Hall of Fame announces 2018 speaker, inductees

Head football Coach Mike Norvell of the Memphis Tigers will deliver the keynote address as the Hardin County Sports Hall of Fame welcomes three new members next month. The seventh annual induction ceremony and banquet, presented by Packaging Corporation of America, will be held Monday night, July 16th in the grand ballroom of the Pickwick Landing State Park Inn with doors opening at 5:30 p.m..
For the class of 2018, the Hall will welcome three new members that add to a storied tradition of athletic excellence in Hardin County. Being honored as inductees on this historic evening are Ronnie Gibbs, Chris Qualls and Mark Turnbow.
A highly decorated basketball player at Central High School in the mid 1960s, Ronnie Gibbs had the distinction of being named Third Team All-State in 1966 and First Team All-State in 1967 when every high school in Tennessee played in a single division. Additionally, he was selected to the 1967 TSSAA East-West All Star game in Nashville and was awarded a basketball scholarship to Freed-Hardeman University. He later transferred to Oklahoma Christian College (now known as Oklahoma Christian University) where he received team MVP and All-Conference honors.
In the early-to-mid 1970s, Chris Qualls was the face of Tiger football. As a senior in 1976 he was a true ironman, averaging 13 solo tackles and 7 assists per game and also catching 42 passes for 496 yards as a tight end. During his senior campaign he was also named All-Region and All-Conference tight end and linebacker, as well as All-West Tennessee and honorable mention All-State linebacker. Upon graduation he received a scholarship to Vanderbilt University where he played linebacker. After suffering a knee injury, he transferred to the University of North Alabama in 1977 where he was teammates with HCSHOF member Steve Carter.
One of the most dominant pitchers to ever take the mound for HCHS, Mark Turnbow was a force in the mid-to-late 1990s. He set the school record for most wins (11) and lowest season ERA (0.41), and during his senior year was selected as District MVP and All-Tournament team, and USA Classic All-Tournament team. He declined a scholarship to Ole Miss after being selected in the 7th round of the 1997 MLB draft by the Cleveland Indians. In his first professional season he tied for the Appalachian League lead in wins (8) and was 5th in ERA (2.78). In the late 1990s he was consistently recognized as one of the top prospects in the Indians’ organization but battled shoulder and knee injuries.
For the keynote address, this year’s event will feature the head football coach of the Memphis Tigers, Mike Norvell. At Memphis, Norvell stands at the helm of one of the most prolific offenses in college football. Consistently recognized as one of the best young coaches in the country, he has established his reputation as a creative, innovative and forward-thinking leader. This past year, Norvell’s Tigers finished in the top-25 of the Associated Press poll in the final nine weeks of the season. He is the first active head coach to serve as the keynote speaker for the annual banquet.
“As our seventh annual banquet approaches, I continue to be amazed at the community support we receive, particularly from our presenting sponsor, Packaging Corporation of America,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Ty Jones. “Mike Norvell is one of the best football coaches in America, and he’s excited to join us and speak to the Hardin County sports community.
“Our board truly believes that the excellence of our local sports tradition deserves a yearly event that lives up to that same standard. We are extremely proud of the Hall of Fame, and we believe that it is the premier organization of its kind in the state. By partnering with PCA and our other sponsors, we’ll again be able to fund numerous local charities through the River City Kiwanis Club.”
For more information on becoming a sponsor or purchasing individual tickets, please contact chairman Ty Jones by phone at 731-925-9118, 731-926-6733 or by email at hardincountysportshall@gmail.com. Tickets will soon be available from any member of the River City Kiwanis club. You can also follow them on Twitter @HCSportsHOF.

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