The Class of 2006 - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The Class of 2006

April 24, 2006

Albany -- The Albany Sports Hall of Fame was created in 1987 to honor local athletes who have excelled in sports.

The Hall also helping provide scholarships for deserving young athletes, with the twentieth induction ceremony held tonight at the Albany Civic Center.

The spotlight shining down on the best and brightest in the Albany Sports scene, with the 2006 Albany Sport Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

Four new members inducted into the Hall tonight.

Doug Gurr graduated from Albany High School in 1965, and helped the Florida State Seminoles reach four straight bowl games.

Gurr says its a privilege to be honored in his hometown.

"Being born here, raised here, going to school. Coming back after 40 years and having Albany, Georgia open its arms is absolutely beyond my furthest imagination."

Diane Benford is a 1971 graduate of Albany high school, and was the first female awarded an athletic scholarship at West Georgia College.

She was voted teacher of the year at Northside Elementary in 1997, and says being inducted is a special honor.

"It's very important to me, because I can come back to Albany and receive this award. After teaching in the Dougherty County school system for 25 years it's a special honor."

Antonio Leroy is the all-time leading rusher at Albany State University, and fourth in Division II history.

He says he's honored by the induction, but is most proud of the work he's done off the field mentoring kids in the community.

"Anybody can score a touchdown. Anybody can shoot a basketball. But how many guys can be a true mentor, and a father to kids that don't have a father? That's what I'm most proud of myself for."

Albany native Billy Ray Schmidt won five conference diving championships at the University of Georgia, and also coached the Albany High School swim team, and says it's an honor to be included with such greatness.

"I walked in, and this is the first time I've been in this building and saw the pictures of all these people I grew up trying to emulate. It's a big honor for us."

Olympic Gold medalist Lea Henry-Manning serving as guest speaker at the ceremonies.

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