FLORENCE — The twenty-fourth class of inductees for the University of North Alabama Athletic Hall of Fame has been selected and includes former student-athletes from the Lions baseball, men’s basketball, football, volleyball and tennis teams.
The UNA Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2013 includes former baseball All-Americans Douglas Hargett and Josh Willingham, former Lion tennis player and longtime sports information director Jeff Hodges, basketball standout Ricky Johnson, football All-American Harvey Summerhill and volleyball All-American Nesrin Seckin.
The group will be formally inducted into the UNA Athletic Hall of Fame in a ceremony at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 12 as part of UNA’s 2013 Homecoming celebration.
Following its creation in 1990, the UNA Athletic Hall of Fame inducted four members each year through 2005. Beginning in 2006, that number was expanded to six, and this year will mark the eighth year with six honorees.
This year’s induction brings the total number of inductees into the UNA Athletic Hall of Fame to 112.
Hargett, a Cherokee, Ala., native, was a four-year starter on UNA baseball teams from 1999-2002 and earned All-American and Academic All-America® honors for the Lions, becoming one of the most recognized student-athletes in school history.
He started at third base as a freshman on the Lions’ 1999 Gulf South Conference and NCAA Regional Championship team that reached the Division II World Series.
He was selected first-team All-Gulf South Conference in 2001 and 2002 and was first-team ABCA All-South Region in 2002 and second-team in 2001. He was an ABCA third-team All-American in 2002 and earned three GSC Player of the Week awards as a senior.
Hargett played in 192 career games and had a .366 career batting average (243 of 659) with167 runs scored and 168 RBI. He added 88 extra base hits, including 23 home runs and set school records for career at bats (659), career hits (243), career total bases (380), career doubles (62) and career games played (192). He ranked 15th nationally in Division II in batting in 2001 with a .445 average.
The recipient of GSC Commissioner’s Trophy in 2001 and 2002 as the top male student-athlete in the league, he was also selected as Disney’s Wide World of Sports Conference Commissioner’s Association Regional Male Athlete of the Year in 2001 and 2002 and Disney’s Wide World of Sports Conference Commissioner’s Association National Male Athlete of the Year in 2001 and 2002.
An Academic All-GSC and ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selection in 2000, 2001 and 2002, Hargett was named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and was named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® of the Year for collegiate baseball in 2001 and 2002
Hargett attended UNA on baseball and leadership scholarships and graduated magna cum laude with a double-major in Political Science and Biology. He also received UNA’s prestigious Turris Fidelis Award for outstanding service to the University. He was selected UNA’s Male Athlete of the Year for 2000-01 and 2001-02. He later attended law school at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) School of Law, graduating cum laude. While at Ole Miss, he served as an Associate Editor of the Mississippi Law Journal (excellence in legal writing) and on the Executive Committee of the Moot Court Board (excellence in trial advocacy). He practiced law in Huntsville in two of Alabama’s largest law firms, Maynard Cooper & Gale, P.C. and Balch & Bingham LLP, before returning home to join Hall | Tanner | Hargett as a partner in July, 2009. As a trial lawyer, Hargett regularly represents both plaintiffs and defendants in civil litigation in state and federal courts and alternative dispute resolution proceedings (arbitration and mediation) throughout North Alabama.
Hargett was selected by Super Lawyers as a 2013 Alabama Rising Star for demonstrating excellence in the practice of law, an honor limited to only 2.5 percent of attorneys within the state. He has also been rated as an AV Preeminent rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell since 2011, the highest possible rating for both legal ability and ethical standards. Douglas was elected and served as President of the Colbert County Bar Association in 2012. While practicing law in Huntsville, Douglas was elected by his peers to serve as President Elect of the Huntsville Young Lawyers. In 2009, he was nominated to receive the Huntsville/Madison County Young Professional of the Year Award before returning home to the Shoals to practice law.
Hodges, a Decatur, Ala., native, is in his 30th year as sports information director at UNA, where he has helped promote five national championship teams, hundreds of all conference and All-American student-athletes, two Harlon Hill Trophy winners, and worked at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
A 1982 graduate of UNA with a B.S. degree in Journalism and History, Hodges was a two-year letterman on the Lions’ tennis teams, and played No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles on the 1981 Gulf South Conference championship tennis squad. He worked two years as a student assistant in the Office of University Relations at UNA and worked for six months as a sports writer at the Florence Times Daily newspaper before being hired as the first full-time SID at UNA in July of 1983.
In July of 1997 he was honored by the College Sports Information Directors of America as the 1997 recipient of the Warren Berg Award, presented annually to a college division member who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of college sports information, and, who by his or her activities outside the field, has brought dignity and prestige to the profession. In addition to becoming the youngest recipient ever of the Berg Award at age 36, Hodges was also inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame in 1997.
He was honored by UNA with the Faculty/Staff Alumni Service Award in 1994 and as Alumni of the Year for 2001.
In 2008 he received the Scoop Hudgins Outstanding SID Award from the All-American Football Foundation. The award is presented to athletic media relations professionals who have done outstanding work to promote collegiate football. In 2009 he received a 25-Year Award from the College Sports Information Directors of America for a quarter century of service to the sports information profession.
In February of 2002 he served as Venue Press Chief for Ski Jumping at Utah Olympic Park at the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Hodges was also the Venue Press Chief at the 2001 U.S. Nordic Ski Festival in Park City, Utah. At the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Hodges served as Venue Press Chief for volleyball at the Omni, where he supervised all press operations for both the men and women’s volleyball competition. Hodges had previously served as press officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival in North Carolina, the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival in San Antonio, Texas, and the XVII Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994.
He has served as media coordinator for the NCAA Division II Football Championship Game since 1986 and is on the Board of Directors of the Shoals National Championship Committee, which sponsors the game. For the last 27 years he has also served as chairman of the National Harlon Hill Award Committee, which presents the annual NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year trophy. In 1999 he created the Division II Football Hall of Fame and also serves as its chairman.
In 1995 he successfully promoted the first defensive player to win the Hill Trophy in the award’s history, in UNA linebacker Ronald McKinnon. Then in 2003, Hodges promoted UNA’s second Hill Trophy winner in quarterback Will Hall.
During Hodges time at North Alabama, the school’s athletic publications have received more than 80 national awards from CoSIDA, including 25 “Best in the Nation” awards. In 1995 Hodges was appointed to the Honors Court (selection committee) of the College Football Hall of Fame, and in 2009 he was placed on the selection committee for the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Among his numerous involvements within CoSIDA, Hodges is currently the CoSIDA Secretary and has served 14 years on the CoSIDA Board of Directors.
In addition to his other duties at UNA, Hodges is chairman of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame and has hosted 52 NCAA Division II playoff games, including 27 Championship Games, in addition to the 2011 NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship and 10 other NCAA regional events in basketball, baseball, volleyball, golf and women’s basketball.
In all, Hodges has worked 352 of UNA’s last 354 football games since 1983 and has worked 28 straight Division II Football Championship Games.
Johnson was a standout on UNA men’s basketball teams from 1989-92 and ranks as the eighth leading scorer in school history with 1,237 points. A Florence native, he was a four-year letterman and starter on UNA’s 1991 NCAA Division II National Championship team. He averaged 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds on that team that went 29-4. During his four-year career he helped lead UNA to a combined 84-32 record that included a 50-10 home record at Flowers Hall. The Lions were 16-11 in 1988-89, 20-8 in 1989-90, 29-4 in 1990-91 and 19-9 in 1991-92.
In 112 career games with the Lions he averaged 11.0 points and pulled 703 rebounds for a 6.3 average. He also finished his career with a 51.1 field goal percentage, hitting 500 of 971 shot attempts. His career high-scoring game was 30 points against Mississippi College on February 19, 1990 and his career high-rebound game was 20 against West Georgia on January 13, 1992. He scored in double-figures 68 career times in his career and had 24 career double-figure rebound games. He started the last 89 consecutive games of his career at UNA, starting every game of the 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons.
He is the owner of New Beginning Tees in Madison, Ala.
Seckin was a two-time All-American with the Lions volleyball teams in 2000 and 2001 and led UNA to a combined 72-7 record in her two seasons at the school. She was selected first-team All-Gulf South Conference and first-team All-South Region in 2000 and 2001 and was a two-time GSC East Division Player of the Year and two-time GSC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
In 2000 she was voted second-team AVCA All-American and third-team Daktronics All-American. In 2001 she was a first-team AVCA All-American selection and a third-team Daktronics pick. An All-Region Tournament pick in 2000 and 2001 and an Elite Eight All-Tournament selection in 2000, Seckin was a four-time GSC Player of the Week during her career. She ranked 24th nationally in kills (4.58) as a junior and 11th (5.17) as a senior. She ranked 29th nationally in hitting percentage in 2000 at .353. The Lions were 40-3 in 2000 and 32-4 in 2001. UNA won GSC and South Region titles in 2000 and advanced to the Elite Eight and won another GSC title in 2001 and finished as the region runner-up.
A two-time Academic All-GSC pick and a 2000 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, she received a GSC Top Eight award in 2002 and was selected as UNA’s Female Athlete of the Year for 2001-02.
Seckin graduated cum laude from UNA in 2001 with degree in Accounting and is currently employed as a procurement auditor with BBVA Compass Bank in Birmingham, Ala.
Summerhill, a native of Tuscumbia, Ala., was a four-year starter on UNA football teams from 1989-92 and was a two-time All-American for the Lions. He was named to the second-team of the Football Gazette All-America squad as a junior in 1991 and was a consensus All-American pick as a senior in 1992 when he was selected by Kodak and the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press, the Football Gazette, and the C.M. Frank All-American teams.
He was selected first-team All-Gulf South Conference by the league’s coaches in 1990, 1991, and 1992, making him just the second Lion football player at that point to ever be a three-time first-team All-GSC pick. During his four-year career as a starter with the Lions he made 312 tackles, with 171 solo stops and 143 assists. He had 12 interceptions and 22 pass-breakups.
Summerhill made 73 tackles in his senior season with 51 solo stops and 22 assists. He has two interceptions as UNA led the league in scoring defense and total defense and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs. As a junior in 1991, he recorded 107 tackles, making 48 solo stops and 59 assists. He made one tackle for loss of three yards and intercepted five passes. He helped lead the Lions to a playoff appearance as a sophomore in 1991 after recording 97 tackles. He made 43 solo stops, added 54 assists, intercepted three passes and broke up a career high eight passes.
As a true freshman in 1989, he recorded 37 tackles, making 29 solo stops and eight assists. He also intercepted two passes and returned them for 61 yards.
Summerhill was named to the Gulf South Conference “Team of the Quarter Century” for 1971-1995 and was selected for the 50th Anniversary UNA Football Team for 1949-1998. He was also named to the Gulf South Conference Team of the 1990’s and was UNA’s Male Athlete of the Year for 1992-93.
He still resides in Tuscumbia and works for United Parcel Service (UPS).
Willingham, a Florence native, was a three-year letterman, two-time All-American and Academic All-America® baseball player at UNA from 1998-2000. During his three seasons at UNA he tied or broke 14 school records.
A two-time All-Gulf South Conference, two-time Academic All-GSC, two-time ABCA All-South Central Region and two-time ABCA All-American (first-team in 1999 and second-team in 2000) selection, Willingham was also named Academic All-America@ in 2000, making him one of just eight student-athletes in school history to be both an All-American and Academic All-America® honoree.
Willingham finished his three-year collegiate career with a .424 batting average. He scored 178 runs, had 205 hits, 185 RBI, 43 doubles, four triples, 30 home runs and 70 stolen bases in 77 attempts. He also set a school record with five grand slams.
In his final season at UNA he hit .420 as a junior (73-of-174) with 13 home runs and 75 runs batted in and also scored 74 runs. He was selected as UNA’s Male Athlete of the Year for 1999-2000.
During his career he led UNA to a combined 119-40-1 record that included the 1999 Gulf South Conference Championship, the 1999 NCAA Division II South Central Regional Championship and a trip to the 1999 Division II College World Series. He also earned five GSC Player of the Week honors.
He has spent the last 10 years in the Major Leagues, playing five seasons with the Florida Marlins, two with the Washington Nationals, one with Oakland A’s and the last two with the Minnesota Twins. He has played in 1,006 major league games and has a .258 career batting average with 891 hits, 504 runs scored and 576 runs batted in. He has hit 177 home runs and has added 198 doubles and 14 triples for 389 career extra-base hits. His 471 career walks have helped give him an impressive .361 on base percentage.
Willingham hit 28 home runs with the A’s in 2011 and followed with a career-high 35 homers and 110 runs batted in with the Twins last season, earning an American League Silver Slugger Award in the outfield.
He has been hampered by injuries during the 2013 season but has still hit 10 home runs and driven in 32 runs for the Twins.
His 177 career home runs rank 42nd among active Major League players.
Courtesy: UNA Media Relations