Ricky Baker, Brownie Robinson, Jill Gwaltney, Virginia Ann Huddleston and Olivia Seay were the first five members of the Hall of Fame. Community members looked at a number of people, both athletes and not, to be a part of the first group. They will continue to look at others from the 105 years of the school’s existence for future inductions.
Baker, the star of Watertown’s 1971 state semifinal football team; Robinson, the Purple Tigers’ football coach from 1963-73; Gwaltney, basketball standout for Watertown and Cumberland University; Huddleston, a former athlete and then school secretary; and Seay, who was a Watertown community teacher, were all part of the first class.
A five-member committee chose the inductees. They consisted of Wilson County leaders, as well as school staff and administration.
“The school has existed for more than 100 years,” said emcee and Watertown basketball coach Matt Bradshaw. “There have been plenty of fine students, teachers and athletes, coaches, administrators, staff, administrators and staff who have come through this great school. This is not something we really wanted to take lightly. It’s not something that we really wanted to throw together or turn into a sideshow.
“We also didn’t just want to recognize someone at a basketball game. We wanted to take the time to do something right and do something we felt like the community could get around. We have criteria of how we select people, and that criteria does not just include athletes.”
Bradshaw said many schools have a sports hall of fame, but in a community like Watertown, “there have been so many good people – administrators, coaches, staff – who have thrown their heart and soul into the school,” Bradshaw said. “They deserve to get attention, and they deserve to be recognized. It was important to us that this was not just a Watertown sports hall of fame, but rather a Watertown Hall of Fame.”