St Clair Hall of Fame inductees 2022

The newest members inducted into the St. Clair County Sports Hall of Fame are, seated from left, Mike Bolton, Andy Eden and Hobart McLendon. Standing, from left, are Rachel Countyman Ford, Matthew Sanders and Leon Taylor. Courtesy photo

MOODY — The St. Clair County Sports Hall of Fame has six new members. The one lady and five men were inducted May 14 during the 18th annual banquet held at the Moody Civic Center.

They were Rachel Countryman Ford, Mike Bolton, Andy Eden, Hobart McLendon, Matthew Sanders and Leon Taylor.

Rachel Ford graduated from Ashville High School in 2000 where she excelled in volleyball, basketball and softball. She graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2005 and then played professional softball for three years. Since 2009, Ford has been the head softball coach at White Plains High School.

Ford said she was honored and humbled to even be considered to be a member of the Sports Hall of Fame.

“This is unreal,” Ford said. “This is a great group and I am very appreciative of everything that has been done to make this become a reality.”

Several of Ford’s White Plains softball players surprised her by attending the banquet.

“Obviously, that was very special,” she said. “Those girls are very important to me. They just showed a lot of support so I appreciate it.”

Mike Bolton graduated from Hewitt-Trussville High School in 1974, and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1980. For the past 38 years, he has been a sportswriter for the Birmingham News.

Bolton said it was a special night for him and this really means a lot. He was also proud to have his dad, Clyde Bolton with him, who happens to be a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Andy Eden graduated from Pell City High School in 1985, and graduated from Auburn University in 1989. After nine years in the banking business, he then went into teaching and coaching. Since 1991, Eden has taught and coached at Ragland High School.

Eden said it was an honor to be inducted into a great organization with a great class of people.

“It is very special to be inducted into an organization that my dad (George Eden) was inducted in back in the very first class in 2005,” Eden said. “I am very humbled.”

Hobart McLendon graduated from Ashville High School in 1984. He attended two years at Alice Lloyd College. He has supported Ashville athletics for many years, and is a founding member of the Ashville Spirit Club. He is currently vice-president at CrossMark Home Services.

He said he was truly honored to be a member of this Sports Hall of Fame.

“It is just amazing,” McLendon said.

Matthew Sanders graduated from Ashville High School in 2000. He played football for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He later transferred to Wallace State where he was a pitcher on the baseball team that won the AJCC state championship and played in the JUCO World Series in Colorado.

He said he was speechless when he found out he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“It’s just an honor for me,” Sanders said. “Not only for me but for my dad as well because he was inducted into the very first class several years ago. He and I being in it together is just remarkable. I love the sports in this county and it means a lot to me.”

Leon Taylor graduated from Springville High School in 1981. He was a member of the Tiger basketball team that finished 27-1 with the only loss in the state championship game.

Taylor played basketball at Wallace State and Bethel University.

He said he was just so appreciative of everything.

“God is so good,” Taylor said. “I’m not in the best of health and my knees and legs give me a lot of problems. But I was determined to be here tonight. This is such an honor and it is something I needed in my life.”

Sports Hall of Fame President Gary Hanner said these six newest members of the organization have made such a positive impact on so many people throughout the years.

“During their speeches tonight, all six had two things in common,” Hanner said. “They talked about how important their families were to them, and they mentioned all the coaches that had made a positive impact on their lives. There is no doubt that these six individuals have touched many lives during their careers. I congratulate all six of them and welcome them to the Hall of Fame family.”

Hanner said the total number of individuals who have been inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame is now 130.

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