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ABAC Athletics History

 From the Aggies to the Rams to the Golden Stallions, athletics have always played a role in the history of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. When the Second District Agricultural and Mechanical School opened in 1908, students at the area high school participated in several sports programs.

Second District A&M fielded a football team that played against teams from Tifton High School and other area schools. Leo Jones was a member of the 1910 Aggies’ football team. He remembers it this way.

“In 1910, football was introduced to the school,” Jones said. “Only one boy here at that time had ever seen a football game. Despite the good coaching received under Professor (Joseph) Thrash, the team lost a majority of its games. The next year was a successful one for football. With the exception of the team of 1915, all of the teams have been among the strongest in the state.”

When the area high school became a college and changed its name to the South Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1924 and then to the Georgia State College for Men (GSCM) in 1929, the athletics’ program continued.

1930-32

The Georgia State College for Men football team had its most successful season to date in the fall of 1930 with a 5-0-1 record, marred only by a 0-0 tie with the Clemson “B” Team. Coach Orion Mitchell’s Rams defeated Fort Benning 31-0, Middle Georgia 19-0, Southern 19-13, the Florida “B” team 13-6, and Norman 6-0. In the win over Fort Benning, the campus yearbook, The Rambler, stated, “The Rams could have probably run up a larger score, but Coach Mitchell put in some of his new men to see how they would look in action.”

The Rams continued their winning ways in the 1931 season. On Oct. 16, 1931, GSCM defeated the University of Miami 13-12. An Associated Press story about the game ran in the October 17th edition of The Tifton Gazette. According to that account, Miami went in front on a touchdown run in the second quarter. Down 6-0, the Rams took the lead when Mike Donehon intercepted a pass and ran 70 yards for a touchdown.

Still in the second quarter, the Rams expanded the lead when Sherman England blocked a punt on the Hurricanes' two-yard line and recovered it in the end zone for another touchdown. Miami had a 13-yard TD run in the third period but GSCM held on for the victory.

Besides the win over Miami, the 1931 Rams defeated Fort Benning (Artillery) 38-0, Alabama State Teachers 28-0, Fort Benning (Tank) 20-0, Oglethorpe “B” 21-0, and Florida “B” 20-0. GSCM lost to Howard 31-0, Parris Island Marines 25-12, and Stetson 28-0.

The 1932 edition of GSCM football ran roughshod over its opponents, rolling up a 7-1 record behind the antics of halfbacks Smitty Smithwick from Quitman, Gene Nix from Colquitt, Jimmy Cliett from Bainbridge, and Pee Wee Holt from Commerce. Nix was described by The Rambler as “the hardest running back on the squad who could use the stiff arm.” Smithwick was called “one of the fastest to ever wear a Rams’ uniform.” Jo Jo Caudill from Ashland, Ky., was a tackle and captain of the team. He was described as “big and powerful, a relentless tackler always tearing opposing lines to shreds.”

The Rams defeated Miami for the second year in a row in 1932 by a score of 19-6. They also thumped Fort Benning 40-0, Alabama Teachers 19-0, Stetson 33-6, Parris Island Marines 20-13, Statesboro Teachers 27-0, and Appalachian Teachers College 32-0. GSCM’s only loss was to the University of Florida freshmen by a 20-15 score. Coach Mitchell's football players won for themselves the title of "Fighting Rams" as they accumulated a score of 205 points to opponents' 45 in 1932. The basketball team came out with a respectable 75 percent win average.

Mitchell coached football, basketball, and baseball at GSCM and at ABAC from 1931-45. His 1937 and 1943 ABAC basketball teams were the Georgia junior college champions. Mitchell was an inaugural member of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. Mitchell Hall, a former residence hall on the campus, was named in his honor.

1933-44

Football survived the 1933 name change from the Georgia State College for Men to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College through the 1936 season. The 1935 Golden Stallions’ football team went 4-4, winning over Bowdon 20-0, University of Tampa freshmen 26-13, Norman 13-0, and Homerville CCC 40-13. ABAC lost to South Georgia Teachers 13-0, Georgia Military 14-12, South Georgia State 38-6, and Gordon 7-0.

Football might have continued at ABAC after 1936 but the uniforms and equipment were destroyed when the gymnasium burned down after the season. ABAC never had football again.

One ABAC athlete went on to become a World War II hero. Henry Will Jones, a Marine Captain from Lakeland, received the Silver Star posthumously for his bravery against the Japanese forces at Peleliu in the Palau Islands in the south Pacific in World War II.

At ABAC, he played the guard position for the basketball team on Coach Mitchell’s 1937 state junior college champions. He also played on the 1937 ABAC baseball team and was a member of the 1936 football team. He received the prestigious “B” for football and basketball. Captain Jones was selected posthumously to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.

In 1937, Coach Mitchell led the ABAC basketball team to a 25-24 victory over Gordon for the state championship. Under Mitchell’s direction, ABAC also won the state basketball title in 1943.

 

1945-55

Coach Bruce Gressette joined the ABAC faculty in 1945. For the next 18 years, he achieved greatness not only in the classroom, where he was an excellent mathematics instructor, but on the basketball court and the track as well. His teams won Georgia junior college basketball titles in 1946, 1947, and 1949. The 1949 and 1952 teams won National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) region championships. Gressette’s track and field teams won state championships in 1961 and 1962. His cross-country team won the state title in 1961. Gressette was an inaugural member of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. Gressette Gym is named in his honor.

In 1952, Tom Cheney, a right hander from Morgan, Ga., pitched the ABAC baseball team to the state championship. Cheney later pitched in the major leagues for the Cardinals, Pirates, and Senators. He pitched in two games in the 1960 World Series which the Pirates won on Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run. Cheney’s greatest day as a major leaguer took place on September 12, 1962 when he set the major league record for striking out the most batters in a single game. He struck out 21 members of the Baltimore Orioles in a 16-inning 2-1 win for the Senators. Cheney pitched all 16 innings. Cheney was an inaugural member of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.

Coach Gressette’s ABAC men’s basketball team won the regional championship in 1952. The Stallions didn’t play in the regional tournament again until Coach Benny Dees’ team lost in the first round of regional play in 1964.

The Tifton Gazette reported that Ann McMillan scored 66 points while playing for the ABAC women’s basketball team in a game against Norman College in 1955. The ABAC women’s team was called the Deers at that time. ABAC won the game 87-56 under the direction of Coach Charles A. Milford.

 

1956-61

After graduating from Dixie High School in Brooks County, Tom Moody and his high school buddy, Philip Simpson, began classes at ABAC in 1956 where Simpson became a standout basketball player, and Moody played basketball and baseball. Simpson was inducted into the first ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame class in 2008, and Moody joined his friend in the Hall of Fame in 2016.

Simpson took the college basketball world by storm both at ABAC and at the University of Georgia. Nicknamed “Goose” in honor of former Harlem Globetrotter Reece “Goose” Tatum, Simpson averaged 26 points per game as a freshman at ABAC when he was named to the Georgia Junior College All-State team. During his sophomore season, he averaged 24 points a game for the Stallions and was recognized for being the ninth highest scoring player in the nation. Simpson was selected for All-America status and was chosen as the most valuable player in the state tournament where ABAC finished second in 1958. ABAC retired his jersey on the night of his last game as a Stallion.

Simpson finished his college career as a two-year starter for the University of Georgia where legendary Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp called him “the best rebounder in the SEC” in 1960. Simpson played for Georgia Coach Red Lawson and was named Most Valuable Player for the Bulldogs during his junior season when he led UGA in total field goals, total free throws, rebounds, total points and a 14.1 scoring average. Simpson was named captain of the UGA team during his senior season. He was a second team All-SEC selection for the 1960-61 season. He received the Joe Jordan Memorial Trophy for his outstanding play that year.

 

The Stallions made the state baseball tournament both years that Moody played second base for ABAC. After hitting .286 his sophomore year at ABAC, Moody attended Georgia Southern on a baseball scholarship where he led the Eagles with a .377 batting average during his senior season and helped catapult the team to a berth in the national championship game where they lost to Whitworth College and future St. Louis Cardinals’ ace Ray Washburn. Moody returned to ABAC in 1967 where he became the baseball coach for 24 years and the golf coach for four years.

 

1962

Benny Dees was hired as the ABAC basketball coach in the summer of 1962. He spent the summer trying to convince the father of ABAC freshman David Owens that his son needed to return to school for his sophomore year. Owens was earning some money cropping tobacco in Canada just prior to the start of the fall quarter. “I spent the whole summer talking to his daddy to make sure David was going to come back,” Dees said in a telephone interview in 2016. “I knew we needed him. He was one of the best players I ever had.”

Dees worked his magic, and Owens did return to ABAC where he led the Stallions to a fourth- place finish in the 1963 state junior college basketball tournament. The Pavo native and Central High of Thomasville graduate was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. For his expertise on the basketball floor, Owens was named as a member of the 2016 class of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame.

“David could score, and he was quick,” Dees said. “He could dunk two basketballs at one time. He was the best player by far on that team.” Owens chuckled as he remembered the hard charging Dees. “He could make you feel like you could jump out of the gym,” Owens said in a 2016 interview. “He was a great coach. I was just a country boy from Pavo. I had gotten a couple of calls from Florida State and Valdosta State but I wasn’t playing basketball for the scholarship. I just loved the game.”

Owens played for ABAC Coach Lamar DuBose during his freshman year in 1961-62 when the Stallions wound up with a losing record. Owens also ran on the ABAC track team and won the state title in the high hurdles. Coach Gressette’s ABAC track and field team won its second straight state title in 1962.

 

1963

In the first round of the 1963 state basketball tournament at the Georgia Southern gym in Statesboro, ABAC knocked off Georgia Southwestern 71-63 behind 23 points by Tommy Dial

and 12 by David Owens. In the second round, the Stallions thumped Young Harris 86-51. Owens led the way with 20 points. Top-rated South Georgia beat the Stallions 80-63 in the semifinal game despite 22 points by Owens. Norman College then surged past ABAC 88-73 in the third-place game when Owens tossed in 19 points.

Owens said he was quite shocked when he was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament by the Georgia Southern coaching staff. “I had gotten tonsillitis just prior to the tournament, and I lost about 27 pounds,” Owens said in a 2016 interview. “I had to have vitamin shots so I could play. I got most of my shots off rebounds.”

Owens averaged 17.3 points and 12.1 rebounds in the four tournament games. He also captured the eye of Georgia Southern Coach J.B. Scearce who recruited him to play for the Eagles. Owens started every game at Georgia Southern and helped to lead the team to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national tournament in his junior year and to a number one national ranking in his senior season.

Owens was captain of the Georgia Southern basketball team, and his future wife, Marsha, was the captain of the cheerleaders. “ABAC was an awesome place to play,” Owens said. “They were hanging from the balcony in that little gym. It was a great experience for me.”

ABAC student Cook Holliday from Rochelle also made a name for himself and for ABAC. During his freshman year in 1963, he set the state junior college pole vault record. Holliday also became the first ABAC track athlete to qualify for the National Junior College track meet in Big Springs, Tex. On the train to Texas, his steel pole was misplaced, and he used a borrowed pole to finish fifth in the nation. Holliday also played on the ABAC basketball team, earning the nickname, “The Baldwin Blaster,” for his shooting skills. He helped to lead the Stallions to the state basketball championship during his sophomore year in 1964. The University of Wyoming awarded Holliday a track scholarship. Holliday was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2009.

 

1964

The Golden Stallions of Coach Benny Dees won the state basketball championship in 1964. The Stallions entered the 14-team tournament at Georgia Southern in Statesboro as the number three seed after going 14-3 in the league and 15-5 overall during the regular season. ABAC beat Armstrong 64-43 in the first round behind 13 points by Gwendell McSwain, 12 points by Cook Holliday, and 10 points by Jimmy Scearce. In the second round, the Stallions knocked off Augusta 80-72. McSwain scored 25 to lead an ABAC scoring parade which included 14 points apiece by Tommy Dial, Jake Popham and Holliday, and 13 points by Scearce.

“Jimmy Scearce was the guts of that team,” Dees said in a 2017 interview. Dees had recruited Jake Popham and his brother, Russell, to ABAC from Manor High School, where Dees was the head coach before coming to ABAC.

In the semifinal game, ABAC slipped by second-seeded Young Harris 71-65 as Dial scorched the cords for 28 points. McSwain had 16, and Scearce added 12. The Stallions thumped top-seeded Columbus 76-58 in the title game on February 29 when Dial hit 11 of 16 shots and added five free throws for 27 points. Scearce chipped in 14 points. Dial was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and McSwain and Scearce made the all-tournament team.

The victory marked the first men’s basketball state title for ABAC since Coach Gressette’s team won the 1949 crown. The Golden Stallions won only one other state men’s basketball title in 1982 when Coach Donnie Veal’s team beat Gainesville 67-66 in Gressette Gym. Both men’s basketball and women’s basketball were discontinued at ABAC after the 2008 season.

“Tifton just fell in love with us,” Dial said in a 2015 interview. “Benny Dees was Bobby Knight before there was a Bobby Knight. We were just a bunch of old country boys with a crazy coach.”

Dial played at Waycross High School where he was selected for All-State and All-America honors where he lettered three years in baseball. He played in the North vs. South All-Star game and got scholarship offers from Florida State and North Carolina State. But he had a girlfriend in Waycross. Plus, who could resist the country boy charm of Benny Dees?

“Benny had a persuasive way about him,” Dial said with a laugh. “He promised me a full ride scholarship to ABAC. Well, my full ride was that I had to get up every morning at 5 o’clock and go to the lunchroom to work. That was my scholarship. Seven of us stayed in a garage apartment. It was so cold in the winter we had to use electric blankets. ABAC built a new dorm before my sophomore year, and I was glad to live in it.”

Nicknamed “Rail” because he stretched 150 pounds over his 6-foot-3 frame, Dial carried over his stellar high school play into the college realm. He was named All-State in his freshman and sophomore seasons at ABAC as well as claiming All-District and All-America honors during his sophomore year.

“It was quite a run,” Dial said. “The ABAC students went to the Army Surplus Store and bought a bunch of old helmets. Then they lined up like a platoon and marched in that old gym. It was crazy. They had metal trash cans with Coke bottles inside. You can’t imagine the noise in that place. We just won the town over. Benny was a coach that made you better than you were.”

The Stallions lost to Gulf Coast 85-82 in Tallahassee, Fla., in the first round of the 1964 regional tournament. Dial said Gulf Coast hit 41 of 52 free throws while the Stallions connected on 21 of 31 free throws. Dial had 12 points in that game. Dees was selected for the Hall of Fame in 2011, and Dial was a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2015. The entire 1964 team was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. Team members present for the ceremony were Tommy Dial, Gwendell McSwain, Cook Holliday, Jake Popham, Russell Popham, Neal Joseph Tippens, Peter Dees, Tyron Spearman, Bill Mathis, and Jimmy Fountain. Jimmy Scearce and Ronnie Archer had passed away. J.E. Griffis and Maury Long were unable to attend the event.

 

1967

On February 18, 1967, Coach Benny Dees’ Golden Stallions defeated the Oglethorpe University freshmen 73-72 in the first game ever in Gressette Gymnasium. The Stallions rolled up a season record of 29-5 record and a ranking of 13th in the nation in the 1966-67 campaign. The team set the ABAC record for most wins in a season. The losses included a 104-92 decision to the University of Georgia freshmen team and an 87-84 loss to the University of Florida freshmen team. ABAC was undefeated in league play during the regular season.

ABAC’s Dave Westerfield was named the top player in the Southern Division, barely edging his teammate, Keith Lawson, for the honor. In the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on February 23 in Statesboro, ABAC defeated Southern Tech 66-58 behind 19 points by Westerfield. The Golden Stallions then lost a 79-78 heartbreaker to South Georgia in the semifinal game of the tournament, despite 20 points by Lawson, 13 by John Norman and 10 by Westerfield. Dees resigned from ABAC later in 1967 to become the first basketball coach in the history of Virginia Commonwealth University. He was replaced as the ABAC coach by his assistant, Vann Brackin.

Under the direction of new head coach Norman “Red” Hill, ABAC fielded its first tennis team in 1967. The Golden Stallions finished third in the state tournament.

Tom Moody (Class of ’58) returned to ABAC as the head baseball coach in the summer of 1967. He replaced David Patton as the ABAC baseball coach. Moody played for the Stallions from 1956-58. “We practiced on a field where the big parking lot is now,” Moody said in a 2016 interview. “We played our games at Eve Park.” ABAC recruited the National Guard to help build a baseball field and tennis courts during Moody’s tenure.

 

1968

Odell Pack scored 29 points to lead the Golden Stallions to a 120-101 victory over North Florida Junior College in the 1968 Homecoming game. Harold Adkins scored 36 for the Stallions in a 126-122 loss to North Florida earlier in the year. He was named Georgia Junior College Player of the Week.

The 1968 basketball Stallions of Coach Vann Brackin wound up 12-14 overall after losing in the first round of the state tournament. Coach Tom Moody guided the ABAC baseball team to a 10-6 league record and 11-13 overall record in his first year as the head coach. Jerry Marshall from Dawson hit .312 to lead the way for ABAC.

The Golden Stallions’ 1968 tennis team of Coach Norman “Red” Hill won the state championship in its second year of existence. ABAC was ranked 10th in the nation. In an editorial, Danny Carter, sports editor of The Stallion, called for the college to construct new tennis courts since ABAC had a great program but played on the two concrete courts located west of Thrash Gymnasium. Tommy McDougal won 29 straight regular season tennis matches

for the Stallions before losing on May 10 against Southern Tech. Coach Vann Brackin and the first organized ABAC golf team finished fourth in the state tournament.

 

1969

Coach Vann Brackin’s 1968-69 Golden Stallions rolled up a league record of 12-0 and an overall record of 25-5 on the basketball floor. ABAC lost only one home game all year, a 93-77 decision to Gardner Webb, led by its 7-foot-2 center Artis Gilmore. Odell Pack, Carlos McSwain, and Ashley Deloach were key players for the Stallions.

Dr. Raymond Busbee took over as coach in the ABAC golf team in 1969 and guided the Stallions to a state title and a finish of seventh in the nation. The ABAC tennis team of Coach Norman “Red” Hill won the 1969 state title and ranked sixth nationally. Coach Tom Moody’s 1969 baseball team won the southern division of the Georgia Junior College Conference with a 13-3 record. In the state tournament, ABAC lost a 20-inning game to the South Georgia Tigers, who finished third in the nation. The two best hitters on the ABAC team, Jerry Marshall and Buddy Whitley, both signed professional contracts with the Minnesota Twins organization.

 

1970

After the resignation of Vann Brackin, Lowell Mulkey was hired as the new ABAC basketball coach for the 1969-70 season. He was the athletics director, baseball coach, and basketball coach at Norman College for eight years prior to coming to ABAC.

Coach Lowell Mulkey led the 1969-70 ABAC basketball team to a record of 19-11 and the Southern Division Championship. In the state tournament at Statesboro, the Stallions beat Southern Tech 78-73 in the quarterfinals. In the semifinal game, Mark Hall scored in the final second of overtime for a 77-75 ABAC win. The Stallions lost to Dalton in the championship game, 85-78. Tim Dominey from ABAC was named the Most Valuable Player of the state tournament, and Harley Stewart was named to the All-Tournament Team. Mark Hall set an all-time record during the regular season when he scored 64 points for ABAC in a 129-119 overtime victory for the Stallions over DeKalb Junior College.

In an 84-80 win over Brunswick in the regular season, Harley Stewart had 20 points and 27 rebounds for the Stallions. Stewart received the ABAC Athlete of the Year award and was named as Most Valuable Player for ABAC basketball. He was selected as part of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 17 All-Tournament First Team, the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association (GJCAA) First Team All-Tournament, and the GJCAA All-State Team.

“On game nights, the local people would pack the gym,” Stewart said in a 2011 interview. “It was such a good atmosphere to play in. ABAC really embraced me and made me feel at home.” After completing his ABAC career, Stewart was recruited to West Georgia College, where he played in two national tournament games and averaged 24 points and 15 rebounds per game. During his time at West Georgia, the Braves won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) District 25 Tournament and earned the college’s first trip to the NAIA national tournament. Stewart was inducted into the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 201l.

 

1971

The ABAC golf team finished in eighth place in 1971 state tournament. The tennis team finished second in the state and second in the Alabama-Georgia regionals. The Stallions wound up 7-9 in conference play on the baseball field.

 

1973

The Army Reserve and the Georgia National Guard used the ABAC campus in 1973 as a teaching station on large earth-moving equipment while saving ABAC over $100,000 in the development of the new athletic fields. Bids are now being accepted on the construction of the new ABAC tennis courts.

Freshman Worth Hartry wound up the 1972-73 basketball season with an average of 23.1 points per game to go along with an average of 18.6 rebounds per contest. The 6-foot-5 player from Milledgeville was named All-State and All-Region for Coach Lowell Mulkey’s Golden Stallions. Hartry was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. ABAC wound up 18-14 on the year and lost to Alexander City 78-74 in the first round of the NJCAA Region 17 tournament in Birmingham, Ala., on March 1.

Coach Wayne Cooper’s golf team won the 1973 state title, finished second in the southeastern region, and wound up 11th in the nation. Cooper was named Coach of the Year in the state after his team compiled a 13-0 conference record. ABAC golfer Paul Staples was named to the All-America team, and Joe Corry was named to the All-State team. Coach Norman “Red” Hill’s men’s tennis team won the state title and finished fifth in the nation. Steve Pierre from Panama was named the top player in Georgia for the second straight year after compiling a record of 34-0. Edwardo Marulanda was an All-America selection for the Stallions at the national tennis tournament.

Coach Ron Evans’ ABAC men’s soccer team ended its 1973 season with 2-5-1 record after a 4-0 loss to Dekalb in the first round of the state tournament. Baseball Coach Tom Moody said the Stallions have been hampered in preseason practice in 1973 because the baseball field has yet to be completed. Athletics Director Norman “Red” Hill said the new 12-court tennis complex at ABAC will open sometime in November as soon as the Board of Regents approve the finished product.

 

1974

ABAC Basketball Coach Lowell Mulkey was named headmaster at Tiftarea Academy on January 23, 1974. He will continue to work for ABAC part-time until May 15. Athletics Director Norman Hill has announced that all intercollegiate sporting events between ABAC and Middle Georgia are suspended because of the actions of students from both colleges at the ABAC-Middle Georgia basketball game on the ABAC campus on January 23. Middle Georgia won the game 93-85 to leave the two teams in a tie for first place in the Southern Division of the Georgia Association of Junior Colleges.

ABAC President Clyde Driggers and Middle Georgia President Louis Alderman signed an agreement on February 7, 1974 to continue the athletic tradition between the two colleges, urging

true sportsmanship on both sides for the game on February 14 in Cochran. Middle Georgia won the game 74-72. The Stallions ended their season in the first round of the state tournament in a 79-61 loss to Truett McConnell. Worth Hartry had 10 points for the Stallions in the final game of Coach Lowell Mulkey’s coaching career at ABAC.

Peter Dees (Class of ’65) took over as head coach of the Stallions basketball team on March 25 upon the resignation of Lowell Mulkey. Dees played for his brother, Coach Benny Dees, on the 1964 ABAC state championship team. Pearl Dees, the mother of Benny and Peter, is the house director in the new men’s dormitory.

The ABAC baseball team of Coach Tom Moody rolled up a record of 22-15 in 1974 behind Most Valuable Player Johnny Giddens. All home games were played at Eve Park. Coach Wayne Cooper’s golf team finished fourth in the state tournament. Coach Norman “Red” Hill’s tennis team won the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year, finished second in the Region 17 tournament, and wound up 16th in the nation. ABAC hosted the state tournament for the first time ever. Hill was honored at the national tournament as the outgoing president of the National Tennis Coaches Association. Roger Stokes from the basketball team was named Athlete of the Year at ABAC in a vote by all the coaches.

 

1975

Coach Peter Dees’ ABAC basketball team won the Southern Division of the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association and finished second in the 1975 state tournament, falling on a last second shot to Emmanuel College. The Golden Stallions then lost 92-73 to Calhoun (Ala.) State in the first round of the regional tournament.

Coach Tom Moody’s Golden Stallions won the 1975 state baseball tournament championship before falling to Middle Georgia in the Region 17 tournament. ABAC won the Southern Division of the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association regular season title with a record of 24-12. ABAC recorded a 29-14 overall record. Pitcher Hodges McLendon from Dawson made the Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd section by pitching no-hitters in his second and third starts of the season. Coach Wayne Cooper’s ABAC golf team finished second in the state tournament behind the stellar play of Mark Allen, who gained medalist honors for the event with rounds of 72 and 73. He was also the medalist in the Region 17 tournament in Jasper, Ala., where ABAC finished second.

Cleve Dean, the arm-wrestling champion of the world from 1978 until 1986, was a member of the Class of 1975 at ABAC. The 6-foot-7, 465-pound Pavo native appeared in the movie, Over the Top, with Sylvester Stallone. After an eight-year self-imposed retirement, Dean won the 1994 national championship and two federation world titles in San Francisco and Sweden.

 

1976

The Golden Stallions of Coach Tom Moody finished third in the 1976 state baseball tournament. Third baseman Jorge Lezcano and shortstop Terry Mixon were named to the All-Region 17 team. ABAC played baseball at its on-campus field for the first time this season. Coach Wayne Cooper’s ABAC golf team finished 10th in the n

As of November, 1976, ABAC now has a women’s basketball team coached by Peter Dees, who is also the men’s coach. Intramural Director Ron Evans has agreed to coach the team next year. The Fillies are 1-1 on the season.

 

1977

ABAC golfers Jack “Skipper” Torbett from Brunswick and William M. Dobrosky from Fernandina Beach, Florida passed away in a tragic accident in their apartment on January 24, 1977 when a gas heater malfunctioned.

Coach Tom Moody’s Golden Stallions won the 1977 Southern Division baseball title with a record of 26-5 overall and 9-1 in conference action. Moody was named Coach of the Year. ABAC was ranked 13th in the nation at one point during the season. Third baseman Jorge Lezcano led the way with a .386 average.

Norman “Red” Hill received a proclamation from Governor George Busbee (Class of ’45) for his 200th career victory earlier this year. The Golden Stallions finished ninth in the 1977 national tournament.

Former Valdosta State assistant coach Donnie Veal was named as the new men’s basketball coach for the 1977-78 season, replacing Peter Dees.

 

1978

At Homecoming on February 25, 1978, ABAC dedicated the Torbett-Dobrosky Memorial Golf Practice Center in memory of former ABAC golfers Jack “Skipper” Torbett from Brunswick and William M. Dobrosky from Fernandina Beach, Florida. The two students died a tragic death in their off-campus apartment on January 24, 1977 when a gas heater malfunctioned. Charles Oxford, chairman of the Board of Regents, spoke at the ceremony as well as ABAC President Stanley Anderson and golf coach Wayne Cooper.

Margie York from Sylvester averaged 24.6 points per game for the ABAC Fillies basketball team during the 1977-78 season. She was selected for the 1978 all-state team. Coach Ron Evans’ women’s basketball team did not win a game. Evans resigned his post at the end of the spring term. Ulysses Teague averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Stallions basketball team. He wound up as the second leading scorer and fifth leading rebounder in the state. Teague was selected for the all-state and all-conference teams. He has signed with Morris Brown University. Under first year head coach Donnie Veal, the Stallions compiled a record of 9-18.

Baseball Coach Tom Moody said the 1978 Stallions were the best hitting team in the history of ABAC. Moody said the team batting average was .348. Larry Pittman hit .442, Billy Collins hit .429, and Chuck Scarborough hit .383 to lead the way for ABAC, which ended its season with a record of 20-16. The ABAC men’s tennis team finished second behind Gainesville in the 1978 state tournament. Andres Flores won the men’s singles title in the state tournament. Coach Wayne Cooper’s ABAC golfers finished second in the 1978 state tournament. Three golfers were named all-state, Jody Joiner, Rich Bellinger, and Ben Weeks.

Jeff Kincaid (Class of ’74) joined the faculty as the women’s basketball coach in the fall quarter of 1978.

 

1979

On what Coach Donnie Veal called “his best night ever,” Jeff Gill scored 27 points to lead the Golden Stallions to an 80-75 basketball win over the North Georgia Tech Thunderbirds on February 3, 1979. Franklin Patten added 19, and Viviano Reaves had 15. ABAC wound up the year with a record of 12-16 overall and 9-11 in league play. The Stallions were seeded eighth in the conference tournament at Brewton Parker but did not attend the tournament because ABAC President Stanley Anderson had written a letter to Wendell Whiteside from NJCAA Region XVII on September 18, 1978 that stated that if ABAC was not one of the top four teams, the Stallions would not compete because of budgetary constraints.

In an article in The Stallion, Anderson said he had seen two other colleges “completely do away with” their athletic programs. “ABAC is close to the same situation, and I don’t want to lose our athletic program,” Anderson said. In their third year of existence, the ABAC Fillies completed their 1978-79 basketball season with a 0-16 record. Jeff Kincaid (Class of ’74) was the coach.

The Golden Stallions’ tennis team finished second in the 1979 state tournament and 13th in the national tournament. In the summer of 1979, Baseball Coach Tom Moody said Larry Pittman has signed a professional baseball contract with the New York Mets, and Anardy Martinez has signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The ABAC Stallions opened their 1979-80 basketball season with a 73-68 loss to Santa Fe on November 20. Public Relations Director Mike Chason did his first ever ABAC radio play-by-play broadcast on Tifton radio station WWGS. He continued to broadcast several games every year until ABAC dropped basketball after the 2008 season.

 

1980

After two straight winless seasons and five losses to open this year, the women’s basketball team at ABAC recorded a 79-60 win over Middle Georgia on January 18, 1980. Nancy Anderson led Coach Jeff Kincaid’s Fillies with 15 points and 12 rebounds. She received ample support from Lisa Arrington with 14, Sheila Williams with 13, Donna Ranew with 11 and Becky Thomas and Shari Strickland with 10 apiece. The Fillies wound up 5-13 on the year. With an average of 15.9 points per game, Anderson was selected for the all-conference team. Coach Donnie Veal’s Stallions finished with a 9-19 record and lost in the first round of the state tournament.

 

1981

At an awards banquet for the ABAC basketball teams on April 8, 1981, Jenni Collins was named Most Valuable Player of the women’s team, and Woodrow Clemons was named Most Valuable Player for the men’s team.

ABAC baseball player Ralph Bryant was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the 1981 amateur draft. The power-hitter from Fort Gaines made his professional debut with

the Dodgers on September 8, 1985. He spent the next three years traveling between the major and minor leagues. Bryant then found a home with the Chunichi Dragons and the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. He was the 1989 Pacific League Most Valuable Player when he hit 49 home runs and tied Sadaharu Oh’s career record by blasting three homers in a game on five different occasions. He retired in 1995 with 259 home runs for his career. Bryant was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.

Keith Barr (Class of ’72) was named the new head women’s basketball coach in 1981, replacing Jeff Kincaid (Class of ’74), who resigned after three years to attend dental school.

 

1982

The Golden Fillies’ basketball team of Coach Keith Barr lost to South Georgia 71-64 in the first round of the 1982 state tournament in Macon on February 25 despite 19 points by Jenni Collins. ABAC wound up with a 10-10 overall record.

The ABAC men’s basketball team began NJCAA Region XVII tournament play on the Gressette Gym hardwood on March 4 as the regular season champion with a sparkling 16-1 league record. The Stallions rolled over South Georgia 75-56 on opening night behind 19 points by Eugene London, 17 points by Marshall Taylor, and 15 points by Al Holsey. In the semifinal round on March 5, Coach Donnie Veal’s team knocked off arch rival Middle Georgia 75-65 when London scored 13 points and Willie Roberts, Ben Pierce and Taylor contributed 12 points each.

On March 6, the Stallions defeated Gainesville 67-66 in a super thriller for the NJCAA Region XVII title, the first state basketball championship for ABAC since 1964. It proved to be the last state basketball title for the Stallions before the program was eliminated in 2008. Taylor, a 5-foot-9 sophomore from Enigma, was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. He scored 25 points in the championship game. Holsey added 11 points, and Roberts scored 10. Veal was named Coach of the Year in Region XVII, and Taylor, London, Holsey, and Roberts made the all-region team.

The Stallions then lost to Miami-Dade North Community College 56-54 on March 9 in a national playoff game in Lake City, Fla. Miami-Dade was 29-0 and ranked number one in the nation. Miami-Dade star Yvon Joseph then led his team to the national championship game of the NJCAA Tournament where it lost in overtime to Midland College, led by Spud Webb. The Fabulous Golddusters dance team under the direction of advisor Andrea Pate Willis performed at halftime in Lake City. ABAC rode a 17-game winning streak during the season to a final record of 25-5. Veal was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012, and Taylor and Willis were inducted in 2014.

In its third year of existence, the women’s tennis team finished second in the 1982 NJCAA Region XVII playoffs and earned ABAC’s first berth ever in the women’s national tournament on May 10-12. Ellen Vickers is the coach of the Fillies.

Chuck DeVane from Lowndes High School hit .409 for the 1982 ABAC baseball team and was selected for the All-Region XVII team. The men’s tennis team finished seventh in the national tournament.

1983

Coach Norman “Red” Hill was the proudest man on campus in July, 1983 when the tennis courts got lights for the first time. “This has been a dream of mine since I came to ABAC 18 years ago,” Hill said. A lighting ceremony for the new lights at the ABAC Tennis Center was held on October 6 at 7 p.m.

1984

ABAC won its first women’s basketball state championship ever on March 3, 1984 when Coach Keith Barr and the Fillies claimed the title with a 62-60 victory over Emmanuel College in Gressette Gym. “It feels unbelievable,” Barr said at the time. “Unreal. Winning the state title won’t hit me until tomorrow morning.”

In his third year as the head coach of the Fillies, Barr guided the team to a 20-8 record, the state championship and a seventh-place finish in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Senatobia, Miss. ABAC roared out of the starting blocks in the 1983-84 season with an 8-2 record. Both losses were to Truett-McConnell by the lopsided scores of 79-56 and 89-66. Redemption for those defeats came in the state tournament when the Fillies slipped by Truett 62-57 in the semifinal round after a 68-52 first round win over Gainesville.

The state championship game was a classic. Terri Lee scored 14 points and connected on two free throws with 11 seconds left to give ABAC the lead over the Lions from Franklin Springs. Then the Fillies turned to their strength, a defense rated as the fifth best in the nation during the regular season. Rose Wilcher added 14 points, Jernese Thomas chipped in with 13, and Peggy McConnell had 10. Cynthia Hargrove, a 5-foot-9 sophomore from Eatonton, was the Most Valuable Player for the tournament. Other team members were Sheila Williams, Lisa Howard, Patricia Mitchell, Allison Handley, and Glenda Maddox.

Fresh off the state championship, ABAC traveled to the home of Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Miss., for the national tournament. In the double elimination event, the Fillies clipped Lakeland (Ohio) 63-60, lost to Northwest 60-51, lost to Moberly (Mo.) 88-80, and defeated Gadsden (Ala.) 62-55. It marked the highest finish ever for an ABAC women’s basketball team in the national tournament. The team was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

ABAC won its first national championship in any sport on May 25 when Coach Norman “Red” Hill and his team captured the National Junior College Athletic Association men’s tennis title in Ocala, Fla. The top six players received All-America recognition in singles and doubles. Team members included Carlos Perez, John Luc Dumont, Michael Rice, Pat Breen, Chris Demarta, and Tony Giorgetti. Other members of the team who did not compete in the national tournament were Richard Carr, York Carter, and Reg Holden. Hill was inducted into the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2008. The team was inducted into the ABAC Athletics Hall of

Fame in 2009. The Stallions also won the state title. Hill received the 1984 Max Grubbs trophy for winning National Coach of the Year honors.

 

“Winning the championship has to be the greatest moment of my life,” Hill told a reporter for The Stallion after the victory. “These ABAC players have given everything a human being could possible give. It was so great for these players to be rewarded for the work they have done.”

 

Coach Ellen Vickers’ Fillies tennis team also won the state title and finished seventh in the national tournament in 1984. The Fillies became the first ABAC team in any sport to win every match during the regular season. The team included Melanie Bourne, Teresa Tew, Tania Smith, Lynn Wells, Virginia Camara, and Holly Moseley.

 

Coach Wayne Cooper’s ABAC golf team also won the 1984 state championship and finished fourth in the national tournament. Joey Dixon from Blackshear was named first team All-America by finishing 10th in the national golf tournament. Billy Bulmer from Tifton finished 19th in the national tournament. Hill, Barr, Vickers, and Cooper all won Georgia Coach of the Year honors.

 

After the golf season, Chad Willis became the first and perhaps the only ABAC golfer to sign a scholarship with Ohio State University. He was the first junior college golfer ever signed by the Buckeyes.

 

With four teams finishing in the Top 10 in the nation, Representatives Henry Bostick and Hanson Carter sponsored a resolution in the Georgia House of Representatives honoring the ABAC teams on their accomplishments.

 

1985

The 1935 ABAC football team held a reunion at the 1985 Homecoming. Attendees included Wilbur Blount, Clayt Hurst, Billy Pullen, Harrison Rainwater, Grayson Jones, and M.T. Riner. A win over the University of Tampa’s freshman squad was the highlight of the year in 1935. Jim Threatte spoke on his memories of Coach Orion Mitchell during the reunion.

 

The ABAC men’s tennis team, women’s tennis team, and golf team all won state championships in 1985. Coach Norman Hill’s Stallions finished fifth in the national tournament. John Jonsson from Sweden won the national championship at number two singles. Hill was named the International Tennis Association Coach of the Year. Coach Ellen Vickers’ Fillies’ tennis team finished 11th in the nation, and Coach Wayne Cooper’s golfers finished eighth in the nation. Joey Dixon was an All-America selection for the second year in a row. He is headed to Georgia Tech on a golf scholarship.

Tennis Coach Norman Hill signed his son, Skip, and Golf Coach Wayne Cooper signed his son, Chris, to play for the Golden Stallions for the 1985-86 season.

 

1986

Coach Tom Moody’s Stallions won the 1986 state baseball championship on one of the most incredible plays in ABAC baseball history. ABAC piled up six runs in the top of the ninth inning in the championship game to take a 9-8 lead only to see number one-ranked Middle Georgia hit a pinch-hit home run with one man on base in the bottom of the ninth. In his excitement, the pinch hitter passed his teammate on the base paths and touched home plate before him. That move constituted the final out of the game and negated the two runs. Stallions win! “He was so excited that between third base and home plate, he passed the base runner,” Moody said. “I didn’t see it because I had gone to the mound to console my pitcher. Fortunately, the umpires had the courage to call it, and they did. It’s hard to describe how I felt. I couldn’t believe it. We had a good team that year.”

ABAC finished second behind Florida champion Brevard in the Southeast Regional. The Stallions had a final record of 31-16.

Coach Wayne Cooper’s ABAC golf team won the state championship and finished third in the 1986 national tournament. Jon Worrell was the medalist for the state tournament. Billy Edwards and Mike Elliot were selected for the All-America team, and Worrell was named as an Honorable Mention selection.

Coach Norman “Red” Hill led the Stallions’ tennis team to its 15th state title. Led by Jon Ola Johnson, the Stallions advanced to their 21st consecutive national tournament where they finished ninth. Coach Ellen Vickers and the ABAC women’s tennis team won the state title and wound up 15th in the national tournament. Angie Poppell won the state title at number one singles.

ABAC discontinued its women’s basketball program after the 1986 season, citing low participation and problems recruiting quality athletes who were being recruited by senior colleges and universities trying to meet Title IX requirements.

1987

The 1987 ABAC basketball season ended on February 24 when the Stallions lost to Emmanuel in the first round of the state tournament. Coach Wayne Cooper’s golf team and Coach Norman “Red” Hill’s men’s tennis team won their respective state championships and will advance to 1987 national tournament play. Coach Ellen Vickers’ Fillies’ tennis team finished second in the state tournament and will also advance to the national tournament. ABAC dropped women’s tennis after the season. Women’s softball will replace tennis. Ellen Vickers, a three-time winner of the Coach of the Year award in the state for women’s tennis, will be the softball coach.

 

1988

Women’s slow pitch softball joined the ABAC intercollegiate sports lineup during the 1988 winter quarter. Ellen Vickers was the first coach. The team began its season with a 1-15 record but wound up winning the NJCAA Region XVII title and finished eighth in the national tournament.

ABAC Coach Tom Moody signed Jay Roberts from Ocilla to a baseball scholarship with the Stallions during the summer of 1988. Roberts hit .388 with four home runs for the Irwin County High School Indians. He later served for many years in the Georgia House of Representatives.

1989

Coach Donnie Veal’s Golden Stallions lost to Emmanuel College 108-100 in the 1989 championship game of the state basketball tournament at Truett McConnell in Cleveland. ABAC wound up with a record of 18-11.

 

Coach Norman “Red” Hill recorded his 600th victory on May 3, 1989 when the Golden Stallions’ tennis team defeated Valdosta State. Hill’s record at ABAC is now 600 wins and only 123 losses.

 

Jean Francois Lagloire from Agde, France won the national championship at #1 singles for the Golden Stallions at the 1989 NJCAA national men’s tennis tournament. He also teamed with Enrique Ruiz from Bogata, Colombia to win the #1 doubles’ title. Lagloire was ranked number one in the nation for the entire season. He was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. Coach Norman “Red” Hill’s team won the state championship and finished fourth in the national tournament. Coach Ellen Vickers’ Golden Fillies’ softball team won the state championship for the second year in a row and finished fifth in the NJCAA national tournament. Coach Wayne Cooper’s ABAC golf team won the state title and finished seventh in the NJCAA national tournament. Liam White was named Second Team All-America, and Chris King was named Honorable Mention All-America.

1990

On March 1, Coach Norman Hill’s ABAC men’s tennis team defeated the University of Georgia in Athens. UGA was playing without its ace, Al Parker, on that day. The Bulldogs went on to win the NCAA national championship.

Jean Francois Lagloire from ABAC became the only man to win the NJCAA national tennis championship at number one singles two years in a row at the national tournament at Tyler Community College in May. Lagloire also won the national title in 1989. He was named first team All-America. Lagloire was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. The Stallions of Coach Norman “Red” Hill finished second in the nation in the team competition.

Coach Ellen Vickers’ women’s intercollegiate slow-pitch softball team finished third in the 1990 national tournament after winning the Fillies’ third straight state tournament. ABAC received the President’s Sportsmanship Award from NJCAA Region 17 for the ninth year in a row.

1991

The Fillies’ 1991 softball team of Coach Ellen Vickers won its fourth straight state tournament title and then its first ever national championship over Lake City (Fla.), the two-time defending national champions, on May 4. “It’s the best feeling in the world,” Vickers said. “This is a dream come true.”

The 12 members of the team included Patty Beasley, Kelly Britsky, Kelly Burch, Dawn Lingo, Pam Purcell, Edy Leverette, Daphne Covington, April Crane, Wendi Ward, Lacy Whatley, Leeanne Yeager, and Amy White. Lingo, White, and Whatley were named to the NJCAA 1991 All-America team, the first All-America selections in the history of ABAC softball. The championship was the second national title in the history of ABAC, preceded only by the 1984 men’s tennis team. The team compiled a record of 43-7 and became the first team from Georgia to win the softball crown. The team was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.

Vickers was named the 1991 National Junior College Athletic Association National Coach of the Year. She was also Coach of the Year in Region XVII.

Tom Moody (Class of ’58) stepped down as the ABAC baseball coach in June after 24 years at the helm. He will remain on the staff as the ABAC golf coach. During his days as an ABAC student, Moody played shortstop and second base before transferring to Georgia Southern. Moody’s Golden Stallions won the conference tournament championship in 1975 and 1986. He was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. Craig Young replaced him as the Stallions’ diamond boss.

Wayne Cooper (Class of ’62) resigned his duties as the ABAC golf coach in 1991 and became chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Under Cooper’s leadership, the Stallions won the state golf title in 1991 for the 21st time in 22 seasons. Michael Bassett, Kevin Belflower, and Chris Purvis finished in the top three spots in the state tournament. The Stallions wound up 12th in the national tournament. Cooper was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. The men’s tennis team under the leadership of Coach Norman Hill finished fifth in the 1991 national tournament, marking the 26th consecutive appearance for the Stallions in the tournament.

 

1992

The Golden Stallions of first year head coach Tom Moody won the state golf championship. Michael Bassett was the medalist in the state tourney. ABAC has now won the state golf tournament 22 of the past 23 years. The Stallions’ tennis team finished fifth in the national tournament.

Lacy Whatley, a mechanical engineering major from Chula, was selected as the Donaldson Award recipient at the spring commencement ceremony on June 13. Whatley was a National Junior College Athletic Association first team All-America selection in softball in both 1991 and 1992. She led the Fillies to the national championship in 1991 and to second place in the national tournament in 1992. Whatley compiled a .486 batting average to lead the Fillies to a school record of 53-9 in 1992. She is the career leader for ABAC in runs scored with 161, in hits with 201, in triples with 15, and in at-bats with 392. During her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons at Tift County High School, she led the Lady Devils to three consecutive state softball titles. She compiled a 3.84 grade point average at ABAC. Whatley was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.

Home to a Rodeo Club since 1968, ABAC formed an intercollegiate rodeo team during the fall term of 1992. Admissions Counselor Bruce Applewhite served as the advisor to the team, which competed against 17 other colleges and universities in the Ozark Region, which covers Louisiana to Michigan. Members of the first rodeo team at ABAC included Brande Faircloth, John Frank, Jimmy Wood, Jim Ward, Tiffany Barrow, Angel Eason, Ryan Farris, Rodney Rucker, and Jody Fletcher.

1993

The ABAC baseball team won the 1993 state championship, and Coach Craig Young was named the Coach of the Year. Perry Shiver of the Stallions was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. The ABAC golf team under the direction of Coach Tom Moody also won the state title for the 23rd time in the last 24 years. Moody was named Coach of the Year. Chris Newsham from ABAC was the medalist of the state tourney. Mark James and Boo Weekley of ABAC tied for fourth place. Weekley went on to have a very successful career on the PGA Tour. He was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. The Stallion golfers finished 11th in the 1993 national tournament.

Coach Norman “Red” Hill and the ABAC men’s tennis team also won the state championship for the 11th consecutive year and finished fourth in the national tournament. The Stallions have now won the state title 22 times in 27 years under Hill’s direction. The Fillies’ softball team finished second in the state in 1993 after winning the state title five consecutive times. Quan Thomas and Lee Davis from ABAC were named to the All-America team.

For the first time in the 16-year history of the Georgia Collegiate Softball Championship, a two-year college claimed the title in 1993 when “Sarge’s Crew” from ABAC beat West Georgia in the championship. Brian Barrett from Dacula was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Newell “Sarge” Dorsey coached the team and received a National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Regional Award of Merit. ABAC faculty and staff voted in the spring of 1993 to name the intramural fields on campus after Dorsey when he passes away. “Sarge’s Crew” was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.

Alan Kramer was named head coach of the women’s tennis team, which is now being added back to the intercollegiate sports lineup after being dropped in 1987. Alton Hudgins (Class of ’75) was named Intramural Director, replacing Newell “Sarge” Dorsey, who retired.

1994

After a six-year layoff, women’s tennis returned to the ABAC intercollegiate sports lineup on February 20. Coach Alan Kramer’s team lost to Georgia College 9-0.

Coach Ellen Vickers’ Golden Fillies’ softball team completed its regular season with a phenomenal 52-2 record. The Fillies went 24-0 in conference play. The season included an unprecedented 42-game winning streak. Top performers included Beth Suber, Lee Davis, Teresa Cromer, Mia Gomez and pitcher Allison Hooks. ABAC won the Region XVII tournament and finished fourth in the national tournament in Lake City, Fla. The Fillies’ had a final record of 58-4, the top record in the history of ABAC softball.

Vickers retired from ABAC after the spring quarter with an ABAC softball coaching record of 299-83. Her softball team won the national championship in 1991. During her career, she coached the cheerleading, tennis, and softball teams. Vickers was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. She was Coach of the Year in Region XVII after her teams won state softball titles in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1994. Vickers was also Region XVII Coach of the Year in women’s tennis when the Fillies won state titles in 1984, 1985, and 1986.

In his first year as coach of the women’s tennis team, Alan Kramer guided the Fillies to the Region XVII title behind the stellar play of Stephanie Gallis, Most Valuable Player of the conference tournament. Women’s tennis was reinstituted at ABAC after a six-year absence. The Fillies lost all their matches in the first round of the national tournament in Dallas. The Golden Stallions’ tennis team of Coach Norman “Red” Hill finished second in the Region XVII tournament, falling to Brunswick 4-3. It was only the third time in the past 29 years that the ABAC men’s team had not won the title. In the national tournament, the Stallions knocked off Brunswick 4-0 to finish third in the nation. With a league record of 18-14, Coach Craig Young’s ABAC baseball team did not make the 1994 conference tournament. Coach Tom Moody’s golf team won the state title and participated in the national tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz.

1995

The ABAC Fillies’ softball team captured the national championship on May 6 under the leadership of Coach Greg Tanner. Members of the team included Heather Beck, Sonia Bell, Lana Conner, Teresa Cromer, Amanda Gibbs, Mia Gomez, Tonya Greene, Allison Hooks, Amy Johnson, Amy Norton, Tiffany Perry, Christa Timms, and Buffi Whitley. The team compiled a record of 52-9 and was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011. Tanner left ABAC after one year to take a job with the Coffee County School System. He was elected to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. 

Coach Norman “Red” Hill and the ABAC men’s tennis team won the 1995 state championship to earn the Stallions their 30th consecutive trip to the national tournament where they finished third in the nation. Coach Alan Kramer’s women’s tennis team won the state title for the second year in a row on the way to a sixth-place finish in the national tournament. Kramer broke his leg on a visit to the Grand Canyon during the trip. Coach Tom Moody’s golf team won the state title for the fourth year in a row under his leadership and wound up 11th in the national tournament. Tanner, Hill, Kramer, and Moody were all named Coach of the Year in the state, and Tanner was named National Coach of the Year. ABAC dropped its golf program at the end of the 1995 season and added women’s volleyball, which will begin play in the fall.

 

1996

Rodeo Coach Jerry Lanier guided the ABAC Rodeo Team in the third annual Peach State Stampede on March 29-31. ABAC is ranked fifth in the Ozark Region.

Coach Donna Campbell continued the ABAC run of success on the softball field when the Fillies won their second straight national championship on May 11 in her first year as the ABAC head coach. Players on the team included

Deanna Roberson, Christa Timms, Tiffany Perry, Michelle Jackson, Ingram Perry, Kim Schell, Karla Santiago, Amy Johnson, Buffi Whitley, Anna Stripling, Alana Loper, and Dana Kay Eunice. Roberson was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. The Fillies compiled a record of 44-12 and defeated Meridian (Miss.) Community College for the national title. The team was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. It was the final year for slow pitch softball as Campbell led the Fillies into the fast pitch era of softball in 1997. ABAC won three national titles in slow pitch softball in 1991, 1995, and 1996.

 Coach Norman “Red” Hill and the men’s tennis team won the 1996 state championship and finished second in the national tournament. This is the fifth time that the Stallions have finished second in the nation. Coach Alan Kramer’s women’s tennis team won the state title for the third straight year and recorded a fifth-place finish in the national tournament, marking the highest finish ever for the Fillies. Coach Tom Moody retired after the spring quarter.

 

1997

The ABAC Rodeo Club hosted the fourth annual Peach State Stampede Rodeo on April 3-5. The ABAC intercollegiate rodeo team, coached by Jerry Lanier, is ranked fifth in the Ozark Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. The ABAC team is in its fifth year of competition.

Coach Donna Campbell guided the Fillies to the state championship in their first year of fast-pitch softball. She was named Coach of the Year in Region XVII. ABAC lost in Eastern Regional tournament action in North Carolina. After the season, Campbell was named to the United States Slow Pitch Association Hall of Fame.

 The men’s tennis team of Coach Norman “Red’ Hill won the Region XVII title behind the play of Conrad Hurter, the most valuable player of the tournament. The ABAC women’s tennis team finished fifth in the national tournament. The baseball Stallions rolled up a 35-16 regular season record. ABAC baseball coach Craig Young resigned after the season to take the head coaching job at Middle Georgia. In six years with the Stallions, he had a record of 168-155. His Stallions won the 1993 state championship. 

Coach Alton Hudgins’ Golden Fillies’ volleyball team lost to Middle Georgia in the first round of the 1997 conference tournament. Barbi Hopkins, Rumiko Hara, and Casey Long were named to the all-region team. Long led the Fillies in aces, kills, and blocks.

 

1998

In its sixth year as a member of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, the ABAC Rodeo team competed against teams from Michigan State, Tennessee-Martin, West Alabama, Southern Arkansas, and Mississippi State at the Peach State Stampede. Buddy Johnson is in his first year as the coach of the team.

Coach Norman “Red” Hill coached in his 1,000th tennis match at ABAC on April 28 when the Stallions defeated Georgia Southwestern. In his 33 years at ABAC, Hill’s teams have won a national championship, 25 state titles, and more than 800 matches. This year’s team finished second in the state and third in the nation. Women’s tennis coach Alan Kramer became the youngest coach ever to receive the Wilson Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Coach of the Year award. Kramer’s Fillies have won five consecutive state titles and finished sixth in this year’s national tournament. He has a record of 77-32 at ABAC.

 The Golden Fillies women’s volleyball team of Coach Alton Hudgins won the 1998 NJCAA Region XVII title over Middle Georgia on November 3 in Gressette Gym. Marty Moats was named Player of the Year. Katie Hudgins, Ali Martin, and Moats were named to the all-region team. Casey Long, Elaine Crawford, and Catherine Daniels were named to the all-region tournament team. The Fillies lost to Brevard in the District 10 tournament. ABAC dropped volleyball as an intercollegiate sport after this fourth and final season because only two teams in Georgia competed, ABAC and Middle Georgia. Women’s basketball will replace volleyball in the fall of 2000.

 Rodeo Club President Chris Groskreutz has led the intercollegiate rodeo team to a third place ranking in the Ozark Region. He competes in steer wrestling and bull riding. Buddy Johnson is the rodeo team coach.

 

1999

Coach Donnie Veal was named Co-Coach of the Year in NJCAA Region XVII after leading the basketball Stallions to a 20-12 season and a third-place finish in the region tournament. He shared the honors with Georgia Perimeter’s Alfred Barney (Class of ’77).

 ABAC intercollegiate rodeo team member Matthew Loignon attracts lots of attention when he saddles up Big Red and rides the 1,100-pound bull around the ABAC campus. Big Red was a huge hit in the Cattle Drive through downtown Tifton on March 13 which preceded this year’s Peach State Stampede Intercollegiate Rodeo on March 18-20.

 State Representative Jay Shaw (Class of ’68) presented a Georgia House of Representatives resolution to Norman “Red” Hill at a dinner on April 10 in honor of his many accomplishments as the ABAC tennis coach since 1965. A color rendering of the proposed Red Hill Athletic Complex was unveiled at the end of the evening.

Coach Norman “Red” Hill won another national championship in men’s tennis for ABAC when his team captured the 1999 national crown on Hill’s last day at ABAC before retirement. Members of the team were Richard Crabtree from England, Gildardo Lobo from Venezuela, Nathan Lundy from England, Eric Von Hellens from Australia, Glenn Allsop from Australia,

Rajeev Rajapakse from Sri Lanka, and Richard Evans from England. The team was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.

Hill announced at the start of the 1998-99 academic year that he was retiring after the season. His players were well aware of that fact and wanted him to step into retirement in a grand style. “I knew we had a chance to win it but I knew playing Tyler in Tyler, Texas was going to be hard,” Hill said. “It was just one of the most fantastic things that ever happened to me. To go out that way, the kids really played hard for the school and for me.”

Hill said the regular season leading up to the national tournament was not a smooth ride. In fact, Evans, playing at number one singles, decided to give up on the Stallions and return to England during the spring break. “Then he called me and asked me if he could come back,” Hill said. “I told him he had to start at number seven and play his way back up the ladder. Eric played really well at number one after Richard left.”

Evans did return and in a storybook ending, captured the most valuable player trophy at the national tournament. Hill remembers the volume of the Tyler crowd. “Sarge (Newell Dorsey) and I started rubbing empty tennis cans across the chain link fence every time we got a point to try to make some noise of our own,” Hill said.

Good strategy. The Stallions won the championship, lifted Hill on their shoulders, and they all went to Outback Steakhouse to celebrate. When they got back to Tifton, members of the faculty, staff, and student body celebrated with the champions when their van pulled up in front of Tift Hall on May 21. Hill carried the Stallions to the national tournament for 34 consecutive years, an all-time record. He wound up with an overall record of 848 wins and 183 losses. He retired as the winningest men’s college tennis coach in America.

Coach Alan Kramer led the 1999 ABAC women’s tennis team to a sixth straight NJCAA Region XVII title and a second place finish in the national tournament. Kramer called the team “the most talented women’s tennis team in the history of ABAC” when the team members were inducted into the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015. The second place finish was the highest ever for a women’s tennis team at ABAC. Leading the way was Milena Stanoytcheva from Bulgaria. She won the national championship at number one singles, won Region XVII Tournament MVP honors, and was named first team All-America. Other team members were Annamaria Hodi from Hungary, Luciana Tamburini from Brazil, Nicola Sharp from Zimbabwe, Louise Holmvik from Sweden, and Georgians Amy Hopkins, Sabrina Harper, Casie Hodges, and Jodie Rayl.

ABAC retirees at the end of the spring term in 1999 included Coach Wayne Cooper (30 years) and Coach Norman Hill (34 years).

 

2000

Coach Donnie Veal led the basketball Stallions to a runner-up finish in the state tournament in Cochran on March 4 in his final season as coach before his retirement. Robert

Moore, formerly an assistant at Columbus State, was named the new head men’s basketball coach.

Coach Donna Campbell’s Fillies won the 2000 state softball title. The Fillies compiled a 16-3 conference record. During her five years as head coach, Campbell has won a slow pitch national championship and three state fast pitch titles. Coach Steve Janousek’s baseball team compiled a 31-20 record and finished fourth in the state tournament.

Milena Stanoycheva from Bulgaria became the first female tennis player in the history of ABAC to win back-to-back national championships at number one singles at the NJCAA women’s national tennis tournament. She has signed a scholarship offer from Clemson University.

Stanoycheva was selected for posthumous induction into the inaugural ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame class in 2008. The Fillies of Coach Alan Kramer won their seventh consecutive state title and wound up fourth in the national tournament. Men’s tennis coach Jeff Kutac led the Stallions to a runner-up finish in the state tournament and a sixth-place finish in the national tournament. After the season, Kramer was selected to replace Kutac as the men’s coach, and Margaret Treadway was named the new women’s tennis coach. Treadway played for the Fillies in 1995, earning All-America honors.

ABAC brought back its women’s basketball program after a 15-year absence in August. Tifton native Julie Conner was named head coach.

 

2001

Luiza Biktyakova, a freshman physical education major from Uzbekistan, won the national championship at #2 singles for the 2001 ABAC women’s tennis team. She finished the year 24-0 and was named to the NJCAA All-America team. Biktyakova teamed with Natalie Drabova for a 24-1 record playing doubles. They won the national title at #1 doubles. Coach Margaret Treadway’s Fillies finished fifth in the nation in the team competition. Biktyakova was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.

Coach Donna Campbell’s Fillies won the 2001 state softball title and finished fifth in the national tournament. The Fillies were 33-21 overall and 18-1 in conference play. Freshman pitcher Jackie Moore from Columbus rolled up a 21-9 record with 142 strikeouts and an earned run average of 1.63.

“Jackie was one of those players who was totally selfless to the core,” Campbell said. “She was a hard worker on and off the field, and she loved ABAC softball. What made Jackie so special was her ability to keep her emotions under control. Her physical attributes and her work ethic made her a great college pitcher but what separated her from the rest was her tenacious competitiveness, her humbleness, and her cool demeanor.”

Coach Alan Kramer’s Stallions finished second in the state tennis tournament and seventh in the national tournament. The baseball Stallions of Coach Steve Janousek finished third in the state tournament.

 

2002

The ABAC Foundation received the $1 million Forest Lakes Golf Club as a gift from Tifton ophthalmologist Larry Moorman and his wife, Debra, in January. The college operates the golf course as a public course but also uses it as a teaching laboratory for students in a variety of majors.

On March 2, the Fillies’ basketball team won the NJCAA Region XVII title for only the second women’s state basketball championship in the history of ABAC. The first came in 1984. In the tournament at Atlanta Metropolitan College, Coach Julie Conner’s Fillies defeated Georgia Perimeter 61-59, Middle Georgia 48-44, and then beat Atlanta Metro 76-72 in the title game. Chelsie Miller was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and Jasmin Lee was named to the All-Tournament team. The Fillies lost the national tournament playoff game on March 9 to Louisburg (N.C.) in Gressette Gym to end their season with a 16-16 record. It is the only women’s national tournament basketball game involving the Fillies ever played on the ABAC campus. Coach Robert Moore’s men’s basketball team compiled a record of 21-9 and lost in the first round of the state tournament. Rashad Williams and Eric Williams were named to the all-region first team.

Coach Alan Kramer’s men’s tennis team won the state championship and finished second in the national tournament. Gaston Verna was the MVP of the state tournament, and Kramer was named Coach of the Year. The women’s tennis team of Coach Alton Hudgins won its eighth straight state title and finished sixth in the national tournament. Luiza Bitzyakova was the state tournament MVP, and Hudgins was named Coach of the Year.

The women’s softball team of Coach Donna Campbell won the state championship for the third straight year and wound up ninth in the nation with a record of 31-25. Sophomore pitcher Jackie Moore was the MVP of the state tournament. Moore struck out 219 batters on the way to a 20-12 record and a microscopic 0.67 earned run average.

“When I went to the mound, I never had a particular routine or process,” Moore said in a 2016 interview. “I have always been one to take life moment by moment, pitch by pitch. I try to live in the moment and make adjustments when necessary.”

At the 2002 national tournament, Moore pitched a perfect game, the only one of her storied career that began when she rolled up a 43-24 record at Jordan High School in Columbus. “That was a very cool experience to pitch a perfect game, particularly since I had never had one before,” Moore said. “My grandfather was there to see me.”

After becoming the winningest pitcher in ABAC history, Moore signed with the University of West Florida. She dazzled the NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference foes with a record of 20-4 as a junior and again with a 20-13 mark as a senior for the Argonauts. “I will never forget the camaraderie and all the friends I made at ABAC,” Moore said. “Most importantly, I’m so blessed to have had a chance to play for and be coached by Donna Campbell. She is an amazing person who I respect and appreciate so much. She coached selflessly and knew how to balance athletics and academics.” Moore was selected as a member of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

Coach Steve Janousek’s baseball team had a record of 27-26 and lost in the first round of the 2002 state tournament. Lorrie Morgan was the featured entertainer at Dollars for ABAC Scholars on May 31.

On August 27, ABAC held a ceremony to announce the opening of the $1 million Red Hill Athletic Center in honor of legendary tennis coach Norman “Red” Hill.

 

2003

On April 19, Coach Alton Hudgins’ Fillies’ tennis team won its 10th straight state title. Ingrid Ebensperger was the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. The Fillies finished fifth in the national tournament. Coach Donna Campbell’s softball team wound up 29-23 overall and finished second in the state tournament. The baseball team of Coach Steve Janousek finished 20-25.

Former Valdosta State assistant coach Todd Sheppard was named the men’s basketball coach at ABAC in July. He replaced Robert Moore, who became the head coach at Tift County High School.

President Mike Vollmer was on the floor for the faculty team at the Moonlight Mania basketball event on September 29 in Gressette Gym.

 

2004

LaVeasey Carter from Tifton became the first All-America selection in Coach Steve Janousek’s tenure as the ABAC baseball coach. Carter hit .412 for the Golden Stallions and stole 44 bases. He was named NJCAA Second Team All-America.

 

2005

In her first pageant ever, Melissa Maher, an animal science major from Snellville, was selected as Ms. ABAC 2006 on November 8. She is president of the ABAC Rodeo Club and a barrel racer on the ABAC intercollegiate rodeo team.

 

2006

The ABAC women’s tennis team finished in a tie for 12th place at the NJCAA national tournament in Tucson. Whitney Lightfoot received the NJCAA Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award. Coach Steve Janousek’s ABAC baseball team finished sixth in the regular season standings and then lost in the first round of the state playoffs.

President David Bridges kicked a soccer ball into the net at the E.B. Hamilton Complex on August 26 to signal the opening of the first ever women’s intercollegiate soccer season at ABAC. Under the direction of Coach Jimmy Ballenger, the Fillies recorded a record of 9-5-1.

There’s no question that two-time International Tennis Association Player of the Year Paul Fitzgerald left his mark on the tennis program at ABAC. The gregarious Irishman from Cork also left fragments from his two front teeth on a certain light pole in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday, October 13th.

“While playing doubles late that Friday afternoon, Paul chased an overhead and ran face first into a light pole off the court,” Coach Alan Kramer remembered. “He was out for a minute, and you couldn’t hear a sound across that whole tennis complex. The ambulance came, and we got him to the hospital. All the time we were there in the hospital he was begging the nurse to release him so he could play for the ITA singles’ championship on Saturday. Her boyfriend was a hockey player so she told Paul she would see what she could do. The doctor did release him but told Paul he wouldn’t feel like playing. Boy, was he wrong.”

Without even warming up, Fitzgerald played in the 8 a.m. match on October 14th and upset the top seed in a three-hour and seven-minute match to win the title. “I have never seen anything like it,” Kramer said. “He had a bloody towel that he used after every point. He said his dad was a boxer in Ireland so he was used to the blood. I guess it was as close to a UFC cage match as you could get in tennis.”

“At first I didn’t think there would be any way that I could play,” Fitzgerald told a newspaper reporter later that day. “I started to feel better a couple of hours after getting to the hospital. When he said I was okay to play, I thought I might as well give it a shot.”

“Paul inspired others that day in Fort Myers,” Kramer said. “From then on, he was a legend as the word traveled fast about the unbelievable situation. You would not believe how many followers he had at random tennis matches the next couple of years.”

On November 30, the groundbreaking ceremony for the soccer field/intramural fields’ project was held. A helicopter loaded with soccer balls flew over the ABAC intramural field and Public Relations Administrative Associate Pam Leonard pushed out the balls to signal the beginning of the groundbreaking on the $1 million first phase of the project.

 

2007

Under the direction of Coach Todd Sheppard, the men’s basketball team at ABAC rolled up a magnificent 27-5 record during the 2006-2007 season. Led by first team all-conference performers Leon Buchanan and Brandon Shingles, the team was ranked as high as ninth in the national poll during the season. The Stallions lost in the state title game to Georgia Perimeter 103-85, after losing to the Jaguars twice during the regular season. Sheppard was named Coach of the Year in the league and was also named the coach for a group of two-year college all-stars as a part of the NCAA Final Four event in Atlanta on April 1.

A group of ABAC students called “The Rowdies” supported the team throughout the year by painting their faces green and gold and turning out in force for the home games and the road game at Cochran against Middle Georgia. Their favorite entrance was to beat loudly on the north doors of Gressette Gym while the Stallions were warming up. Then they entered the arena with two students cracking their bullwhips. It was quite a sight, especially for the opposing team.

Coach Julie Conner’s basketball Fillies wound up with a 20-8 overall record and lost in the semifinal round of the state tournament to Darton 64-52. Turrelle Jones was named first team all-conference. The Fillies have accumulated 103 victories in Conner’s seven years as the head

coach. Bob Gressette (Class of ’57), son of legendary ABAC Coach Bruce Gressette, presented copies of his new book, A History of ABAC Stallion Basketball: 1933-1956, to the college in February.

ABAC alumnus Thomas “Boo” Weekley (Class of ’93) won the Verizon Heritage golf tournament at Hilton Head Island on April 16 for his first PGA victory. He won $972,000. He played for Coach Tom Moody at ABAC.

“Boo was a good golfer and had a lot of athletic ability,” Moody said. “I knew he had the potential to do well but sometimes it takes more than ability to play professionally. I’m very happy for him. He was a country boy and his parents were hard working people who supported their son.”

Coach Alan Kramer’s women’s tennis team won its 14th straight state title on the way to an 11th place finish in the national tournament. Kramer was named Coach of the Year in the state and then was selected NJCAA National Women’s Coach of the Year for the second time in his 14-year career at ABAC. He also received the honor in 1998. Kedi Magakgala from ABAC was the Region XVII tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Kramer’s men’s tennis team wound up sixth in the national tournament after winning the NJCAA Region XVII tournament behind the heroics of Most Valuable Player Paul Fitzgerald, who was later named NJCAA National Rookie of the Year. Fitzgerald and Derick Danziger were named to the All-America team.

ABAC baseball player Ty Wright was named to the 2007 NJCAA first team All-America squad. He was also named Player of the Year in NJCAA Region XVII. Wright hit .407 with 49 runs scored. He also had 83 hits, 19 doubles, eight home runs and 48 runs batted in. The sophomore biology major from Montrose hit .314 in his freshman campaign. Wright hit two grand slams in a 16-12 ABAC win over George Wallace Community College. Coach Steve Janousek’s Stallions wound up 24-34. “I was seeing the ball really good that year,” Wright said in a 2016 interview. “I felt a lot more comfortable at the plate, and Coach J had more confidence in me as one of the leaders of that team.”

Wright was planning to play college football after graduating from West Laurens High School where he was a two-time all-region football pick and was selected all-state his senior year. But after clobbering 10 home runs and recording a .522 batting average to set all-time records his senior year on the diamond, Wright decided baseball would be his ticket to a college education. He was all-region on two occasions and all-state in baseball as well.

“ABAC was the last place I tried out, and I decided to go there,” Wright said. “Academically it was a lot tougher than some schools. I was a biology major, and my science classes were more difficult there than anywhere else I went.” Janousek lauded Wright for making a name for himself in the classroom as well with a 3.33 grade point average.

After his ABAC career was over, Wright walked on at Georgia Southern where he earned “Faces in the Crowd” recognition from Sports Illustrated for hitting for the cycle in four consecutive innings against Wofford. He singled in the first inning, slammed a two-run home run off the scoreboard in the second inning, belted a triple in the third inning, and slapped a two-run double in the fourth inning. Wright spent two years at Georgia Southern and was a second team All-America selection. He earned a spot in the San Diego Padres organization for two years before a knee injury ended his playing days. Wright was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

Coach Herb Hendrix’s golf team finished second in the 2007 state tournament. The ABAC golfers were ranked seventh in the nation.

The dedication ceremony for the new soccer field was held on August 28 when the Fillies cut the ribbon on a gorgeous new field on the ABAC campus. The team then defeated Georgia Military College 3-0 in the first home game ever for women’s soccer at ABAC. ABAC finished the year with a record of 9-6-1.

Men’s basketball coach Todd Sheppard was the fall commencement speaker on December 13.

 

2008

Six legends from the ABAC athletics program were recognized and presented crystal stallions between games of the ABAC-South Georgia Tech basketball matchups in Gressette Gym on February 21. Named to the first Hall of Fame were Orion Mitchell, Bruce Gressette, Thomas Cheney, Phillip Simpson, Norman “Red” Hill, and Milena Stanoytcheva. Mitchell, Gressette, Cheney, and Stanoytcheva were named to the Hall posthumously. The state runner-up team from 1958 was also recognized at halftime of the men’s game that evening.

Sam Goodman was named first team All-Conference for the basketball Stallions who finished with a record of 17-14. In his five years as the coach, Coach Todd Sheppard’s Stallions are 93-64. Coach Julie Conner’s Fillies slid to a record of 11-19 this season. Both teams lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

Coach Alan Kramer and the Fillies’ tennis team won their 15th consecutive state title behind the outstanding play of Monika Lalewicz, who went on to win the national championship at #1 singles. The Fillies finished fourth in the national tournament. Lalewicz, a freshman from Mississaugh, Canada, was named the NJCAA Player of the Year. She was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.

The Stallions’ Paul Fitzgerald was named men’s NJCAA Player of the Year. Fitzgerald, a native of Cork, Ireland, led the Stallions to a third-place finish in the national tournament. Fitzgerald was named the Most Valuable Player of the Region XVII tournament for the second straight year when he led the Stallions to back to back state championships. He finished third in singles in the national tournament and earned a scholarship to Armstrong State University where he was a member of the 2009 NCAA Division II national championship team. Fitzgerald was selected as a member of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

The 2008 ABAC baseball team wound up 28-28, and the 2008 softball team was 27-22.

ABAC began the 2008-09 academic year on July 1 with the news of a statewide five per cent budget cut, amounting to almost $900,000 for the College. ABAC’s first response to the cut was leaving vacant positions unfilled. Two of those unfilled spots belonged to the two basketball coaches since Todd Sheppard has resigned to go into the business world, and Julie Conner has resigned to take the head girls’ basketball job at Tift County High School. Sheppard was the men’s coach for five years, and Conner was the women’s coach for eight years. President David Bridges announced on July 14 that ABAC was dropping both its men’s and women’s basketball programs.

“The final decision and its timing were made because of three reasons,” Bridges said. “Eliminating two of the eight intercollegiate athletic programs provided much needed financial relief for the remaining programs, without coaches we couldn’t run a program, and by not filling the two positions we could maintain the flexibility to fill higher priority academic positions and meet forthcoming budget cuts.”

That left ABAC with six intercollegiate sports including soccer, softball and tennis for women, and baseball, golf, and tennis for the men.

Alumnus Thomas “Boo” Weekley (Class of ’93), a professional golfer on the PGA Tour, helped lead the United States to victory in the Ryder Cup matches. He later donated $30,000 to the college through the Play Golf America University.

Katrina Duncan-Marshalleck scored an all-time record of 26 goals for the Fillies’ soccer team, which finished with a best ever record of 13-6 in the 2008 season. Duncan-Marshalleck was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.

 

2009

The second annual ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame event was held on February 13 when Ellen Vickers, Newell “Sarge” Dorsey, Cook Holliday, P.W. Bryan, Jr., Dorsey Brooks, and the national championship men’s tennis team of 1984 were inducted in an impressive ceremony in the Grand Lobby of ABAC Lakeside. The inductees were then recognized on the tennis court during an ABAC tennis match.

Tifton ophthalmologist Larry Moorman and his wife, Debra, donated the clubhouse at Forest Lakes Golf Club to the ABAC Foundation in March to complete the gift they started in 2002 with the donation of the nine-hole Forest Lakes Golf Club.

Coach Alan Kramer’s Fillies won their 16th consecutive NJCAA Region XVII women’s tennis title at the Red Hill Athletic Center on April 25. The Stallions also captured the Region XVII crown behind the play of MVP Rasid Winklaar. ABAC’s Monika Lalewicz from Mississaugh, Canada was the MVP for the women for the second year in a row. Lalewicz finished second in the national tournament at #1 singles and received National Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive year. She was trying to become the first women’s player at ABAC

back-to-back national titles since Milena Stanoytcheva in 1999-2000. Matt Holland from Cochran won the national championship at #6 singles for the Stallions. The Stallions finished third in the team standings. Coach Steve Janousek’s ABAC baseball team did not qualify for the state tournament with a record of 20-33. Coach Herb Hendrix and the ABAC golf team wound up third in the state golf tournament.

Andrea Pate Willis retired on June 1 after 35 years as a faculty member and division chair at ABAC. She was perhaps best known as the director for the Fabulous Golddusters precision dance team for 26 years. The Golddusters performed all over Georgia, Florida, and Alabama on behalf of the college. They got their start by performing at halftime of ABAC basketball games. Under the leadership of Willis, the Golddusters danced annually at the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition, at high school student recruitment shows, and at community festivals. She was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.

Katrina Duncan-Marshalleck wound up with 23 goals in the 2009 season to finish her ABAC career with a school record 49 goals during her time with the Fillies’ soccer team. She was named to the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. Coach Jimmy Ballenger’s team had a record of 10-7-1 and lost in the first round of the state playoffs.

 

2010

Selections for the third annual ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame were Thomas “Boo” Weekley, a member of the PGA Tour; former ABAC basketball player Joseph Grist; tennis booster Harley Klepfer; former ABAC golfer Jim Sparks; and the 1991 women’s softball team, which was the first women’s team at ABAC to win a national championship. The induction lunch and ceremony were held in a tent beside the softball field on March 6 as a part of the Celebrate ABAC Alumni Weekend activities. Ashley Williamson and Shirley Wilson coordinated the event.

Coach Alan Kramer’s Fillies won the NJCAA Region XVII women’s title for the 17th consecutive year at the Red Hill Athletics Center on April 17. Kramer’s Stallions also won the region title behind the heroics of MVP Rasid Winklaar, who was named the International Tennis Association Region IV Player of the Year. Winklaar was also the state tournament MVP in 2009. ABAC assistant coach Dale White was named Region IV Assistant Coach of the Year. Kramer was named the statewide Coach of the Year for men and women. Kramer was also named to the NJCAA Women’s Tennis Hall of Fame during the national women’s tennis tournament in Tucson, Ariz. The Fillies finished 17th in the national tournament, and the Stallions finished eighth in the national men’s tennis tournament.

Coach Steve Janousek’s ABAC baseball team lost in the first round of the state tournament. The Golden Stallions compiled a season record of 21-33. The ABAC golf team of Coach Herb Hendrix finished second in the state tournament. The Fillies’ softball team of Coach Donna Campbell had a season record of 10-28 and did not qualify for the state tournament.

The new ABAC Bass Fishing Club won first and second place in a tournament at Lake Eufaula on June 26. Matt O’Dillon and Jake Holloway fished for ABAC.

ABAC softball player Alyssa Simmons from Lenox was named as an NJCAA Distinguished Academic All-America selection in July. ABAC golfers Kenneth Bragg of Peachtree City and Winston Gibbs from Hartwell were also named NJCAA Academic All-America selections.

Athletics Director Alan Kramer was named the 2009-10 Junior and Community Colleges Southeast Region Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He is a past recipient of the ITA/Wilson National Intercollegiate Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2007 and has been named the NJCAA Region XVII Coach of the Year 19 times.

The ABAC women’s soccer team defeated South Georgia 2-1 on October 26 in the first ever state playoff game on the ABAC soccer field. ABAC wound up its season with a 4-0 loss to Georgia Perimeter in the second round but still rolled up a 15-7 record, the most wins in Fillies’ soccer history.

 

2011

Inductees into the Athletics Hall of Fame included the 1995 national championship women’s softball team, Kyle Farnsworth, Benny Dees, Harley Stewart, and A.B. Malloy. The ceremony was held in the ABAC Lakeside Lobby on April 2. Alan Kramer, Ashley Williamson, and Shirley Wilson coordinated the event. Also on April 2, a new scoreboard for the ABAC Fillies’ softball team was dedicated in a ceremony which honored donors A.B. Malloy, the Spurlin family, and the ABAC Fillies softball alumnae.

Most Valuable Player Chanel Cunningham led the Fillies to their 18th consecutive Region XVII state tennis championship on April 22. The Stallions also won the men’s title. Alan Kramer was named Coach of the Year for both women’s and men’s tennis in the state. The Fillies finished fifth in the national tournament, and the Stallions wound up eighth in the national tournament. Hernan Hatem and Danilo Faria were named First Team All-America for the Stallions.

The ABAC baseball team did not make the playoffs with a season record of 19-34. Les Evans was named Second Team All-Conference when he hit .346 with 13 doubles. Right fielder Jacob Stinson and first baseman Jeremy Rosier were named to the Conference Gold Glove Team. The ABAC golf team of Coach Herb Hendrix finished second in the state tournament behind Coastal Georgia. ABAC golfer Terry English was the low medalist for the state tournament, qualifying him for the national tournament. The ABAC softball team of Coach Donna Campbell finished fifth in the state tournament. The Fillies wound up with a record of 22-27.

Four athletes at ABAC were selected for NJCAA Exemplary Academic Achievement Awards. They included Alexander Byrd from Byron on the baseball team, Case Gard from Lakeland, Fla., on the golf team, Charles Griffin, Jr., from Tifton on the men’s tennis team, and Darylanne Thompson from Perry on the softball team.

Melissa Johnson set the ABAC record for goals scored in a soccer season with 31 and was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Week. She was named All-State First Team. Demi Greenan was named All-State Second Team. The Fillies of Coach Jimmy Ballenger lost in the first round of the state playoffs and wound up with a record of 9-8.

 

2012

Inductees for the 2012 Athletics Hall of Fame on March 3 were Greg Tanner, coach of the 1995 national championship softball team; longtime men’s basketball coach Donnie Veal, who led the Stallions to the state championship in 1982; tennis star Jean Francoise Lagloire, who won consecutive national championships at number one singles; William E. Batton, captain of the 1950 men’s basketball team; and the players on the 1996 national championship softball team, coached by Donna Campbell.

The ABAC women’s tennis team won its 19th consecutive state championship on April 21. Chanel Cunningham was named the MVP of the tournament. She was named the ITA Region IV Sophomore Player of the Year. The Stallions also won the state title, upsetting Georgia Perimeter, which was ranked third in the nation. Oliver Snaider was named the ITA National Rookie of the Year Alan Kramer was named Coach of the Year in the state for both men’s and women’s tennis. Dale White was named the ITA Region IV Assistant Coach of the Year. The Stallions finished seventh in the national tournament, and the Fillies wound up 11th in national play.

The ABAC golf team won the 2012 state championship. Top golfers for ABAC were Jared Davis and Billy Edwards. Other team members were Davis Edwards, Terry English, and Marshall Matulia. Coach Herb Hendrix was named Coach of the Year. ABAC finished 12th in the national tournament in Plymouth, Ind. Billy Edwards and Jared Davis both shot 308 for the four-day tournament. Billy Edwards shot 73 on the first day of the tournament. The ABAC softball team finished third in the state tournament. Coach Donna Campbell’s team wound up with a record of 19-27. Campbell recorded her 500th career win during the season. Bobbie Jo Royals made the All-Region First Team, and Shelby Reed was selected All-Region Second Team. The baseball Stallions of Coach Steve Janousek finished ninth in the state with a record of 18-35.

Jacob Tompkins from the tennis team, Kelby Barber from the baseball team, and Aleisha Edenfield from the softball team received NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete awards.

Nikita Morris from Norfolk, England became the first ABAC soccer player to ever be named Player of the Year for the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Conference. Morris set the ABAC record for goals scored in a season with 34. She was also an All-Conference first team selection and an NJCAA All-America selection. The Fillies ended their season with a 12-8 record and advanced to the semifinal round of the state playoffs.

Jeff Kilgore was named interim coach of the Stallions’ baseball team on October 25, replacing Steve Janousek who moved to a full-time faculty position in the School of Human Sciences.

Kilgore had been the assistant coach since 2010. He is an Emmanuel College graduate where he helped to lead the Lions to three NAIA conference tournament appearances from his middle infielder position. He was selected for the All-Conference Team in his junior year when he hit .394 with 14 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Janousek was the coach of the ABAC baseball team from 1998-2012.

Intramurals Director Alton Hudgins passed away on November 16. A memorial service in his honor was held in the Chapel of All Faiths on November 20. Hudgins also coached the women’s tennis team and the women’s volleyball team during his ABAC career.

 

2013

Inductees for the 2013 class of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in Gressette Gym on March 2 included members of the 1999 national championship men’s tennis team; Henry Will Jones from the 1936-37 baseball, basketball, and football teams; women’s basketball coach Julie Conner; baseball player Z.B. Hamilton, and tennis player Derrick Racine.

The ABAC Bass Fishing Team ranked 16th in the nation in the latest Cabella’s Association of Collegiate Anglers poll. ABAC’s competition includes over 100 NCAA Division I universities.

Both ABAC tennis teams finished second in the state tournament. The Fillies’ runner-up finish ended a string of 19 consecutive state titles. The Stallions then wound up ninth out of 26 teams in the national tournament in Plano, Texas. The Fillies did not participate in the national tournament. The ABAC golf team finished second in the state tournament. Freshman Robbie Johnson earned All-Tournament honors and participated in the national tournament in Lubbock, Texas. The Fillies’ softball team wound up 26-21 and lost in the first round of the state tournament. The ABAC baseball team compiled a 21-27 record under the leadership of interim head coach Jeff Kilgore. 

ABAC alumnus Thomas “Boo” Weekley (Class of ’93) won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial PGA tournament in Fort Worth, Texas on May 26. He received over $1.1 million for his third win on the PGA Tour. He also won at Harbour Town in 2007 and 2008. 

Jeff Kilgore was named Head Coach of the ABAC baseball team on June 3 after serving as interim coach during the past year when the Stallions compiled a record of 21-27. Before June came to an end, Kilgore resigned the head coach’s job to take the head coaching job at his alma mater, Emmanuel College. The search for a new baseball coach began anew.

Alan Kramer gave up his role as the men’s and women’s tennis coach at ABAC on July 1 to become the Assistant Dean of Students. He will continue his duties as the ABAC Athletics Director. Kramer compiled a career record of 339 wins and 217 losses including a 191-110 record with the Fillies and a 148-107 record with the Stallions since he began his ABAC career in 1993. The Fillies won the Region XVII Championship 19 straight years before the streak ended this season when they finished second.

Kramer won 24 Region XVII Coach of the Year awards and led ABAC to 14 Fillies’ and 10 Stallions’ Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) Championships. Kramer’s women’s teams finished in the top 10 nationally 10 times, and his men’s teams finished in the top 10 nationally 12 times. Kramer was named the Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year for the Southeast Region in 2009-10.

Under Kramer’s direction, the Fillies finished second in the nation in 1999. The Stallions wound up second in the nation in 2002 and 2003 and finished third in the country in 2006, 2008, and 2009. He coached five individual national champions including Milena Stanoytcheva, Monica Lalewicz, German Dalmagro, Arya Vafaei, and Matthew Holland. 

Taking over as the head coach of the ABAC men’s and women’s tennis teams on July 1 was Dale White. He had served as Kramer’s assistant since 2008. Originally from Boston, England, White came to the United States on a tennis scholarship to Armstrong Atlantic State University where he was an All-America selection for three seasons. He earned his graduate degree in sports psychology from Georgia Southern University. He will also serve as an academic support counselor.

Robert Morgan was named the head baseball coach and academic support counselor at ABAC on July 26. Morgan served as an assistant coach at Valdosta State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, and Georgia Perimeter College. As a player at Valdosta State in 2004, Morgan set single season records with a .436 batting average, 32 doubles, 172 total bases, 49 extra base hits, and a 31-game hitting streak. With the 32 doubles, he also set an NCAA Division II record.

For his heroics on the field for the Blazers in 2004-05, Morgan was named to the All-America team in 2004, selected as the Gulf South Conference East Division Player of the Year in 2004, and was picked as the best shortstop in the 40-year history of Valdosta State baseball. He was also a member of the Gulf South Conference All-Decade team for 2000-2010. In 2013, Morgan was named to the Athletics Hall of Fame at Valdosta State. Morgan was also an All-Conference player for ABAC rival South Georgia College before transferring to Valdosta State.

Stoney Hart joined the staff as the Recreational Sports Director. He had been the assistant director of facility operations and intramural/club sports at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He had never seen a Georgia pine tree.

ABAC tennis player Josh Page won the men’s singles event at the ITA regional championship, earning an invitation to play in the Small College National Championship tournament. He wound up fifth in the nation in that tournament.

 Amanda Biondino, goal keeper on the women’s soccer team, was selected All-Region First Team for the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association. ABAC Coach Jimmy Ballenger said Biondino was the best goal keeper in the eight-year history of the Fillies’ soccer program. ABAC missed the playoffs for only the second time in history with a 7-10 overall record.

 

2014

For the first time ever, the ABAC Alumni Association awards were presented with the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame awards in Gressette Gymnasium. Hall of Fame inductees for 2014 were Marshall Taylor, Andrea Pate Willis, and “Sarge’s Crew,” the 1993 State Intercollegiate Softball Champions.

 Coach Donna Campbell’s ABAC Fillies’ softball team wound up second in the NJCAA Region XVII tournament. ABAC recorded a 29-16 overall record. Jenna Byrd from Macon and Rachel Hill from Snellville made first team all-region, and Brittany Davis from Lizella and Taylor Boyett from Fayetteville, Tenn., made second team all-region. Campbell announced in December that she was retiring from coaching after the 2015 season but would stay on at ABAC as a faculty member. In her first year at ABAC, the Fillies won the 1996 National Junior College Athletic Association Slow-pitch championship with a record of 44-12.

Coach Robert Morgan’s ABAC baseball team made the state tournament, the first time the Stallions qualified for the tournament since 2010. ABAC wound up with a 21-29 overall record in Morgan’s first year at the helm. Christian Miller from Eastman made second team all-state with a .373 batting average.

The ABAC men’s tennis team won the 2014 state championship, and first year head coach Dale White received Coach of the Year honors. After winning Most Valuable Player honors at the state tournament, Josh Page, a freshman from the United Kingdom, blitzed the field at the national tournament to win the national championship at number one singles. He became the first ABAC player to win the national title at number one singles since Richard Evans led the Stallions to the national championship in 1999.

 After winning the first set 6-4 in the national title match over Harry Busby from Cowley (Kans.) College, Page fell behind 4-1 in the second and took a medical timeout for a painful blister on his left foot.

“I felt like he was in command of the match, and I was already thinking about the third set,” Page said. “Then I kind of loosened up, and he got a little tight.”

 Page roared back for a 7-6 victory on the tiebreaker, and his teammates mobbed him on the court. The Stallions wound up fifth in the nation in the team standings by playing what White called “our best tennis all season.” Page was also named the ITA Region IV Rookie of the Year at the national tournament. The ABAC Fillies’ tennis team finished second in the state tournament and 12th in the national tournament. Kelly Burge from the United Kingdom was named Region IV Rookie of the Year at the national tournament.

The ABAC golf team finished second in the state tournament and eighth in the district tournament. Chris Rogers from Dawson and Lee Wright from Moultrie were named first team

All-Region selections. Jimmy Ballenger took over as coach of the golf team when Herb Hendrix retired during the season.

Baseball Coach Robert Morgan resigned on November 6. Assistant Coach Brandon Reeder was named interim head coach by Athletics Director Alan Kramer. Coach Jimmy Ballenger’s ABAC soccer team lost to Darton 5-0 in the second round of the state playoffs. The Fillies had a 2014 record of 6-8-3. Kerry Newman from Hemstead, England was named first team all-conference, and Jasmine Johnson from Warner Robins was named second team all-conference.

Golden Fillies’ Softball Coach Donna Campbell announced on December 4 that she will retire from coaching at the end of the 2015 spring season.

 

2015

Cooper Mayhall threw a no-hitter for the ABAC baseball team in its 3-0 win over East Georgia on March 27. The freshman lefthander from Thomas County Central High School finished with seven strikeouts and continues to lead the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association in earned run average. He has a 5-1 record and an ERA of 1.05. Mayhall was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Co-Pitcher of the Week.

Both ABAC tennis teams won NJCAA Region XVII championships at the Red Hill Tennis Center on April 10. The Stallions defeated Georgia Perimeter 9-0, and the Fillies beat Georgia Perimeter 8-1. Josh Page was selected MVP of the men’s tournament, and Lizanne Jinkertz was named MVP of the women’s tournament. Coach Dale White was named the Coach of the Year for both men’s and women’s tennis in the state. The Fillies finished 12th in the national tournament, and the Stallions wound up third in the national tournament. Page lost his bid to become only the second ABAC men’s tennis player in history to win back-to-back national titles at number one singles when he lost in the semifinal round. Jean Francoise Lagloire won national titles in 1989 and 1990.

Athletics Director Alan Kramer recognized the 2015 class of the Athletics Hall of Fame at the alumni dinner on April 10. Recipients included Ralph Bryant (Class of ’81), Tommy Dial (Class of ’64), Monika Lalewicz (Class of ’09), Sonny Skinner (Class of ’80), the 1999 women’s tennis team, and Dr. Larry and Debra Moorman.

In Larry Byrnes’ first year as coach, the ABAC golf team finished second in the NJCAA Region XVII tournament. Jeb Stewart from Swainsboro finished in a tie for fourth in the individual standings and made the All-Region team. The baseball Stallions finished fourth in the conference with a 27-30 overall record. Brandon Reeder was the interim coach for the season. Caleb Slaughter hit .364 with two home runs and 25 runs batted in to earn a first team spot on the All-Conference squad. Jacob Baxter was named to the second team, and Nick Higginbotham earned a Gold Glove award for handling 127 chances without an error in the outfield.

 In her final year as coach, Donna Campbell led the ABAC softball team to the regular season championship in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association with an overall record of 26-12 and a conference record of 16-6. The Fillies finished second in the league tournament. Mikela Barlow and Brittany Davis were selected for the NJCAA All-Region XVII team and the Region XVII All-Tournament Team. Taylor Boyett, Brooke Keen, and Taylor Owens were named to the All-Region team, and Jenna Byrd was named to the All-Tournament team. Campbell will continue to be an ABAC faculty member but will retire from the coaching profession. She ended her career with a record of 753 wins and 494 losses.

Retiring after 20 years of coaching women’s softball at ABAC, Donna Campbell has saved up a treasure chest of memories. The gold nugget in that collection came in her very first year. “Coming into an established program and winning the national championship has to be right up there,” Campbell said. “When I got the job, I had never seen an ABAC team play before.”

ABAC won national titles in slow-pitch softball in 1991 under Coach Ellen Vickers and again in 1995 under Coach Greg Tanner. When Tanner left the position, Campbell stepped in, and the Fillies won another national championship in 1996. But she almost didn’t make it to Tifton.

“I had already decided to be the women’s assistant basketball coach at Georgia College,” Campbell said. “I love basketball almost as much as softball. Then I came down here and talked to Coach (Wayne) Cooper. He offered me the opportunity to teach and be the head coach.”

The rest of the story will go down in ABAC athletics history. The 1996 Fillies rolled up a 44-12 record and defeated Meridian (Miss.) Community College for the national championship. Campbell almost missed being on the bench for the national title game.

“On the final day, Meridian had to beat us twice because we were undefeated in the tournament,” Campbell said. “In the first game, I got thrown out because I argued the strike zone with the umpire. Coach Cooper and I watched the game from behind the concession stand at E.B. Hamilton Park. Meridian won the game. Campbell returned to the bench for the second game which resulted in an ABAC victory and the national championship. She only got tossed out of one more game in the next 19 years at ABAC.

“I thought I had made a huge mistake,” Campbell said. “Here I am getting thrown out, and we have a chance to win the championship. I fell in love with ABAC that first year. I was still playing competitively so I was just a kid coaching younger kids. We would practice for hours just because we wanted to.”

After winning the national title, Campbell led the ABAC conversion to fast-pitch softball in 1997. There was only one problem. She knew next to nothing about coaching fast-pitch. “The internet was just getting started, so I actually typed in fast-pitch softball,” Campbell said with a laugh. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I did know we needed a pitcher so I recruited a couple from the Atlanta area.”

After packing the ABAC fall schedule with teams from Florida because those teams were already well into the fast-pitch era, Campbell realized her existing mound staff was not going to be able to carry the load. “I found a recruiting site on the internet and said I was looking for a fast-pitch pitcher to come to our college in January,” Campbell said. “Believe it or not, that’s how we connected with Jennifer McCarthy.”

On a December day in 1996 with the campus deserted until the spring quarter, McCarthy and her dad pulled up in the ABAC parking lot. Campbell coaxed the team’s catcher, Anna Schell, to leave her Fitzgerald home and see what the Canadian had to offer. Magic happened. “Jennifer taught us the fast-pitch game,” Campbell said. “For the next two years, if her name was on the lineup card, ABAC was going to win. She struck out 12 or 14 batters a game.”

Campbell rates McCarthy and Jackie Moore from Columbus as the best pitchers ever to wear the green-and-gold. Moore won 42 games in two years and catapulted the Fillies to fifth and ninth place finishes in the national tournament.

ABAC dominated the league, winning five fast-pitch state championships in the next six years including three straight in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The Fillies had four top 16 finishes in the national tournament. Campbell coached at The Westfield Schools in Perry for nine years before she came to ABAC. In 29 years, her teams recorded 753 wins and 494 losses. Her final team of Fillies won the regular season state title this year with a record of 26-12 and finished second in the state tournament. Now she steps away from the game.

“It’s a little scary but I’m content,” Campbell said. “I will still be teaching health and wellness classes. And I will be ABAC softball’s biggest fan behind the scenes.” What will she miss the most? “No question that I will miss the camaraderie with the players,” Campbell said as her eyes misted up. “There’s nothing like sitting around with your players just talking about life and ball.”

Brandon Reeder, who led the baseball Stallions to fourth place finish in the state tournament and a record of 27-30, was named head coach of the ABAC baseball team in June after serving one year as interim coach. ABAC outfielder Nick Higginbotham was selected to receive a national Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his stellar play in center field for the Stallions. He was one of only three outfielders in the nation to receive the award. Caleb Slaughter was selected for the East Central All District team.

Jennifer Martinez was named the new softball coach, replacing Donna Campbell, who retired from coaching but will continue to teach. Martinez was the assistant softball coach and pitching coach at Georgia Southwestern for the past three years.

The Golden Fillies’ soccer team lost in the second round of the 2014 state playoffs to eventual state champion Darton by a 1-0 score. Coach Jimmy Ballenger’s team defeated Georgia Military College 4-2 in the first round of the tournament. ABAC wound up 5-7-1 on the season. Alexus Holton and Bridgett Anchinges were named second team all-conference. Shelby Bursey and

Katy Hunt were selected honorable mention all-conference. Hunt and Anchinges were named to the all-tournament team.

 

2016

ABAC honored the new inductees into the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame on April 1 at the ABAC Alumni Association Homecoming Awards Dinner. The Class of 2016 for the Hall of Fame included Wayne Cooper (Class of ’62), Paul Fitzgerald (Class of 2008), Tom Moody (Class of ’58), Jackie Moore (Class of 2002), David Owens (Class of ’63), Ty Wright (Class of 2007), and the 1984 Golden Fillies’ state championship basketball team and their coach, Keith Barr.

ABAC tennis coach Dale White was selected for the Armstrong State University Athletic Hall of Fame. During his senior year at Armstrong in 2005, White and his doubles partner won the NCAA Division II national championship at number one doubles.

The ABAC Alumni Association hosted a Stallion Baseball Reunion on April 23 at Stallion Field. Former ABAC baseball player and current ABAC Alumni Association President Chuck Scarborough (Class of ’78) threw out the first pitch. Athletics Director Alan Kramer highlighted recent improvements to Stallion Field including new bleachers and press box and outlined further improvements for the future.

The Golden Stallions finished fourth in the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association national men’s tennis tournament. Coach Dale White’s team received a free pass to the tournament since there were no other competitors in NJCAA Region XVII this year. The Golden Fillies wound up 12th in the NJCAA women’s national tennis tournament. White said the ABAC women’s team also received an automatic berth to the national tournament because of a lack of competition in Region XVII.

Coach Brandon Reeder’s ABAC baseball team was the third seed heading into the 2016 state baseball tournament. The Golden Stallions lost to East Georgia 8-2 and Gordon 10-2 in the first two games of the double elimination tournament to finish with a 26-29 overall record. Caleb Slaughter was named first team all-conference, and Blake Jackson and Austin Guest were named second team all-conference. The Stallions hit 38 home runs in 2016. Reeder said the Stallions hit only six home runs on the season in both 2014 and 2015.

The Golden Fillies’ softball team of first year Coach Jennifer Martinez compiled a record of 13-23 and did not make the state tournament field. Freshman shortstop Olivia Carter was selected first team all-conference, and freshman right fielder Trinity Coleman was selected second team all-conference.

Coach Larry Byrnes’ ABAC golf team won the Division II portion of the NJCAA Region XVII state tournament in April and finished 10th i

Ty Gore and Jeb Stewart received first team all-conference honors. Stewart received the honor for the second year in a row.

Philip “Goose” Simpson (Class of ’58) passed away on August 2. He was named to the All-America team when he was a member of the ABAC Stallions’ basketball squad. He was later a two-year starter at the University of Georgia where he was the most valuable player during his junior year and team captain during his senior season. Inducted into the inaugural class of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008, Simpson gained his nickname from legendary Harlem Globetrotters star Reece “Goose” Tatum.

The ABAC soccer team lost a 4-2 decision to Georgia Military in the semifinal round of the state tournament on October 28. Coach Jimmy Ballenger received Coach of the Year honors as his Fillies recorded a 9-4 record on the way to a best ever second place seed in the state tournament. Ashley Hammonds, Katy Hunt, and Blakeley Bergeron were named first team all-region, and Taylor Sorrows and Breanna Gomez were named second team all-region. Myesha Robinson and Lisa Macedo received honorable mention accolades.

 

2017

SGA President Taylor Martin cut the ribbon to open the Thrash Wellness Center and the renovated ABAC swimming pool on March 29. Constructed in 1939, the facility was named for Joseph M. Thrash, a professor and onetime football coach at the Second District Agricultural and Mechanical School.

ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame inductees at the ABAC Alumni Association Awards Dinner on April 7 were tennis player Luiza Biktyakova, softball standout Lacy Whatley Kennon, soccer star Katrina Duncan-Marshalleck, basketball player Worth Hartry, golfer Joey Dixon, Tift County Recreation Department Director Craig Sowell, the posthumous induction of former volleyball and tennis coach Alton Hudgins, and the members of the 1964 state championship men’s basketball team.

Coach Larry Byrnes’ ABAC golf team won its second consecutive NJCAA Region 17 golf championship on April 18 at The Brickyard Course in Macon. With a three-day score of 931, ABAC defeated Georgia Military College and Andrew College. Andrew Nagel had rounds of 75, 72, and 72 to secure medalist honors. Nagel, Lane Jowers, and Kyung Chung from ABAC were named to the all-tournament team. Byrnes was selected as the Region 17 Coach of the Year. The Golden Stallions advanced to the district tournament in Spartanburg, S.C., on April 24-25 where they finished second behind Walters State. Chung and Jowers had rounds of 74 and 75. As one the top two finishers in the district, ABAC advanced to the national tournament in Mesa, Ariz., on May 23-26 where the team finished in a tie for 18th in the nation. Coach Larry Byrnes’ Golden Stallions tied with Des Moines Area Community College. Andrew Nagel was the top individual for ABAC in the tournament. He finished 50th. Other ABAC participants were Lane Jowers, Trevor Dailey, Austin Bowman, and Kyung Chung.

The Golden Fillies’ softball team won the regular season title in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association with a conference record of 20-8. ABAC then lost the first two games of the conference tournament on April 28 to finish with an overall record of 30-22. In her second year at ABAC, Coach Jennifer Martinez was named as the NJCAA Region 17 Coach of the Year. Olivia Carter, Sydney Vaughn, and Kameron Coggins were selected first team all-conference, and Hayley Dobson and Savannah Gabriel were selected to the all-conference second team.

When the Golden Stallions lost their first game in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association 2017 state baseball tournament, a quick trip back to Tifton seemed inevitable. That’s when the true grit, the will to play on, and the perseverance of the ABAC nine kicked into high gear.

“After losing that first game, nobody would have expected us to play for the championship,” Brandon Reeder, head coach of the Stallions, said. “We battled, and we played hard the rest of the way.” ABAC lost in the title game on May 6 by an 8-3 score to the Georgia Highlands Chargers, who captured their first league championship.

“We played five games in three days, and that’s more baseball than we’re used to,” Reeder said. “I was proud of my guys for battling the heat and then holding up through the rain delay on that one day.” Entering the tournament as the number three seed, ABAC found itself facing a huge uphill climb after losing the first tournament game to sixth-seeded Andrew 7-1. But in 10 innings, the Stallions bounced back to nip fourth-seeded Gordon 8-7 in their second game.

ABAC then knocked off Andrew 5-2 and fifth-seeded South Georgia 5-1 before coming up short against the second-seeded Chargers. The Stallions compiled a 32-28 overall record on the year, the most wins in Reeder’s three years as the ABAC diamond boss and the most wins for the Stallions since the 1997 team rolled up a 35-16 record.

Centerfielder Bryce Shupe, a sophomore from Loganville, was named to the All-Tournament Team along with pitchers Blake Howell, a freshman from Schley County, and Blake Durrence, a freshman from Tattnall County. Shupe was also named First Team All-Conference along with second baseman Justin Russell, a sophomore from Marietta. First baseman Josh Jackson, a sophomore from Wilcox County, was selected Second Team All-Conference. Additional honors went to Shupe, Russell, and shortstop Brett Usry, who were named to the GCAA Gold Glove Team. Usry is a freshman from Schley County.

Tennis Coach Dale White was named the Wilson/Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year at the NJCAA national women’s tennis tournament in Tucson, Ariz. The Golden Fillies finished in seventh place in the national tournament on May 12. Celia Morel from ABAC won the regional award for the ITA Rookie of the Year.

Three All-America selections powered the Golden Stallions to third place in the NJCAA men’s national tennis tournament in Plano, Texas on May 19. Yohan Nguyen from ABAC won the national championship at #2 singles when he knocked off Jorge Martinez from Tyler 6-4, 7-5 in

the title match. At #5 singles, Eymeric Chevalier lost a 6-4, 6-1 decision to Kentaro Mizushima from ASA Miami in the championship.

Nguyen, Chevalier and Elvyn Nguyen were selected for All-America status. Elvin Nguyen lost in the #1 singles’ semifinal and made the #1 doubles’ semifinal with Chevalier before losing. ASA Miami won the national title with 44 points followed by Tyler with 43 and ABAC with 35. The third-place finish matches the way the Golden Stallions wound up in the 2015 national tournament. ABAC finished fourth in 2016. The Stallions have two national titles to their credit, one in 1984 and the other in 1999.

 

Edited by Michael D. Chason on July 26, 2017