Some of the acceptance speeches during the Sumter Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Sumter on Thursday were short and to the point. A couple were a big longer and one was, well, lengthy.
No matter …
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No matter the length, however, each was filled with gratitude, humility and thankfulness for those who helped Lisa Ard, Connie Ballard, the late Clifford Padgett "Buddy" Hodge, Garon Jackson, Stacy Martin, Brooks Shumake and Travis Yates gain entry into the hall.
"I grew up in Sumter; I was born and raised here," said Jackson, who won 4A state championships in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs in 1995 before going on to a tremendous career at Voorhees College. "I am a product of the Boys & Girls Club."
Jackson, now an associate head track coach at Bethune-Cookman University, went on to name now fellow Hall of Famers he looked up to and to the coaches who helped him along the way as well. He thanked fellow Hall of Famers Carl Baker, Coley White, Rut Dingle as well as Martin.
"You don't come this far without help," he said. "I was blessed to have great support."
Shumake, who has won three state championships as the baseball head coach at Sumter High School, possibly named everyone who has coached him, coached with him or mentored himthroughout his playing days and coaching career.
"This is one of the most meaningful, personal honors I've ever received," said Shumake, who has a 358-168 career record in his 18 years at SHS.
"One person doesn't deserve credit for this," he said. "This is something that has been done with the help of all of these people."
Ballard was a standout amateur golfer, winning two South Carolina Women's Open Golf Championships. She mentioned her late husband, Dr. Marvin Ballard, in her acceptance speech.
"He always said you have to be a masochist to play the game of golf," Ballard said of her husband, who was a psychiatrist. "It wasn't that way for me. I love the game."
Ard was a standout athlete at both Hudgens Academy and Coker College before becoming a standout high school coach in both basketball and softball.
"It is such an honor to be inducted with this group of people, many of whom I know," said Ard, who has coached East Clarendon to two 1A state titles in the past five seasons.
Hodge was a 1943 graduate of Edmunds High School where he lettered in both basketball and football. He won letters in four sports at Newberry College and went on to become a high school coach and athletic director as well as both a basketball and football official.
"This would have meant so much to him," son Danny Hodge said of his father, who passed away in December of 2016 at the age of 91, following the ceremonyh. "He was born in Sumter and he lived most of his life in Sumter. This would have made him very happy."
Martin was the varsity head coach for both the boys and girls track and field teams at Wilson Hall for 13 years, winning 12 SCISA 3A state titles during that time, six with the boys and six with the girls.
While passing out words of thanks to those who helped her in her career, Martin, who now lives in Fort Mill and works at Winthrop University, spoke fondly of Sumter.
"This is a great honor for me," Martin said. "I grew up in Sumter and I love it. I love being able to know this is where I came from."
Yates was a standout defensive end at Hillcrest High, helping lead the Wildcats to the 1985 4A Division II state title as well as being a selection to the North-South All-Star Football Game. He went on to play inside linebacker at Wofford College, where he led the team in tackles in each of his last two seasons and was an NAIA honorable mention All-American.
"I am truly blessed to have been inducted into this hall of fame," said Yates, who is the fifth leading tackler in Wofford history. "I thank you for this, but it would not have been possible without the blessing of God."
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