Eric Shanteau, a Parkview grad, swims during the 2011 World Championships.
CLICK HERE for photos and story from the 2013 Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame induction
Entering its fifth year, the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame has grown into a bigger venue for its marquee event.
The previous four induction ceremonies were held on the suite level of Coolray Field prior to a Gwinnett Braves game, but the 2014 class will be part of an expanded celebration May 9 at Gwinnett Center. The move allows the public a chance to purchase tickets to the induction itself unlike the past, when fans only saw hall of fame introductions on the field between innings.
A guest speaker also has been added for this year — veteran NFL coach and player Dan Reeves.
“We’ve had four great years at Coolray Field and we really want to thank the Gwinnett Braves for making it a great event,” said David Seago, president of the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation, which operates the hall of fame and is the beneficiary of its fundraising. “Over the years, we’ve realized how this has been such an important event for these athletes and we wanted a little bit bigger stage to honor them.
“We thought the fifth-year anniversary was the perfect time to move to a banquet to honor the athletes and raise money for the (GCPS) Foundation.”
Despite four previous classes of accomplished athletic figures, the 2014 class will feature its share of star power, too. The latest inductees list, released Thursday, includes Olympians Eric Shanteau and Kibwe Johnson, longtime NFL offensive tackles Jeff Backus and Jon Stinchcomb, legendary Parkview baseball coach Hugh “Buch” Buchanan and state champion runner Jackie Drouin.
“It’s a great group, a fantastic group,” Seago said.
Shanteau, a Parkview grad, swam in the past two summer Olympics, famously delaying cancer treatment to swim in the 2008 Games. He made his second Olympic appearance in 2012 and won a gold medal with the U.S. 400-meter relay team.
During his career, Shanteau set an American record in the 200-meter breaststroke and was on the 400-meter medley relay that broke a world record at the 2009 World Championships. The 30-year-old, now retired from competitive swimming, was an 11-time All-American at Auburn, where he won four NCAA team titles, and a multiple high school state champion at Parkview, which he also led to four team state titles.
Johnson, a North Gwinnett grad, made his Olympic debut in 2012 with a ninth-place finish in the hammer throw. The 32-year-old, still actively competing, has won USA Track and Field national titles and Pan-American Games championships in the hammer throw in recent years. His throw of 80.31 meters at 2011 nationals made him just the third American ever to pass 80 meters in the hammer throw.
The two football players in the class of 2014 are both successful NFL tackles who recently retired — Backus in 2013 and Stinchcomb in 2011.
Backus, 36, won a national championship as a four-year starter at Michigan and was a first-round pick (No. 18 overall) by the Detroit Lions in 2001. The Norcross grad played his entire 12-year career with the Lions, starting a franchise-record 186 straight games at left tackle until an injury ended the streak in 2012.
Stinchcomb, 34, is part of the only siblings thus far in the hall of fame — his older brother Matt was part of the inaugural class in 2010. The Parkview grad was a four-year starter and All-SEC lineman at Georgia, where he helped the Bulldogs to a conference title.
The New Orleans Saints made him a second-round selection in the 2003 NFL Draft, and he took over as a full-time starter in 2006. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2009 after helping the Saints win their first Super Bowl and retired from the NFL due to injury in 2011. He also was named the Saints’ Man of the Year in 2008.
The lone coach in the 2014 class is another Parkview legend.
Hugh Buchanan, whose name adorns the Panthers’ baseball field and his No. 20 jersey is retired there, was the high school’s first baseball coach in 1976 and held that position until he retired in 2004. He had a 546-245 record and won three state titles (1996, 2001, 2002) and 12 region championships. He also was an assistant coach on Parkview’s first football team, the head football coach for the Panthers from 1983-85 and head softball coach from 1987-94.
Buchanan, a professional baseball scout since his retirement, is also one of two Georgians in the National High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He also has been inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association, the Georgia Dugout Club and the Gwinnett Dugout Club halls of fame in the past.
Drouin is the first Gwinnett hall of famer chosen for running. The Collins Hill grad had a decorated high school career before earning All-Ivy League honors in both track and cross country at Columbia, where she broke the school record in the mile. After graduation from Columbia, she also ran as a graduate student for Florida State.
The 25-year-old won seven individual state championships at Collins Hill — five in track and two in cross country. She also helped the Eagles to multiple team state titles in both sports.
HALL OF FAME
What: Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame Banquet
When: May 9
Where: Gwinnett Center
2014 inductees: Jeff Backus, Hugh Buchanan, Jackie Drouin, Kibwe Johnson, Eric Shanteau, Jon Stinchcomb
Guest speaker: Former NFL coach and player Dan Reeves
For more information: http://www.gcps-foundation.org/hall-of-fame/
Ticket/sponsorship information: Email to Kelly_Herndon@gwinnett.k12.ga.us
HALL OF FAME HISTORY
A look at the previous Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame classes:
Mary Ellen Blanchard