JACKSON, Tenn. - 11/2/2006 - Union University has announced the inaugural class of the Athletic Hall of Fame. In inducted this year is current Union Athletic Director and NAIA Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Dr. David Blackstock, Sandra Fitzgerald (posthumously), Robert Jelks (posthumously), Donald R. (Don) Morris, Sr., and Charles Homer Spain. Also being inducted because of distinguished services to Union University Athletics is Mr. and Mrs. Benny (Norma) Fesmire.
Thursday night, November 2 will be the Union University Sports Hall of Fame Banquet at 6:30 pm in the Coburn Dinning Room on the Campus of Union.
Homecoming festivities will continue over the next few days, concluding with the basketball season opener for both the Union Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs. Union's women, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA preseason poll will play St. Gregory's (Okla.) at 2:00 pm. The men, ranked No. 5 in the NAIA, will host No. 18 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) at 4:00 pm.
Biographical Sketches of Inductees:
Beginning his 33rd season as the Union University Athletic Director, Dr. Blackstock returned to the coaching ranks in the spring of 2006, as he took over the head coach of the Lady Bulldogs softball team. Dr. Blackstock has previously coached baseball, women’s basketball, and softball. Dr. David Blackstock leads an athletic department that is currently made up of 10 varsity sports.
After graduating from Union University in 1964, Blackstock attended Memphis State University (University of Memphis) where he earned the Master of Education degree in 1967. He also received his doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Blackstock then returned to Union in 1973 where he served as athletic director and instructor in the physical education department.
Along with co-head coach, Linn Stranak, Dr. Blackstock guided the 1975 Bulldog baseball team to the NAIA World Series third place finish. During his eleven years as baseball coach, Blackstock guided Union to a 288-170 win/loss record.
However, it is as head coach of the Lady Bulldogs basketball team that Blackstock may be most remembered. He compiled a 509-89 record over 17 seasons, and led his team to the 1998 NAIA National Championship. Dr. Blackstock was named NAIA Coach of the Year in 1998 and was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1999. For his efforts and leadership, Blackstock was named the TranSouth Conference Athletic Director of the Year in 2003-2004.
Dr. Blackstock is married to his wife, Armita, of 39years. They have two children, Dixie Blackstock Waddell, ’00, and Rebel. The Blackstocks are active members of Englewood Baptist Church.
Sandra (Sandy) Lewis Fitzgerald, ‘79
Sandra Lewis Fitzgerald, affectionately known as “Sandy” by her many friends, graduated from Chester County High School in 1975. She attended Union University and from the beginning was a star member of the Lady Bulldogs Basketball team, playing all four years during her collegiate career. She was also a member of Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity. Sandy is an alumna of the Union University Class of 1975, earning the Bachelor of Science Degree. Also a graduate of Trevecca Nazarene in Nashville, Ms. Fitzgerald earned the Master’s Degree in Secondary Education Administration in 1992.
Coach Fitzgerald was beloved and revered by those with whom she coached along with players and students. Sandy coached at Haywood County High School, Brownsville, Tennessee, from August, 1979 to May, 1980, when she came to teach and coach at Jackson-Central Merry High School, where she served for 22 years, until August, 2002.
Coach Fitzgerald received many honors during her esteemed coaching career:
· TSSAA District 13 AAA Coach of the Year, 1995-96
· Best of the West Girls’ Basketball Coach
· TSSAA Girls Basketball Class AAA State Championship, March, 1996
· Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year, 1996
· A.F. Bridges Sportsmanship Award Coach of the Year 1999-2000
· TSSAA District 13 AAA Coach of the Year 2000-2001
Sandy Fitzgerald passed away on August 23, 2002, after a valiant fight against cancer. Sandy was married to Lt. Jeff Fitzgerald of the Madison County Sherriff’s Department for 24 years. The Fitzgerald’s have one son, Zachary.
Robert (Bobby) Jelks, ‘38
To evoke the name of former Union University football coach, Bobby Jelks, will bring tears to the eyes and lumps in the throat of burly, grown men, formerly known as the Union University football team.
Jelks was a native of White Bluff, Mississippi. After graduating from Lexie High School in 1934, he enrolled at Pearl River Community College and later came to Union University to complete his Baccalaureate Degree. Jelks, playing under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, was a star on the 1936 football team which waged war against heavily favored gridiron foe, the University of Mississippi. The game ended in a scoreless tie. That same year capped the season by defeating Murray State and clinching the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association football championship.
Coach also led high school teams at Gleason and Lexington before being picked to lead the football charge at Grove High School in Paris, Tennessee. He also coached the first basketball team in Henry County to the state tournament in 1944-45 and won the consolation game. Coach Jelk’s 1949 football team went on to beat Memphis Central for the West Tennessee championship. According to family members, Jelks considered leaving Henry County only once for an increase in pay at other schools. When Jelks approached the school board chairman in Henry County, they agreed to match any other schools’ offer. Jelk’s salary was raised to $50.00 per month. Jelks also played professional football for the Brooklyn Tigers in 1944, for a phenomenal sum of $190 per week.
The decision to return to Paris after “a physical beating, the like of which I had never before” was a piece of cake. He compared it to the decision of resigning from Grove in 1951 to take the job of athletic director, basketball and football coach at Union University.
Union University last fielded a football team in 1953. In 2003, Union University Homecoming featured a 50-Year Reunion for the Union University football team that featured players from 1938 to 1958. The University proclaimed that day as “Robert (Bobby) and Martha Jelks Day” at Union University. Thirty-five players returned for the day to enjoy a great time of fellowship but even more to honor their beloved coach.
Jelk’s widow, Martha, still makes her home in Paris, Tennessee. They have served the Union family through their service as exemplary alumni, generous donors, and strong supporters of the Paris/Henry County Alumni Chapter. Eight of their family members are alumni of Union University.
Donald R. (Don) Morris, Sr., 1962
Don Morris, longest tenured coach in the history of the Union University golf program, is a Union University graduate from the Class of 1962, holding the Bachelor of Music Degree. He is also a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. Don also holds the Master of Science Degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin with additional graduate study at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis.
Don Morris has touched the lives of thousands of Union University students through his dual role as golf coach along with numerous other responsibilities at Union, most notably: admissions counselor, 1969-72; financial aid officer, 1972-75, Director of Financial Aid, 1975-1988, and Assistant Vice President/Director of Financial aid, 1989-2001.
As a member of the Union University Golf Team from 1958-1962, Don was the individual winner of the Volunteer State Athletic Conference Tournament in 1961. He served as Head Coach of the Union University Golf Team from 1972-1998, Assistant Coach, 2001-2002, and again as Head Coach from 2002 until the present. During this time, the Union Golf Team won the Tennessee Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship eight times; TranSouth Conference in 2006, NAIA District 24 championship three times, and the Tennessee Intercollegiate Tournament eight times. Mr. Morris also coached the Bulldog Golf Team to twelve NAIA Tournament appearances from 1979 to 2006.
Coach Morris has been named Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Athletic Conference on eight different occasions, NAIA District Coach of the Year three times, and Coach of the Year for the TranSouth Athletic Conference in 2006.
Don is has been married to Dr. Pat Morris, a member of the Union University library staff for 45 years. They have three sons: Bob, Mel, and Andy, along with 5 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Don and Pat are active members of First Baptist Church, Jackson.
Charles Homer Spain, ‘62
Charles Homer Spain, Union University Class of 1962, received a four year basketball scholarship after lettering in basketball all four years of his high school career at Clarksburg High School. Mr. Spain also completed the Masters Degree in Education Administration at Murray State University and the Masters Degree in Marketing at the University of Memphis.
During his athletic career at Union, Mr. Spain was “All Conference” for three years, led the conference in scoring for two years, was captain of the basketball team for two years and as a senior was the recipient of the first “Fred Delay Trophy” as the Outstanding Athlete at Union University. He was also named an “Alpha Tau Omega All-American”.
Mr. Spain was also drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball Association, the only Union University basketball stand-out drafted by the N.B.A. Mr. Spain is the only Union basketball player to have retired his jersey, No. 12.
In addition to his stellar basketball career, Mr. Spain was an educator and community leader. He served as teacher, basketball coach, and assistant principal at Grove High School, Paris, Tennessee, for 8 ½ years. While coaching at Grove, the team won five conference championship, four district championships, two regional championships and went all the way to the “Sweet 16” at the State Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Mr. Spain had a very success career in life insurance for thirty plus years, serving as an agent, regional directors, and vice-president of marketing. While in sales, he qualified for the “Million-Dollar Round Table” for seven consecutive years and was appointed a life member of the “Million Dollar Round Table”.
After returning to Paris in 1992, Mr. Spain was inducted into the Paris-Henry County Sports Hall of Fame, the Henry County Coaches Hall of Fame and the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame. Mr. Spain is a member of First Baptist Church, Paris, Tennessee.
Inductees for Distinguished Service to Union University Athletics:
Mr. and Mrs. Bennie (Norma) Fesmire
No names are more synonymous with Union University athletics than those of Bennie and Norma Fesmire. Their involvement began in the mid-60’s as they began to follow the men’s basketball team. That loyalty has extended to Lady Bulldogs Basketball and numerous other sports activities on the Union University campus. The Fesmire’s are a constant source of encouragement and support for Union coaches and players.
Born and raised in Henderson County, Benny and Norma Fesmire moved to Jackson, Tennessee soon after they were married in 1953. After working in the banking industry
for several years, Mr. Fesmire entered the private business world. Through long hours and hard work, he has built one of the most successful businesses in Madison County and beyond. Because of her intense love for children, Mrs. Fesmire worked at the West Jackson Baptist Church Child Development Center well past thirty years.
The Fesmire’s have touched the lives of hundreds of Union University students over the years through their scholarship support. Dedicated on April 10, 2000, Fesmire Fields, among the finest baseball, softball, and press box facilities in the state, were provided through a generous gift by the Fesmire Foundation. In August, 2006, the Fesmire Fieldhouse was dedicated with a 4,000 square foot turf room, locker rooms for baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, along with training rooms, and office space. The Fesmire’s humble spirit, generous heart, and faithful support will inspire Union University athlete’s for man generations to come.
The Fesmire’s have two children, Terri, and Ben, Jr., Union University Class of 1984.The Fesmire’s have five grandchildren and are faithful members of West Jackson Baptist Church.
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Fax: (731) 661-5182