GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - In its first five years of existence, organizers have chalked up the Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame as roaring success. As the event continues to grow into their sixth year, so does the pressure on the committee to pick each incoming class.
But, after whittling down a list of originally about 35 candidates from seven schools over the years, the committee now prepares to honor the newest members of the Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame.
The 2019 induction class includes some big names, such as former Gulfport and Southern Miss quarterback Buddy Palazzo, and former Harrison Central and Ole Miss basketball standout Charlotte Banks.
“It’s a great honor, especially growing up always as a Gulfport fan," Palazzo said. "I’ve seen a lot of athletes come through, and to be on the same stage with them is a tremendous honor.”
“I asked (them), is this a joke? Because I know about all the previous guys that have gotten in here, and I’m like man, I don’t even deserve to be on the same platform with these guys," Banks said. "It was huge for me.”
The remaining members of the class include Joseph Adams, J.E. Loiacano, Gerald Warfield, Greg Reed, Tommy Armstrong, Dwayne Davis, Kenny Jimmerson, Dr. Elliott McGlory, Tommy Snell, Gerald Austin and Tom Freeman. The 13-member class is set to be welcomed into the Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 8th at the Lyman Community Center.
“I look forward to it every year," Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame president Steve Williams said. "It’s like a Mecca event for the City of Gulfport.”
“In my humble opinion, it’s the premiere sporting event on the Coast every year, and I would dare say throughout the state," said Kent Jones, treasurer of the Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame. "It’s always packed, it’s always 400-500 (people). We sell out of tickets every year.”
“I told my university, Mississippi Valley State, that it’s harder to make the Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame than it is to make the Mississippi Valley (Hall of Fame),” Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame vice-president Prince Jones said.