Category Archives: 2015 Inductees



Amy Bundy Hightower, Melissa Flowers, Tina Grice Bath, Jessica Holloway, Crystal Jeffers Greer, Christy Kay, Leah Nelson, Amanda Newton, Rachael Nicholson Collis, Stacy Parris, Roxie Reed Trovato, Leslie Taylor Riddoch, Jamie Thomas, Cindy Williams, Melissa  Weeks (Mgr.)  and Betty Jean Raper Jones  (Mgr.).

-Won the Region 7AA Championship.

-Won the Georgia State girls basketball class AA Championship with a record of 29 wins and 1 loss.

-Had a regular season record of 24-1 and defeated Monroe Area, St. Pius X, Westminster, Dodge County and Putnam County (81-64) in State Tournament play to win the title. Smallest margin of victory in the State Tournament was 15 points.
When they won the 1998-99 Georgia Class AA girls state basketball championship, it was a fitting way for Fannin County High School’s Lady Rebels to conclude a spectacular four-year run of success. It is also fitting that 15 years later, the team will be inducted into the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2015.

That team was Fannin’s second state champion of the decade, following the 1992-93 team that was inducted into the hall of fame last year. Those remain the only two team state championships in the history of Fannin sports. While the 1998-99 team had to wait until after their predecessor to join the hall in this year’s class, their credentials take a back seat to no one.

Both teams were coached by Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame member Johnny Farmer, who was in his19th season with the Lady Rebels when they won his second title in 1999. Long-time Fannin teacher and athletic director Eddie Payne was the assistant coach on the 1998-99 team.

If the first title hadn’t already achieved Farmer’s goal of “putting Fannin County on the map,” the ‘98-99 team left no doubt about where the capital of Georgia basketball was located.

The ‘98-99 team posted a school record for victories with their 29-1 mark. The only blemish on the season was a 64-60 loss to Pickens in the seventh game of the year. Even then, the state’s second-ranked Dragonettes barely escaped with the win despite holding a 19-point lead with four minutes left in the game. Fannin rallied to get within eight points at the 1:33 mark, and they missed on two chances to tie the game in the final seconds.

The Lady Rebels went on to win their next 23 games in a row, culminating with an 81-64 victory over Putnam County in the state championship game at the Macon Convention Center. Along the way, the Lady Rebels avenged their lone defeat to rival Pickens twice, once in a regular season overtime rematch and then with a 70-61 decision in the Region 7-AA championship game.

The region title was the third one in four years earned by the seniors on that squad. The five seniors on that team, Stacy Parris, Melissa Flowers, Leah Nelson, Roxie Reed and Tina Grice, were part of an incredible four-year run that saw them post an overall record of 103 wins and nine losses, a winning clip of 92 percent.

Parris led the 98-99 Lady Rebels in scoring with 18.5 points per game, and she had a career-high 40 points in the championship game against Putnam County.  Parris will also be one of the 12 individual inductees at the Hall of Fame’s 2015 banquet in April.

Flowers averaged 12 points per game and her deadly outside shooting was a key part of the Lady Rebels’ balanced attack. She had six 3-pointers and 24 points in the team’s 68-52 win over Monroe Area in the first round of the state playoffs.

Reed was the team’s starting point guard, and she finished her career as the school’s all-time leader in assists after averaging 12 per game in the ‘98-99 season.

Nelson returned from a knee injury for her senior season, and the defensive specialist was an essential component of the Lady Rebels’ success.

Grice was the team’s most physical player, and the power forward led the team with 10 rebounds per game and was second in scoring with 15 points per game.

Junior Cindy Williams was the “sixth man” and filled in ably for inside players Nelson and Grice. She made especially critical contributions in the state title game when early foul trouble hampered the two senior starters.

Junior Amanda Newton was a key reserve at guard for the Lady Rebels, giving quality minutes while running the offense in relief of Reed or Flowers.

Other key components for the championship squad were Christy Kay, Crystal Jeffers, Jessica Holloway, Amy Bundy, Jamie Thomas, Leslie Taylor and Rachael Nicholson.

The team and the rest of the 2015 class will be officially inducted at the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame’s banquet in April.

98-99 Girls Basketball Team Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

98-99 Girls Basketball Team Banquet Video


Robert Guthrie

Robert Guthrie

Robert Guthrie and all the Guthrie boys of Fannin County inherited a gene pool of athletic excellence that was rich and deep. Family patriarch Travis Guthrie was a standout basketball player at Fannin County High School in Morganton and then at Young Harris College. His four sons, Leon, Carlton, Robert and Jerry more than carried on the family tradition.

Robert Guthrie has been elected to the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding athletic career. His brother, Carlton, was elected to the FCSHOF as a member of the inaugural class of 2013, so Robert will become the second member of the family to be so honored.

Robert played football and basketball at West Fannin High School from 1961-1965. His talent for athletics was never in question, but his body put up a formidable roadblock to be overcome before his talents could be displayed. As a youngster, he was afflicted with a condition of the bone called osteomyelitis. He had several surgeries on his right foot in the ankle area culminating in a procedure around end of his elementary school years that put him in a cast from hip to ankle for some time.

The surgeries, the extensive rounds of physical therapy and, most importantly, the indomitable courage of Robert Guthrie, made it possible for him to compete in basketball and football when he arrived at West Fannin High School in the autumn of 1961. He was not very big, standing around 5’ 9” or 5’ 10” and weighing in the neighborhood of 150 pounds during his playing days, but he earned spots on both the football and basketball varsity squads during his sophomore year of 1962-63.

Robert Guthrie became the starting quarterback at West Fannin High School in the fall of 1963, his junior year at the school. The football program had struggled through the two previous seasons with records of 3-7 in 1962 and 3-5-2 in 1961. With Robert at the helm, however, the 1963 football squad would rebound by winning 6 games, losing three and playing the Murphy Bulldogs to a thrilling 20-20 tie.

The 1963 football season was certainly a high point in Robert Guthrie’s athletic career. From the quarterback position, he finished 4th in Region 3AA in rushing with 717 yards. He was second in the Region in scoring with 78 points, including 12 touchdowns. He also passed for 8 touchdowns and two PATs during that season, meaning, of course, that he had a hand, or more appropriately feet or arm, in 20 of the team’s scores.

He was selected as the team’s most valuable back in 1963 and was named to the Class AA Honorable Mention All-State team by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the end of the season. He was also selected to the Atlanta Constitution Prep Stars of the Week for his performances vs Murray County, Murphy and Dalton in 1963.

Perhaps Robert’s most memorable individual performance during his high school career occurred in the game with Polk County on the night of October 4, 1963. In that game, he rushed for three touchdowns on runs of one, 45 and 78 yards. He also threw a 45-yard pass to Phillip Hackney and a 16-yarder to Tom Turner for two more touchdowns as West Fannin defeated Polk 45-7 in what was expected to be a close game.

As a senior in 1964-65, Robert was selected as a co-captain of both the football and basketball teams. Although the Jacket teams of that year were a bit sub-par, Robert continued to play at a very high level. He had another leg operation during the offseason, the after effects of which slowed him most of the football season and caused him to miss entirely the season opener against Lakeview. The high point of the football season for Robert, and West Fannin, came in the final game of the season. In that game against arch-rival Copper Basin, Robert rushed for 126 yards, scored a touchdown and, most importantly, kicked the PAT after the second Jacket touchdown leading West Fannin to a 13-12 upset victory.

He was again selected as the Most Valuable Back of the football team and was awarded the basketball Sportsmanship Award for the 1964-65 season. He was also selected as the team Most Valuable Player by the Copper Basin Jaycees.

Robert’s size and injury history precluded him from continuing his athletic career at the college level. He continued to compete, however, and was elected the most outstanding athlete in the boys’ intramural program as a sophomore at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia. After Reinhardt, he continued his education at North Georgia Technical College where he studied electronics.

After college, Robert Guthrie embarked on a career with Delta Airlines in Atlanta. He remained with Delta during his entire career that spanned just over 30 years. He enjoyed hiking, hunting and fishing in his spare time.

Robert Guthrie passed away at the age of 65 on February 27, 2013. He is survived by his wife of more than 20 years, Becky Lanning Guthrie, and two adult children, Jason Guthrie and Lisa Mimbs.

Robert Guthrie Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Robert Guthrie Banquet Video

Clarence William Franklin

Clarence Franklin

Between 1955 and 1970 West Fannin High School met North Whitfield High School 31 times in the sport of basketball. Many of the games were close but the game played at the tiny, matchbox-sized gym at North Whitfield on December 15, 1967 may have been the most exciting. North Whitfield took a 2-0 lead and never relinquished that lead until three seconds remained in the game. With his team behind 56-55, silky-smooth Yellow Jacket guard/forward Clarence Franklin glided across the foul line, took a pass from a teammate, leaped high into the air and launched a jump shot that nestled into the net as though drawn by a magnet to give West Fannin a thrilling and crucial 57-56 Region 7AA victory.

A lengthy resume of highlights such as the game-winning shot vs North Whitfield has earned Clarence Franklin a well-deserved place in the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.

Clarence grew up in the tiny Fannin County outpost known as the Pack Creek Community. Pack Creek kids attended Caldwell Elementary School, which is where Clarence began his competitive basketball career. His graduating class at Caldwell in 1964 consisted of 15 students. Remarkably, school Principal and Coach A.J. Heaton was able to put together a 15-member boys’ basketball team from the 6th, 7th and 8th grades that year. Fortunately for Coach Heaton, one of those players was Clarence Franklin.

Against all odds, the Caldwell boys’ basketball team won the Fannin County Elementary School championship in 1964 by defeating McCaysville, Mineral Bluff and Epworth, in that order. Clarence led the team with scoring average of 22.6 points per game.

Clarence moved on from Caldwell to West Fannin where, as a sophomore, he earned a spot on Coach Tom Foster’s 1965-66 squad. He became a starter on the 1966-67 and 1967-68 teams. West Fannin played in the class AA Georgia state tournament in each of his seasons as a member of the varsity.

At West Fannin, Clarence earned three varsity letters in basketball. He was named as the team’s Most Improved Player after his junior season and was elected the Most Valuable Player on the team as a senior in 1967-68. He was named to the Region 7AA all-tournament teams as a junior and senior.

Clarence was selected co-captain of the 1967-68 team. On a very balanced team, he averaged 14.7 points per game and was named to the Chattanooga Times all Tri-State first team as a senior, after being named to the honorable mention squad as a junior. This elite all-star squad is selected from Chattanooga-area high schools in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. He scored more than 800 points during his high school career. He worked very hard on his jumping ability and became an outstanding rebounder.

Clarence also competed in track and field at West Fannin as a junior and senior. His events were the half mile, mile and two mile runs. He finished second in the two mile run in 1968 and narrowly missed advancing to the overall region meet.

After graduating from West Fannin, Clarence was awarded a scholarship to play college basketball at North Georgia Technical School. He was a starter at North Georgia for two seasons and averaged more than 10 points per game. He studied electronics at North Georgia and moved on to Albany Junior College for one more season of collegiate basketball. Again, he was a starter and scored in double figures during his time at Albany.

Uncle Sam called and Clarence served four years in the army, completing his military obligations in 1975. He gained valuable experience in the computer science field during his military service. He also admits that he was very fortunate that he was assigned to vital US and NATO service in Europe at a time when many of his contemporaries were booking passage to the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Surviving his military obligations, Clarence used what he had learned to launch a career in the Information Technology field. He worked in the Atlanta area with Associated Grocers for seven years and for Yancey Caterpillar for 30 years before retiring in 2012.

Clarence and his wife of 40+ years, Carla, make their home in McDonough, Georgia. They have two grown children.

Clarence and Carla own 10 acres of land in Fannin County where they plan to build a home and retire in a couple of years. For now, they both stay active by walking and traveling throughout Georgia and the South. Clarence is a devoted Georgia Bulldog football fan and closely follows the hoop fortunes of the Mercer Bears.

Clarence Franklin Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Clarence Franklin Banquet Video


Mike Ballew

Mike Ballew

Mike Ballew grew up in the bucolic Fannin County community of Epworth. He had two siblings, both sisters. Most of the other boys in the community were older than Mike so he had to develop his athletic skills and toughness early in life to be competitive on the playing fields. He attended Epworth Elementary School and credits the teachers there for providing him with direction as well as many lifelong friendships.

The basketball seasons of 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68 at West Fannin High School represent an historical period in local athletics, for two reasons. First, the Yellow Jacket boys basketball teams advanced to the state tournament in each of those years. Never before had this hat trick been accomplished by a sports program in the county. And only Johnny Farmer’s Fannin County High School girls basketball teams of the 1990s and 2000s have matched the feat.

The second historical fact about those three West Fannin teams is that one player started for each of the teams. Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame inductee Mike Ballew was the starting point guard, and ‘coach on the floor’, for three consecutive years as Coach Tom Foster’s boys made trips to the big Georgia Class AA tourney in Atlanta.

Mike made the West Fannin High School varsity squad as a sophomore in 1965-66 and soon took over a starting guard position. He was the only sophomore starter on a veteran team that included three seniors and one junior on the starting squad. This team finished with a 19-9 record and were the runners-up to East Rome in the Region 3AA tournament held that season at the West Fannin gym. West Fannin advanced to the state tournament and lost by one point in the first round. Mike Ballew led the team in assists and grew into a leadership role as he directed the team from his guard position.

The West Fannin teams of 1966-67 and 1967-68, Mike Ballew’s junior and senior years won 23 and 19 games, respectively. Both teams finished as runners up in the Region and went on to compete in the state tournaments each year. Again, Mike led the team in assists both season and was elected as team co-captain as a junior. He was the captain of the team as a senior.

Mike Ballew was named to the region all-tournament teams as a junior and as a senior. He excelled defensively and chipped in with 12.7 points per game during the 1967-68 season. Tom Foster, Mike’s coach during his basketball career at West Fannin maintains that Mike was “one of the best ball handlers, if not the best, to play at West Fannin”.

Mike exhibited his all-around athletic skills during his senior year of 1967-68. He did not play football during his first three years in high school but decided to give the sport a try as a senior. He made the team and was a substantial contributor to the Yellow Jacket offensive arsenal as a halfback that season. He made a number of nice runs and scored a touchdown against Calhoun. He made two critical plays, one a 26-yard pass reception and the other a 21-yard run, to set up touchdowns in the victory over Union County.

West Fannin fielded a baseball team in the spring of 1968 for the first time in almost a decade. Mike Ballew was the starting shortstop for that team, playing a solid defensive game and hitting around .350.

Mike’s basketball skills did not go unnoticed and he was awarded a basketball scholarship by Truett-McConnell College upon his graduation from high school. He started both seasons at Truett-McConnell and was selected as the team’s best defensive player both years. He graduated from Truett-McConnell in 1970 with a grade point average of 3.4. He was on the Dean’s List four of his six quarters there. He was active in student activities and was elected as an outstanding sophomore by the faculty and his fellow students.

After graduating from Truett-McConnell, Mike continued his studies at the University of Georgia, where he earned a BBA degree in 1972. He entered the business world in sales with Cheesbrough Ponds for two years before deciding that he wanted to pursue a career in education. He returned to school at North Georgia College and earned his Masters degree in education in 1978.

Mike began his career in education at Blue Ridge Elementary School in 1978 and for the next 35 plus years he worked in a field where he “enjoyed going to work each day”. His professional accomplishments are many and include the following: he was a principal for nine years, assistant superintendent for four years, county school superintendent for five and one-half years, a coach (two sports) in Fannin County for ten years and was the recipient of the Harold Hammontree Leadership Award in Pickens County. This prestigious award is given to an individual who goes above and beyond in making the Pickens School System better. He was also the first Recreation Director (a part time position in the beginning) in Fannin County.

Mike Ballew married Sherri Queen in 1979. Sherri is also a Fannin County native. They have two adult children and one granddaughter. Mike and Sherri continue to make their home in Epworth.

Mike Ballew gives the following testimonial about the importance of sports in his life: “Being involved in athletics teaches you that you have to work hard and work with your teammates to have success. Even though you don’t always win, you learn that you have to get back up every time you get knocked down. This helps you prepare for real life because you will get knocked down. It is how you deal with getting knocked down that makes you or breaks you. My family taught me many valuable lessons and playing ball for good coaches reinforced those lessons. I truly appreciate what playing sports has meant to me”.

Mike Ballew Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Mike Ballew Banquet Video

Don Carter

Don Carter

Don Carter015Shortly after school opened at Copperhill in 1954, diminutive principal Buck Arp was patrolling the halls of the school. During his rounds, he encountered Don Carter, all 6 feet, 180 pounds of the young man. Buck looked up at Don and said “son, what grade are you in?” Don replied that he was in the eighth grade. Buck said “well, I want you to report to football practice this afternoon.” Don obeyed, easily made the team and started on a journey that has landed him a spot in the 2015 class of the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.

Don and his two brothers grew up in the Newtown section of Copperhill. It was a tough, working class neighborhood in the 1950s so Don learned to take care of himself early on in life. His size and natural strength did not hurt in that endeavor. Don also had good quickness and speed so the game of football provided a logical stage for him to display his talents.

Don Carter played a lot for the Copperhill Copperheads during his 8th grade season. He won a starting position as an offensive and defensive tackle as a freshman in the autumn of 1955. As usual, the 1955 Copperhill team was short on numbers, usually dressing out 20 or so players each game. Don was one of only three tackles on the team and was generally expected to play the entire game, offense and defense. Undaunted, however, Don was dominant on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

The 1955 Copperhill High School team finished with a regular season record of 7-2-1 and appeared in the only bowl game in the school’s history in that era of pre-playoff competition. Don Carter was a big part of the team’s success and was cited for his stellar play in the annual ‘above the mountains’ Polk County gridiron war with Ducktown that year. That game, the last game in the history of the two schools before consolidation, ended in a 7-7 tie.

George Cobb Jones, the star running back on the 1955 Copperhill team heaps praise upon Don Carter for his contribution to the 1954 and 1955 teams. In discussing the 1955 team, Jones says “Don was a key factor in Copperhill’s very successful offense that year. Specifically, his aggressive line blocks were mandatory for Copperhill’s ‘bread and butter’ plays to succeed. He was outstanding”.

Meanwhile, Don’s family had moved from Newtown to a home between the Mineral Bluff Highway and Toccoa River in Georgia. When the Polk County School Board decreed that Georgia residents would no longer be allowed to attend school at Copperhill, Don found himself shipped off to West Fannin High School for his sophomore year in 1956. Don was required to sit out the first four games in 1956 while he cleared up some academic problems and joined the team for the fifth game of the season against Murray County.

Don made his presence known to Yellow Jacket opponents immediately. The Copper City Advance newspaper had this to say about his debut in the Murray County game: “Don Carter, a newcomer to the squad, turned in a stellar performance at left end for the Jackets”. By this time, Don had grown to about six feet, two inches and a no-fat weight of 200+ pounds.

Don continued to dominate the line play in West Fannin games throughout the remainder of the 1956 season and the entire 1957 year. The 1957 West Fannin team finished with an all-time school best record of 6-3-1, thanks in no small part to the outstanding play of Don Carter. His performance was recognized by the Associated Press which named him to their Georgia Class AA All-State Honorable Mention team as a junior following the 1957 season.

Gene Crawford, one of Don’s younger teammates at West Fannin and a Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame member, pays tribute to Don Carter thusly: “I never lined up against a better lineman than Don Carter. There was no fat on him. He had good speed, strength and quickness. He had good instincts for the ball and he was an intense athlete, which made him such a great defensive player. He was unstoppable. When Don Carter lined up on your nose you had to be ready to battle because he was coming through you, around you or over you. He played with a highly revved up engine on every down; this was the only way Don knew how to play football”.

Don Carter’s goal in life since early childhood was to be a United States Navy man. He was particularly drawn to the role of Navy deep sea divers. The lure of the Navy was on his mind as he reported for preseason football practice prior to the 1958 season. He went through the first two weeks of practice before celebrating his 18th birthday. In what appeared to most as a rash decision, but actually something Don had mulled over for years, he left the football team and joined the Navy.

Don approached his Navy career with the same gusto and aggressiveness that had served him so well on the football field. He was able to realize his dream of becoming a deep sea diver, one of the most dangerous and complex areas of military service. The training for deep sea divers is arduous and only the most physically and mentally fit young men make the grade.

Don remained in the Navy for 12 years, rising to the rank of First Class Petty Officer and First Class Deep Sea Diver. He performed numerous dangerous and vital missions during his military service.

Don worked in Atlanta for a while after leaving the Navy. He and his first wife produced two sons, both of whom are now adults. After his first wife passed away, Don returned to the Copper Basin area and, in 1975, he secured employment with the Tennessee Copper Company where he stayed until his retirement in 1987.

In 1983 Don and Gilita Chapman, a local girl who was an outstanding basketball player at West Fannin, met and were married. They have now been married for 31 years and make their home in McCaysville, with their small menagerie of two dogs and a cat.

The 2000 film ‘Men of Honor’ starring Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr., is considered by most as an accurate presentation of the character required to become a Navy deep sea diver. There is no question that Don Carter is certainly a ‘Man of Honor’ and the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame is proud to add him to the membership roster.

Don passed away December 25, 2014.

Don Carter Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Don Carter Banquet Video

Tony Farmer

Tony Farmer

In the world of golf, Tony Farmer has done everything. To honor his myriad accomplishments on and around the links, Tony has been elected to the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame class of 2015.

At West Fannin High School he played basketball for three seasons, baseball for four seasons and golf during his junior and senior years, the only two years that the school had a golf team during his time there. He graduated from West Fannin in the spring of 1971.

Tony began playing golf around the age of 15. He had a natural talent for the game and improved rapidly. While at West Fannin, he won the Region 6A individual championship in 1971 at Chattahoochee Golf Club near Gainesville and went on to finish third in the state tournament held in Hinesville, Georgia.

After high school, Tony entered West Georgia College in Carrollton, Georgia. As a freshman there, he finished in the top 5 at the NAIA, District 25 tournament played at Callaway Gardens. That performance earned him a full golf scholarship at West Georgia. He was a member of the varsity golf team for the next three seasons and was named MVP of the team each year. He was the low medalist in the GIAC Conference in 1972 and was named to the NAIA All-District team.

Soon after earning his college degree in accounting, Tony turned pro and began his professional golf career like many others, as an apprentice professional at a recognized PGA golf course, namely the Rolling Hills Golf Club near Cleveland, Tennessee. He won the Rolling Hills Tournament Championship in 1972 and 1973. Thus began Tony’s 42-year (so far) career as a professional golfer.

Tony’s golf odyssey has taken him from Fannin County to Cleveland, Tennessee to Memphis to Arizona to Texas, back to Arizona and finally back to Cleveland and Naples, Florida. Although he narrowly missed earning his PGA Tour Player’s Card, his accomplishments have been many and varied.

He won more than 20 mini-tour events during his playing career. He also won three tournaments in Mexico. Tony won the West Tennessee PGA Championship at Colonial Country Club in Memphis in 1978. He won the New Hampshire State Open in 1984. He finished third in the Tennessee State Open in 1976.

Tony holds 10 course records including a score of 58 at the Copper Basin Golf Club. He qualified for and competed in the U.S. Open at Oakmont, Pennsylvania in 1983. He recently recorded the 15th hole in one of his career.

On the non-playing side of golf, Tony has worn a number of hats including those of head pro, teaching pro, general manager and he even owned a golf course for a time in Arizona. He achieved the PGA membership classification of A-1 when he held the position of Head Professional at the Casa Grande Golf Club in Arizona.

In 2000, the rigors of playing golf almost constantly for 40 years caught up with Tony and he was required to undergo hip replacement surgery. Although an unpleasant physical experience, the surgery did open up an entire new golf opportunity for Tony. His lofty reputation for his knowledge of all aspects of the game, gave him the opportunity to become a teacher and caddy for many luminaries such as Peyton Manning, George W. Bush and John Schuerholtz.

Today Tony Farmer splits his time between the Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee and the Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, Florida. He spends spring and summer in Tennessee and fall and winter in Florida. His client base includes several corporations and individuals who depend upon his expertise in pursuing their golfing passions. His strength when playing was his putting and Tony’s fortes as a caddy are reading greens and club selection. He has earned the reputation as one of the best in the business.

Golf has been good to Tony Farmer, and Tony Farmer has been good for golf. He has played at least one round of golf in all 50 of the United States and on five different continents. When asked about his favorite course, he thinks a while and finally decides that Cypress Point on the California Monterey Peninsula is pretty hard to beat for the combination of golf challenge and natural beauty of the surroundings. He singles out Ben Hogan as his favorite professional golfer of all-time.

Tony grew up in McCaysville, the son of John and Edna Earle Burger Farmer. His older brother, the late Gregg Farmer, was a standout basketball player at West Fannin and West Georgia College. His younger brother, Johnny Farmer, was also an outstanding player and legendary coach of the Fannin County High School girls basketball teams for many years. Tony joins brother Johnny as a member of the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.

Tony has one son, Matthew, who is a fire fighter/paramedic in Arizona. He met his wife Evelyn in 2000 and the two have been married for seven years.

Tony Farmer Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Tony Farmer Banquet Video

Chad Galloway


Chad Galloway011Chad Galloway retains the look of an athlete. He stands six feet, two inches tall and weighs just a tad more than the 190 pounds that he carried when he was one of the outstanding track and field athletes in the country. His athletic exploits have earned Chad a spot in the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.

Chad began competing in running events in the track and field programs sponsored by the Fannin County Recreation Department in 1984 when he was seven years old. It was soon apparent that he could run faster than most kids his age and he soon expanded his repertoire of skills to other track and field events.

He competed in a local version of the pentathlon around the age of eight. The pentathlon consisted of five events requiring skills in running, jumping and strength. Chad quickly became a force to be reckoned with in all aspects of track and field and piled up medal after medal in a wide variety of events. At the age of 11, he set a boys 12 and under record in the long jump with a leap of 19’ 4 ¼”.

At some point in his athletic career, Chad became enamored of the decathlon event. The decathlon is considered one of the most challenging athletic competitions in the world and attracts only athletes who are proficient in all of the traditional physical skills. In 1912 King Gustav V of Sweden called Jim Thorpe, who had just won the Olympic decathlon competition at the Stockholm Olympics, the ‘greatest athlete in the world’. That moniker continues to be used to describe the decathlon champion at the Olympic Games.

As Chad entered his high school years, he realized that he could not pursue his decathlon dreams in a school setting because the state of Georgia high school track and field competitions do not include that event. His track and field activities for the next four years, therefore, were pursued on two fronts. At Fannin County High School, Chad competed in track and field, as well as cross country and basketball. He earned a total of 11 letters in those three sports during his four years in high school.

The USATF Junior Olympics, however, does include the decathlon event. It was as a decathlete at the Junior Olympics that Chad was able to demonstrate the strong overall track and field skills that he had worked so hard to acquire while competing against the very best athletes in the country. The Junior Olympics are contested during the summer months, so Chad’s athletic activities consisted of his high school competitions from September through May, followed by the Junior Olympics after the high school year was completed.

The highlights of Chad Galloway’s high school career occurred in the spring of his junior season of 1993-94. At the state class AA track and field meet that season, he captured state championships in both the pole vault and the 110 meter high hurdles, two of the most difficult track disciplines to master. Chad is quick to admit that becoming a proficient pole vaulter was the most difficult technical challenge that he faced during his career. That he was able to win a state championship in that event is testimony to his strong work ethic and commitment.

Winning two state titles is enough to establish the Chad Galloway legacy of excellence. It was his record in the decathlon competition at the Junior Olympics, however, that elevated his status to the very top on a national scale.

In 1991, Chad competed in the National Junior Olympics in Raleigh, North Carolina and placed 6th in the pentathlon, ninth in the long jump and 12th in the high hurdles. In the summer of 1992, at the tender age of 14 following his freshman year in high school, Chad won the Southeastern United States decathlon competition for boys 16 and under to earn the right to represent the region at the national competition in Los Angeles, California. He finished 13th in a field of the top decathletes in the country.

In 1993, Chad again advanced to the National USATF Junior Olympics by winning the Southeastern championship at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. At the National competition held at LSU in Baton Rouge, he finished third in another very strong field.

It was his performance in his final decathlon competition in 1995, however, that undoubtedly provided the most memorable experience of his eleven year track and field career. In the Southeastern Junior Olympics meet held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Chad was in second place after the first seven events of the decathlon. In the eighth event, the pole vault, Chad hit the bar coming down and was knocked unconscious. He suffered a stitch-requiring cut on his chin and still bears the scar as a souvenir of that unfortunate event. He was urged to drop out of the competition but insisted on continuing. During the 9th event, the javelin throw, Chad’s cut began to bleed again and he was once again treated. As he competed in the final event, the grueling 1500 meter run, Chad staggered and almost fell several times as his chin began to bleed profusely. He finished, however, and received a resounding standing ovation from the fans in recognition of his incredible courage and heart in finishing the decathlon.

Due to the injury, Chad fell into third place in the meet and, consequently, did not advance to the National Junior Olympics. Only the top two finishers in each region receive spots in the National event.

Chad was recruited by a number of colleges and accepted a track and field scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee. Personal events intervened, however, and Chad did not continue his decathlon career at the college level.

Chad Galloway and his wife Amanda, continue to call Morganton their home. They have two young children, Adia and Airianna and Chad has an 18 year old daughter, Brittany. Chad is employed by the Gilmer County Department of Education.

Chad is a very soft spoken man, proud but humble about his many athletic accomplishments. He is quick to point out that his parents, Debbie and Vaughn, were there supporting him at the beginning of his career and at every step along his amazing journey. He is an exemplary role model for young athletes and the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame is proud to count Chad Galloway as a member.

Chad Galloway Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Chad Galloway Banquet Video

Dot Tipton Hardeman

Dot Tipton Hardeman

The marital union of Fannin County native Burt Tipton and his wife Nola Leatherwood Tipton produced seven children. The first five were boys, and all turned out to be outstanding athletes. Two of the boys, Earl the oldest and Joe the youngest, were so proficient at the sport of baseball that they signed professional contracts. Earl’s career was cut short due to injury but Joe advanced to the Major Leagues and played seven seasons in the American League.

Many observers of local athletic activities of the period, however, will tell you that the best athlete in the Tipton clan was the baby of the family, Dorothy. Dot was a fiery competitor from the time she could walk, partly out of self-defense because she was constantly competing with her brothers, but primarily from her natural desire to compete and excel at sports.

Dot’s first taste of organized athletic competition came during her childhood at Epworth Elementary and then at Epworth High School. Opportunities for young girls were limited in the America of the late 1930s and early 1940s, but basketball was a sport open to youngsters of both sexes. In fact, support for the girls teams at schools in Georgia was as strong as, as possibly stronger, than that for the boys squads.

In March of 1940, Dot led Epworth Elementary School to the championship of the Gold Medal Tournament for grade schools and junior high schools in the Fannin County/Copper Basin area. She had an individual game high of 23 points and was selected to the all-tournament team. She was also selected as one of the three outstanding girl competitors. No single most valuable player was selected but tournament reports suggest that Dot was by far the outstanding player in the event.

Playing for a very average Epworth High School team in 1940-41, she was selected to the All-County team and again named as one of the three outstanding players in the county.

After just over a month of her sophomore year of 1941-42, Dot decided to transfer to nearby McCaysville High School. That school had opened in the fall of 1940 and was closer to Dot’s home in the Vellenorthtown section of Fannin County. When she arrived at McCaysville, she was greeted by teacher, and soon to be principal, Fred German who asked for Dot’s help in organizing a girls basketball team. She eagerly accepted the challenge and recruited the best female athletes in the school to participate. She also led a fund raising drive to collect enough money from local businesses to buy uniforms for the team. The first girls basketball team in the history of McCaysville High School took the floor in the winter of 1941.

Things were a little different when Dot and her McCaysville teammates began the 1942-43 season. Although that was only the second team for the school, most of the girls had gained some experience, plus Dot was on hand to lead them. Dorothy Tipton was technically a junior as she reported for school in September, 1942, but she had made a momentous decision. She wanted to finish school as soon as possible, so she asked school officials if she could complete requirements for both her junior and senior year, during one school year. She was given the green light, so Dot found herself with a much heavier academic burden than normal as the embarked upon what was to be her final year in high school.

The 1942-43 basketball season, and the school year in general, was a remarkable journey for Dot Tipton. Her individual performance that year was the stuff of legend, highlighted by her 41 point outburst in a game against Blue Ridge High School in February, 1943. It was a single game scoring record in Fannin County that would endure until 1965.

On a team level, Dot led the McCaysville girls to the Georgia 9th District Championship for the 1942-43 season at the tournament held in Winder. The McCaysville girls advanced to the championship game with victories over Bethesda and Epworth and found themselves player a heavily-favored Clayton team for the big prize. In a low-scoring affair, McCaysville hung on to win, 18-15 and were crowned champions of the 9th District. Georgia did not hold a state tournament for girls at that time, so the McCaysville girls, in only their second year of competition, accomplished as much as was possible for them. No Fannin County tournament was held in 1943 due to wartime travel restrictions.

There were two more items of business, one athletic and one academic, for Dot to complete before she bade her high school career goodbye. First, a Bi-State basketball tournament was held in those days, featuring teams from Fannin County, Copperhill, Ducktown and Ellijay. With Dot performing at her usual all-tournament level, the McCaysville girls also won this tournament by defeating the Ellijay girls in the championship game played at the Copperhill YMCA. Second, Dot graduated from McCaysville High School in May, 1943 as class Salutatorian. It was quite a year for young Dorothy Tipton.

After graduation, Dot was approached by several of the amateur women’s basketball teams of the era, including the Lorelei Ladies and Sports Arena Blues of Atlanta, about continuing her basketball career on a professional level. Dot, however, had met and fallen in love with Alvin Hardeman at McCaysville High School. They both graduated as members of the class of 1943. Her desire was to marry Alvin and settle down to a peaceful family life in Fannin County.

World War II was raging in Europe and in the Pacific in 1943 when Dot Tipton and Alvin Hardeman were married facing a very uncertain future. Alvin was called to military service soon after their marriage and, after completing his basic training, was sent to Germany where he served as a medic. Alvin suffered from unstable blood pressure, a condition that guaranteed that he would serve in a non-combat role during the war. He did, however, witness all of the inhumanity of war and was always reluctant to talk about what he had seen in Europe.

While Alvin was away for the first thirty months of their marriage, Dot fought off worry by staying busy working for a while in Atlanta and then serving as the girls basketball coach at McCaysville High School during the 1944-45 season. Her brother Dwight, also an athlete of note during his day, coached the boys team that season.

Alvin did return safely from World War II and he and Dot settled down in the Vellenorthtown. They built their own house on a small lot that had been a gift from Dot’s father. They lived in that house for the remainder of their married life. Dot and Alvin had two children, Deanne and Susan. Alvin was a carpenter at the Tennessee Copper Company and Dot handled the chores at home. Her love for sports never waned and she continued to play softball in the spring and summer and bowled in the winter. Dot was a perennial member of the softball all-star teams of the area throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Alvin passed on in 1990 and Dot Tipton Hardeman has continued to live in the house they built throughout the 24 years since the loss of her husband. She has great grandchildren now and stays involved as much as time and distance will allow in the lives of her family. She loves the Atlanta Braves and Falcons and tries to never miss a big sporting event on television.

The Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame is very proud to call Dot Tipton Hardeman a member. As Wallace Pittman, one of her classmates at McCaysville High School expresses it: “It wouldn’t be much of a Hall of Fame without Dot”.

Dot Tipton Hardeman Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Dot Tipton Hardeman Banquet Video

Ron Jabaley

Ron Jabaley

Ron Jabaley was always in the smack-dab middle of the action during his entire football career. When his teams had possession of the ball, he anchored the line from the center position. When trying to stop the opponents from moving the pigskin, he was at the heart of the struggle at a guard or tackle spot. His domination of play on both sides of the ball has not gone unnoticed and Ron Jabaley has been elected as a member of the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015.

Everything about Ron Jabaley was big. In his playing days, he draped a 225-pound, sculpted, Adonis-like physique around a frame that stood roughly 6 feet, 3 inches tall. His voice was deep, rich and resonant. No one who ever shook his hand forgot his strong, vise-like grip. Even the nicknames bestowed upon him suggested size and strength. In his early years he was affectionately called ‘Punjab’, the name of the no-nonsense bodyguard of Daddy Warbucks in the comic strip Annie. Later, at Baylor Prep in Chattanooga, he picked up the moniker of ‘Chief’, again suggestive of his size and strength.

Perhaps the biggest part of Ron Jabaley, however, was his heart. He was a gentle giant. He had a smile that immediately made its recipients feel comfortable. It seems that everyone who met Ron — in childhood, in high school at Copperhill and West Fannin, at Baylor Prep School, in college at the University of Tennessee and Tennessee Wesleyan, at the Southern School of Optometry in Memphis, in the military, in his 40+ years caring for patients at Jabaley Eye Care in Blue Ridge and in his personal life — loved and respected Ron Jabaley.

Ron began his athletic career in Copperhill, Tennessee. His dad, Richard Jabaley Sr. owned and operated a clothing store that stood almost exactly on the border of Tennessee and Georgia. Ron made the Copperhill High School varsity team and garnered considerable playing time as a freshman during the 1954 season. He took over the starting center position as a sophomore in 1955. He played defensive tackle both seasons at Copperhill.

In August, 1956, the Polk County School Board decreed that Georgia residents would no longer be allowed to attend schools, including Copperhill, located in Tennessee. By this time, Ron’s family had moved across the state line to Georgia, so Ron began his education at West Fannin High School as a junior in the autumn of 1956.

At West Fannin, Ron Jabaley was a standout football lineman for two seasons and was named to the Class AA All-State Honorable Mention squad following the 1957 season. He also performed the kicking off and extra point kicking duties for the Jackets. Ron was also a top-notch baseball player at West Fannin.

By the time high school graduation day rolled around in May, 1958, Ron Jabaley had pretty much decided that he wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. He was not certain exactly which aspect of health care was for him, but Ron, and his family, were of the mind that he needed to hone his academic skills a bit before entering college. Ron and his family felt that a year at Baylor Preparatory School in Chattanooga was the answer.

Ron flourished at Baylor. He earned letters in football, baseball and wrestling, and was named to the Chattanooga Times All-City Honorable Mention football team. He was also a campus leader and made many lifelong friends. The Baylor school yearbook, the ‘Klif Klan’ summarizes his legacy thusly: ‘Beneath his brawny bulk there lies one of the finest and friendliest boys that Baylor has had the good fortune of possessing. There is one word for his personality — terrific!’

Ron joined one of his Baylor roommates, Rich Thompson, at the University of Tennessee in the fall of 1959. He was a football walk-on candidate briefly, but nagging injuries and the certainty that his future lay in the medical and business fields, and not on the football field, brought him to the decision to end his athletic career.

He continued his education at the University of Tennessee and at Tennessee Wesleyan before entering the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis. He graduated in 1966. It was during his time in Memphis that Ron met his wife Kay, a native of the Bluff City.

Ron served in the military from 1966 to 1968 and rose to the rank of Captain. Shortly after his discharge, he and Kay were married and returned to Fannin County to start his business and to start raising a family. He founded Jabaley Eye Care in August, 1968 and remained in practice until his death in November, 2013. Ron Jabaley was lived a total of 73 years.

Ron Jabaley’s passions in life were golf, animals (especially his boxers), Georgia Tech football and most of all, his family. He and Kay produced three fine children, all of whom make their homes in Fannin County — two sons, Dr. Timothy Jabaley, Dr. Christopher Jabaley and daughter Leslie Jabaley Johnson.

Ron Jabaley was quite a man and the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame is honored to recognize one part of his considerable legacy. A legacy as big as the man.

Ron Jabaley Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Ron Jabaley Banquet Video

Gary Mealer

Gary Mealer

The May 27, 1971 issue of the McCaysville Citizen, a local weekly newspaper at that time, featured a picture of West Fannin High School sophomore Gary Mealer on the front page. Mealer, a stellar all-around athlete at West Fannin was not alone in the picture. He stood behind his haul of five, yes FIVE, trophies that he won at the West Fannin Athletic Banquet held the previous Saturday. If the number of trophies is not impressive enough, it should be noted that the trophies were awarded for his performance in three sports, football, baseball and basketball. Gary Mealer was one of the most outstanding all-around athletes in the history of Fannin County. His versatility, at a very high level of excellence, has earned him admission tothe Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame class of 2015

Gary grew up in McCaysville surrounded by a bunch of young boys who shared his passion for sports. He also had two brothers, one older and one younger, and one sister. As the seasons changed during his childhood, the only change in his life was the shape, size and texture of the ball necessary for Gary and his chums to play the sport currently in season.

By the time Gary Mealer was in the 7th grade, it was apparent that his athletic skills were a cut above those of most of the other boys. He was confident of those skills and promised his mother that he would use his athletic prowess as a vehicle to take him to his ultimate destination of a college degree. No one in his family had ever attained so lofty an academic achievement.

Gary’s high school athletic career at West Fannin was filled with one honor after another. He was at the center of the action in three sports. He was a quarterback for the football team, point guard for the basketball team and shortstop and leadoff hitter for the baseball team. He earned four varsity letters in baseball, three in football and three in basketball. He was elected Co-Captain of the football team as a senior in the fall of 1972.

Gary Mealer’s school awards included the following:

-Football – Sportsmanship Award two years and Most Valuable Back as a senior;

-Baseball – Best Hustler Award, Coaches Award and Most Valuable Player Award;

-Basketball – Scholastic Award and Sportsmanship Award two years

In addition to the school awards, he was named to the 1972 Region 6A Basketball All-Tournament Team, 1972 Sub-Region Basketball Most Valuable Player and All-Tournament Team and the 1971 Chattanooga Times and Free Press All Tri-State Honorable Mention Team. On a team level, Gary’s 1971-72 basketball team advanced to the State Tournament in Macon where they defeated a highly regarded Coosa team in the first round. His 1972-73 team finished with a 22-2 record, the best record in the history of the school.

Former West Fannin coach T.J. Thompson is lavish in his praise of Gary Mealer and what meant to the West Fannin sports programs. Thompson says that Mealer was one of the smartest players that he ever played with or coached. Mealer had a sense of what needed to be done in all situations and had the ability to do it. He was at his best in clutch situations and never lost his composure.

Thompson tells a story of a baseball game between West Fannin and Gilmer County. He told his squad that Gilmer had a lot of outstanding players but seemed to lose concentration when they were down. He told his players that if they could strike quickly, that their chances of winning would receive a substantial boost. Gary Mealer was the shortstop and leadoff hitter. To begin the contest, he stepped to the plate and proceeded to plant the second pitch of the game over the leftfield fence for a home run. As he rounded third, where Thompson was coaching, he winked at TJ and said “is that quick enough for you coach”.

Mealer’s high school performance allowed him to fulfill his promise to his mother to parlay his athletic skills into a college education. He was awarded a basketball grant to attend Gainesville Junior College where he played both basketball and baseball for two years. Following his graduation from Gainesville, he earned a baseball scholarship to Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Two different college scholarships in two different sports is quite a feat.

Armed with a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Berry College, Gary Mealer entered the world of coaching and education at Murray County High School in 1977. For the next ten years, he coached at Murray County High, Gordon Lee High and Armuchee High School. His assignments included four years as the head coach of the Murray County girls’ basketball team, several different football coaching jobs and even a four year stint as golf coach at Murray County.

While coaching, Gary was able to improve his resume by earning Masters and Specialist Degrees in Business Education from West Georgia College. He also earned a Specialist Degree in Educational Administration from West Georgia.

Gary’s career path brought him back to Fannin County for five years between 1988 and 1993. During that time his duties included positions as Principal at Morganton Elementary School, Assistant Principal at Fannin County High and a period as assistant varsity basketball coach at Fannin County High. He left Fannin County again in 1993 and has devoted the last 21 years to the administrative side of education in several parts of North Georgia, including five years as Principal of Murray County High School.

Gary and his wife Jodi continue to make their home in Chatsworth just across Fort Mountain from Ellijay. They have three children, Zach, Jenny and Luke. Gary is currently employed by the Georgia Department of Education as an Education Career Partnership Coordinator.

As he concludes his 6th decade on the planet, Gary Mealer is still going strong. If his epitaph were written today, however, it should read: ‘Gary Mealer – a life of accomplishment and service’.

Gary Mealer Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Gary Mealeer Banquet Video

Stacy Parris

Stacy Parris

Stacy P019Stacy Parris has been elected to the 2015 class of the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame. Stacy earned four varsity letters in basketball, four in softball and one in track and field during her time at Fannin County High School from 1995-1999. Her basketball career spanned a period of unequalled success in basketball competition at the school. During her four years the Fannin County girls posted an amazing record of 103 victories and only 9 defeats.

Stacy, the only child of Glenda and Jerry Parris, grew up in the Epworth community and attended elementary school there. She began playing basketball in the Recreation Department League at the age of ten. She was a good basketball player from the get-go, but admits that she worked very hard to improve her game. She experienced team success early on as her 10 and under team won a state championship. It was in the Fannin Recreation League that she began playing with Tina Grice, Roxie Reed and Leah Nelson, three of her teammates on the great Fannin County High School teams.

Individual and team success continued immediately for Stacy in high school. During her freshman season of 1995-96, the Fannin County High girls posted a 28-1 record and did not lose a game until the class AA state tournament final 4. Stacy made a significant contribution to this team and won her first varsity letter.

Stacy gained a starting spot as a shooting guard before her sophomore season and was a force to be reckoned with at the region and state level for the next three seasons. In her sophomore season, the team finished with a 23-5 record and earned the runner-up spot in the state tournament. Stacy was named to the all Region 7AA team and earned recognition as the Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club player of the month in December, 1996.

The Fannin girls made the sweet 16 in Stacy’s junior year and posted a 23-2 record. She continued to garner individual awards including all Region 7AA honors, Christmas tournament all-tournament team and Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club player of the month in January, 1998.

Everything came together for Stacy Parris and the Fannin County girls team in the season of 1998-99. She readily reveals that the goal of the members of that team was the State Championship, nothing short of a # 1 finish would be acceptable. From the beginning of the year, Stacy and the team rolled over opponent after opponent on their way to a 29-1 record and the Class AA Georgia State Championship. It was the second and, to date, the last team state championship in the history of Fannin County sports.

The individual honors that came Stacy’s way during and after the 1998-99 season were numerous and included:

-Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club Player of the Year

-Coca Cola Classic Christmas Tournament MVP

-Region 7AA Player of the Year

-MVP of the team

-State of Georgia North All-Star Team

-Atlanta Journal Honorable Mention All-State

-Atlanta Journal Top 30 Players Watch List

Stacy Parris possessed all of the physical skills necessary to succeed in athletics. Her ‘intangible’ attributes, however, set her apart from the field and made her one of the best players in the state.  One of those important intangible factors was her resilience and ability to bounce back from adversity.

In the semi-final round of the state tournament, Fannin County was matched against Dodge County, a south Georgia powerhouse. Stacy was given the assignment of defending an all-state guard on the Dodge County team. Her defensive performance was outstanding but, on the offensive end, she struggled through a poor shooting night and scored only 5 points, far below her average of 18 points per game. Undaunted, Stacy exploded for 40 points the next night in an 81-64 Fannin victory over Putnam County in the state championship game. Her performance included drilling 5 of 8 three-pointers and 15 of 17 free throws

To honor her accomplishments Fannin County High School retired Stacy’s jersey # 10. She registered a total of 1296 points during her high school career. Plus, she was an Honor Roll student all four years in high school.

Needless to say, college recruiters came calling and Stacy signed a full scholarship to attend college and play basketball at North Georgia College. She played four seasons at North Georgia and was a starter for the last three seasons there. She was named to the Conference All-Freshman Team and graduated with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.

Stacy Parris currently resides in Atlanta where she is employed by the Corporate Executive Board Company in Business Development. She travels extensively in her job and enjoys life in Atlanta. In her spare time, Stacy enjoys sports and all types of outdoor activity, especially hiking.

Stacy Parris Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Stacy Parris Banquet Video

Julie Mealer Seabolt

 Julie Mealer Seabolt

Julie Mealer Seabolt006Julie Mealer Seabolt is all about teamwork. At Fannin County High School, and before, Julie certainly enjoyed a large portion of success at the team level. Her individual accomplishments, however, have earned her a ticket for admission to the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame, class of 2015.

Julie grew up in Mineral Bluff on the eastern side of Fannin County. She began playing organized basketball and softball in the first grade and never stopped until a knee injury ended her playing career at North Georgia College.

Julie’s first organized basketball team was the East Side team in the Fannin County Training League. She began playing for East Side when she was seven years old. The coach of the team was her mother, Johnnie Mealer. It was at East Side that the nucleus of the 1992-93 Fannin County High School state championship team of nearly 10 years later, began playing together. Julie’s teammates at East Side included Tina Davis, April Pack, Melissa Pierce and Shannon Dillinger, all of whom would play vital roles in the success of the Fannin County High girls teams of the early 1990s. Those early teams were quite successful, advancing to the state tournament for girls 10 and under one season. The tournament was played in Savannah and, while the girls did not bring home a championship, they did pick up valuable experience in competing against the strongest competition available to them.

Julie made the varsity squad at Fannin County High School in her freshman year of 1989-90. At mid-season of that first year she became a starter and was a starter for the remainder of her high school career. During her four years at the school, the Fannin County girls won a total of 91 games and lost only 21 for a winning percentage of 81%. On a team level, her career reached its apex in 1992-93 when the girls had a record of 27-4 and won the first team state championship in any sport in the history of athletics in Fannin County.

When asked about the highlights of her high school career, Julie immediately talks about the team accomplishments. She quickly cites the four victories over Gainesville High during the 1992-93 season as a high point of her career. When pressed about individual highlights, Julie reluctantly reveals that she did score 41 points during her sophomore year in a game vs Fairmount High.

Julie Mealer Seabolt’s individual accomplishments at Fannin County High are legendary. In three and one half years, she scored a total of 1403 points, a school record. And in the same period she snatched a total of 1096 rebounds, also a school record. During her senior season of 1992-93 she averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds per game leading her mates to the state title.

In 1992-93, Julie was named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Atlanta Tip-Off Club Class AA all-state second team. The Rome-based Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club selected her as the Northwest Georgia girls Most Valuable Player that season. At the end of the season, she was selected to play in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star basketball game. Fannin County High School honored Julie by retiring her jersey number following her high school career.

Considered a solid college prospect, Julie accepted a full scholarship to play basketball at North Georgia College. She competed there for one season, but her career was cut short when she suffered a serious knee injury early in her second year at North Georgia.

Julie and her husband James make their home in Epworth. She continues to stay active by playing softball and tennis. She has one daughter, Josie, attending Mercer University in Macon and another daughter, Kyla Grace Seabolt, who is currently in the 8th grade. Julie is quick to pass along her opinion that Kyla will soon be the next girls basketball phenom at Fannin County High School.

Julie is employed by Wind Stream Communications, a company who provides a number of voice and data network communication services to businesses throughout the United States.

There will soon be two plaques celebrating the accomplishments of Julie Mealer Seabolt on the wall at the Fannin County Recreation Center. Her 1992-93 Fannin County High School girls basketball team was inducted in the class of 2014 and Julie, the consummate team player, will soon have her own plaque as an individual member of the class of 2015.

Bio Video – FCHS HOF Game

Julie Mealer Seabolt Banquet Video

Fred Ganues

Fred Ganues

Fred Ganues entered Copperhill High School as a freshman in 1943. He tried out for and made the High School basketball team that year. Little did he know that he was beginning an odyssey that would see him become a consistent and important part of the tapestry of sports in Fannin County and the Copper Basin for over 70 years. In recognition of his many and varied contributions to sports in this part of the country , the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame is honored to welcome Fred Ganues, Sr. to its induction class of 2015.

As a basketball player, Fred was not too shabby. Slightly built, he was a quick and deadly shooting guard. He was the captain of the Copperhill High team in 1945-46 and was named to the all Bi-State Tournament team that same season. Copperhill’s boys basketball teams would finish with 16-6 and 17-6 records during his junior and senior seasons.

After graduation, Fred went to work for the L&N Railroad. Initially, he was a telegraph operator and worked his way up to Depot Manager. His assignments took him all over North Georgia and Southeastern Tennessee — Copperhill, Etowah, Mineral Bluff, Blue Ridge, Canton, Ellijay, Chatsworth, you name it and Fred worked there.

It was early in his career with the railroad that Fred, working at the Mineral Bluff depot, sold a ten cent ticket from Mineral Bluff to Copperhill to a young girl named Blanche Smith. Blanche was in her senior year at Fannin County High School in Morganton. Among the many things that Fred and Blanche had in common was a love of sports. Blanche was an outstanding guard on the Fannin County High teams of 1945-46 through 1947-48, and was named to the Class B all-state team in 1946-47. Fred and Blanche were married in April, 1948.

Fred began coaching and organizing independent sports teams before the ink was dry on his diploma. For his first coaching gig, he organized and coached a ladies basketball team at Friendship Church. He coached and pitched for a local fast-pitch softball team, sponsored for a few years by the C (Crumley) and M (Mason) Dairy. When the sponsorship ran out, Fred kept the team going on his own and scheduled games with teams from East Tennessee, North Georgia and Western North Carolina. He even persuaded the Chattanooga Combustion team from Chattanooga to make the 69 mile trip up the River Road to take on the locals. Combustion was a world class team with a world class pitcher named Wes Ivy. To say that the Copperhill lads had trouble hitting Ivy would be an understatement, but the game was fairly close.

Fred became a hard-to-hit pitcher himself, learning everything himself. He says that he ‘fooled around’ with different grips and types of release until he had built up a number of pitches that would make the ball curve to the left (a regular curve ball), drop, curve to the right (a screwball in the lexicon of soft-ballists), rise, flutter and do numerous unimaginable tricks.

In his down time from softball, Fred found lots of other sports activities to keep him busy. He organized many independent basketball teams over a 35-40 year period. His Black Knights and Lady Black Knights teams of the 50s and early 60s enjoyed a great deal of success. Led by such local notables as Earl Satterfield, Buster Fowler, Earl and Jackie Townsend, Blanche Ganues, Peggy Thompson, Mary Lou Fowler, Jackie Hartness and many others, these teams were forces to be reckoned with.

Fred takes personal pride, however, in talking about his favorite Independent basketball team. His 1973 Morganton team competed in the Ellijay Jaycee League and put up a lusty record of 47 victories against only one defeat. One of the stars of the team was Fred’s son, Fred Ganues, Jr. who had grown to a height of 6 feet, 8 inches. Other notables on the team included 6” 7” Danny Aaron from Blairsville and former East Fannin aces Tim Smith, Ricky Ballew, Tommy Jones and Ricky Beavers.

When East Fannin High School fielded its first football team in 1956, the school needed a PA announcer. Who volunteered for the job? If you answered Fred Ganues, you are correct. The school did not have a band so Fred played a tape of the National Anthem played by the University of Tennessee band before each game and then went about the business of concisely reporting the action on the field to the fans in the stands. He did this on a volunteer basis until the school closed in 1976.

Who was called upon to coach young men in Babe Ruth, Connie Mack and Dixie Youth Leagues in the eastern part of the county every year? If you answered Fred Ganues you are correct.

Who officiated local basketball teams, first at the old Fannin County High in Morganton, then at Copper Basin and numerous elementary schools in the area for 40 years? If you answered Fred Ganues you are correct.

When he was not busy in sports as a participant or coach, Fred, usually with his son and other youngsters in tow, made the trek to various venues to watch sporting events. Football, basketball and, more recently, women’s softball games at the University of Tennessee often found Fred Ganues in the stands. He remembers Lady Vols pitcher Monica Abbott with admiration. He remembers heading for Knoxville early one Saturday morning and seeing a young Benny Griffith of Copperhill hitchhiking. He stopped and asked Benny where he was headed. Benny replied that he thought he would try to make it up to Knoxville to see if he could hustle a ticket for game that day. So Benny piled in Fred’s car and off they went. And everybody was able to find a ticket. In those days, it was commonplace to see young men who could not afford the luxury of owning a car, making their way from place to place on the strength of a strong thumb.

Fred Ganues can regale an audience for hours with stories about sports in Fannin County and the Copper Basin. He is an endless source of information about the games and the people who have played them in this area for the last 70 years. He remains active by walking and maybe shooting a few hoops at the Fannin County Recreation Center each day. He never misses a Fannin County basketball game. He is one of Fannin County’s most valuable treasures.

By the way, Fred remained with L&N for 42 years. Fred and Blanche remained together until her passing in 2008. They were married for 60 years. Fred Ganues is a loyal man who sticks with good things when they come his way.


Mr. Ancil Fred Ganues, Sr., age 86, of Morganton, GA passed away Thursday, March 12, 2015 in the Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, TN. He was born on June 14, 1928 in Pickens County, GA. He was retired from L&N Railroad after 42 years of service as an agent/operator and was a member of Morganton Baptist Church. Mr. Ganues loved all sports, especially the youth and men’s teams that he coached and played on. He was preceded in death by his wife, Blanche Smith Ganues; son, Lyndale Ganues; mother and father,, Les and Minnie Ganues; sister, Irene Ray; and brothers, John Ganues, Frank Ganues, J.T. Ganues, L.C. Ganues, Bernard Ganues and Jack Ganues. He is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Freddy and Jenny Ganues of Morganton; sister, Billie Davis of East Ridge, TN; sister-in-law, Ruth Ganues of Maryville, TN; special friend, Reathel Amburn; grandson and his wife, Greg and Rachel Ganues of Knoxville, TN; great grandchildren, Henry Ganues and Elizabeth Marie Ganues; and many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. from the Akins of Blue Ridge Chapel with Rev. Danny Parris officiating. Music will be by Keith Barnes. Interment will follow in Barnes Chapel Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the funeral home Saturday from 12 noon until the funeral hour.

Fred Ganues Bio

Video at FCHS HOF Game

Fred Ganues Banquet Video