The sport of basketball will be center stage in April at the 24th annual induction banquet of the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. The banquet will be Monday, April 11, at the North Hall of the Von Braun Center, beginning at 7 p.m.
Three of the new members of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 – Don Faint, Tiffany (Martin) Cleaves and Howard Pride – were basketball stars at local high schools and later in college during their careers in athletics.
Faint played for legendary coach Cotton Rogers at Butler High School in the mid-1960s and became a four-year starter at Florence State, now the University of North Alabama. He went on to become a decorated a career military officer in the U.S. Army. Cleaves, now a teacher at Monrovia School, led Grissom High School’s girls team to two straight second-place finishes in the state tournament in the early 1990s before signing with the Georgia Tech women’s team, winning four letters. Pride, a teacher/coach at James Clements High School in Madison, was a four-year starter for Hall of Fame coach Jack Doss at Butler during the same period and was a standout player and academic leader at Vanderbilt University.
In addition to Faint, Cleaves and Pride, other members of the Class of 2016 include Yvonne Terry Betowt (media), Fred Hudson (ice hockey), Larry Ivy (administrator), Elvis Larkin (golf), Chris Moller (baseball), John Piersma (swimming), Erin Secretarski (volleyball), Delvin Sullivan (football) and Roger Wright (coaching).
The Hall of Fame will also honor Charles Davidson, the athletic trainer at Huntsville High, Grissom and Randolph School, with a Special Achievement Award at this year’s banquet.
Piersma, one of the best-known headliners of the new class, was an All-American swimmer at both Grissom High School and the University of Michigan, and also a member of the U.S. Olympic swim team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He is now a physician in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Betowt, one of three women in this year’s class, was the first full-time female sports writer at a major daily newspaper in the State of Alabama when she was hired at The Huntsville Times in 1976. A native of Holt and an Alabama graduate, she was an award-winning member of The Times’ sports department for the next 15 years, retiring in 2012 after a 36-year career at the newspaper covering sports, religion, news and features.
Hudson, who was part of Wernher von Braun’s NASA team at Redstone Arsenal, is widely known as the “Father of Huntsville Hockey’’ because he first introduced the sport to the city – and the state – at the Ice Palace, a small rink off Governors Drive. When he established the first youth hockey program in 1962, one of his first players was Joe Ritch, who later started the hockey program at UAH. Hudson, 86, still lives in Huntsville.
Ivy, a graduate of Huntsville High School and Alabama, grew up in Huntsville. He was a director of student housing at UA in the 1970s and was later hired as an athletic administrator at the University of Kentucky. In 2000, he succeeded C. M. Newton as Kentucky’s Director of Athletics. Ivy now lives in retirement in Milledgeville, Ga.
In his prime during the 1960s and ‘70s, Larkin – a graduate of Huntsville High and Athens College – was one of the best amateur golfers in the state, winning a number of local, regional and state tournaments. He played four years as a professional in the late ‘70s and later served as a golf pro at five area courses. Now retired, he lives in Decatur.
Moller, who was the city’s Player of the Year in baseball as a senior at Lee, later excelled in baseball as a collegian, first at Calhoun Community and later at Alabama. A slugging first baseman, he was one of the Crimson Tide’s all-time leading hitters as a junior and a senior. He is now a pharmaceutical salesman in Chelsea, Ala.
Erin (Tenbrunsel) Secretarski excelled in several sports, particularly volleyball, in her four years at Huntsville High between 1988-92. She went on to become the captain of the volleyball team at the University of Alabama. Erin and her husband and their three children now live in Ashville, N.C., where she has her own online sales business.
Sullivan, a Huntsville native, was a three-sport star (football, baseball and track) at Butler High, where he was a teammate of fellow Hall of Fame inductee Howard Pride. After playing for North Alabama’s national championship football team in 1992, he transferred to Alabama A&M and became an all-conference player in football and basketball.
Wright, who had 30 career wins as an All-City pitcher at Lee High in the early 1980s and later played at Calhoun and North Alabama, compiled almost 400 victories as the head baseball coach at Buckhorn High School between 1987 and 2014. He was named Metro Coach of the Year five times. He retired two years ago.