There are many “hall of fame” honors in the collegiate and professional ranks for those who excel in athletics, as well as on the national and international stage. However, few of these tributes quite have the impact of being a hometown hero.
That was the case when the latest class was introduced for the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame. The event took place in the lobby of the RSA Tower in downtown Mobile, which is scheduled to be the permanent site of the exhibit.
“The Class of 2015 is unique mix of incredible athletes and coaches, with some really fascinating back stories,” Peter Albrecht, MSHOF president, said in a news release. “This group includes a Vietnam War hero, the hall’s first Native American inductee, and the first-ever inductee whose mother is also in the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame.”
Karen Mayson Bahnsen — Playing golf is family tradition for this inductee. She learned the sport from her mother, fellow MSHOF member June Buckholtz Mayson, and her grandmother.
“I was introduced to the sport by my family,” Bahnsen said. “I am exceptionally honored to be part of the first mother-daughter members of this group.”
Bahnsen first gained notice by leading McGill-Toolen Catholic High School to two state titles. In 1979, she won the state individual championship and the National High School Tournament.
Bahnsen was the first recruit on LSU’s new women’s golf program. She helped the Lady Tigers earn national tournament berths from 1980 to 1982.
After her playing days were finished, she remained in Baton Rouge to coach the LSU team. In her 31 years at the helm, the Lady Tigers made numerous appearances in the NCAA championships, finishing third in 2011 and 2012. LSU won the SEC title in 1992, and in 1995 she was named the SEC Coach of the Year.
Mardye McDole — This Murphy High graduate became one of Mississippi State’s greatest wide receivers. A three-time SEC selection, he led the conference in receptions and yards per catch as a sophomore, before being named an all-American by The Sporting News as a senior. He left MSU as the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in receiving yards and catches.
He continued his career in the NFL, after being drafted by Minnesota. After three seasons with the Vikings, he also played in the CFL and USFL. As a coach, he led Shaw High School from 1996 to 2001, and has been an assistant at Baker, Blount and Murphy.
“I have waited for this so long,” said McDole, who joined the MSU Hall of Fame in 2001. “I actually thought Peter (Albrecht) was kidding when he gave me the news.
“I am so proud to be in my hometown’s hall of fame. I will represent this great institution as well as I can.”
Lloyd Skoda — This inductee was a fixture on the local baseball scene for decades. He was head coach at Daphne (1992-2001) and at Faith Academy for two terms (1975-1991, 2002-2013). He retired with a career record of 902-265.
Skoda’s Faith teams won five state baseball championships, as he coached future major league players Coco Duncan, P.R. Walters and Josh Donaldson. Skoda also directed the girl’s basketball team at Faith to three state titles. He was previously inducted into the Alabama Baseball Association Hall of Fame in 2003.
“This is really something for a high school coach to be included in this group,” Skoda said. “I never expected this.
“First, I want to thank the Lord. All of us have a calling, and mine was to work with young people.”
James Taylor — A member of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, Taylor played in the first high school football game he ever saw. In just eight contests for Citronelle High, he rushed for 3,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. After being invited to the Alabama High School All-Star Game, he caught the eye of Pat Dye, then an assistant coach for the Crimson Tide.
He started as a running back in Bear Bryant’s wishbone offense, helping Alabama to three straight SEC championships and a share of the 1973 national title. A team captain 12 times, he also named SEC Player of the Week during his career.
“This is an honor I will always treasure,” said Taylor, who told the audience of the impact Coach Bryant had on him. In 1973, Alabama was up 34-0 at the halftime over Virginia Tech. Bryant came into the locker room and started talking about how they might lose the game.
Weeks later against Kentucky, the Tide was down 14-0 after two quarters.
“We thought he would really get after us,” James said. “But he came in and said, ‘This is when you are going to make your mama and papa proud of you.’ This (MSHOF) honor would have made my mama and papa proud.”
Erick Walder — This Murphy High graduate is considered the greatest combination jumper in college track history. He started as the state champion in the long jump and triple jump as a junior and senior for the Panthers.
While at Arkansas, he won 10 national individual titles in the triple jump and long jump. He led the Razorbacks to four indoor and three outdoor NCAA titles, and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2010. After 22 years, Walder still owns the collegiate outdoor long jump record of 8.53 meters.
He won the silver medals in the long jump at the 1994 and 1998 Good Games and 1997 World Championships, plus bronze medals at the 1995 and 1999 World Indoor Championships.
“He got all his skills from his father, who was a great sprinter,” said his mother, Hilda Walder, who represented her son at the news conference. “He has been such a joy for me. I knew he would make me proud, and he has.”
Marvin “Woody” Woodall — This inductee has had three careers that would have made anyone proud. After turning down an offer to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals out of high school, Woodall played football at Auburn. As a place kicker, he led the Tigers in scoring in 1961 and 1962.
He signed with the Dallas Cowboys, but gave up football because of a leg injury. Not deterred, Woodall took a swing at golf and played in four PGA Tour events in 1965. As the Vietnam conflict escalated, Woodall turned in his clubs for a rifle and was sent overseas. In 1969, he received a Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal.
In 1975, Woodall was named the director of golf at the Country Club of Mobile, where he stayed until he retired in 2008. In that time, he helped to form the Junior Golf Association of Mobile, which has sent 30 of his students into the college ranks. He was previously inducted into the Dixie Section of the PGA Hall of Fame.
“This makes me feel great,” said Woodall, who had his wife, Charlotte, stand with him during the ceremony. “I am sure none of us would be here today without the support of our families and friends.”
The MSHOF 2015 Induction Ceremony and Banquet is set for Thursday, April 23, back at the RSA Tower. Tickets are $100 per person. For additional information, call 251-709-0310 or visit www.mobilesportshalloffame.com.