Eight legends of Florida high school athletics – ranging from a post-World War II multi-sport star athlete to a man who served more than half a century as a game official – are the newest members of the Florida High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
“Membership in the FHSAA Hall of Fame is the highest honor we can bestow on a person. These eight outstanding individuals embody the ideals of fairness, sportsmanship, dedication and integrity, and are shining examples of what high school athletics is all about,” said Dr. Roger Dearing, executive director of FHSAA.
The 2014 honorees join 156 previous members of the FHSAA Hall of Fame, whose ranks include a Heisman Trophy winner, numerous professional All-Stars, an international tennis champion and countless individuals whose groundbreaking contributions helped shape Florida high school athletics.
The newest class of FHSAA Hall of Fame inductees is (in alphabetical order):
- Robert Barnes, a multi-sport athlete in the late 1940s and early 1950s, who became the first Brevard County high school player ever drafted by Major League baseball
- Martin Bielicki, who coached five different Martin County high school sports, winning two volleyball state championships and earning 1995 5A Coach of the Year honors
- Nile Dixon, who spent 40 years as a high school basketball official and became known as the “go-to guy” by his peers for correct interpretation and application of rules
- Richard Esterline, whose 60 years of contributions to FHSAA included 51 years as a basketball official, 34 years as a football and softball official and recognition as the 1995 National Federation of State High School Associations Women’s Basketball Official of the Year and three-time FHSAA Official of the Year
- Roy Harrison, legendary cross country coach at Tampa’s Plant High School
- Gerald Odom, who served 40 years as a football coach in the Space Coast area and won back-to-back state football championships at Merritt Island High School before earning recognition as a member of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2000 and FHSAA’s “All-Century Team” coaching staff in 2007
- Gary Shiffrin, long-time Brevard County educator, coach and athletic director
- Donald Suriano, legendary Jacksonville-area baseball coach who amassed 559 wins and three state championships
The newest members will be honored at an induction ceremony April 27 in Gainesville. Each inductee will receive a ring and a plaque, featuring a photo and brief biography, to be displayed at the FHSAA headquarters.
The FHSAA Hall of Fame was established in 1991 to recognize individuals who have raised the level of awareness in high school athletics through their distinguished achievement and excellence in one or more high school athletic programs sponsored by the Association, or through their contributions to high school athletics in other fields of work. Inductees include student-athletes, coaches, administrators, contest officials, media personnel, sports medicine personnel, athletic trainers and distinguished volunteers. Hall of Fame members exemplify the highest standards of sportsmanship, ethical conduct and moral character.
More detail about the eight inductees follows. For more information on the FHSAA Hall of Fame, visit www.fhsaa.org/departments/special-programs/hall-of-fame.