By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
Last week I strolled through the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame, located inside Fitness Plus in Rainbow City. Bronze plaques with likenesses of the most revered athletes and coaches of this county line the walls of the facility. Each plaque gives a brief description of the athletic achievements of each member. Jim Glover, Doc Griffith, Buster Gross George Baker and Mike Estes are some of the more recognizable names on the wall.
As I read the accomplishments of each member, I couldn’t help but notice one distinct fact about the shrine – there is a lack of female recognition.
More specifically, of the 93 plaques hanging on the walls only six are females.
In 1989, Minnie Lee Ashley became the first female inducted into the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame. Acknowledged as the county’s top female golfer during the 1950’s and 1960’s, Ashley won numerous city and state tournaments in golf, including a state championship trophy in 1958.
Francis King Guyton was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990. She was heralded for her achievements in industrial fast-pitch softball during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Gadsden High School alumnus Doris Fowler Sims was elected in 1991. Sims is remembered for her bowling and fast-pitch softball skills. She was selected as the Tigers’ most valuable player in basketball and softball during the 1950’s.
Jackie Christine Lambert was elected to the hall in 1998. The Gaston High School star was an accomplished fast-pitch softball player in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Emma Sansom graduate Vickie Byars “Moore” Calhoun was enshrined in 1999. Calhoun was the first varsity girls basketball coach at Gadsden High School. She was also a standout fast-pitch industrial softball player.
Pat Martin was the last female elected to the hall of fame. Enshrined in 2004, Martin was a member of Gadsden High School’s first volleyball state championship team.
The current members of the hall of fame, both male and female, are very deserving and rightly recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to sports in this county.
In this case, it’s not “who’s in” that is most notable, but “who’s not in.”
Many females from this county deserve recognition in the hall of fame. Numerous ladies that could be inducted were multiple state, conference and national championship winners as both coaches and players, while some hold state track and field records that are decades old. Some are even members of their respective college’s sports halls-of-fame.
As I read the plaques I noticed a peculiar trend in the inductees: all female members, with the exception of Lambert, were former students/coaches of the Gadsden City school system or Etowah High School. There were no females from Carver, Hokes Bluff, Glencoe, Litchfield, Southside, Sardis, Westbrook Christian or West End High Schools or any other small schools in this county..
As I continued to examine all the plaques, I noticed that a few of the male inductees are not natives of Etowah County. Further, one member’s plaque noted no athletic accomplishments whatsoever.
So why are 93 percent of the members of the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame males? Sure, those guys did great things as athletes, but there are many females out there that have accomplished as much, if not more, in athletics than many of those guys – yet they receive no recognition.
If the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame is truly a shrine to the most accomplished athletes and coaches in the history of this county, it is currently a mediocre representative of it – most notably concerning females in general and players of both genders from the smaller, rural schools and communities.
The hall of fame committee should seek more diversity.
As the voting is cast for the next class of Etowah County’s finest, there should be heavy consideration for more of our gals to be enshrined.
They deserve it.
Joshua Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.