Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Gwinnett County Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Jan Azar, Scott Hage, David Greene, Karl Bostick and Susan Brandau Hawkins pose for a portrait with Gwinnett County Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks, third from left, at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville on Saturday. Hall of Fame inductee Jason Elam was absent from the ceremony.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Karl Bostick's acceptance speech Saturday night echoed the sentiments of his fellow Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
"I didn't know how big this was until I got here," the longtime Parkview athletic director and coach said. "This is absolutely amazing."
Bostick and the other members of the Class of 2012 -- David Greene, Jan Azar, Scott Hage, Susan Brandau Hawkins and Jason Elam (who accepted the honor via video) -- were recognized during a private ceremony in a packed Super Suite at Coolray Field before being introduced publicly between innings of the Gwinnett Braves' home game. Each of them stood in front of an eight-foot tall banner bearing their photo and accolades, then were given a large ring and blazer to commemorate the day.
Greene, a South Gwinnett grad who was a record-setting quarterback at Georgia before playing in the NFL, was wowed by the inaugural ceremony two years ago and said the atmosphere this year was just as impressive, if not better.
"This is a big deal," said Greene, the SEC's all-time leading passer. "It's a packed house here (in the suite), cameras are flashing. It's really neat that the school system does this. It's just a huge honor."
The event is run by the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation, which supports the GCPS system. It's a successful fundraiser for the organization, which strives to impress the inductees, their families and friends.
"Those who haven't seen this before, this is why we do this," GCPS Foundation president David Seago said of the atmosphere.
Bostick was joined in this year's class by a few athletes he knows well -- Parkview grads Hawkins, an exceptional three-sport athlete who played basketball for Duke, and Hage, the first four-time state wrestling champion in Georgia's largest classification.
Like the other inductees, Azar, Wesleyan's ultra-successful girls basketball coach, was humbled by the event.
"All of this great group of athletes, I'm just honored to be a part of what we're doing today," Azar said.
Elam is the first inductee in the three-year history of the hall of fame who didn't accept in person. The longtime NFL kicker, with both the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, wanted to be there but he lives in Alaska and regularly travels the world on mission work.
He sent a nice video message that was played Saturday.
"I'm so very appreciative of this," Elam said. "Looking at the people I'm going in with, David, Karl, Susan, Scott and Jan, and their resumes with all their accomplishments, it's staggering what they've achieved. For me to be in this is a huge honor."