A record crowd was on hand for the 18th annual Polk County All Sports Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Presented by The Ledger Media Group and Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, the hosts of the evening, fittingly, were Ledger Publisher Brian Burns and PCTSM Director Mark Jackson.
The highlights of the event, however, were the smiles on the teams and individuals that continue the Polk County tradition of athletic excellence. From the Winter Haven High Schools girls basketball team third straight state title – a new record for Polk County – to the inspirational story of McKeel Academy girls golf coach Dennis Brown’s miraculous recovery from a near fatal car accident, inspiration replaced perspiration for the evening.
A stirring acceptance speech by Dr. Minnie Woodruff on behalf of her late husband, Coach Claude E. Woodruff led off the Polk County Hall of Fame part of the evening. Bartow product Jason Odom and Haines City legend Wayne Gandy – both retired National Football League offensive linemen – ended the evening with praise for not only each other but also for the communities that raised them.
Inductees for the Polk County Sports Hall of Fame are chosen by a panel of hall of famers from both public and personal submissions.