Friends, family (above) gather to speak about this year’s MSHOF indcutees: Luis Gonzales, Roy Patton, Nyla Shepherd, Danny Sheridan, Rick Trickett and the late Rea Schuessler.
The 31st class of inductees into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame (MSHOF) features athletes from diverse activities. The new inductees were announced recently during a news conference at the MSHOF exhibit at the RSA Tower.
“It’s another accomplished and diverse class, representing five different sports,” said WKRG-TV’s Peter Albrecht, president of the group. “These men and women made their marks on the local and national sports scene in a wide variety of ways.”
The list — Luis Gonzales, Roy Patton, Nyla Shepherd, Danny Sheridan, Rick Trickett and the late Rea Schuessler — brings the hall’s membership to 140. The induction banquet is set for May 2 at the Battle House Hotel. Tickets cost $100 and are available by calling 251-459-8702 or visiting http://MobileSportsHallOfFame.net.
• This has been a busy time for Luis Gonzalez. The former University of South Alabama (USA) baseball standout, who went on to a tremendous Major League career, will also be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame on April 27.
“When we called Luis, he was so thrilled,” said Joe Gottfried, the athletic director at USA when Gonzales played in Mobile. “He came to us as a young man and left as an adult.”
Gonzalez was a three-year letterman at USA and twice earned All-America honors. He holds the Jaguar single-season records in RBIs (80) and games played (70), which he produced in 1988 and 1987, respectively. He led the Jaguars with 16 home runs in 1988. Gonzalez was inducted into the USA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999, and USA retired his number in 2001.
The slugger went on to a very successful pro career after signing with the Houston Astros in 1988. His number was retired by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010. Perhaps his most memorable achievement was delivering a walk-off single in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series off New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, giving the Diamondbacks their first-ever world championship.
• Roy Patton helped launch the USA soccer programs when he was 24. From 1980 to 1995, his men’s team won six conference titles while having a record of 202-81-20. He started the women’s team in 1994, and they went 21-12-2 in two seasons.
He later coached men’s programs at the University of Vermont and the University of Mobile. Two of his Rams teams appeared in NAIA national championship games. Patton, who now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, earned conference coach of the year honors 10 times.
“Playing for him was an amazing experience,” said Ron Brill, a former Jaguar who is now coaching the student-run men’s club team at USA. “Under Roy’s tutelage, there was a bond among the players that still exists today.”
• Nyla Shepherd is one of the most famous players to have come out of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. She led the Jackets to four state volleyball championships and one basketball title.
She continued to shine in college, becoming a three-time all-Southeastern Conference player at LSU. The Tigers’ career leader in kills, she was named an All-American in 1990.
“Nyla wanted me to share with you what a wonderful opportunity this is for her,” said Carla Berry, a high school teammate of Shepherd’s who attended the news conference along with Shepherd’s cousin, Novel Sanders. “What I remember about Nyla was her tremendous work ethic. That is the reason she was able to dominate at McGill and LSU.”
• Anyone who follows college football has heard of Danny Sheridan. The Murphy High School graduate is well-known as a sports analyst and handicapper. He has written several books and his articles have appeared in numerous national publications.
“Danny is on all the TV and radio shows,” Albrecht said of the University of Alabama alumnus. “His odds appeared in USA Today for two decades.”
• Rick Trickett just retired after more than four decades as a college football coach. A graduate of Mary G. Montgomery High School, he has served as an assistant coach at Southern Illinois, Memphis, New Mexico, Southern Miss, West Virginia, Mississippi State, LSU, Auburn and Florida. While in Tallahassee, his Seminoles captured a national championship.
“All local football fans are well aware of Rick’s accomplishments,” Albrecht said of Trickett, who was an all-conference strong safety while playing for Glenville State College in West Virginia.
• Albrecht called Rea Schuessler “the godfather” of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, as he served as the game’s director for 30 years. After having been the media relations director for The University of Alabama, he moved to Mobile and managed Ladd-Peebles Stadium for several decades.
“My family is thrilled for you to remember our father after 40 years,” said Rae Schuessler Jr., a golf professional in Baldwin County. “This is a very special honor.”
Funding available for youth groups
Youth organizations across southwest Alabama will receive $20,000 in new sports equipment, apparel and footwear from grants through the Community Foundation of South Alabama and the national nonprofit Good Sports.
By partnering together to impact youth in the Community Foundation’s eight counties across southwest Alabama, organizers say the equipment grants will increase minutes of play, expose children to new activities and open the door for children of all abilities to experience a variety of academic, social and emotional benefits.
The submission deadline is April 15. Applicants must meet each of the following criteria: must directly serve youth between the ages of 3-18; must serve youth in an economically disadvantaged area; charge a participation fee of $299 or less; more than half of the school’s student body must be eligible for free/reduced lunches; must be located in Baldwin, Mobile, Choctaw, Washington, Clarke, Monroe, Conecuh or Escambia county; and must operate as an organized sport, recreational activity or fitness program that offers consistent and structured opportunity for play to large groups of children.
According to a youth sports report released by the Aspen Institute, one in three children in Mobile County is overweight, twice the national average. Additionally, the report found girls have fewer opportunities than boys to participate in active play.
For additional information on the grant, contact Brooke Switzer at 251-445-6295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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