E.A. Sports Today

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Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame inducts six new members, including first amateur golfer; brother joins brother, son joins father

Coaching sons David (L) and Matt Deerman (R) flank their dad Mike during his enshrinement into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Mike Deerman and Ricky Weems thought they had it pretty easy the last time their family was in the spotlight at a Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

For Deerman, it was 2005 and his father Van was being inducted into the Hall’s groundbreaking first class at the Anniston City Meeting Center. Of course, he had to give a speech to accept the honor on behalf of the family, but the focus that night still was on his late dad.

For Weems, it was 2015 and his older brother Jerry was going in as part of the 11th induction class. All he had to do that night was sit back and enjoy the show.

But Saturday night, both of them said, was oh so different. For starters, in Deerman’s case at least, the venue was different as the ceremonies now take place in the Oxford Civic Center. But more importantly the spotlight was squarely on them now as members of the Hall’s 13th enshrinement class.

“It is entirely different,” Deerman said as he signed covers of about a dozen souvenir programs that would soon carry the autographs of all six of the 2017 honorees. “I had no trouble at all then. I was expecting him to get in and it was an honor for me to accept it for him. That came very easy for me, but this is difficult. I hope I make it through it.”

“It’s quite different,” said Weems. “It’s like anything when you start you have butterflies, but they subside once you get doing. When he went in I didn’t have any butterflies at all. I enjoyed a good meal and a good program. It’s a lot different when the shoe’s on the other foot.”

Deerman was a standout basketball player at Jacksonville for his dad and a legendary coach at Weaver. Weems was a four-sport star at Wellborn. They were enshrined in the Class of 2017 along with Anniston golfer Chip Howell, longtime game official Billy Ferguson, Oxford football star Jerry Ray and multi-sport Wellborn star Stanley Bell.

The night might have been different for Deerman, but for his two coaching sons, David and Matt, the feeling was the same as it was 12 years ago.

“They were both special,” oldest brother David said.

“It’s a little different because it’s our dad and David and I were both a part of it; we played for him,” Matt said. “It’s a very special night, though. To have both of them in makes it even more special.”

Before Saturday, Ricky Weems had been in the audience to watch his brother get inducted into two Halls of Fame. This time it was his turn and Jerry was happy for him.

He noted with Johnny Ingram’s induction last year there are now three players “from one little block” in Wellborn who grew up playing ball in his grandmother’s cow pasture.
“I’ve told people he got in on his playing and I got in on coaching and probably neither one of us would’ve gotten in the other way,” Jerry joked.

But Ricky, on this night at least, got the last shot.

“I’d have stayed in 42 years too if I had that kind of talent,” he said.

With his induction Saturday night, Ricky Weems (L) and 2015 inductee Jerry Weems give the County Hall its third set of brothers.

Chip Howell, standing with wife Carol, is the first amateur golfer in the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame.

CRIMSON PRIDE: The Calhoun County Sports Hall induction ceremony is always held the Saturday of Father’s Day. Another Father’s Day tradition is the U.S. Open.

As a former Alabama golf letterman, 2017 Hall inductee Chip Howell took a special amount of pride knowing what former Tide player Justin Thomas did at the U.S. Open Saturday.

Thomas set a U.S. Open record with a 9-under-par 63 to shoot up the leaderboard. It was the fifth 63 shot in a U.S. Open and matched Johnny Miller’s groundbreaking famed final round at Oakmont (1973), but it was a record in relation to par. And he did it with the help of two memorable shots with a club Howell has seen first-hand how well he hits.

Golf watchers around the world marveled at the two 3-woods Thomas creased late in the round Saturday. He drove the 288-yard par-4 15th for a birdie, and then hit the par-5 18th green from 299 yards – after a 3-wood off the tee – to set up a closing eagle.

Howell, enshrined as the first amateur golfer in the County Hall a few hours after Thomas left the 18th with his record round, recounted the time a few years ago he saw Thomas hit a similarly massive 3-wood during a reunion outing at Ol’ Colony in Tuscaloosa, and then did it again – even better – to prove he could.

“I had never played Ol’ Colony before and there was a par-4 straight up the hill,” Howell recalled. “Everybody else was hitting it longer than I was and I hit my driver about halfway up the hill. Everybody hits, then Justin gets up there and hits a 3-wood (to) about eight feet, dead uphill, 275-280.

“I just looked at him and said ‘Are you that good?’ He turned around, looked at me, smiled, got a ball and just threw it on the tee — on the ground, no tee — and hit it to five feet. I said, ‘You’re not much bigger than I am,’ but he just generates so much clubhead speed (116.4 mph on Tour this year). I’ve told that story maybe a dozen times and it still blows me away.”

Billy Ferguson is the second game official enshrined in the County Sports Hall of Fame.

Jerry Ray (second from left) broke several long touchdowns runs during his four-year Oxford career.

Stanley Bell’s wife Jane and Austin Bell, who represented his late grandfather at the head table.

Photo credits: All photos except the Deermans by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos.

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from Saturday’s festivities go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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