BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Hernando High School’s gym had its party face on, Thursday Sept. 19, as the place looked so different, it really does clean up nice.
There was just enough light in the gym to create the atmosphere, the dinner was prepared and served by the students of the Hernando High School Culinary Arts Department and some of the musical entertainment was provided by the Hernando High School Chorus.
This year, the Hall of Fame Committee inducted nine former Hernando High School athletes and one team to be enshrined inside the Hernando High School Hall of Fame.
Each new member of the Hall of Fame brought their own unique story to share with the audience, it was a chance to hear about the rich history of Hernando High School athletics.
The committee welcomed: Marcey Lee-Abrecht, Andy Oravec, Thurmond Chambers, Blane Brown, Johnny Brackins, Alan Chatman, Jermaine Green, Leela Hadsock-Lortz, Andrew Timmons and the members of the 1997 Girl’s Golf team back home and one more chance to be teammates.
The moment that she stepped onto the court, Lee-Abrecht knew that she had found the opportunity to become an athlete. Her coaches found out too that she was tough and would always be ready to give her best effort whether it was on the hardwood of the court or running in the green grass of left field for the softball team.
Lee-Abrecht was the first player at Hernando High School to score over 1,000 points during her basketball career and she was named the Conference Player of the Year three years in a row.
Already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a member of the 1984 Hernando High School softball team. Lee-Abrecht led her softball team to an incredible record of 28-1 and finishing that season as the State of Florida Softball champions.
“I would like to thank the committee for this honor,” Lee-Abrecht said. “I would also thank my husband and my two sons that are here to share this honor with me.”
Leopards offense guard and defensive tackle Andy Oravec was described by the Hernando High School legendary football coach Tom Varn Sr. as the meanest and the best football player that he had the honor to coach.
Oravec graduated as a member of the class of 1949, he never wanted to come out of the huddle. He was named as a member of the all-conference team and the defense squad that he played with, only allowed just six points during the season.
The loudest of the applause that came from the audience was reserved for the man affectionately known by all as – “Chief.”
Thurman Chambers was not only elected to the Hernando High School Hall of Fame but he also received the Ernie Chatman Award for community service that is given to an individual who goes above and beyond the call of his civic duty.
Chambers coached Girls’ Golf for 10 years and in his fifth season, he was able to lead a group of talented ladies out onto the golf course. He describes the members of that team as great student leaders off the course and in the hallways of Hernando High School.
His team won 105 matches, collected five conference titles, his teams made four appearances at the State of Florida High School Girls’ Golf and winning a state title in 1997.
Chambers said that the 1997 Girls’ Golf team was just a special group of young ladies on the golf course. He considered the experience to coach this group of athletes, a privilege but also the highlight of his coaching career.
“They were dedicated to the game of golf and they were determined to win the state championship,” Chambers said. “There was no changing their minds on that subject!”
During the 1997 golf season the Leopards were 16-0 and did not disappoint themselves, their school, their coach or their parents when they came home with the trophy.
The legendary story that is told around the local golf club, Blane Brown could punish the golf ball off the tee but he would also master the golf ball anywhere on the course.
Brown’s motto on the golf course, ‘Let it all hang out!’
Brown won the district championship in 1990 and 1991 and he was also named Player of the Year. He went on to play golf for the University of North Florida and was the president of the Christan Athlete Association on campus, where he became an inspirational speaker and that is an accomplishment that made Brown proud.
Johnny Brackins recalled his days growing up in the city of Brooksville. He said it was an experience that made him feel, not to be afraid to explore his ability as an athlete.
Brackins played and excelled in football, basketball but as an athlete, he dominated the competition on the track.
Many observers and coaches say that Brackins was so fast, that he could beat the smoke from the starter’s pistol to the finish line.
His 48 foot and eight inches at the triple-jump event not only raised Brackins up into the air but it also piqued the interest of many NCAA track coaches from around the United States.
Brackins was accepted and enrolled at the University of Kansas located in Lawrence, Kansas and is the same school that produced Chicago Bears running back legend Gale Sayers.
He has competed at the United States Olympic tryout team but he would not make the team, the only disappointment that Brackins endured on the track.
According to the nephew of former Leopards baseball player Alan Chatman, he would have enjoyed the good time celebrating his anticipation to become a part of the Hernando High School Hall of Fame.
Chatman’s contribution to the baseball team is legendary but like his fastball that was under control and could find the target, Chatman’s dedication toward his family was always a home run.
Playing football under the watchful eye of Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden was not stressful enough or helping the Seminoles win their first NCAA football championship. It did not change the person Jermaine Green became, he is a humble, strong man with an even stronger commitment toward his family and toward his neighbor.
Green always worked hard during football season on and off the gridiron and when he did approach the football field during a game, he played with such passion that by the end of the game, he would earn the respect of the opposition.
Green ran for 1,748 yards in 1993, his senior year at Hernando High School, named as the 1993 Player of the Year by the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times selected Green for the All-Suncoast Conference Team.
The stories are told about Leela Hadsock-Lortz, she would never stop training. She would always be running and it did not matter what the clock said, she would run in any kind of weather. She would get her gear on, she would put her hair up in her familiar pony tale and she would be running.
Hadsock-Lortz says that she did not want to miss the twinkle of the different shades of orange that glowed from the eastern horizon at sunrise.
There was always that creamy caramel-color that splashed across the clouds as the sun set under waves of the gulf. Hadsock-Lortz would not miss the freedom from running or the spectacular work of art created by the sun.
As a member of the Hernando High School Cross Country and Track team, Hadsock-Lortz would not be a stranger at the State Championship Meets for both disciplines of running.
She dominated the 800-meter and the 1,600 meter races for her team, in 2005 Hadsock-Lortz would not be denied the gold medal at the state championship for the 800 meter run.
When former Leopard, Andrew Timmions wanted to start football, his mother did not approve of his choice. Like all moms around the world, she worried about the health and welfare of her son.
Timmons grandmother had a different opinion, she recognized the ability and the God-given talent that Timmons possesed, to play the game of football. Like all grandmothers do, she encouraged her grandson to use his talent on the football field and give the glory to God.
Timmons played the middle linebacker position for the Leopards, he is described as a player that love to hit, especially running backs. He said that playing football is a man’s sport and that it was the best feeling and that was his drug of choice because he simply was addicted to the sport.
As the evening’s pageantry concluded, there was still plenty of time for reminiscing, time for tears and hugs to be shared by friends and teammates.
All of the athletes that are honored in the Hall of Fame should be proud to know that the rich tradition and the rich history provided by the newest members of the Hernando High School Hall of Fame is solid as the gold that is on display behind the glass in front of the trophy case, it will never tarnish the reputation of Hernando High School Athletics.