Posing for a picture Monday night shortly before they were introduced as the Albany Sports Hall of Fame’s 2013 class were, from left, former Dougherty High and Tulane hoops star and current Albany State men’s basketball coach Chris Cameron; former Deerfield three-sport star and college hoops standout Julee Bailey; longtime Albany High boys basketball coach Archie Chatmon, and former Monroe track & field coach and current Dougherty County Director of Athletics Johhnny Seabrooks. (Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)
ALBANY — The welcoming atmosphere in the Hilton Garden Inn served as a classy backdrop Tuesday night, setting the stage for the 27th annual induction ceremony for the Albany Sports Hall of Fame.
During a ceremony celebrating the individual accomplishments of an esteemed few, each inductee of the Albany Sports HOF’s Class of 2013 — Archie Chatmon, Chris Cameron, Julee Greenway Bailey and Johnny Seabrooks — stressed the importance of mind over matter and the team over the individual, whether concerning on-field endeavors or off-the-field obstacles.
But, most of all, they gave thanks.
“We all have our support groups, our motivators, our foundations,” Bailey said during her acceptance speech. “They’ve all found time to help us reach our dreams. The real recognition (Monday night) belongs to my helpers. The ones who motivated me, believed in me, challenged me and loved me.”
Bailey, the night’s first inductee, earned All-State honors in basketball, softball and track during her time at Deerfield-Windsor. Then during an illustrious career at Truett-McConnell and the University of Montevallo, she was named to three All-Conference teams and earned conference MVP honors in 1989.
Next up was Cameron, the head coach of the Albany State men’s basketball team. A three-time All-State selection and Region 1-AAA Player of the Year in 1993 at Dougherty, Cameron went on to be a defensive stalwart on a Tulane University squad that made it to the Final Four of the NIT in 1996.
And like Bailey, he let the crowd know that he couldn’t have achieved any of his success alone.
“This day would not be possible without some special family members,” he said. “My father, Art Cameron, pushed me to run five miles per day. My high school coach, Charlie Givens, instilled the mental toughness I’d need to get things accomplished. It’s because of them that I’ve been able to give back to my community through camps and clinics.”
Upon graduation, Cameron played four years professionally in Finland, Iceland, Mexico and California. Despite his success on the court, Cameron is most proud of his ventures off it. A member of the NCAA Division II South Region Advisory Committee, Cameron started his own basketball camp, organized the ASU Youth Summer Basketball League and coached the Rams to a conference championship in his inaugural season.
The third inductee, Westover graduate and longtime Albany High boys basketball coach and A.D. Archie Chatmon, earned varsity letters in basketball, tennis and track while attending Georgia Southwestern. As the current longtime coach of the Indians, Chatmon has earned Coach of the Year honors four times while leading AHS to multiple Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen appearances.
He said standing on the stage Monday was an honor to be shared with many.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for many people. It’s been a long journey. Anyone who goes through something and accomplishes great things has people pushing them,” said Chatmon, who thanked his family and fellow inductees and congratulated this year’s student-athletes who earned scholarships later in the program for their work in the classroom and on the field. “I’m deeply humbled by this experience. I never would have imagined in a million years that I’d be standing here.”
The final inductee — the man affectionately known around town simply as “Coach Seabrooks” — was the only entrant not originally from the Albany area. A Monticello, Fla., native, Seabrooks was all set to attend Wake Forest before his mother broke the news to him at his athletic banquet during his senior year: He was moving to Albany — not North Carolina.
“To my knowledge, I was going to Wake Forest, but one of my coaches played at Albany State. On the night of my senior banquet, I didn’t go home, so they sent coaches to talk to my mother before the banquet,” he recalled. “At the banquet that night, they announced that I was going to Albany State! People were looking at me with my Wake Forest hat, and all of a sudden my mom pulls out the ASU hat.”
Seabrooks then added: “It wasn’t a bad choice.”
Seabrooks went on to play football and run track at Albany State, where he lettered all four years in both sports, winning two track championships. Throughout his career coaching football and track at Brooks County, Dougherty County and Monroe, Seabrooks coached seven state champions. Some 25 years after earning his Bachelor’s degree, Seabrooks returned to Albany State to complete his Master’s degree in education, and he now serves as the Dougherty County Director of Athletics.
Seabrooks said he simply felt blessed.
“I had great mentors. My coaches taught me patience and how to not kick up a lot of dust,” he said. “After a tough loss (one time) to Westover, one of my coaches told me, ‘Don’t take this home with you, it’ll kill you.’ Once the clock runs out, it’s over.”
In addition to the inductees, the Hall honored area students with scholarships and named four area Athletes of the Year. This year’s scholarship winners were A’mon Gordon from Albany High, Kristen Lane from Sherwood Christian, Jacolyn Murphy from Deerfield-Windsor and Shamicah Tardy from Westover, while the area Athletes of the Year were Erika Taylor from Westover, Quannesha Gatling from Dougherty, Patrick Stanford from Sherwood Christian, Kh’Ron McClain from Deerfield-Windsor, Emanuel Byrd from Albany High, and Jawaski Randle from Monroe.
Monday’s guest speaker was former FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, who said success beamed from the stage.
“It takes a lot of things to be successful,” said Andrews, who spent his entire career under Seminoles coaching legend Bobby Bowden. “Talent is important, but the best ability is dependability and accountability. When I think about greatness, I think about being successful over an extended period of time. We determine our outcomes by the way that we prepare.”