Local sports hall of fame inducts Class of 2016


The Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame inducted four new members last Saturday (Apr. 9). 

The 2016 class included Gadsden High graduate Danny Carlisle, Emma Sansom High graduate Gene Jelks, Southside High graduate Jerry Jones and Hokes Bluff High graduate Mike Robertson.

West End’s Hunter Grant and Etowah’s Kaylee Fore were selected as the hall of fame’s 2016 scholarship winners.

Danny Carlisle was born in Gadsden in 1946. He graduated from Gadsden High School in 1965 and from Jacksonville State University in 1977. Carlisle played Little League baseball, where his team was the Alabama champions in 1959 and runners up in the Little League World Series in Ohio. He then played for Gadsden High from 1961 to 1965. Carlisle is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who coached Little League baseball in 1974. 

It was as a soccer coach that Carlisle showed his true love for sports. Carlisle coached Etowah Youth Soccer League from 1985-1989 and was the coach of the U-8 Alabama State Champs in 1987. He served as a coach for the Olympic Development Program for the Alabama Soccer Association. 

From 1989-1996, Carlisle was the Gadsden High School boys varsity soccer coach. Under his tenure, the Tigers were the section and state champions in 1990-91 and 1991-92. In 1993-94 they were the section champions and again in 1994-95 were the section and state champions. Carlisle also started the free physical program for middle school and high school athletes in Etowah County.

Michael “Coach Rob” Robertson was born in Gadsden in 1958. He graduated from Hokes Bluff High School as class valedictorian in 1977, was the Eagles’ MVP baseball player in 1977 and received a baseball scholarship to Gadsden State. Robertson then graduated from Athens State University with a B.S. in math in 1981. He received a M.S. at the University of Alabama and an Eds degree from Lincoln Memorial University. 

Robertson played Little League, Pony League and Colt League baseball. He played eight years for the East Gadsden Dodgers, which participated in three World Series.

While at Hokes Bluff, Robertson was a three-sport All County selection in 1977, a state champion runner-up as the football quarterback and won three state championships as a baseball infielder. His No. 2 jersey was retired in 1997. He has coached for 32 years in various positions at Hokes Bluff High School. In 2013 Robertson was voted the All-Time Legend in Etowah County sports. 

During his time at Hokes Bluff, Robertson was the girls basketball coach for 23 years, coach of the year nine times and the 2001 state coach of the year in class 3A football. During 12 years as the assistant and 20 years as the head coach for the Hokes Bluff football program, the Eagles won the state championship. 

Robertson was the assistant coach for the 2001 Alabama/Mississippi All Star Game; track coach for 10 years and seven years as baseball coach with 100 wins and three area championships. 

Robertson noted that one of his greatest accomplishments at Hokes Bluff is that the school won 16 state championships and he has been a part of 14 them, either as a player, coach or athletic director. Robertson also coached football, baseball and basketball at Southside High School for three years.

Gene Jelks was born in Gadsden in 1966. In 1985 he graduated from Emma Sansom High School, where he was a standout football player. Jelks received the R.L. Pendland Award, was a first team All State selection at running back in 1984-85 and held the state a rushing record for 1984-85. 

Jelks was selected to “The Dixie Dozen Top Ten” athletes in the state and won state and national football awards in 1984-85. Jelks signed a football scholarship with the University of Alabama, where he was an All-SEC pick from 1986 through 1989. Jelks was awarded the SEC Player of the Week honor for the Alabama/Auburn Iron Bowl in 1985. 

From 1985-86, Jelks was the leading rushing back in the Southeastern Conference, and in 1987-89 led the nation in punt returns. After moving to defense, Jelks received the 1987 H.J. Segal defensive “Back of the Year” from the Atlanta Touchdown Club. 

In 1990, Jelks was drafted by the NFL Denver Broncos. In 1991-92, he played in the Canadian Football League for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. 

Jelks is currently the president of the Above Ground Christian Outreach ministry and tours the country as a Christian speaker. Jelks is the author of the book, Above Ground.

Jerry Jones was born in Southside in 1932 the youngest of 10 children. In 1951 Jones graduated from Southside High, where he played various sports. Jones served in the U.S. Army from 1953-55 and retired from Goodyear after 42 years of service. 

Along with several other coaches, Jones formed a Pony League for Southside youths who had grown too old for Little League. He also coached in a church league and ladies league. From 1960-1990, he was a player, coach, mentor and friend to many players. 

In 1964, Jones organized the first Pony League for Southside. He coached his first team in 1964. In the 1970’s, Jones was instrumental in starting a softball league in Rainbow City, later known as the Coosa Valley League. 

As a senior player, Jones played in the outfield with defense as his priority. He played on various teams including the all-star team in Plano, Texas in 2002 and 2004.

While playing for the Center for Sight and Florida Investment Properties, Jones achieved a Triple Grand Slam in 2010, 2011 and 2014. 

During his career in senior softball, Jones achieved 12 All American, 26 All-Tournament, seven All-World, 10 MVPs and four Best Defensive Player awards. His batting averages from 1998 through 2014 were a low of .550 and a high of .742.

Last October, Jones and FIP won the Senior World Championship Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. Over the past five years, Jones’ teams have won four world softball titles. 

After his retirement, Jones played with several teams, including the Georgia Crackers, Georgia Peaches, Southern Pride, Tri-state, Center for Sight and FIP. 

In November, along with his wife Barbara and their children and grandchildren, Jones returned to Las Vegas when he was inducted into the National Softball Association Hall of Fame. 

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