The Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame held its first induction ceremony in two years on Saturday, November 20, at Okefenokee Country Club.
Eight new inductees joined the ranks of the county’s all-time sports elite during the ceremony.
The new inductees include Andy Henderson, Maureen Brown, Lance Funderburk, Lauren (Jowers) Whitaker, Earlene (Daniels) Jacobs, Willa Jean (Holmes) Moody, Casey King and Wayne Sasser.
Henderson, the last head football coach in Blackshear High School history, guided the Tigers to the school’s only 10-0 regular season.
Brown was a standout basketball and track star for Blackshear High School and has coached girls golf, basketball and softball at Pierce County High. She is currently the athletic director at the middle school.
Funderburk was a full-time starting quarterback at PCHS for three seasons, helping guide the Bears to a sub-region football title. He was also a standout baseball player at PCHS. He starred at Valdosta State University, guiding the Blazers to their first-ever Gulf South Conference football title in 1996.
Following a VSU career in which he passed for 8,192 yards and 67 touchdowns, Funderburk signed as a free agent with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Although he did not make the Jags’ roster that year, he continued his career the following season with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. He also spent four subsequent seasons in the Arena Football League with the Arizona Rattlers and the Carolina Cobras.
Whitaker, then known as Lauren Jowers, was a multi-sport athlete from her youth. In 1989, she won two GRPS state titles in swimming: the 25-yard freestyle and 50-yard freestyle events. In high school, she was a Class AA All-State selection and the Region 2-AA Player of the Year in softball. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also named her as the Class AA South Player of the Year. She became the first softball player in PCHS history to participate in the GHSA North-South all-star game.
Jacobs and Moody helped put Pierce County on the prep sports map as part of a Lee Street High School sports dynasty that dominated for more than two decades. Jacobs and Moody were part of the Hornettes squads of the late 1950s, which won two state championships in the Georgia Interscholastic Association (GIA). The GIA existed during the days of segregation and its athletes never received the recognition they deserved back in their day.
King coached at several schools in south Georgia, but is best known for his stint at Patterson High. There, he served as head coach for both football and boys basketball and athletic director.
From 1951-56, King accumulated an overall football ledger of 35-21-1 for the Eagles, the most wins of any coach in school history. He is also the only football coach in the history of Pierce County schools to coach back-to-back-to back undefeated regular seasons (1954-56).
Sasser retired after a 35-year career that included 602 basketball wins and 265 baseball wins. In 2004, he was recognized by the Atlanta Tipoff Club as being among Georgia’s 40 winningest basketball coaches. His baseball teams finished as state runner-up three times with seven state playoff berths and six region championships.