FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2006
Birdsong, Gaines, Summerall, Sutton headline Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fames 2006 induction class
GAINESVILLE Former NBA star Otis Birdsong, Olympic swimming gold medalist Rowdy Gaines, television announcer Pat Summerall and Baseball Hall of Famer Don Sutton head the list of 10 individuals selected for induction this year into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Joining them in the Class of 2006 are Oviedo High School head basketball coach Ed Kershner; Hillsborough County athletic director Vernon Korhn; former Lake Mary High School boys soccer coach Larry McCorkle; former Fort Myers area contest official Richard Pigott; Spanish River High School head cross country coach Rick Rothman; and Fort Lauderdale area contest official Rick Tucci.
This is the 15th group to be inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame, formerly the FHSAA Hall of Fame. Founded during the 1990-91 school year, the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame keeps alive the tradition and spirit of high school athletics, and honors each year those persons who through distinguished achievement have excelled in one or more high school programs sponsored by the Association and its member schools. This years 10 inductees bring to 103 the number of deserving individuals who have been enshrined in the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame. They include student-athletes, coaches, administrators, contest officials and other contributors, such as sports writers, who have raised the level of awareness of high school activities through their efforts, achievements and dedication. The 2006 Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Awards Banquet will be held April 2 at the Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel in Gainesville.
Birdsong, 50, was a standout basketball player at Winter Haven High School. He led the Blue Devils to a Class 4A state championship in 1973, the same year he scored 1,062 points in 33 games for a 32.2 average. Birdsong was named Southwest Conference Player of the Decade for the 1970s for his performance at the University of Houston, and was the second player chosen in the 1977 NBA Draft. He was a four-time NBA All-Star and led the Kansas City Kings in scoring three times. He retired from the NBA in 1989 and is currently the president and general manager of the NBA Development League's Arksansas RimRockers.
Gaines, 46, began swimming as a junior at Winter Haven High School, and won the state 200-meter freestyle championship in 1977. He also broke the state record in the 100-meter freestyle his senior year. Gaines swam for Auburn University, winning eight NCAA titles and 17 U.S. National Championships. He was chosen over Herschel Walker as SEC Athlete of the Year in 1981. Gaines was predicted to win five gold medals in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow before the boycott was announced, and was named World Swimmer of the Year in 1980. He went on to win three gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4x100-meter freestyle and medley relays, and set a new world record as anchor in the medley relay. Gaines contracted Guillan-Barre syndrome in 1991 but did not allow it to keep him from competing; in 1992, he won the World Masters Championships in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events in world record time. He is now the alumni officer for USA Swimming.
Summerall, 75, was an All-State selection in football and basketball for Columbia High School in Lake City in the late 1940s, and also lettered in baseball and tennis. He was an All-Southwest Conference football and basketball player for the University of Arkansas, and went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL for the Chicago Cardinals and the New York Giants. Summerall scored 567 points during his professional football career. He then became one of the nation's best-known sportscasters, working for CBS and Fox. Summerall has broadcasted 16 Super Bowls on network television and 10 on the radio, as well as covering the Masters and the U.S. Open tennis championship. He has received the industry's highest honors, including the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Sutton, 60, was a pitcher for Tate High School in Cantonment and helped the baseball team to the 1962 state championship by hurling a 13-inning, two-hit game in the final. He also played basketball and football. Sutton recorded 209 strikeouts during his rookie season in 1966 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was named National League Rookie of the Year. Over his 23-year career, he won 324 games and struck out 3,574 batters, pitched in four World Series and was a four-time All-Star. Sutton ranks fifth on baseball's all-time strikeout list and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. He is now a broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves.
Kershner, 65, is the head boys basketball coach at Oviedo High School. He has won more than 700 games in his coaching career, which has spanned more than 30 years in both Indiana and Florida. Kershner won a state championship with Osceola High School in Kissimmee in 1983, a team that was ranked No. 3 nationally and had a record of 37-0. He also coached Oviedo to a runner-up finish in 1997. Kershner is a three-time state Coach of the Year and was the McDonald's All-American coach in 1985. He was named one of the Top 10 Florida Coaches of All Time by the Orlando Sentinel, and is a member of the Florida Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame.
Korhn, 60, is the director of athletics for Hillsborough County. A 1968 graduate of the University of Tampa, Korhn began his teaching and coaching career as assistant football and basketball coach and head swimming coach at Plant High School, and has since coached wrestling and track & field. He served as assistant principal for Leto and Hillsborough High Schools in the 1980s before moving to the county level as assistant athletic director, and became director of athletics in 2001. Korhn is a member of the Florida and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Associations and was the 1994 FIAAA Administrator of the Year.
McCorkle, 54, compiled a career record of 585-177-56 as a boys soccer coach in the Orlando area, winning three state championships and coaching seven All-Americans. He began his career as head coach at Seminole High School in Sanford in 1974 and also coached at Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando before settling in at Lake Mary High School for 22 years. McCorkle was the National Soccer Coaches Association state chairman for All-America nominations from 1980-85, and was named State Coach of the Year twice. He is a member of the Florida Athletic Coaches and the Seminole County Halls of Fame, and received a National Merit Award from the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association of America in 1993.
Pigott, 65, was a contest official in the Fort Myers area from 1961 until his retirement in 2004. He has officiated nine basketball, four football, three volleyball and one softball state finals for the FHSAA, and held a superior ranking. Pigott served on the FHSAA Football Test Screening Committee, and officiated the City of Palms Basketball Tournament for 22 years. He was a member of the Royal Palm Officials Association and South Gulf Umpires Association, and served as president of both the South Gulf Football Officials Association and South Gulf Basketball Officials Association. Pigott was named Referee of the Year by the Sportsman Club of Southwest Florida in 1996.
Rothman, 52, is the head cross country coach and girls track & field coach at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton. A former cross country and track & field athlete at Miami Coral Park High School, he coached both sports in several schools in Florida and Georgia before coming to Spanish River in 1983. His girls cross country teams have won seven state championships, and he has coached seven individual state champions in both cross country and track & field. Rothman was the Florida Athletic Coaches Association cross country chairman from 1997-2006, and assisted with processing for the U.S. Olympic team in 1992 and 1996. He has won a total of 88 Coach of the Year Awards, and is a member of the FACA Hall of Fame.
Tucci, 61, wrestled for West Virginia University before a knee injury turned his involvement to officiating in 1966. Thirty-nine years later, he is one of the sport's most respected officials, and has officiated six Olympic Games, more than 60 World Championships, and 19 FHSAA Finals. Tucci has served as the head official for every U.S. Olympic Trial since 1988. He has been the president of the USA Wrestling Officials Association since 1986 and conducts several major clinics every year across the country. Tucci received the Golden Whistle Award at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1994.
Two separate committees comprised of active and retired administrators, coaches, officials and news media representatives evaluated the nominations of the 10 individuals selected for induction to the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame this year. A seven-member screening committee first reviewed all nominations received and determined which nominees were viable candidates for induction into the Hall of Fame. The nominations of those candidates then were forwarded to a 16-member selection committee, which rated the nomination of each candidate to determine the candidates who would be inducted.
The Florida High School Athletic Association is the governing body for interscholastic athletic competition in Florida. It has a membership of more than 700 middle and senior high schools.
Communications Coordinator, FHSAA
(352) 372-9551 ext. 350