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B-LC has historically turned out great athletes

In collecting anecdotal accounts of local history, the topic that has brought the most response so far has been a general query about great local athletes. Old Booker and Milner High Schools turned out great players in all sports as have Lamar County and Barnesville Academy. Names like Stan Lyons, Craig Ogletree, Rodney Fletcher and Willie Hamm dot those long lists but Gordon Military College and its high school teams do not get the mention they deserve with regard to the number of great athletes who played there. Barnesville native and Gordon alum Don Neuner has encyclopedic knowledge of Gordon’s athletic history and provided extensive records for the project we will highlight in our 150th Anniversary Issue which is coming later this month. Jim Fox played basketball at Gordon and later played 10 years in the NBA. Jerry Waller played at Gordon after graduating from R.E. Lee in Thomaston and went on to UGA where he is still fourth all-time in rebounding and 25th in scoring. He died of a brain tumor at age 65 in 2008. Tommy (Lefty) Mullinax played golf at Gordon, was a renowned trick shot artist and held the course record at the old Barnesville links with a 59. He flirted with a PGA career but his putting often betrayed him. One story Neuner shared was that of Mike Bankston who played football at Gordon and went on to Marshall University. After his playing career, he worked as a graduate assistant on the coaching staff there. An academic conflict kept him on campus when the Thundering Herd went to play East Carolina on Nov. 14, 1970. The Herd lost the game 17-14. The plane carrying them back to West Virginia crashed, killing 37 players, the coaching staff, doctors, athletic director and 25 team boosters. Those boosters made up the core of civic and political influence in Huntingdon, WV. Marshall would have been on the doomed plane if not for the conflict. The crash is the subject of the move ‘˜We are Marshall’. At least four Gordon grads played in the NFL. Gary Barnes went to Clemson and played professionally for Green Bay, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta. Tommy Morrow played at Southern Miss and later for the Oakland Raiders. Tommy Pharr went on to Mississippi State and then joined the Buffalo Bills. Ken Roskie left Gordon for South Carolina. He spent time with San Francisco, Detroit and Green Bay in the NFL. Bob McWhorter went from Gordon to Georgia and became UGA’s first All-American. UGA’s McWhorter Hall is named in his honor and was long the Bulldogs’ athletic dormitory. Gordon sent some 50 players on to major college football careers. You can view these lists in the 11.14.17 print edition of The Herald Gazette. We are still in search of a comprehensive list of standout athletes from Barnesville Academy. This week we are seeking your memories of outstanding local coaches and thrilling games played here. E-mail those recollections to news@barnesville.com or call 770-358-NEWS. (Note: Also helping with the Gordon athletic history were Doug Tuttle and Dan Rainey.)

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