Poteau Athletic Hall of Fame revival

It has been 10 long years since the Poteau High School Hall of Fame has had an induction ceremony to honor previous members of the Poteau High School fraternity of athletes, coaches and support staff. Friday night, May 25, the Hall of Fame held an induction ceremony that saw 41 former athletes, coaches and supporters enshrined. Only 5 inductees were not present due to prior commitments. The induction ceremony was held in conjunction with the all school reunion, which is held every three years. Merl Moss was the emcee of the ceremony and he recognized all the current members of the Hall of Fame. Jim Cook gave an opening prayer and blessed the food. Don Sjorberg, the Poteau High School superintendant, was introduced and gave a welcome and greeting from the Poteau school system. He told a story of how sports help to shape and mold his character. He also spoke of how the people of Poteau would come together and honor the previous players, coaches and support crew that have made the Pirates great in the past and will help to make them great in the future. Sjorberg then introduced Mike Sullivan, the founder of the Poteau High School Sports Hall of Fame. Sullivan told about how the Hall of Fame came into being those many years ago. He said that the first inductee into the Poteau High School Hall of Fame was Coach Sherman Floyd. After a brief review the inductions began. The oldest inductee was Samuel Brown, from the class of 1946. Brown passed away last year, but his three daughters accepted the plaque for their father. The youngest inductee was Devin Smith, a high school All-State member for soccer and also the first girl to letter for the high school football team. Howard Florence was inducted for his prowess in football. He graduated in 1954. He came wearing his high school letterman’s jacket and he brought out his football jersey from 1954. Florence paid homage to his teammates and those who were no longer alive.Leon Wyatt told about his very first day of football practice at Poteau High School. He said, “I was just a country boy from Leflore, who had never even seen a football game. The first day of practice, I did not know how to put on my pads or helmet. On the very first play of the scrimmage, Coach Floyd put me at a linebacker position and on the very first scrimmage play, I found myself standing in the lane, that Doc (David) Rolle was slated to run through. For all of you who do not know the name David Rolle, he was a Poteau High School All-American, who went on to star at the University of Oklahoma and later the Denver Broncos. Rolle held the record for most TDs in a season, 44. That record stood for more than 20 years until Billy Sims broke it. Anyway Wyatt said, “Doc hit me so hard, that it took me over 10 minutes to stop rolling.”Ronnie Riggs was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his expertise as a baseball pitcher. David Robertson quipped about Riggs going 2 for 2 as a hitter. Robertson then added that two hits in two years is not bad. Patrick Lynch was recognized for not only his expertise in sports, but he was the outstanding Poteau Primary Teacher in 2005 and 2006. Patrick’s plaque was accepted by his father James in memory of their son. Latasha Steele could not be present due to her prior commitment to her Ob-Gyn rotation in Houston. Latasha was not only a sports star at Poteau High School, but she attended Notre Dame University on a track scholarship and then matriculated at the University of Kansas Medical School. The highlight of the night for many occurred when the Collins twins, Jerry and Paul, were presented to the crowd. One brother said, “I thank God that I was a Poteau Pirate.” While the other said, “Every drop of blood that was shed on the basketball court, football field, track, baseball diamond was well worth it, because it was shed for Poteau High School.”Along with Lynch and Brown, Coach Nelson Davis, was also issued an award posthumously. The Poteau High School Athletic Hall of Fame is eagerly looking forward to 2015, the date of the next All School Hall of Fame. That will be the next time that there will be a Hall of Fame induction ceremony.