Sept. 15, 2010
Macon, Ga. – Former Georgia Tech football player and Southeastern Conference football official Joe Delany, and Yellow Jacket golfer Bill Ploeger have been selected to be inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame Honors Court met at the museum Tuesday to select the hall of fame’s Class of 2011. Delany and Ploeger were chosen along with high school football coach Robert Davis, basketball star Dale Ellis, former Georgia head football coach Ray Goff, high school and collegiate tennis standout Lisa Spain Short, and former Florida State football star James “J.T.” Thomas.
The seven members of the 2011 class were selected from a starting pool of 251 eligible nominees that have distinguished themselves in a myriad of sports at every level of competition. “I’m amazed each year at the seemingly limitless number of world-class athletes that our state produces”, said Interim Director Ben Sapp. “At the Honors Court level, the committee members are always faced with very difficult decisions; this year was no different.”
The Class of 2011 represents the very best Georgia has to offer in athletics, coaching, and officiating. Among them are athletes that excelled in basketball, football, golf, and tennis; championship caliber coaches; and an SEC referee that wrote the book on football officiating.
Delany is a long time resident of Atlanta who played football at Georgia Tech. Following his playing days, Delany became an SEC football official. In 30 years of officiating, he worked 20 bowl games – including the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, and Cotton Bowls – and six national championship games. During his time with the SEC, Delany served in a variety of leadership roles and was asked to co-author the SEC Mechanics Manual of Football Officiating that is still in use today.
Ploeger, a native of Brunswick, Ga., proved himself one of the state’s best golfers at every level of competition. As captain of Georgia Tech’s golf team in 1963, he was named an Honorable Mention All-American. Among the many golf tournaments that Ploeger won during his career are 11 Golden Isles Invitational championships. He went on to have a stellar career as a senior playing in both the U.S. and British Senior Opens. He is a member of the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.
Robert Davis is one of the most decorated high-school coaches in Georgia football history. At Warner Robins High School he captured 3 state championships (1976, 1981, 1988), and his teams were twice crowned national champions (1976 & 1981). From Warner Robins, Davis went to Westside High School in Macon where he took a fledgling program and made it into one of the state’s best. In addition to receiving numerous Coach of the Year Awards, Davis coached 238 players that received college scholarships and 11 players that competed in the NFL. Davis compiled a 353-73-1 record in 36 seasons as a head coach.
Dale Ellis grew up in Marietta, Ga., and starred for the Marietta High School basketball team. Ellis went on to play at the University of Tennessee where he was a consensus First Team All-American selection in his senior year. Drafted ninth overall in the 1983 NBA Draft, Ellis played seventeen seasons as a professional scoring nearly 20,000 points and grabbing 4,418 rebounds. During his career, he played for Dallas, Seattle, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Denver. Ellis enjoyed his greatest success with the Sonics, leading the team in scoring for four consecutive seasons and being named to the NBA All-Star Team in 1989.
Goff is from Moultrie, Ga., and attended Moultrie High School. A three sport star, Goff led the Packers’ football team to a 28-4 record over three seasons. During his senior year, he was selected First Team All-State and was named to the Parade All-American Team. Collegiately, Goff played quarterback at the University of Georgia. In 1976, he led the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship and was named the SEC Player of the Year. He later became UGA’s head football coach guiding the team to a 46-34-1 record in seven seasons. His 1992 team was ranked as high as 8th in the nation and finished the season as co-champions of the SEC’s eastern division.
Short was born in Moultrie, Ga., where she attended Colquitt County High School. During her high school career, she captured four consecutive state tennis championships compiling a career singles match record of 56-1. She went on to compete for the University of Georgia where she won the 1984 NCAA Division I Singles Championship. As a professional, she climbed as high as 63rd in the world rankings and played in each of tennis’ four grand slam tournaments.
Thomas played football in his hometown of Macon at Lanier High School. After graduating in 1969, he received a scholarship to play football at Florida State University making him the first African-American football player in the school’s history. He was an All-American defensive back for FSU and was the Pittsburgh Steelers first pick in the 1973 NFL draft. As a member of Pittsburgh’s famed Steel Curtain defense, Thomas played on teams that won four Super Bowls (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979). He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1976.
Each member of the Class of 2011 will be honored at the 2011 Georgia Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.