Former Atlanta Falcons running back Derrick Moore was the guest speaker at the Albany Sports Hall of Fame banquet Monday night at the  Albany Civic Center, where Albany honored five new inductees

Former Atlanta Falcons running back Derrick Moore was the guest speaker at the Albany Sports Hall of Fame banquet Monday night at the Albany Civic Center, where Albany honored five new inductees

ALBANY – Barry Sanders now knows about the Albany Sports Hall of Fame, thanks to Monday’s guest speaker at the 26th annual induction ceremony.

Former Albany football great Derrick Moore, who played alongside Sanders for the Detroit Lions during his NFL career, spoke about the five new inductees into the Albany Sports Hall of Fame’s 2012 class during his opening remarks for the Hall of Fame banquet.

A chaplain for Georgia Tech’s football team and a renowned motivational speaker, Moore was inducted into Albany’s Hall of Fame class of 2009 class and remembered sharing the news with Sanders that he too had received the call from the hall.

When Moore told Sanders it was the Albany Sports Hall of Fame, Sanders replied, “Where is that?”

“It is one of the great accomplishments of my life,” Moore said Monday at the Civic Center during his keynote address, which highlighted the character of the ’12 inductees along with their athletic success.

Moore noted former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Tony Dungy’s quote, “Talent can get you there, but character will keep you there and can carry you the rest of the way.” He also emphasized the importance of exhibiting strong character no matter the situation or level of success.

“Great character will cost you nothing but give you everything,” Moore said. “(Monday night) on this stage there is more than just talent, there’s character.”

The 2012 Albany Sports Hall of Fame inductees were:

Monroe High’s Kevin Samuel was one of the top 100 high school basketball players in the country as a senior for the Tornadoes in 1996 after averaging 20 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals per game. Samuel attended Tennessee State in Nashville, where he was named Freshman Player of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference.

“The more work you put into it, the more reward you get out of it,” Samuel said.

g Westover High’s Verna Brown was an all-conference center for the Albany State College Rammettes in 1976 and ’77 and four-year captain. Brown was drafted by the Washington Metros professional women’s team before the league folded and went on to star overseas playing professionally in France. After a knee injury ended her basketball career, she moved up the ranks of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel company and currently is director of human resources for the new Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas Virgin Islands hotel.

“I played above the rim,” said Brown, who thanked her parents. “It’s in my DNA. I cannot do it any other way. It’s the way they built me.”

Current Westover High School head basketball coach Dallis Smith was a star on the court and the gridiron for the Patriots before going on to Valdosta State where he was a star on the Blazers’ football team. Smith was an all-conference selection in the Gulf South Conference in 1985 and ’86 as a defensive back and still holds the GSC record with 21 career interceptions. Smith signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent in 1987 and played in the NFL.

Westover’s Tommy Sharpe proved that size was no obstacle, starting at center for the Clemson Tigers for more than two seasons after walking on as a freshman in 2001. He was an academic All-ACC selection at Clemson after shining as a four-year starter at Westover and was also a Georgia All-Start swimmer while a member of the Americus Blue Tide.

Frank Hedrick was posthumously inducted into the Albany Sports Hall of Fame for a lifetime’s worth of achievements in athletics. Hedrick, an Albany High graduate and basketball standout, became a command pilot of a B-24 completing 37 combat missions in World War II, and was also a star on the golf course, participating in the United States Amateur in 1949 (along with Arnold Palmer) and the British Amateur in 1957. He served many years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia State Golf Association including two years (1966-1967) as president.

“If you are like me, you believe the spirit of persons such as my father continue after their death,” said Hedrick’s son, Bill, who accepted the honor.

To be chosen as an inductee to the Albany Sports Hall of Fame, a former local athlete must first be nominated. The candidate’s application is reviewed by the Albany Sports Hall of Fame selection committee, looking at the candidate’s high school participation (50 percent), their college participation (25 percent), and their overall character and willingness to further athletics in the Albany community (25 percent).

Also Monday at the Hall of Fame banquet, six of Albany’s high schools each named one “Athlete of the Year,” chosen by the coaches of the schools. The six recipients honored Monday: Tim Pierce from Albany High School, Jayla Hooper from Dougherty High School, Sheniqua Young from Monroe High School, DyTiesha Dunson from Westover High School, Heather Horne from Byne Christian School, and MacKenzie Davis from Deerfield-Windsor.

The Albany Sports HOF 2012 scholarship recipients were Albany High’s LaShondra Price Deerfield Windsor’s Parks Pace.