After a three-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame will hold its 2023 Induction Ceremonies on May 6 at the Downtown Civic Center located at 623 Broad Street in Gadsden.
ECSHOF President Kyle Chambers noted that selections were made for the Class of 2020 but the induction ceremonies were canceled due to the pandemic. This year, both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2023 will be recognized and honored.
Class of 2020 inductees are David K. Bowman, Tommy Ford, Tommy Herring, Kenneth (Ed) Scissum Jr., and Dr. Clarence Underwood. Class of 2023 inductees are Ronny Bellew, Randy Kerr (pictured above) and Freddie Weygand. Chambers added that a large turnout is expected due to the list of outstanding athletes.
A meet and greet session is scheduled for 5 p.m., with the banquet starting at 6 p.m. Jon Holder will function as Master of Ceremonies. Tickets are $25 in advance and may be purchased at River Bank, Alabama Teachers Credit Union or any Hall of Fame board member. Tickets are $30 at the door. A table for eight is available for $200.
Class of 2020
Kenneth (Ed) Scissum Jr.
A 1984 Etowah High School graduate, Scissum was a four-year letterman in football, rushing for over 2,000 career yards. He was voted the Blue Devils’ Team MVP in 1994, when his postseason honors included 1994 All-District, All-State and Super 12.
Scissum received a football scholarship at the University of Alabama, where he played for coach Gene Stallings. Also a four-year letterman in college Scissum was a member of the Alabama A Club, was voted Player of the Week in a game against Tennessee and played in the Outback and Citrus Bowls. In 1998 he drafted by the NFL San Francisco 49ers.
Scissum later coached at Etowah High School from 2001-2002 and at Morehouse College from 2003-2008. He was head football coach and athletic director at Arlington Christian School in Fairburn, Ga., where he won a state championship 2017.
Dr. Clarence Underwood, Jr.
Born in Marion, Alabama on Oct. 10, 1933. Underwood graduated Carver High School in Gadsden 1953. He served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from 1953-55. Underwood graduated Michigan State in 1961, receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Health and Physical Education. He received his Ph.D. in Higher Education in 1982.
After working as Michigan State’s assistant ticket manager in 1969, Underwood rose to be deputy commissioner of the Big Ten Athletic Conference from 1982-90. He was assistant athletic director at Michigan State from 1990-99 before becoming the school’s athletics director from 1999-2002.
While Underwood served as AD, MSU won the 2000 NCAA men’s basketball championship, made multiple Final Four appearances for men’s basketball, won the 2000 Citrus Bowl in football and made the Frozen Four in hockey.
Underwood received Michigan State’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003, the school’s Department of Kinesiology Pro-fessional Achievement Award in 2013 and was indicted into the Michigan State Hall of Fame in 2017.
A 1974 graduate of Gadsden High graduate, Ford earned his B.S. in Finance from the University of ‘Alabama in 1978 and his M.A. in Higher Education Administration from UA in 1998.
As a student at the university from 1974-78, Ford served in the SGA Senate Jasons and Kappa Alpha fraternity. He was sports editor of The Crimson White student newspaper during his senior year. After graduating UA, Ford re-turned to Gadsden before returning to the Tuscaloosa in 1982.
From 982-87, Ford worked for the National Alum-ni Association in alumni chapter development and fundraising. In 1987 he was hired as assistant ticket manager in the UA athletic department before being promoted to ticket manager, where he served from 1987-93. From 1993-2006, Ford was director of TIDE PRIDE, the Athletics Department first annual fund, now known as the Crimson Tide Scholarship Fund. He took over administration of the A-Club Alumni Association and Red Elephant Clubs in 2009.
Ford’s time at the University Alabama also was spent authoring or co-au-thoring 11 books about that Crimson Tide football program, including Bama Under Bear; Alabama’s Family Tides; the University of Alabama AII-Access Footbaa1 Vault; the Alabama-Auburn Rivalry Football Vault; Bear Bryant on Leadership; Tornado to National Title No. 14; Crimson Domination: The Process Behind Alabama’s 15th National Championship; A Season to Remember: The Faith in the Midst of the Storm; Crimson Mission; The University of Alabama Football Vault, and 17.
Ford currently works as Associate Athletics Director for the University of Alabama and the Crimson Tide Foundation while overseeing the A-Club Alumni Association and the Red Elephant Club booster groups. Ford and his wife, the former Robin Rich of Gadsden, have one son, John Michael. Ford and his family are members of the First Baptist Tuscaloosa where he serves as a deacon and men’s small group leader.
A lifelong Etowah County resident, Bowman He grew up in Attalla and was a student in the Attalla City School System from 1966-1978. He played all sports during his high school career. He played football for the late Jim Glover. He earned the Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Glove Award in the 1977-78 seasons.
After graduating EHS in 1978, Bowman attended Gadsden State Community College before transferring to Jacksonville State, from where he graduated in 1981.
After beginning his coa-ching career at Haralson County, Georgia. Bowman secured a position to coach football (as defensive coordinator), baseball, and B-team basketball at Moody High School.
After three years and a county championship at Moody, Bowman, at the invitational of Glencoe High Principal Don Richey, served as the school’s football defensive coordinator, head baseball coach and head girls’ basketball coach from 1985 to 1987. He won the Etowah County Schools Championship in baseball.
Etowah High head football coach Wyman Townsel, who played football for the legendary Jim Glover, sent word through EHS baseball coach Larry Foster that he was interested in bringing Bowman back to Etowah. Upon his return to Attalla, Bowman coached the team’s defense in 1987, a season that saw the Blue Devils break a 17-year losing streak. Bowman remained at his alma mater for the next 11 years, during which the football program posted a 104-30 record.
Bowman became principal and athletic director of Etowah High School in 1998, serving seven years in those positions before moving to the Central Office as Director of Operations. After seven years in that role, he became the superintendent of Attalla City Schools.
Tommy Herring lettered three years as a member of the Southside High School basketball team from 1973-1975. Playing for head coach Rodney Thomp-son, Herring earned All-Etowah County honors in 1973,1974 and 1975 and being selected Team MVP IN 1974 and 1975. Herring was selected All-State his senior year of 1975 after averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists per game. Herring also lettered three years on the baseball team. Among other recognition, Herring was inducted into the Southside High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Class of 2023
Curtis Fred Weygand graduated from Emma Sansom High School in 1983. He was selected as a High School All-American following his senior season after catching 68 passes for 1,056 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was a member of The Birmingham News Top 20 and The Birmingham Post-Herald’s Ten Most Wanted List.
While playing at the University of Auburn during the 1984 season, Weygand was the Tigers’ leading receiver with 796 yards and three touchdowns on 32 receptions. He led the SEC in yards per reception with 24.9 yards per catch. His longest reception of the season came against Georgia Tech on a 56-yard touchdown pass. He caught five passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia Tech. Weygand broke former All-American receiver Terry Beasley’s AU freshmen yardage mark with 796 yards.
In 1985, Weygand finished as Auburn’s leading receiver with 19 receptions for 367 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 107 yards on seven carries (all on reverses) and scored twice.
In 1987, Weygand caught 10 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He led Tigers in kickoff return yardage with a 21.6 average and punt return yardage with a 13.8 average. He returned punt 69 yards for a touchdown against Kansas.
Ronny Bellew graduated in 1979 from Etowah High School, where he was a four-year letterman in football, baseball and basketball. He was team MVP in football and was Etowah County Charity Bowl MVP Lineman.
Bellew received a scholarship to play football at Auburn University, where he played linebacker from 1979 to 1982 for coaches Doug Barfield and Pat Dye. Bellew was named Most Improved Linebacker in the SEC in 1981. He finished with 83 career tackles. He was a member of the Auburn Letterman Club and received a degree in Industrial Management in May of 1983.
Whoever came up with the phrase, “No Pain, No Gain” must have had Randy Kerr in mind. By all rights, the Gadsden resident should be licking his wounds and resting his 65-year-old bones in a rocking chair after suffering a number of serious injuries while competing in competitive cycling over the past 47-odd years.
Instead, Kerr won his fifth national cycling championship at the in the 32-mile USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships this past October at Gambrill State Park in Frederick, MD. Kerr, who competed in the 65-69 age group, posted a winning time of three hours, 51 minutes and 53 seconds, 19 minutes faster than the race’s runner-up.
“Finishing a race where you’re totally exhausted both physically and mentally is very gratifying,” said Kerr.
Kerr’s latest national championship is impressive considering that he is lucky to be walking following a horrific crash just 16 months ago. In August of 2021, while training near the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, N.C., Kerr suffered a hard fall that resulted in the displacement of ribs 3,4,5,6, 7 and 8; fractures of the third, fourth, and fifth metatarsals in his foot and a displaced fractured rib near the spine. Kerr also required a surgical insertion of a plate and bone graft of the right clavicle.
“There’s an old cyclist saying of it’s not a matter of if you’re going to fall, but just a matter when,” Ker pointed out.
During his latest rehabilitation, the possibility of stepping away permanently from competitive cycling never crossed his mind. Kerr credits his wife Jeanne, daughters Kelly and Kaci, son Brad and five grandchildren for their support.
“Without Jeanne, winning would not have been possible, she’s sacrifices so-much for me and our children,” he said. “She’s been instrumental in my success. We’re truly a team.”
A Knoxville, Tenn., native, Kerr relocated to Etow-ah County in 1977 at the age of 20 after attending the Un-ted States Military Academy at West Point for two years, where he played football and ran track. He and Jeanne married shortly after his arrival in Gadsden. Kerr eventually earned a track and cross country scholarship to the University of Alabama, where Jeanne was attending. They both graduated from the Capstone in 1979.
From August of 1982 to October 1992, Kerr won five state titles and finished runner-up twice in either mountain bike or road bike competition. During that 10-year span he earned 38 first place trophies and finished in the top five 46 times out of 129 races.
“Winning has come with more than just training and sacrifice,” said Kerr. “I thank God for blessing me to be one of the best cyclists in the nation. The Bible verse, ‘Those who exalt themselves shall be humble and those who humble themselves shall be exalted’ embodies my philosophy around the sport of cycling.”
Pictured, left column, top to bottom: Clarence Underwood, Jr., Ed Scissum, Randy Kerr, Tommy Ford. Right column, top to bottom: David Bowman, Freddy Weygand, Tommy Herring, Ronnie Bellew,