Inaugural Hall class named

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, November 6, 2008

The selection committee appointed by the board of directors of the Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame has met and considered the 11 nominees for the Hall’s inaugural Class of 2009. Although the criteria was to select five for the first class, there was a tie between two of the nominees, so the first class to be inducted will consist of six athletes.

These honorees and their families will be recognized at an induction dinner to be held at the Demopolis Civic Center on Feb. 9. The dinner will be open to the public.

The remaining five nominees will be retained and will be considered for the Class of 2010 along with any new nominees presented to the board.

Email newsletter signup

The six inaugural inductees into the Marengo County Hall of Fame are:

Nolan Atkins of Sweet Water, a high school football head coach for 24 years, a teacher, role model and mentor for his players, as he became a part of their lives, beliefs and work habits.

Atkins was born Aug. 8, 1936, in Webster County, Miss., and graduated from S.D. Lee High School in Columbus, Miss. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State College and a master’s degree from Livingston University.

He spent the first four years of his career as an assistant coach at Alcorn County, Miss.; Robins High School in Tampa, Fla.; and Escambia County High School in Atmore. In 1966, he moved to Sweet Water and was named head coach and athletic director. During his tenure at SWHS, the Bulldogs won state championships in 1978, 1979, 1982 and 1986, and were state runner-up in 1969, 1975 and 1984.

He amassed a career record of 278-73-5, a .788 win percentage. He fielded six undefeated teams, including the 1978 state champion team (13-0) and the 1979 state champion team (14-0).

In addition to football, Atkins served as Sweet Water’s baseball coach, winning six state titles — 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1989 and 1990 — with one state runner-up finish. His baseball record was 130-40 (.765). In 1982, he was the head coach of state championship teams in both baseball and football.

He was a four-time Class 1A state Coach of the Year, and was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in its inaugural year of 1991, and was honored by his selection to the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003. He retired from coaching in 1991, and in 2003, the football stadium at Sweet Water High School was named in his honor.

Atkins and his wife, Frances, still live in Sweet Water. They have four children, Tuffy, Candy, Pat and Sarah.

David Beverly of Sweet Water, a high school, college and NFL punter.

Beverly was born Aug. 19, 1950, in Sweet Water and played at Sweet Water High School as quarterback and punter. At the final game of his junior season, he sustained what was thought to be a career-ending knee injury and was unable to play in his senior season.

He enrolled at Auburn University, where his father and all five of his siblings had graduated and, encouraged by his passion for sports, decided to join the football team as a walk-on.

During a freshman practice session, head coach Shug Jordan spotted Beverly’s high spiraling punts and asked a ballboy to bring him over to see him. That began a great punting career for David Beverly. While at Auburn, he earned three letters and was named to the 1971 All-Southeastern Conference Team. His net punt yardage averages are still records at Auburn.

After earning his degree, he played for one year for the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) in 1974, then went to the Green Bay Packers (1975-80), where he was the starting punter for his tenure there. Even though he was a Southern boy punting in the frozen conditions at Green Bay, he still holds the all-time Packer records for career punts (495) and single-season punts (106), with three games in which he punted 10 times, second on the Green Bay list. When he retired, he held the record for fewest career punts blocked (274).

Beverly was selected to the Auburn “Team of the Seventies,” and was named the best SEC punter of the last 25 years by sports writer Alf Van Hoose. He was also honored with a David Beverly Day in Sweet Water in 1973.

Beverly lives in Houston and works as an investment executive with Raymond James Financial. He and his wife, Jo Lynn, have two sons, David Beverly III and Bryan Beverly.

Tommy Brooker, an all-state and all-conference football player at Demopolis High School and a tight end at the University of Alabama. He was an All-American honorable mention and an Academic All-American First Team honoree, and played in the NFL’s first-ever Super Bowl.

Brooker was born in Demopolis on Oct. 31, 1939. He was an all-around player for coach E.D. “Chink” Lott at Demopolis High School, where he was selected all-state and all-conference.

He was given a full scholarship by coach Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama, and was a tight end and field-goal kicker on Alabama’s 1961 national championship football team.

Many of his fellow players have pointed out that Brooker was one of Coach Bryant’s favorite players. He was one of the founders of the Alabama A-Club Educational and Charitable Foundation.

Upon graduation from college, he began his professional career with the Kansas City Chiefs (originally signed by the Dallas Texans, which moved to Kansas City in 1963), where he played in the first NFL Super Bowl and was a member of two American Football League championship teams during his five-year professional career (1962, 1966). His 25-yard field goal won the 1962 AFL championship game, a 20-17 overtime thriller over Houston. He played in the 1964 Pro Bowl game.

He was a perfect 149-for-149 in extra-point attempts in his career, and kicked 41 field goals in his career, including a 46-yarder in the 1964 Pro Bowl that stood as the longest in Pro Bowl history until 2005. He shares the AFL record for most consecutive field-goal attempts made in a game (8) and kicked the game-winning field goal in the last second four times in one season, leading his team in scoring in three of his seasons.

Brooker has been a resident of Tuscaloosa for the last 35 years, and is married to the former Margaret Perry of Moundville. They have four adult sons.

Walter Henders, a football coach at Linden High School , leading the Red Devils to seven state titles as voted on by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

Henders was born in Pickens County on Dec. 27, 1927. He and his wife, Kathryn, moved from Linden to Chipley, Fla., to be with their daughter, Patricia Jo, and he passed away in Chipley.

Affectionately known as “Pistol,” Henders got into coaching because of his love for athletics. In the 1940s, he played football at Oregon with Norm Van Brocklin and John McKay. He was drafted, and upon his return from the army, transferred to Livingston College. When the Korean War broke out in the 1950s, he was called back to active duty.

Henders coached for 30 years, beginning in 1954, and retired from coaching in Chipley as the third-winningest coach in the state of Florida. He became an assistant coach in Live Oak, Fla., in 1954, then moved to Gordo three years later. In 1958, he became the head coach at Linden and compiled a record of 84-12-4 (.850), including a 39-game win streak.

His career in Linden came before the playoff system for state championships was established, and sports writers voted on the state champion. Linden was awarded the Mythical State Championship by the Alabama Sports Writers seven times during his tenure there.

Henders won seven consecutive bowl games in Linden, then two more in 1970 and 1971 in Chipley. During his head coaching career, his record was 192-58-5 (.763).

His football teams in Alabama and Florida ruled the field, but his most important contribution was in building character in the young men that he coached. There was a Coach Henders Day in Linden after he had retired from Florida. The Linden Armory was filled with his former players, cheerleaders, parents and townspeople showing their affection and appreciation.

Robert W. Jones III of Demopolis, an honored football player in high school, at the University of Alabama and with the New York Giants, with whom he helped win Super Bowl XXI in 1986.

Jones played at Demopolis High School under head coach Fred Schoenrock, where his main position was nose guard on three state playoff teams. He received all-state and all-conference honors, and was named a member of the Tuscaloosa News Super 11 Team.

He graduated with honors in 1978 and was awarded a full athletic scholarship by the University of Alabama, where he started at middle linebacker.

Jones played for several Southeastern Conference championships, and in 1979, played on the national championship team that defeated Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. He participated in bowl games in each of his seasons. In his junior season, he was the leading tackler for the Crimson Tide with 107 solo stops.

After his senior season, he was chosen to participate in the Hula Bowl All-Star Game and the Senior Bowl in Mobile.

After graduation, he was drafted by the New York Giants, where he played under head coach Bill Parcells. In 1986, Jones and the Giants won the Super Bowl 39-20 over the Denver Broncos.

Jones and his wife, Michelle King-Jones, reside in Clifton, N.J., and they have three children, Robert IV, Chelsea and Megan.

E.D. “Chink” Lott, a noted high school football coach and inaugural inductee of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Lott was born in Birmingham on Oct. 8, 1905, and died on Aug. 18, 1970, in Demopolis after a long bout with diabetes.

He began his coaching career at Valley Head, then became the head coach in Anniston from 1930 to 1943. At Anniston, he compiled a record of 90-23-11 (.770), and in 1984, the football stadium in Anniston was named “Chink” Lott Memorial Stadium.

Lott coached at Demopolis High School from 1947 to 1957, leaving lasting impressions on opposing coaches, fans, opposing players and his own players. At Demopolis, he coached football, baseball and basketball.

With a 25-year football coaching record of 177-41-23 (.782), Lott was selected as a member of three separate Sports Hall of Fame classes, including Birmingham-Southern, where he was known as “one of the most dangerous halfbacks” to ever play on that football team. He still holds the high school record for the 100-yard dash.

He was inducted into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame, and was inducted as part of the inaugural class of the Alabama High School Athletics Association Hall of Fame in 1989.

A resolution was presented in memory of Lott by the Demopolis City Council on July 6, 1989, attesting not only to his outstanding sports record on the field, baseball diamond and basketball court, but to the fact that he had become legendary in the arena of high school athletics for his ability to lead and mold the lives of young men by teaching the concepts of hard work, perseverance and pride, and in translating these concepts from the football field to the larger field of life itself.

Lott leaves one son, Doug, and a grandson, Dee.