By Jayden Presley
Alumni, family and faculty alike met in the Trustmark Arena to commemorate the University of Montevallo Athletics class of 2022 Hall of Fame inductees.
UM honored six inductees on Friday, Jan. 28 with the reception beginning at 6:30 p.m. The master of ceremonies Chris Stewart, UM alumnus and class of 2021 Hall of Fame inductee, began the ceremony with an opening speech at 7:30 p.m., followed by the national anthem.
Athletic Director Mark Richard took over by thanking the athletic staff and athletic communications team for organizing the event, as well as the Anna Irvin Dining Hall staff for catering.
Richard stepped aside for UM President Dr. John Stewart as he gave a few words.
“We are really, really grateful for how you represent this university every day,” Dr. Stewart said, addressing the inductees. “I know that you care about athletics as much as we do here.”
Dr. Stewart continued by mentioning the growth of UM athletics over the past eight years, saying the program grew from about 185 to over 450 student athletes.
Chris Stewart then introduced the six hall of fame inductees in the following order: Daniel Tankersly, Gary O’Neill, Hermann Watts, Lewis Brooks, Matt Orton and Jim Dunaway.
Tankersly played baseball for the Falcons during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. As a member of the 2006 team that advanced to the National Championship series, he holds six records for UM. He received the Sportsmanship Award and was named Gulf South Conference All-Academic Team in 2007.
“Baseball taught me how to win and how to lose,” said Tankersly during his acceptance speech. “And how to process loss.”
O’Neill offered his defensive talents for UM’s soccer team from 2010-2013. He helped his team win 55 games with 36 shutouts during his time as a Falcon.
O’Neill expressed his love for his friends and family and thanked the university for the honor.
Watts remained in the Shelby County area for many years after his 1968-1970 basketball and baseball careers at UM. Before working with Alfa Insurance, he had several coaching careers, which includes becoming the first varsity football coach at Pelham High School.
“Montevallo is as special of a place to me as it is to you,” said Watts during his speech, where he also reflected on how the world has changed since 1970.
Brooks is a record holder for UM’s basketball program, placing second for best three-point field goal percentage of 43.4. He played for the Falcons from 1984-1988 and has worked in the education system for three decades, currently serving as the superintendent for the Shelby County School System.
“I believe my purpose is to give more to the world, not take away,” Brooks said, then dedicated his Hall of Fame award to his sister, who died from COVID-19 last year.
Orton opened his speech by saying he loves sports and enjoys all forms of storytelling, namely photography.
He served as Director of Photography for the athletic department from 1991-2014 and received many awards for his work. The UM Athletics website stated that Orton has been “has been a significant contributor to the visual history of the University of Montevallo athletic program.”
To conclude the ceremony, Dunaway recounted the story of Bob Riesener, one of the most successful coaches in UM’s history, telling him he would succeed better in broadcasting than baseball.
Dunaway took his advice, establishing a broadcasting career by receiving multiple Alabama Sportscaster of the Year awards from the National Sports Media Association. He is currently the host of the podcast show “The Next Round”.
“You don’t get to a moment like this without community,” said Dunaway. “Thank you to every one of you that had a role for placing me into this hall of fame, for me graduating at this wonderful institution, and thank you for putting up with my stories over the years.”
Chris Stewart concluded the ceremony by congratulating the inductees again.
Jayden Presley is the sports editor for The Alabamian. She is a sophomore mass communication major, concentrating in multimedia journalism, and also minors in creative writing. She enjoys writing in her spare time, drawing and playing video games.