1998, the late Byron Shipp was inducted. Byron, a Crossville graduate, was married to our cousin, Nadine Hammonds. He started the football programs at both Ider and Plainview.

Our cousin Rita Hammonds was enshrined in 2003. Rita was one of the first girls basketball stars in DeKalb County and played at Jacksonville State.

Ider graduate Brent Tinker was inducted in 2020. One of the greatest football players in county history, he’s married to our cousin, Shannon Hammonds.

Jeff’s job with WQSB-FM/WAVU-AM gave him the opportunity to serve as the color man for the Crossville football team’s 1986 Class 3A state championship and the Crossville varsity girls basketball team’s 2008 3A State Tournament title.

Of course, he’s probably best known for his 32 years as host of the WQSB High School Football Scoreboard. He’s been a terrific ambassador for high school football in northeast Alabama through the years, and I know that players, coaches and fans eagerly anticipate listening to the show each week of the season.

Joining my brother in the DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2022 are Tracy Hulgan, Dale Pruitt, Cristie Brothers, Matthew Lambert, C.M. Sanford, Billy Colburn and Bill Smith. That’s a star-studded group if you ask me.

Congratulations to Jeff and all the new inductees. Your honor is well-deserved.                     

Shannon J. Allen is publisher for The Reporter. He can be reached at shannon.allen@sandmountainreporter.com.

(1) comment

0035622YANCY

I know your proud of your brother. Congratulations!

Coach Ptuitt Congratulations!

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