Courtesy John Pruett
Eight men and a record-setting four women have been elected to the 2018 class of the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame.
The 12 new members will be formally inducted during the Hall of Fame’s annual induction banquet on April 9, 2018 at the North Hall of Von Braun Center.
In alphabetical order, the Class of 2018 includes Lennie Acuff, Dan Bell, Gloria Morgan Farier, Keith Humphrey, Mandy Miller, Tom Monroe, Becky Stitt Plott, Alvin Rauls, Kurt Senn, Richard Smock, Lorraine “Les’’ Stuedeman and Rod Willie.
For the first time in the 26-year history of the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame, four women – Farier, Miller, Plott and Studeman – will be on the induction stage next April. The previous high number was three women inductees in 1990 and 2016.
The 2018 inductee list includes three coaches:
Lennie Acuff was a scrappy play-making guard who stood out in basketball at Johnson High School and Shorter College in Georgia and who went on to become the winningest men’s basketball coach in the history of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Acuff’s teams had won more than 500 games – 80 percent of those victories at UAH – going into the 2017-18 season in a sparkling 27-year coaching career at Berry College, Belhaven College and UAH.
Al Rauls, a graduate of Florida A&M University, has been a veteran all-sports coach, but primarily in baseball and softball, at a variety of Madison County schools – including Bob Jones, Butler, Sparkman and New Hope – for the past four decades. He was also the head baseball coach at Alabama A&M University from 1981-84. Rauls is currently teaching and coaching softball at Buckhorn High School.
Les Stuedeman is the women’s softball coach at UAH. She played softball at Vestavia Hills High School, at Samford University and later at Huntington College, where she was an NAIA All-American. Named the head softball coach at UAH in 1995, she is now recognized as one of the top collegiate softball coaches in the country, regardless of division. At the onset of the 2018 softball season, Stuedeman’s Charger teams had won 1,016 games and 12 conference championships.
Volleyball and basketball are represented by two honorees each:
Mandy Miller, a former volleyball player at Huntsville High School and UAB in Birmingham in the 1990s. She was a three-time All-City and All-Area performer in volleyball and a two-time All-City and All-Area player in basketball at Huntsville High. At UAB, she played in 37 of 38 matches as a freshman in 1993 before her college career was curtailed by a knee injury. She now serves as an athletic trainer at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.
Becky (Stitt) Plott was a two-time All-Stater in volleyball at Grissom High School in the early ‘90s, setting school records for most blocks and most dink kills. She made All-State twice and was the 6A Player of the Year and State MVP in 1993. She also starred in basketball and softball before playing four years for the UAH volleyball and basketball teams, making All-Conference in both sports. She’s now works and coaches at Westminster Christian Academy in Huntsville.
Dan Bell played basketball at Grissom High School, Walker College in Jasper and Northwestern State in Louisiana and later became a successful basketball coach at both the high school and college levels. As a senior at Grissom, he was named the MVP in the city and made All-State. After playing for Athletes in Action, he coached at several Southern colleges and a number of local and area high schools, including 10 years at Bob Jones. He now coaches basketball at Whitesburg Middle School.
Rod Willie was a 6-foot-2 guard who developed over three varsity seasons into a superstar player for coach Jerry Dugan at Lee High School in the early 1990s. After averaging nearly 21 points per game and leading the Generals to 26 wins as a senior, he was named Alabama’s “Mr. Basketball’’ in 1994. Willie signed with coach Gene Bartow’s UAB Blazers and played one season in Birmingham before transferring to Georgia Southern and eventually earning his degree at Birmingham-Southern. He now works as a natural gas scheduling analyst in Omaha, Neb.
Football, track, soccer, bowling and the fast-growing niche sport of disc golf have one honoree each in the 2018 class:
Keith Humphrey, a former football standout at Huntsville’s Lee High, was an all-conference linebacker at UNA in Florence, where he set school career records in tackles for loss and recovered fumbles, and played on three Division II national championship teams in the 1990s. A three-time All-Conference linebacker and a two-time All-American, he was inducted into the UNA Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. He now works in law enforcement in Orlando, Fla.
Gloria (Morgan) Farier, an international student from Jamaica who ran track for famed women’s track coach Joe Henderson at Alabama A&M, was an eight-time NCAA Division II All-American middle distance runner in a record-setting four-year athletic career on The Hill at Normal. In 1992, she received the Clive L. Abbot Award as the Most Outstanding Performer in the SIAC Championships. She’s now a service desk associate at Huntsville’s Home Depot.
Kurt Senn, remembered locally for his dynamic soccer skills and his academics, was a four-sport star at Grissom in the mid-1980s. He also played basketball, baseball and football team. He was named the city of Huntsville’s Athlete of the Year as a soccer midfielder in 1984 and later became four-year soccer letterman at Birmingham-Southern. Now a physician at Shelby County Hospital in Birmingham, Senn is the first local soccer player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Richard Smock is regarded by many longtime observers in Huntsville’s bowling community as second only to the late Jimmy Certain on any list of the city’s all-time elite bowlers. Certain, a member of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1989, was a fixture on the PBA Tour for more than two decades. At 59, Smock continues to thrive on the lanes at the local, regional and national level. He and Certain are the only local bowlers who’ve ever won a PBA title.
Tom Monroe, a graduate of Huntsville High and UNA, is a multiple world champion in virtually every category of flying disc sports, including ultimate, freestyle, field events and especially disc golf. Monroe, currently the Flying Disc Sports instructor at both UAB and Samford in Birmingham, is widely considered the foremost expert of this increasingly popular sport. In 1976, he designed the second oldest permanent disc golf course in the world at Brahan Springs Park in Huntsville.