Theo Ratliff headlines Hall of Fame inductees

The Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame is only two weeks away from inducting its fifth class as it readies to hold its annual induction banquet.

The induction and banquet will take place Monday, Feb. 11 at the Demopolis Civic Center. The Hall has previously honored 21 inductees for their success in athletic and coaching careers in sports ranging from baseball, softball and football to boxing and wrestling.

The 2013 class will include just the second woman to be inducted into the Hall when Holly Hill Beckham is inducted. Beckham was the first female athlete from Marengo County to receive a scholarship offer to a Division I school.

She was the Alabama High School State Single’s tennis champion in 1984, 1985 and 1986 and earned the State Doubles Tennis Championship twice.

Beckham was the winner of nine state tennis titles between high school and Junior Tennis competition. She finished with 46 wins and just one loss, a defeat that came during her freshman year of high school. The Tuscaloosa News named Beckham the Tennis Player of the Year twice. Beckham also achieved a Top 16 ranking in the South and Top 100 in the United States.

She also competed in track, softball and volleyball in addition to being named an All-Conference Basketball Player for four years wile attending Demopolis High School. Her high school career also saw her serve as head majorette in the DHS marching band.

Beckham received a full scholarship to Mississippi State where she played on the Women’s Tennis team for four years, a group that achieved a Top 25 national ranking three of her four years on the squad. In 1988, she competed at Wimbledon as a wildcard entry.

Beckham now lives in Charlotte, N.C. with her husband, Tom, and two sons, a life that has her very involved in youth sports, coaching and fundraising.

The second inductee into the 2013 class is Yann Cowart, who was a standout in football, baseball and basketball at Marengo Academy. He played on state championship teams in 1980 and 1981 and, during his senior year, served as captain of the football team while being selected as the Most Outstanding Lineman by his coaches.

Following the 1981 season, Cowart earned a spot in the AISA All-Star Football Game and was named a member of the Tuscaloosa News Super 11 Team in addition to being the MVP of his basketball squad.

Cowart then walked on at Auburn University and started for four years while earning a double major and maintaining a 3.0 grade point average.

He earned Academic All-SEC honors three times, Academic All-American nods twice and Walk-On American status in 1983 and 1984. Cowart played in four bowl games and was named a Captain for the 1986 Citrus Bowl. He is married to the former Susan Ethridge of Sweet Water and, along with his two children, resides in Montgomery.

The headliner for this year’s class is former NBA All-Star and Demopolis native Theophilus Curtis Ratliff. The DHS alum played under former coach Luke Hallmark from seventh through 12th grades while developing into a consistent scorer and menacing shot blocker. Ratliff received All-State honors and represented Alabama the the AAU Nationals.

He went on to play his college ball at the University of Wyoming where he earned his undergraduate degree while playing in 111 games. Ratliff finished his collegiate career with 1,142 points and 655 rebounds to go along with 425 blocked shots, graduating as the second leading shot blocker in the nation. Averaging 10.3 points per game, Ratliff earned First Team All-WAC honors and was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Ratlif’s NBA career began when the Detroit Pistons selected him in the first round of the 1995 Draft. Ratliff went on to play with nine teams in his career, scoring 5,809 points, 4,596 rebounds and 1,968 blocks. He was a 2001 NBA All-Star and was selected to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team twice. Ratliff is currently ranked 18th all time in career blocks and 13th in career blocks per game.

Additionally, Ratliff served as the founder, namesake and primary benefactor of the Theo Ratliff Activity Center in Demopolis. He currently resides in Atlanta with his wife, Kristina, and six children.

One of the iconic names in Marengo County’s high school coaching lore, Fred Schoenrock is the fourth name in the Class of 2013. A native of Meridian, MIss., Schoenrock graduated from Meridian High where he won state titles in baseball and football. He was a four-year letterman in football, baseball, basketball and track and went on to play football, baseball and basketball at Louisiana College.

Schoenrock moved to Demopolis in 1974 after having been head football and baseball coach in Tylertown, Miss. for four years. During his 14 seasons at the helm of the Demopolis football program, he compiled a record of 109 wins and 48 losses and was selected the Coach of the Year in Region 5 in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

Schoenrock’s teams won eight region titles while competing in three different regions including a run of five straight crowns in his first five years. Overall, Schoenrock amassed a record of 58-9 in region play, making the playoff nine years and putting together double-digit win totals while making runs to the state semi-finals in 1983 and 1984. Schoenrock also earned the distinction of coaching the 1977 All-Star game.

During his tenure, he had 11 players recognized as either first team, second team or honorable mention All-State. Schoenrock also saw Robbie Jones become the first of his players to receive a college football scholarship. Jones has already been enshrined in the Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame.

Schoenrock continues to make his home in Demopolis where his retirement allows him plenty of time for fishing.

The final inductee in the Class of 2013 is “Big” Jack Thomas from Linden High School. The Half Acre native, who will be inducted posthumously, earned his moniker based on his considerable physical stature and substantial tenderhearted nature.

Thomas played football at Linden High School under Pistol Henders, Bobby Joe Hall and Charles Payne. A lineman for the Red Devils, Thomas earned All-Conference and All-State honors.

Thomas passed up opportunities to play at both Alabama and Auburn, instead opting to take his talents to Mississippi State where he became a starter during his sophomore season. He earned SEC Player of the Week honors for his performance against LSU.

Following his collegiate days, Thomas played in the NFL after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals before going on to the Canadian Football League.

Thomas would later coach football in Florida for a year before moving on to Copiah Academy in Mississippi for seven years where earned Coach of the Year honors from the Mississippi Private School Association.

Thomas left behind a widow, three sons, four daughters, three sisters and a brother.

Other honorees during the banquet will include the 1978 Sweet Water state championship football team as well as the annual scholarship recipient, an local student-athlete whose identity has yet to be announced.

Tickets to the event are $25 and include admission and dinner at the banquet. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Tom Boggs at Lloyd, Dinning and Boggs, Tony Speegle at U.S. Jones Elementary School or Olen Kerby at Sweet Water State Bank in Demopolis.