As emcee Scott Shasteen tweeted, Saturday night felt like a reunion at the D.W. Wilson Community Center, when Tullahoma Sports Council held its inaugural Tullahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Award Banquet.
The inaugural class of inductees included 10 individuals and one team, while current Tullahoma High School senior Ashley Gilliam was given an honorary award.
This year’s inductees included Steve Matthews, Larry Nee Jr., William Wallace Wade, Matthew Sweeton, Camron Howard, Antonio London, Frank Mullins, William Francis Pack, Sr., Ann Shelton and Dr. Jamil Northcutt. The 1974 Tullahoma High School State Champion baseball team was the squad that was honored on Saturday night.
The idea for the Tullahoma Sports Council came from Mayor Lane Curlee as part of his Get Fit! Tullahoma program. During his remarks on Saturday, Curlee noted the importance that health plays in overall productivity, happiness and longevity. Curlee took the initiative a step farther, wanting to recognize athletes the area.
“I also asked the council to recognize achievement, and now we have the sports hall of fame,” Curlee said. “Another goal for the council is to help position Tullahoma as a premier sports destination. I very much appreciate the leadership of Jim [Bratcher] and the council members as we work to accomplish these goals.”
Following the welcoming from Curlee, Shasteen took over as master of ceremonies for the remainder of Saturday’s program.
“I look around this room and realize that I’m surrounded by the greatest collection of athletic talent in the history of the city of Tullahoma,” Shasteen said. “This will never happen again. This is the peak. These are the greatest of all-time. There will be additional hall of fame ceremonies. There will be additional inductees, great coaches, great athletes, great officials, great this and great that. There will never be another first. You guys are the icons and congratulations.”
Before inductions took place, THS senior Ashley Gilliam was honored with an award for her performance on the golf course, specifically in 2018. The Mississippi State University commit had an outstanding year on the links, even becoming a U.S. Girls Junior Quarterfinalist and made it to the round of 32 in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Tournament.
As part of the Tullahoma High School golf team, she helped lead the Lady Wildcats to a state tournament berth last September. She additionally earned Region 4-AAA and District 8-AAA Individual Champion honors based on her performances.
That success on the course led her to being selected as the Tennessee Golf Association’s 2018 Women’s Golfer of the Year.
The evening’s first inductee was former Wildcat and NFL quarterback Steve Matthews.
As a member of the Wildcats, Matthews was an all-state quarterback his junior and senior seasons, and helped THS reach the state semifinal game in 1987.
Matthews signed a football scholarship to play at the University of Tennessee following his graduation from THS in 1989. However, he transferred to Memphis State in 1991, where he set 10 school passing records.
In 1994, Matthews was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Three years later he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and was once named the NFL Player of the Week after leading his team to a 40-13 win over the New York Giants. In 1998, he signed with the Tennessee Titans before hanging up his pads.
In 2013, Matthews was hired as head football coach at Knoxville Catholic High School. Since then, he has delivered two state titles, winning the first in 2015 before repeating in 2017.
Larry Nee Jr.
As a member of the THS track and field team, Larry Nee Jr. helped lead his team to the Mid-State Invitation and Optimist Track Meet championships in 1969.
Nee followed that with a state championship in 1970 in the mile run with a time of 4 minutes and 15.8 seconds. That accomplishment also set a new state record, beating the previous record by 2.8 seconds. Nee held that record for over 20 years and still holds the THS record for the mile.
Nee earned a full scholarship to Memphis State University and after a year and a half, he signed with Jacksonville State University where he was a captain of the cross-country team for two years.
In 1977, Nee set the skateboarding world record at the Talladega Speedway with a time of 10.660 miles per hour.
William Wallace Wade
Legendary football coach William Wallace Wade began his coaching career in 1919 at Fitzgerald-Clarke Military Academy and Prep School in Tullahoma. In two seasons, he coached his teams to a 16-3 record and won the Tennessee State Prep-School Championship.
Following his departure from Tullahoma, Wade went to be an assistant coach at Vanderbilt, where the Commodores won two Southern Conference Championships during his tenure, finishing with an overall record of 15-0-2.
In 1923, Wallace headed the University of Alabama football team. In Tuscaloosa, he won four Southern Conference Championships, three National Titles, three Rose Bowl Trophies, compiling an overall record of 61-13-3 in his eight seasons.
Following his time in Alabama, Wade took over at Duke for 16 seasons, putting together a record of 110-36, a mark that was broken up by four years while World Work II was taking place. In 1938, the Blue Devils went undefeated under Wade and did not allow a single opponent to score a point.
In 1942, Wade resigned as head coach of Duke to volunteer for the U.S. Army at 49 years old. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was awarded a Bronze Star and four battle stars.
Duke honored Wade by renaming its stadium in honor of the former coach in 1967. Wade died in 1986, but in 2006, a bronze statue of Wade was erected in front of Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama. Additionally, Wallace Wade Avenue now runs alongside the Alabama football stadium.
As a wrestler at the high school level, Matthew Sweeton captured three state titles in three different weight classes. Sweeton captured state titles at the 103 pounds, 145 pounds as well as in the 160-pound class.
He was the first Tullahoma High School wrestler to win a state championship. During his high-school career, Sweeton put together an overall record of 177-15, including a 42-0 mark his senior season.
Sweeton, a 2001 THS graduate, holds the state record for the largest range of weight class championships. He is only the second wrestler in the state history to win a state championship as a freshman, and he is the only three-time state champion in Middle Tennessee south of Williamson County.
While at Tullahoma High School, Camron Howard was a five-time state champion for the Wildcats track and field team.
Howard nabbed three state titles in the long jump, coming in 1995-97. He took first in the triple jump during his senior season in 1997 and added a 100-meter title that same year.
His performances in the long jump and triple jump set state records. Currently, Howard holds the THS school record in four events, the long jump, triple jump and 100 and 200 dashes.
Additionally at THS, he was a four-year letterman for the Wildcats football team, even earning a scholarship to Tennessee State University.
Howard eventually wound up at the University of Tennessee on a track and field scholarship. While at Tennessee, he was an All-American and was an SEC Championship Conference Scorer.
Additionally, he was a member of one national and two SEC Championship Teams in Knoxville. He also holds a record at UT, as the Stockley Facility indoor record holder in the long jump. He is No. 6 all-time in the indoor long jump in UT history and top 20 in the outdoor long jump. Lastly, he is the first NCAA long jump qualifier in Tennessee State University History.
While at THS, Antonio London lettered in four sports, football, basketball, baseball and track. After being stellar on the gridiron – including being the No. 1 football recruit in the state – London went on to continue his career at the University of Alabama.
During the 1992 season, London was part of the Crimson Tide team that captured the National Championship, beating Miami 34-13, under head coach Gene Stallings.
In 1993, London was selected in the third round by the Detroit Lions, where played linebacker for four seasons. In 1998, he then signed with the Green Bay Packers. In 76 career games, London had 13 sacks, 78 solo tackles and seven forced fumbles.
During his playing career in 1955, Frank Mullins played on the undefeated Wildcats football team. From there, Mullins kept involved in football, including playing a year at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga in 1956.
In 1970, Mullins established the Tullahoma Pop Warner Football League. Mullins spent 11 seasons as assistant coach of the Rebels in the Pop Warner League with a combined record of 82-13-5.
Mullins suffered a severe heart attack in 1980 that forced him to retire from coaching. The following year, the Tullahoma Pop Warner League Board of Directors voted to change the name of the league to the Frank R. Mullins Youth Football League.
In 1982, Mullins helped start the first Tullahoma Middle School football team to help bridge the gap between the youth league and the high school program. Mullins coached at the middle school until his death in 1986. In 2016, he was inducted into The Great American Rivalry Series Hall of Fame.
William Francis Pack Sr.
Legendary football and basketball official William Francis Pack Sr. was born and raised in Tullahoma, and was 1938 graduate of THS.
As a member of the Wildcats’ sports teams, Pack earned 13 athletic letters, four in basketball, baseball and tennis and one in football. Shortly after graduating, he started his officiating career in 1939.
Pack officiated basketball until 1961, working the girls and boys high school state tournaments. He then also officiated football for 55 years until his death in 1994.
During his football officiating career, Pack served in numerous high school bowl games, even working the TSSAA State Football Championship Game nine times. Additionally, he officiated Division I College Football games in the Ohio Valley Conference for 34 years.
In 1947, Pack formed the Central Tennessee Football Officials Association and was the commissioner and assigning officer until 1994. He also formed the Central Tennessee Basketball Officials Association and 1947, heading that until 1961.
That career led Pack to be inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 1983. In 1991, Pack was then inducted into the National High School Federation Hall of Fame and then the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
During her high school career in Tullahoma, Ann Shelton was outstanding on the soccer field for the Lady Wildcats, including being selected all four years to the all-district and all-tournament teams at the state tournament.
Shelton helped lead Tullahoma to its first-ever Class AAA State Tournament appearance in 1999. Three years later, she and the Lady Wildcats added state final appearance in 2002.
During the course of her four-year career, Shelton scored 12 goals and had four assists, while primarily playing goalkeeper. During her senior season in 2002, she was named the Gatorade Tennessee Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
Following her time at Tullahoma, Shelton went on to play at Ole Miss. During her time in Oxford, Mississippi, Shelton was a four-time letterman and a five-time SEC Player of the Week.
During her freshman year at Ole Miss, she was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team. In 21 games that year, she allowed 23 goals and had 77 saves.
In 2005, Shelton had a record-setting year. In 15 games, she allowed just three goals and racked up 40 saves, for a .930 save percentage. That led to a 0.27 goals against average, which still stands as an SEC record today, but was also a NCAA Division-I against average.
Shelton was also a two-time ESPN/Adidas All-American as well as an NCAA Academic All-American. She was team captain of Ole Miss in 2006-07 and had a 4.0 GPA six consecutive semesters.
She was named to the dean’s list from 2003-2006, receiving SEC Honor Roll Honors as well as the SEC All-Academic Team.
In 2012, Shelton was selected to the Title IX 40 For 40 All-SEC Team.
During his time at Tullahoma High School, Jamil Northcutt, Ph.D., was a two-time All-State Selection for the Wildcats football team.
During his senior season in 1998, Northcutt was the American General Mr. Football Lineman of the Year in Class 4A. He was a first team All-State pick of the Associated Press and Tennessee Sportswriter.
During his senior season, Northcutt had 189 tackles, 11 quarterback sacks, a fumble recovery and four caused fumbles and one interception.
That outstanding play, led to a career at Ole Miss. In 2003, he was named the Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipient. While with the Rebels, Northcutt and Ole Miss went to three bowl games, including winning a Cotton Bowl in 2003.
Northcutt earned three degrees from Ole Miss. In 2003, he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science. He followed that with a master’s in higher education and administration in 2004, before receiving his doctorate in higher education and administration in 2013.
Following his collegiate playing career, Northcutt was an intern with the SEC until 2005, when he then stepped into the role of Player Development Coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2008, he then went on to return to his alma mater as assistant athletics director for Internal Operations at Ole Miss.
In 2014-16, Northcutt was the director of player engagement for the Cleveland Browns. In 2016-17, he served as director of football administration at the NFL.
In 2017-18, he was assistant director of enforcement, football development group at the NCAA. In May, Northcutt was hired as vice president of player engagement with Major League Soccer.
1974 State Baseball Champions
The final induction on Saturday went to the first-ever team to be included into the Tullahoma Sports Hall of Fame, the 1974 Tullahoma High School baseball team which captured a state title that year.
During the regular season, the Wildcats put together a 17-2 mark, winning the District 15 Title after beating Huntland 3-1.
Heading into the region tournament, Tullahoma had an overall record of 20-2. The Wildcats won their two region games and then defeated Clinton in the substate, before earning a spot into state with a 5-3 victory over Knoxville Central.
In a best of three games against Cookeville in the state final, Tullahoma earned back-to-back victories. The Wildcats notched a 1-0 victory in game one, before adding an 11-8 victory to clinch the state title.
Heading into that state tournament, the Wildcats were led by Tim Finch who batted .394, Mike Howell who hit had an average of .340 and Greg Hemken who hit .322.
On the mound, Jerry Farrar compiled a 13-1 record for the Wildcats. That mark led to Farrar being selected as the midstate baseball player of the year that season.
Jimmy Parrish and Finch received also midstate first team honors for the Wildcats. Hemken was selected as second-team member. Howell, Ronnie James, Rick Pless, Joey Tuck and Bill Brantner were all honorable mentions.