CLASS OF 2011
Ken Bonifay starred in baseball, football and basketball at Lanier High School where he was All-State in all three sports before narrowing his choices to football and baseball when attending Georgia Tech. He played shortstop for the Yellow Jackets and led Tech in home runs in 1966. He also was a running back and quarterback for the Tech football team during the 1966, 1967 and ‘68 seasons. In 1966, Ken rushed for 6.6. yards per carry at running back. That ’66 squad was Bobby Dodd’s final team and finished 9-2 and ranked 8th in the nation. During the ’68 season he moved to quarterback and completed 53% of his throws. Ken is one of four members of the Bonifay family in the Macon Sports Hall of Fame. His father Bob and brothers Cam and Brannon also have been inducted.
Milt Cuyler was a two-sport star in baseball and football standout at Southwest High School. He signed a football scholarship to Florida State, however was drafted in the second round of the Major League baseball draft by Detroit in the 1986 amateur draft and thus bypassed the football offer. Cuyler batted .257 and stole 41 bases during his rookie season of 1991 and finished third behind Juan Guzman and winner Chuck Knoblauch for the American League Rookie of the Year award. Cuyler spent 6 years in the Tigers organization and then spent one season each in Boston and Texas. In 490 career games from 1990–1998, Milt tallied 329 hits, 10 home runs and 119 runs batted in with a .237 career average.
JOHNNIE L. EARLY, SR.
Johnnie L. Early, Sr. was the first black coach hired by the Bibb County Board of Education in 1944. He coached at Ballard Hudson High School where he also started the first Black Marching Band in Bibb County. In 1949 he coached Hudson High School to the GIA State Basketball Championship. It was one of four straight State Titles for the Tigers as they won it in 1948, ’49, ’50, and ’51. In 1950 he was named director of the Grays Hill Swimming Pool which was located right across from Porter Stadium. Early received the Jesse Outlar Service to Sports Award from the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.
Claudia Gaughf is one of Macon’s all-time top tennis players. Playing at Mt. de Sales she earned All-Region and All-State honors while winning a State Title. She was ranked number one in Georgia in her age group for three years and ranked #8 in the South. She won both the Georgia State Open and the Southeastern Junior Invitational. In 1983 she signed with Florida State where she was a four-year letter winner for the Seminoles. During her career with the Lady ‘Noles she posted a 32-14 record in singles and was 12-12 in doubles competition. After graduating from FSU, Claudia pursued a medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and did so on a full academic scholarship. She became a successful dermatologist in Savannah.
Billy Kitchens was named Georgia High School Back of the year at Lanier High School in 1953. The running back led Region 1-AA in scoring that season and averaged over 8 yards per carry. He signed with Auburn where he was a two-year letterman in 1956 and 1957 for the Tigers. His best season was 1956 when he played in 10 games with 17 rushing attempts for 67 yards. He also had one reception for 8 yards and scored 3 touchdowns for the season. He also was a member of Auburn’s National Championship team in 1957 appearing in 10 games for head coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan. That ’57 Auburn team was known for their defense which gave up 28 points the entire season.
NATHAN "CHIP" MINTON III
Nathan Chip Minton III is a former football player at Southwest High School who is best known as an Olympic Bobsledder and former Professional wrestler. He participated in two Olympic Winter Olympics: 1994 and 1998, where he represented the United States' Bobsled team. His four-man team finished fourth in the 1998 Olympics and third at the World Championships in St. Moritz in 1997. In addition to his bobsleigh training, Minton also trained at World Championship Wrestling's Power Plant wrestling school for a career in professional wrestling. Minton made his in-ring debut under the ring name Mr. World Class, in an eight-man tag team match for the United States Wrestling Association.
Dan Nyimicz graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1950 and moved to Macon to coach basketball, golf and track at Mercer University. After a successful stint with the Bears, Dan accepted the position of head golf professional at Idle Hour Club in Macon where he championed a junior program that produced several outstanding individuals. Among his pupils, fellow Hall of Famer Peter Persons, a finalist in the U.S. Amateur, and Jimmy Hodges, a teaching professional at Sea Island Golf Club and a member of the Golf Digest teaching team. A founding member of the Georgia Junior Golf Foundation, Nyimicz has served as its treasurer, secretary, and president. He has also been deeply involved in the Georgia PGA, rising to the office of president. Of all his accomplishments, Nyimicz is most proud of the junior golfers whose games and lives he has influenced.
Chuck Ogburn was a prominent member of the last Lanier High School team to win a State Championship, the AAA baseball title in 1965. He batted .460 in region play and .430 for the entire campaign in coach Bobby Brown’s final season at Lanier. Chuck played in the North-South All-Star baseball game at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s to help the South beat the favored North 4-1. He played college baseball at Mercer and produced the game winning hit against North Carolina his senior season. He was a four-year letter winner for the Bears of Coach Claude Smith. Ogburn entered the medical profession following his college days remaining in Macon as a doctor.
George Smith lettered in four different sports at Lanier including three in football, basketball, and baseball and two in track. He went to college at Georgia Tech and continued to excel in three-sports lettering in football, basketball and baseball. During the 1937-38 basketball season, Smith was also a starting guard on the Tech basketball team that finished 18-2 and became the only Jackets team to win an SEC Championship. Later that fall, he earned All-SEC honors in football in while playing for longtime Head Coach Bill Alexander. He is a member of Georgia Tech’s Athletic Hall of Fame having been inducted in 1979. Smith is one of just five former Yellow Jackets in their Hall of Fame that lettered in three different sports.
Steve Wilson played football at Southwest High School before going to the University of Georgia where he was a starting left guard in 1974 and a starting right guard in 1975. The ’75 Bulldogs were 9-3 losing the Cotton Bowl to Arkansas in Wilson’s final game. He was a fifth round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 1976 and played for the Buccaneers from 1976 to 1985. Wilson started 104 games with Tampa mostly at center after moving from right guard his rookie season. He was the last original Buccaneer to retire and the only original Buc player to be a starter in each of the first 10 seasons of the franchise. Wilson was named All-NFC Center following the 1979 season in which Tampa Bay made the playoffs. Upon Wilson's retirement following the 1985 season, long time NFL player and coach, Bill "Tiger" Johnson said, "Steve is the best pass-blocking center I have ever coached.”