CLASS OF 2003
Donny Banks is a Macon native who attended Stratford Academy while working for the family’s bicycle and motorcycle dealership. He became a heralded performer across racing circles and in 1979, Donny quit college because a final exam on a Saturday prevented him from competing in a motorcycle race. The move proved to be the right one as Banks claimed an ATV racing championship and was also was named four-time “People's Choice" ATV National Promoter of the Year. He won numerous titles on the motocross circuit in the mid to late ‘80’s. Banks, who remained in the family business as owner/operator of Capitol Cycle in Macon was a U.S. Arenacross National Champion and California Golden State Champion in 1986. A year later he added the title of Olympiad Champion.
Thomas Beall is arguably the best slow pitch softball player to ever come out of Macon. He played for the nationally known Howard’s furniture team from 1979 through 1984 after having successful years with other nationally known teams such as Reeds Nuts and Dave Carroll Sports. His composite figures with Howards totaled 995 HRs, 2065 RBI’s and a .662 batting average. Overall he hit 2,390 home runs and was a 10 time All-American who played on six national championship teams. Tom was inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame in 1990, plus he was a member of the 1980's all decade team, the All Time ASA 2nd team, and was player of the year candidate in 1981.
ROBERT "BOB" BONIFAY
Robert “Bob” Bonifay was a sports executive who held various positions during his career. Most notably, Bob was the General Manager of the Macon Peaches baseball team in the early 1960’s. Those teams featured future Major League players: Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, Tony Perez, and Lee May. Rose batted .330 for the ’62 Peaches and the following season “Charlie Hustle” was the National League’s Rookie of the Year. The Peaches were the last professional team to win a championship in Macon. Later Bonifay worked with Georgia PGA. He is a member of the Sally League and Montgomery, Alabama Area Sports Halls of Fames.
Lem Clark was a sports standout at Lanier High School winning three letters in each football and baseball, 2 more in basketball, and was a prominent member of the school’s rifle team. After graduating in 1929, Clark spent one year at the University of Georgia playing football, baseball, boxing and was once again a member of the rifle team. He returned to Lanier in 1931 as an assistant coach and was named head baseball coach in 1932. He led the Poets to three state baseball championships: 1946, 1947, and 1949. He also had tremendous success coaching his Macon Buddies American Legion baseball teams. The Buddies won three state championships. Clark taught briefly at Mercer University in the mid 1950’s before taking the head baseball job at Glynn Academy in Brunswick. Tragically, he died in 1960 at just
49 years of age.
BRENDA CLIETTE THOMAS
As a two-sport Phenom in basketball and track and field, Brenda Cliette-Thomas is arguably the top female athlete to ever come out of Macon’s Northeast High School. She led the Lady Raiders to a pair of state championships in both basketball and track and field. She was the first female to win Macon Telegraph Athlete of the Year (Selby Buck) award. Her gifted talents and accomplishments earned her a scholarship to Florida State University where she continued to excel in two sports. In her freshman basketball campaign, she averaged 13.5 points and 9 rebounds per game leading FSU to 24 wins and their first ever NCAA Women’s Tournament appearance. In 1984, she helped lead FSU to an outdoor national track title. Cliette-Thomas won Gold Medals at the World University games, the Goodwill Games and U.S. Olympic Festival, capped by selection to the U.S. Olympic Team as an alternate in 200 meters. She is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Florida State Athletic Hall of Fame.
Beverly Olson brought the Arena Football League to Macon in the form of the Macon Knights in 2001. The team was in operation from 2001 until 2006 and won the Conference title in 2003 while making 4 playoff appearances. Olson's first successful move as owner operator was to bring in local football star Kevin Porter to coach the upstart team. Porter, an alumnus of Auburn University, and the Kansas City Chiefs was also an arena football veteran. Under his leadership, the inaugural team made the playoffs and was named "Expansion Franchise of the Year" by the league. Two seasons later, Porter led the Knights to the Arena Cup, af2's championship game, where the Knights lost to the Tulsa Talons 58–40. Overall the Knights posted a 56-48 record under Olson’s ownership. The team ceased operations following the 2006 season.
ROBERT SLOCUM, SR.
Robert Slocum, Sr. was an outstanding College Athlete at Savannah State University where he was a two time All-American halfback in 1951 and 1952. He led the 1951 Tigers football team to the Southeastern Athletic Conference (SEAC) championship. After his playing days, Slocum served as Athletic Director and Head football Coach at Ballard Hudson High School in Macon from 1957 through 1969 winning the State title in 1959. Slocum also coached the Tigers baseball team and captured state crowns in that sport in 1958 and 1963. Overall he compiled a 64-79-1 record. He is a member of the Savannah State University Hall of Fame.
JOHN DREW SMITH
John Drew Smith was tennis ambassador for Macon who served as Tennis Professional at the Tattnall Square Park Tennis Center. His dedication to help lure top tennis events to town helped secure the Junior qualifying tournament to Macon in the 1970’s. Smith was instrumental in Macon’s construction of the 24 court facility off Northside Drive which would appropriately bear his name. The John Drew Smith Tennis Center (JDSTC) is regarded as one of the top 25 public municipal facilities in the nation by Tennis Magazine and the United States Tennis Association. Almost every competitive junior player from the state of Georgia in the last 30 years has played at this renowned facility. In 2005, Racquet Sports Industry (RSI) named John Drew Smith Tennis Center the Municipal Facility of the Year.
ALBERT "DUCK" SWANN
Albert J. “Duck” Swann’s golf career spanned several decades. Swann played on the Lanier High golf team and won the 1941 Macon City and 1942 Georgia Interscholastic titles. Following World War II years as an Air Force pilot, he was the Southeastern Conference champion in 1948 at Georgia Tech and was captain of the Yellow Jackets’ 1949 SEC title team. He spent two more combat flying years in Korea before settling into several businesses in the Macon area. In 1980, Duck turned 55 years of age and his golf career blossomed again. He traveled abroad and captured the British Senior Open Amateur title at Walton Heath in 1983. That same year, he won the Georgia Seniors title and qualified for the match play portion of the USGA Senior Amateur Championship. The following year, he won the Legendary Senior Amateur in Birmingham, and was runner-up at the American and Georgia seniors. In 1987, he won the Western Seniors. Swann is a member of both the Georgia State Golf Association and Georgia Tech Halls of Fame.
Minton Williams was a standout basketball and baseball player at Lanier High School and graduated in 1947. Ironically, Williams did not play football in high school but became one of the state’s best coaches on the gridiron. He was a highly successful at Dublin High School from 1959 until 1964. His Irish teams compiled a 56-9 record with state championships in 1959. 1960 and 1963. He was named Atlanta Touchdown Club’s Coach of the Year. When Macon’s Mark Smith High School opened in 1965, Minton started the football program and spent five years as the Bulldogs head man. In his 11 seasons on the sidelines he had an impressive 79-32-5 record.