Simmons Says: Couldn't dream of a better Hall of Fame Class


The Warren County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 was honored Thursday (Painted Barn Media)

Like most diehard Tennessee fans, I tuned in recently to the NFL Hall of Fame inductions to see Peyton Manning get his Gold Jacket. I wanted to hear Peyton talk about the Vols (he did), say ‘Omaha,’ one more time (he did) and be a great ambassador for the sport (he may be the best).

As Manning got cranked up, he talked about a dream he had. He talked about a scrimmage that featured all the Hall of Fame members, where he got to play with and against some of the best players and coaches of all time. It felt like a scene from a movie as Manning recited name after name, one legend after another. You could tell it wasn’t the first time he had that dream.

I started to understand what Manning was feeling Thursday night when I gathered at Warren County Middle School to celebrate the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021. Surrounded by so much greatness, it’s easy to find yourself imagining it coming together at one time, filling the hallways with larger-than-life athletes and leaders.

Just think of a school year where we start in the fall with a backfield featuring Keith Martin, Curtis Lusk and Harold Lusk plowing over defenders at Nunley Stadium. When they needed a break from running over players, the Pioneers dialed up the long ball and Bill Rutledge started streaking to the endzone. That’s an unstoppable offense.

Gooby Martin may even be waiting in the wings, hoping for a chance to catch a punt one time.

When one of them scored – and man, would that team score – Mike Chilcutt is there to strike up the band. Thousands would gather to see the show and they would hear the award-winning Pioneer marching band all across Warren County.

Fast forward to the winter, when it is time to heat up the hardwood at Charlie Dalton Gym. The Lady Pioneers would be rolling up points, just calling Barbara ‘Babs’ Biles number time and time again. Biles would be a one-woman wrecking crew pushing Warren County to the state tournament.

When the boys took the court, Gooby, Rutledge and Martin would probably still be playing in the football state finals, but it wouldn’t be an issue. Playing with a 3-point line for a change, Russ Spivey would rein fire from deep, scoring at will until reinforcements arrived.

George Oleksik could help the cause, doing all it can on the wing to keep the Pioneers winning. It would be a good workout for Oleksik, but everybody would know his real showcase sport was right around the corner.

Gooby and Oleksik as baseball teammates would be scary – uniting two of the best to ever step foot on a diamond in Warren County. They would have their Americans teammates with them.

Phillip King could lock down the hot corner, while the rest of the roster would be filled by guys forever known by their nicknames: Cat, Pee Wee, Mongo, Droopy, Midnight, Gumby, Memphis Lane, Bimmer, Doc, Pit, Topher, Lightning, Swish Vickle, Tugboat and so many more.

As the Pioneers rode to glory on the diamond, David Dunlap would be guiding Warren County tennis teams to championships on the courts that bare his name. And, since it’s a dream after all, Paige Northcutt would have her indoor pool in town and would be getting Warren County ready to win medals.

Maybe even one of our local kids could walk in Northcutt’s shoes and be the next great Olympian.

All I know is that while of this would be happening, Jay Walker’s steady call would be serenading in the background. The Voice of the Pioneers may even get excited once or twice, but he would be poised and professional while saying, “Your state champion Warren County Pioneers,” over and over.

I know it is all a dream, but the reality Thursday is that some of the greatest players and coaches to ever represent Warren County, along with the best play-by-play guy and band director, were all gathered in the same spot. They may not have grown up dreaming about the night they were inducted into the Hall of Fame, but they can rest assured now that athletes for ages in Warren County will always be striving to reach their level of greatness.

Congrats to the Class of 2021. It is well deserved!


Note: WCSA editor-in-chief Jeffery Simmons is a board member on the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame.

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