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Union to induct six into Sports Hall of Fame Nov. 7

JACKSON, Tenn.Nov. 5, 2008 – Union University will induct six sports legends into its Sports Hall of Fame during a dinner Nov. 7 as part of Union’s Homecoming festivities.

The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. in the Carl Grant Events Center. Tickets are $17 and may be reserved by calling (800) 338-6644.

The dinner will also feature a tribute to David Blackstock, who recently retired after serving as Union’s athletic director for 34 years.

Hall of Fame inductees include:

-- James A. “Jimmie” Bryant, class of 1963. A track star during his time at Union, Bryant is the all-time leading scorer in Union University track competition history, scoring more than 500 points during his four-year career.

After graduating, Bryant earned two master’s degrees, an Education Specialist degree and a doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of Georgia. He spent 32 years serving in public education as a teacher, principal and a supervisor in the DeKalb County school system.

Since his retirement in 1995, Bryant and his wife Lisa have served as sports photographers for two North Georgia newspapers.

-- Ronnie G. Giddens Jr., class of 1987. Giddens joined the Union baseball team in 1979 on a full athletic scholarship. During his time at Union he became the only player in conference history to receive All-Conference honors in three positions: shortstop, left field and second base.

In 1983 Giddens played in all 57 games and led the team with a .435 batting average. He led the Bulldogs to a third-place finish in the NAIA World Series. He holds a career batting average of .409 and still holds the record for career assists with 351.

Giddens was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and later played in the Montreal Expos and Pittsburgh Pirates farm systems. He and his wife Tina, who works at Union, live in Jackson with their two daughters.

-- Joe Guyon (posthumously). Guyon served as Union’s football coach from 1919-1925 after playing on Georgia Tech’s national championship team in 1917. A Native American from the Chippewa tribe, Guyon played with six teams after the NFL was organized in 1920.

He was part of the 1927 New York Giants team that won the NFL championship.

Guyon was among the first class of inductees into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1971 alongside his lifelong friend, Jim Thorpe. Guyon spent his last years Louisville, Ky., until his death in 1971.

-- Lisa Hutchens, class of 1983 (posthumously). During her time as part of the Lady Bulldogs basketball team, Hutchens earned NAIA All-American, All-District 24 and Volunteer State Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player honors. She was Union’s first NAIA Academic All-American and still holds four school records.

After graduating, Hutchens earned a master’s degree at the University of Memphis and began her coaching career at Millington Central High School. She later moved to South Side High School in Jackson, where she was recognized as District 14 Coach of the Year for the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons.

Hutchens returned to Union as an assistant coach for the Lady Bulldogs for six years, and along with Blackstock, coached the team to the 1998 NAIA National Championship.

-- Keith Reynolds, class of 1977. Reynolds was the first resident of Hardin County to be drafted by a major league team, when the New York Mets selected him in the 15th round of the 1973 draft. He declined the offer, choosing instead to attend Union to play both baseball and basketball.

Though his baseball career ended after only one season, Reynolds excelled in basketball. As a freshman he led the Bulldogs in scoring with an average of 18.3 points per game, a figure that improved to 19 points per game during his sophomore year.

Reynolds eclipsed Jeff Richey’s all-time scoring record his senior season, amassing 1,895 points for his career. He is currently the third all-time scoring record holder for free throws for the Bulldogs. His 23 free throws made in one game is still a Union record.

He and his wife Vickie have been married for 26 years and live in Bells, Tenn.

-- Jim Swope. A native of Marion, Ill., and graduate of the University of Tennessee-Martin, Swope served as the men’s basketball coach at Union from 1975-1987. He is second all-time in wins in Union men’s basketball history, and was the first men’s coach to post back-to-back 20-wins season, in 1977-78 and 1978-79.

In 12 years at Union, Swope had nine winning seasons and qualified for the District 24 playoffs four times. He coached his 200th career victory in the Bulldogs’ season home opener against Arkansas College on Nov. 25, 1986.

He was inducted into the UTM Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992; the Jackson-Madison County Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Tennessee Junior and Community Hall of Fame in 2007. Active in his community, Swope was named “Man of the Year” in 1988 by the Bicentennial Exchange Club of Jackson.

Swope and his wife Linda have been married for 46 years and live in Jackson.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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