CLASS OF 1985
John Colvin Donaldson, a native of Jesup was an All-State football player in high school and went to the University of Georgia in 1945. Donaldson was a mainspring at halfback on Georgia's four straight bowl teams of 1945-1948. In the Georgia-Tulsa Oil Bowl game, he caught a 65-yard TD pass from Charley Trippi. He played with the old Chicago Hornets of the All-American Conference in 1949, then began a coaching career at Jesup High. In eight seasons there his teams won the division title each year and in 1954 they ended a 44-game winning streak by the Valdosta Wildcats. Jesup won the State AA Championship in 1954 and 1959. Donaldson joined head coach Ray Graves' University of Florida staff as defensive backfield coach in 1960 and served in that capacity for three years. Donaldson left Florida in 1964 to coach at the University of Georgia under new head coach Vince Dooley. He coached the offensive backfield for five years at UGA and also coordinated Georgia's running game from 1967-1968.
LEONIDAS "SONNY" EPPS
Leonidas S. “Sonny” Epps, III was born in Hope, Arkansas and came to Georgia to attend Clark College in Atlanta in 1937. As a player, Sonny once scored 51 points against Florida A&M and later was named S.I.A.C. Most Valuable Player. While Epps was a solid player, his coaching credentials were even more impressive. Sonny began his tenure at Clark in 1949. He coached football, basketball, tennis, golf and track, all in the same year. Sometimes he was the only coach Clark had. He also was a Professor of Education. He taught Health Education and Fundamentals of Coaching. With few resources, Epps won 424 basketball games, 270 football games and 10 S.I.A.C. Championships. He also spent 30 years as Athletic Director at Clark. Epps is a member of the Clark College Hall of Fame and the S.I.A.C. Hall of Fame. Clark's gymnasium was named for Coach Epps and dedicated in his honor 1983.
WILLIAM "DYNAMITE" GOODLOE, JR.
Dan William Goodloe, Jr. stood just 5-foot-5 and weighed 220 pounds which helped him earn the nickname “Dynamite.” Born in Ocilla, Goodloe was a Valdosta sports legend, having played football and golf for Valdosta High from 1934-37. He went on to play both sports at Georgia Tech, and also was a member of the diving team. Goodloe played in the 1951, 1952 and 1956 Masters, and was low amateur after three rounds in 1951 at Augusta National. He twice competed in the British Amateur, and played in four U.S. Amateurs. He won the Georgia Amateur Championship in 1954 and 1955. But, he might be best known to Georgia Tech fans as the chief recruiter for legendary football coach Bobby Dodd during the last years of his coaching career. Goodloe was the freshman coach at Tech from 1959-1968. He was an uncle to another Tech great, Bunky Henry, and taught the 1967 NCAA runner-up how to play golf. Goodloe is a member of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. He is also credited as the founder of the Valdosta Touchdown Club.
Watts Gunn was born in Macon and while at Lanier High School he captained golf teams that never lost a match. In 1926 and 1928, he played on the Walker Cup teams with Bobby Jones, defeating the British team both years. Gunn enrolled at Georgia Tech and became the first Georgia Tech golfer to win the National Collegiate Championship. He also helped Tech win the Southern Intercollegiate title the same year. Gunn made golfing history in the 1925 U.S. Amateur. He established a record for international championship golf by winning 15 straight holes in the first round of the 36-hole match. In that tournament, he would lose in the finals to friend and rival Jones, marking the only time two players from the same club ever met for the U.S. Amateur crown. Watts took the Georgia State Amateur title in 1927 and 1928. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame in 1961 and the annual award for the season’s most improved player is named in Gunn’s honor. Gunn was also inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in 1989.
Joseph Charlton "Jake" Hines was from Hinesville and he was a as key member of the South Georgia Teachers College (now Georgia Southern University) Blue Tide football program in 1936 and 1937. Hines starred as a halfback under Coach B.L. "Crook" Smith. Hines once passed the front of his own bench while carrying the football and yelled to Smith “watch me carry the mail, coach” right before he dropped it. J.C. was also a standout basketball and baseball player. Hines was the only athlete to earn 16 varsity letters in the school's history. After graduation, he was offered a tryout with the Chicago Bears of the National Football League, but decided to sign a professional baseball contract with the Cleveland Indians. He started his career in Savannah with the Class AA Indians and spent three years in the minor leagues. An eye injury he received trying to field a ground ball ended his professional career.
Fred Hooper had horses since he was a little boy on his father's farm in the northeast Georgia town of Cleveland. He didn’t have Thoroughbreds mind you, but farm animals. Still he was hooked on horse racing. He purchased a colt he would name Hoop Jr. and he entered him in the Kentucky Derby in 1945. With legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro in the irons, Hoop Jr. scored a six length win. Fred was co confident in his horse, he bought a $10,000 win ticket which made his payday over $100,000 for the day. Unfortunately, Hoop Jr. bowed a tendon in finishing second in the Preakness and never raced again. For more than 50 years, Hooper bred or raced the winners of over 100 stakes races. Susan's Girl was one of his best, the winner of three Eclipse Awards during the 1970’s as the year’s champion filly. Precisionist was the champion sprinter of 1985 when he also won the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Fred went on to win most every prestigious award Thoroughbred racing had to offer, including the Eclipse Award of Merit, membership in The Jockey Club and honorary director of the Breeders' Cup.
Blaine, Ohio native Phil Niekro attended Bridgeport High School and learned how to throw a knuckleball with the help of his father, who taught it to both Phil and his younger brother Joe. That knuckleball would serve him well as he embarked on a Hall of Fame Big League career beginning in 1959 when he signed with the Milwaukee Braves. He enjoyed a breakout season in 1967 when he posted a Major League-low 1.87 ERA. As a starter in 1969, Niekro posted a 23-13 record and became the workhorse of the Braves staff over the next decade. Niekro won 121 games after turning 40, threw a no-hitter against the Padres on Aug. 5, 1973, and won his 300th career game on the final day of the 1985 season. Phil’s 318 career victories are the most by a knuckleballer and ranks him in the top 25 on MLB's all-time wins list. He won the National League Gold Glove Award five times, was selected to five All-Star teams, and led the league in victories twice and earned run average once. Phil and his brother Joe hold the record for the most victories by a brother combination with 539. They were the NL’s only 20-game winners in 1979.
William Lewis (Billy) Shaw played end in high school football at a small school right outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi until the school decided to drop football. His father moved the family so Shaw could continue football at nearby Carr Central, where Shaw played offensive and defensive tackle his senior year and was good enough to warrant a scholarship to Georgia Tech. He was a three-year letterman at Tech as a two-way tackle from 1958-1960. After his All-American season of 1960, Shaw was drafted by both the Buffalo Bills of the new American Football League and the Dallas Cowboys of the then-rival National Football League. Shaw, felt his size and speed were better suited to play guard, where the Bills planned to use him. It was a good career move as the Bills won AFL titles in 1964 and 1965 and Shaw was named a first-team All-AFL selection five times. He was selected to play in eight AFL All-Star Games and was named to the All-Time AFL Team. Named to Pro Football’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s, Shaw is the first member of Pro Football’s Hall of Fame to play his entire career in the AFL.