Ten deserving individuals who have contributed greatly to the athletic community of Blount County have been selected to be inducted into the Blount County Sports Hall of Fame.
The 2008 induction banquet will be held on Monday, Oct. 27, at the Airport Hilton.
Guest speaker will be Maryville native and U.S. senator from Tennessee, Sen. Lamar Alexander.
This year’s honorees include:
Kim Bledsoe began her basketball career as a four-year starter at Friendsville High School from 1975 to 1978 where she was the all-time leading scorer. She was selected All-Blount for three years, All-District, All-District Tournament Team and All-Region Team for four years and Honorable Mention All-State. She was a two-year starter at Roane State and was captain of the 1980 team, then was a two-year starter at Tennessee Wesleyan College and was captain of the 1982 team. She averaged 12 points per game over her college career. She was assistant coach of Greenback High girls basketball from 1984 through 1987. She was assistant coach of Maryville High girls basketball from 1988 through 2001. In 2002, she became head coach of Maryville High girls basketball and has averaged 19.5 wins per season. She was District Coach of the Year in 2002, 2004 and 2007 and her 25 year tenure is the longest of any female coach in Blount County.
James “Punky” Dalton
James “Punky” Dalton lettered in football, basketball and baseball at Everett High. He earned college degrees at East Tennessee State, Union College and Tennessee Tech. He coached at Eagleton Junior High from 1971-76. His girls basketball teams at Eagleton won six straight county championships. He was head coach of Eagleton football from 1967-68 and held an 18-6 record. He was defensive coordinator at Alcoa High from 1979 through 1982. He was Alcoa head coach from 1982 through 1992 and in 2002 with a record of 93-32. In 1989 he was the Tennessee High School Coach of the Year when he led Alcoa High to the state football championship. He was Region Football Coach of the Year for 1988-89. He was Alcoa Athletics Director from 1993 through 1999 and head coach of the Tennessee All-State Team in 1989. He was the Alcoa Head Baseball coach from 1999-2001 and had a 46-32 record.
Tim George played both football and basketball at Alcoa High School. In 1967 he played on the Alcoa State Championship basketball team. He played football at Carson-Newman on a scholarship and was the leading receiver for the team his junior and senior years when he led them to the NAIA National Championship game where he was named MVP. After college he was a third round draft choice for the Cincinnati Bengals. He also played for the USFL for Charlotte. He was the head football coach at Campbell County High and assistant coach at Halls High. He has spent the last several years as an assistant coach on the college level. In 2007 he was inducted into the Carson-Newman Athletic Hall of Fame.
Lon Herzbrun was a football letterman at the University of Tennessee from 1955-57. He was captain of his high school football, basketball and baseball teams in Washington, D.C., where he held the D.C. basketball single-game scoring record of 41 points. He was an Army paratrooper and ranger, and was named MVP of the 1960 Ft. Campbell football team. He played on the Ft. Eustis team that won the Armed Forces Championship and he was named Outstanding Service Player. He played briefly for the Washington Redskins and then played for the Knoxville Bears from 1964-66. He was head coach at Fulton High from 1963-68 and linebacker coach at Tennessee from 1969-76. In 1977, he became defensive coordinator at Maryville College and built the Olympic Athletic Club in Maryville. He coached All-American linebackers Steve Kiner, Jack Reynolds, Jackie Walker and Jamie Rotella at Tennessee, future Dallas Cowboys star D.D. Lewis at Fulton, and Wayne Dunn at MC. His book, “The Making of an All-American Linebacker,” was published in 1973. He is a member of the Knoxville, Washington, D.C., Jewish, and Washington, D.C., High School Sports Halls of Fame.
Larry Johnston was a football, basketball and track star at Maryville High School from 1964-1967 and was captain of the football team from 1966-67. He also was a pole vaulter and shot putter on the track team. He was selected first team All-County, First Team All-East Tennessee, First Team All-State, and Prep All-America in football. He was recruited to play football by over 40 colleges, was rated the No. 1 college linebacker prospect in Tennessee and committed verbally in 1965 to play for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama. That year he also began a boxing career training and fighting with the Maryville Boxing Club. He was the first recruit to sign Grant in Aid with Doug Dickey at the University of Tennessee in 1967 and was named to the first TSSAA All-Star Football team that year. He was captain of the University of Tennessee freshman team. After a career-ending knee injury in 1968, he continued his boxing career with a record of 25-3. He was named to the Blount County Quarter Century Football Team and was East Tennessee High School Heavyweight Golden Glove Champion and also worked as a referee and judge in the Golden Glove Boxing program. He coached defensive ends at Maryville College in the mid 1970’s under coach Jim Jordan.
Mike Matzek wrestled at Maryville High School. He was Tennessee Gymnastics State Champion for six years. After graduating in 1984, he attended Stanford University on a gymnastic scholarship. He won the 19 and under National Championship held at Ohio State University in 1985 and finished seventh at the NCAA Nationals that same year. He finished third at the NCAA Nationals in 1986, and fourth in the 1988 NCAA Nationals. He was co-captain of the Stanford Gymnastic Team 1986-87 and 1987-88 and voted Most Outstanding Gymnastic 1986-87 and Most Valuable Gymnastic 1987-88. He was NCAA All-American on the Rings in 1988 and a member of the 1987 Senior National Team. He qualified for the Olympic Trials in 1988 and was inducted into the Tennessee State Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2007.
Gene Reynolds played basketball and football at Alcoa High School beginning in 1945 and was All-County for two years in both sports. At Maryville College he was a three-sport athlete with nine letters. He played football for two years and played basketball and baseball from 1947-1951. He started on the basketball team and was often leading scorer. He also played catcher on the baseball team for four years and was one of four players on the 1948 squad that Brooklyn Dodger scout Bo Brown said had major league talent. In 1950, he batted .383 and led the team in triples. In 1951 he played for the Kingsport Cherokees, a professional team in the Appalachian League. The N.Y. Giants bought him for $500, of which he received half, and sent him to play with the Knoxville Smokies. After two seasons of professional baseball, he returned to Alcoa to pursue a career in real estate. He also played semi-pro basketball for three years and a semi-pro baseball for three years.
Sandy Sherlin was a basketball star at Friendsville High School and later at Hiwassee College and Tennessee Weslyan College. She was selected to the Jaycee All-Tournament team from 1971-73, chosen All-District in 1972 and 1973 and chosen All-Region and All- Sub State in 1973. She played in the 1973 State Tournament. She was team captain of Hiwassee College from 1974-75 and selected Most Valuable Player of District Tournament in 1974 and qualified for national tournament. She was team captain of Tennessee Wesleyan in 1976.
Jerry Thompson was a three-year letterman at Maryville High School in baseball and football. From 1975-1980, he played at MTSU on a football scholarship. In 1981 he was the recipient of the Ray Neal Award. He was the assistant football coach at Maryville College in 1981 where he coached the offensive line. He was assistant football coach, swimming coach and softball coach at William Blount High from 1982-1983. He was the first freshman football coach at MHS in 1984 and also served as varsity assistant football coach. He was head baseball coach at MHS from 1984-1989 and his team was State AAA baseball champions in 1989 earning them Blount County’s only baseball title. He was TSSAA Baseball Coach of the Year. From 1996 through 2007 he was MHS Athletic Director and received TIAAA State Athletic Director of the Year in 2005. He served as TSSAA district coordinator for several years. During his tenure as athletic director, MHS won seven state football titles, one state basketball title and was state runner-up in softball.
Todd Upton was a star lineman at Alcoa High and Tennessee. He was All-State defensive lineman at Alcoa in 1980-81 and helped Alcoa win their third consecutive State Championship in 1979. He was a “Parade Magazine” All-American in 1981. He was a two-year letterman as offensive guard at Tennessee in 1983-84 and started as a junior in 1984 before injury ended his career. He played in the Citrus and Sun Bowls. He was named to The Daily Times’ All-Quarter-Century Team. His high school coach, Steve Fugate, called him the finest lineman he ever coached. He graduated from the University of Tennessee.