The 2015 class of Athletics Hall of Fame includes Ralph Bryant, Monika Lalewicz, Tommy Dial, Dr. Larry and Debra Moorman, and Sonny Skinner and and the 1999 women’s tennis team.
Bryant was drafted in the first round of the 1981 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers after playing for the Golden Stallions’ baseball team in 1980 and 1981. He made his major league debut with the Dodgers on Sept. 8, 1985 and spent the next three years traveling between the major and minor leagues. His last professional appearance with the Dodgers was on Oct.4, 1987.
A native of Fort Gaines, Bryant then embarked on a seven-year career with the Chunichi Dragons and Kentetsu Buffaloes in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. He led the Pacific League in home runs three times and was the 1989 Pacific League Most Valuable Player. Bryant hit 49 home runs that year to lead the Buffaloes to their third Pacific League championship.
Bryant led Lee County High School to back-to-back Class AA state title game berths before joining Coach Tom Moody’s ABAC squad in 1979. He hit .294 in his freshman year with the Stallions before a tremendous sophomore campaign when he hit .371 with 10 doubles and two home runs.
Lalewicz occupied all the headlines at ABAC when she played tennis for the Fillies in 2008 and 2009. The Mississauga, Canada native won the 2008 National Junior College Athletic Association championship at number one singles and finished second in the 2009 NJCAA championship at number one singles.
The talented lefthander led the Fillies to a fourth place finish in the national tournament in 2008 and to a sixth place finish in 2009. She was named the NJCAA Player of the Year in both 2008 and 2009.
Lalewicz also won the 2007 Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Small College Championship. She was named to the ITA National Collegiate All-Star Team, earning an opportunity to participate in a ceremony at the U.S. Open in New York City in 2008.
Dial was the Most Valuable Player on the 1964 ABAC basketball team that won the state championship. He scored 28 points in a 71-65 semifinal win over Young Harris and then tossed in 27 points in a 76-58 victory over Columbus to clinch the title for Coach Benny Dees’ team.
A Waycross High School graduate where he was named to the All-State and All-America teams, Dial continued his stellar play for the Stallions by being named All-State in his freshman and sophomore seasons as well as claiming All-District and All-America honors during his sophomore year.
Dial went on to play for the Georgia Southern team which finished second in the nation in the 1966 NAIA national tournament. As a coach at Cartersville High School from 1967-74, Dial won region titles and garnered over 100 wins for the girls’ basketball team in a five-year stretch.
Dr. Larry Moorman and Debra Moorman
Moorman, a Tifton ophthalmologist, and his wife, Debra, donated the Forest Lakes Golf Club to the ABAC Foundation in 2002. In 2009, the Moormans added the clubhouse at Forest Lakes to their contribution. The Foundation owns the course, and it is operated by the college as an outdoor learning laboratory. It is also open to the general public.
ABAC students use the nine-hole course on almost a daily basis in the ABAC bachelor’s degree program in Turfgrass and Golf Course Management. Students in many other programs such as horticulture, agricultural engineering, forestry, wildlife, physical education, and agricultural equipment technology also use the 91-acre course. The ABAC golf team also practices at the course.
“It’s a perfect fit,” Dr. Larry Moorman said in 2002. “A golf course used for educational purposes is great for the students. I am a big supporter of ABAC, and for me, this donation is all about ABAC.”
Skinner was named to the All-Region team as a freshman and sophomore when he played golf for the Golden Stallions of Coach Wayne Cooper in 1979 and 1980. He turned professional in 1982 and played on the PGA Tour in 1990, 1992, 1997, and 1998.
A Sylvester native, Skinner has also played on the Nationwide Tour and the Champions Tour. He won the Nike Shreveport Open in 1993 and the Nike Dominion Open in 1994. Skinner tied a Warwick Hills Golf Course record when he shot a 62 at the 1997 Buick Open PGA event. He was the 2010 National PGA Match Play champion.
Skinner, a recipient of the Worth County Goodwill Ambassador Award, was named the PGA Professional Player of the Year in 2008 and the PGA Senior Professional Player of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. He is the only player in PGA of America history to win both awards and the only PGA of America member to win five PGA Senior Professional Player of the Year awards.
1999 National Runner Up Women's Tennis Team
Kramer, who was the ABAC women’s tennis coach at the time, called the 1999 edition of Fillies’ tennis “the most talented women’s tennis team in ABAC history.” The team won the 1999 NJCAA Region XVII title and then finished second in the NJCAA national tournament. That marks the highest national finish by a women’s tennis team in the history of ABAC.
Milena Stanoytcheva, inducted into Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 2008, led the charge for the Fillies by winning the national championship at number one singles. She repeated that feat in 2000. She was the Region XVII Most Valuable Player and won first team All-America honors in 1999.
Other team members were Anna Maria Hodi, Luciana Tamburini, Nicola Sharp, Louise Holmvik, Amy Hopkins, Sabrina Harper, Casie Hodges, and Jodie Rayl. Holdi was named to the ITA All-America team and was named All-Region in singles and doubles. Tamburini and Holmvik were named All-Region in singles and doubles.
Sharp was a second team NJCAA All-America selection and was an All-Region selection in singles and doubles. Hopkins won All-Region in singles, and Harper was named All-Region in doubles. Rayl received the prestigious Donaldson Award at the commencement ceremony for her academic prowess.