Published Saturday, February 09, 2013
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
The Coweta Sports Hall of Fame’s annual induction banquet tonight expects to — excuse the pun — cover the bases between several eras of outstanding achievements within the county.
In addition to celebrating its three newest members — Ron Beaucham, William “Billy” Parker and Bob Tillman — the sports hall will honor one of its most recent sports teams to earn high praise, The Heritage School’s football team that reached the 2012 Class AAA state championship game.
Ceremonies for the Hall of Fame’s 11th annual banquet begin at 7 p.m. at the Coweta Fairgrounds following dinner.
They will include words from guest speaker and Newnan High graduate Vernon Strickland, who played linebacker at Georgia Tech before moving on to an NFL career with the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers despite being undrafted.
He successfully reached the pros after surviving cancer as a child before playing football for Donny Blacksher at Smokey Road Middle and Max Bass at Newnan High before successfully walking on with Georgia Tech’s program .
Strickland now practices law for Holland & Knight in Atlanta in the areas of litigation, intellectual property and sports and entertainment after earning degrees at Georgia Tech and Mercer University’s School of Law.
This year’s three inductees — bringing the Coweta Sports Hall of Fame’s membership to 74 — equally were standout athletes at Newnan High.
Attending NHS from 1971-74, Tillman lettered in four sports — football (3 years), track (4), basketball (1) and wrestling (1) while winning the Region 6AAA high jump title all four seasons. He went on to play football at The Citadel.
Parker was a stellar basketball player at Newnan High while starting for the Tigers from 1958-61 before helping Oglethorpe University reach the NCAA Division II Final Four in 1963. He also ran track for four years at Newnan High, setting the school’s high-jump record as a freshman.
Before helping both Northgate High and The Heritage School’s football programs get off the ground as their first head coach, Beaucham was a hard-hitting defensive lineman for Bass during his only year of varsity football in 1967. He received the “Bad Cat” Award for hardest hit seven times while going on to play in the Georgia H.S.. All-Star Game.
Forced to play junior varsity after transferring from East Coweta in order to play football, Beaucham managed to earn a scholarship to play at Jacksonville State.
He received Honorable Mention All-American and was named both All-District and All-Gulf South Conference.
Beaucham went on to a 20-year coaching career in high school football. As a head coach at Bradwell Institute, Treutlen County, Northgate and Heritage he compiled a record of 72-61. He also was defensive coordinator for Thomas County Central’s Class AAA state champions in 1992 and most recently has been a defensive assistant at East Coweta.