There’s no suggestion box needed.
Any new athletic and activities director will be approached with ideas and wishes from community members, parents and coaches. It was no different for Mark Karen, who took over the Dacula athletic program for the 2012-13 school year.
One of those requests is about to become reality this weekend, when the high school launches its athletics hall of fame.
“Within the first 24 hours of walking in the door last year, I was asked several times about it, ‘We need a hall of fame, we need a hall of fame,’” Karen said. “I had five or six years experience (with an athletic hall of fame as athletic director) at North (Gwinnett), so we started working on it. … I felt like it was something we needed to do because the school’s been around a long time and the community seems to want one.”
The work of Karen, his assistant Dee Pickett and a group of longtime community members comes to fruition Sunday, when the hall of fame is opened and its inaugural members are honored with a 2 p.m. ceremony in the commons area.
The “First 50” is the name used for the initial hall of famers, who will be joined by the induction of five legendary Dacula teams — 1938, 1945 and 1979 boys basketball, 1954 girls basketball and 1993 wrestling. All five of those teams won state championships.
While the first group voted in is large, the future inductions will be smaller groups, even though there is still a strong list of candidates.
“There are plenty of others on the (nominee) list,” said Karen, whose voting committee consisted of longtime Dacula supporters and residents.
The new hall of fame display will be in the Falcons’ gym lobby. It features a large wood wall that will showcase the plaques for each hall of famer.
The project will be unveiled immediately after Sunday’s ceremony.
Nearly all of the 50 individual hall of famers and/or their families plan to attend this weekend, Karen said. The organizing committee also wants any members of the five Dacula teams going into the hall of fame at Sunday’s celebration, too. Members of those teams can contact him directly at Mark_Karen@gwinnett.k12.ga.us or 770-277-4478 to RSVP.
Football players make up a large chunk of this year’s class, including multi-sport star Terry Harvey, a 1991 graduate who is already a member of the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame. Allen “Buck” Abbott (Class of 1994), Cole Brodie (2006), Joe Ford (1967), David Irons (2000), Kenny Irons (2001), Jim Peevy (1991), Mark Peevy (1988), Des Williams (2003) and Jamey Wright (1988) also are inductees for their contributions in football.
The hall of famers being honored for basketball include Julian Archer (1945), Claude Bradberry (1948), Ernest Cain (1942), Ray Clark (1966), Roy Etheridge (1945), Andrew Franklin (1945), Johnny Hudlow (1966), Doug Mahaffey (1979, also a track and field nominee) and Marlin Wages (1945).
In addition to Mahaffey, the track and field selections were Owen Brooks (1937), Aimee Forbing (2000), Heidi Gholston (1999), Ashley Golden (1997), Emily King (2003), Amy Ledford (2001), Eve Machovec (2008), Israel Machovec (2006), Jennifer McCalla (1999), Whitney Nelson (1996), Christina Pelham (1993), Erica Penk (2007), Summer Puckett (2003), Michelle Rogers (2003), Danielle Seckinger (2002) and Marlo Tanner (1994).
The other selections for the 50 hall of famers include Abigail Alton (swimming, 2008), Travis Blackburn (baseball, 2007), Matt Carter (wrestling, 1997), Elizabeth Zientak Clarkson (golf/tennis, 2002), Kristin Hughes Croteau (softball, 1999), David Hudlow (wrestling, 1985), Frankie Miller (wrestling, 2008), Brittany Rogers (softball, 2004), Paul Stansbury (wrestling, 2002), Elizabeth Stowe (swimming, 2004), Jeremie Tice (baseball, 2005), Gaines Westmoreland (wrestling, 1996) and Shannon Wilkerson (baseball, 2006).
Longtime booster Dan Buchanan also is an all-sports inductee, while football/baseball coach D.I. “Red” Barron, the stadium’s namesake, also is a first-year selection.