The Springfield High School Athletic Association will honor the first Springfield Athletic Hall of Fame class at a banquet on Saturday, January 11.
The event is set for 5:30 p.m. at Springfield Baptist Church. The inaugural class includes 12 inductees.
Notable names like former Springfield football coach Boyce Smith and basketball star John Darden were among those chosen. Three Bransford High School alumni were also selected to the initial class.
Nominations were sought from the community from late July to early September. Former athletes, coaches, administrators and other contributors were considered. Athletes are eligible 10 years after their graduation, while everyone else is eligible five years after leaving Springfield High School.
Get to know each of the inductees below (listed alphabetically):
Greg Bell, Springfield Class of 1971 (Baseball, Basketball and Football)
During his football career, Bell was a three-year starter on the football team. He was a defensive back and running back for the Yellow Jackets. He was selected to the All-North Central Conference football team in 1969 and 1970. He had 10 interceptions his junior season and finished with 19 for his career.
Greg played on the varsity basketball team for three years. He was selected to the All-District and All-Tournament teams in 1970 and 1971. While playing in the McMinnville Holiday Classic in 1970, he was named to the All-Tournament team and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He scored a game-high 32 points in a semifinal win against Howard.
Greg went on to have an outstanding collegiate career at Motlow State and Ottawa University. His success as a three-sport collegiate athlete led to his induction into the Ottawa University Hall of Fame in 2015.
Greg was hired in 1975 to teach health and physical education and coach basketball and football at Springfield Junior High. He coached the eighth and ninth grade boys basketball teams. In 1981, he began his coaching responsibilities at Springfield High School, serving on the football and basketball staffs. He was the defensive backs and running backs coach for the 1993 TSSAA Class 3A state champion Yellow Jackets.
Greg earned his master’s degree in 1991 from Trevecca Nazarene University and worked as assistant principal, athletic director and graduation coach at Springfield High School. He retired in 2014 after 40 years of service.
Sheena Bowling Chapman, Springfield Class of 1992 (Girls Basketball)
Sheena Bowling Chapman is one of the most decorated athletes to ever come from Springfield High School. In high school, she was named All-District, All-Region, All-Midstate and All-State. As a senior, she carried the Springfield to the semifinals of the TSSAA state tournament, where they lost a heartbreaker to undefeated South Greene 76-70.
After high school, Sheena began an incredible college career at the University of Montevallo. She became a four-time NAIA All-American. Bowling owns 21 single-season and career scoring and rebounding records at Montevallo. She averaged 25.6 points and 11 rebounds in her career, and finished with 3,259 points, 1,500 more than the next closest player.
At the conclusion of her career, she was one of only nine women in the history of women's basketball to score over 3,000 points in a career. She was part of a team that posted a .795 (101-26) winning percentage in her four years and appeared in four consecutive NAIA national tournaments.
She was also twice named College Sport Magazine’s Player of the Year, twice named NAIA All-Southeast Region, twice named Southern States Conference Player of the Year, and she was selected to the Kodak All-American team as a sophomore. She still owns the NAIA all-time career record in field goal percentage (.675) and has the all-time NAIA record with 25 consecutive field goals made during the 1995-96 season. She was inducted into the University of Montevallo Hall of Fame in 2002.
Sheena graduated from UM in 1997 and began her career as a teacher at Westside Elementary, Krisle Elementary and Crestview Elementary. She has numerous professional accomplishments, including being named Teacher of the Year by her peers at Krisle Elementary multiple times. She is a dedicated member of the community of Springfield, instilling a work ethic in her students that translates into success.
John Darden, Springfield Class of 1975 (Boys Basketball)
Darden was a three-year starter for the Yellow Jackets. His senior year the team won the district and region and advanced to the state tournament. The 31-3 record is still the best in school history. He was selected to the All-District three times and All-Region 2 twice. Darden earned All- Midstate honors twice and was the MVP his senior season. He was selected to the Associated Press and the Sportswriters All-State teams and also earned All-Southern honors after his senior season. He was selected to play in the TSSAA All-Star game. He is considered by many to be the best basketball player to ever play at Springfield, and he is the school’s only basketball player to have his number retired.
He went to Knoxville and lettered four years at the University of Tennessee. He was the point guard on two SEC championship teams, and his Vols won the first SEC Tournament in 1979. He still holds the all-time assist record at Tennessee. In 2015, he was selected to represent Tennessee as an “SEC Legend” at the SEC Tournament.
His 25-year stint as Springfield’s head coach (1986-2011) ended with a 500-235. His teams captured seven district championships and two region championships. The 1997 team advanced to the state tournament. He was selected District Coach of the Year six times.
Robert L. Farmer, Bransford Class of 1959 (Basketball and Football)
Farmer worked within the Robertson County School System for 40 years, from 1959 – 1999, serving as a teacher, coach and principal. Farmer, an accomplished athlete who played football and basketball in high school and college, was named Lane College’s Most Valuable Football Player in 1958. Upon graduation, Farmer returned to his community as a teacher. Starting as a sixth-grade teacher and assistant coach at Bransford High School in the days before school integration, Farmer dedicated himself to developing community youth in the classroom and on the playing field.
Throughout his career, Farmer’s athletic teams enjoyed considerable success. By 1965, Farmer had secured the dual position of head football coach and head basketball coach at Bransford High School. Under Farmer’s leadership, the football team earned a 32-12 overall record and won the Blanket Bowl in 1968. The basketball team won four district championships, finished as the district runner-up twice, and had two second place region finishes. The team also brought home a regional sportsmanship trophy and earned had an overall record of 166-49.
In 1970, Bransford High School was closed as Robertson County Schools began the process of integrating. Farmer moved to Springfield Junior High, taking a dual position as the head football and head basketball Coach. The first few years in a new school structure was an adjustment for all, but under Farmer’s direction, the basketball team placed in the top three of its conference from 1970-72.
By 1976, Farmer was again in a high school setting, serving as head football coach of the Springfield High School Yellow Jackets. Not only did the Jackets win the conference championship in 1976 and 1977, but several Springfield players were also named to the All-District Team, and one was selected for All-Mid State. Farmer was singled out for honors, including the North Central Conference Coach of the Year for in 1976 and 1977.
As an honored teacher, principal and coach, Farmer mentored and inspired hundreds of youth to work hard, dream big and play fair.
Esther Stubblefield Hubbard, Springfield of 1969 (Girls Basketball)
Stubblefield Hubbard was a four-year starter for Coach Blue Howse’s Lady Jackets, who won over 100 games from 1965-69. She was captain of the squad for two years. The Lady Jackets captured three district tournament titles, one region tournament title and advanced to the state tournament in 1969.
In a period where six players made up the girls’ format and basically played 3-on-3 on each half of the floor, the game was very popular, especially in the Midstate area. However, there was very little opportunity for individual recognition compared to the boys. Esther was the first to be recognized for her defensive prowess by earning All-District Tournament honor four times and All-Regional tournament honors twice. She was recognized in 1968 on the Nashville Banner All-Midstate second team. She was chosen on the first team in 1969, when only six were recognized. She was selected for the Tennessee All-Star game in 1969.
She played basketball at Tennessee Martin for four years from 1969-72. 1969 was Martin’s first team. She started every game and was captain for two years. The 1970-71 squad advanced to the National Invitational Tournament but since there was no funding, the team did not participate. In 1971-72, the team advanced to the first AIAW National Tournament and was eliminated in the Elite 8. Esther was recognized and selected into UTM’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Louis Jamison, Bransford Class of 1945 (Basketball and Football)
Jamison was a standout athlete at Bransford High School from 1941-45. He lettered in football and basketball every year of his high school career and served as captain of the Bransford football team and as the team’s star running and defensive back. He also earned the school’s accolade for “Best All Around.”
While he excelled in high school athletics, Jamison’s greatest legacy is his lifelong dedication to the youth of his community. At a time when racial segregation was the norm, Jamison strived to provide opportunities for black youth. He began by coaching a youth softball team for his church, and this led Jamison to help form a youth baseball organization in 1959. Jamison, serving as an unpaid volunteer, continued to coach youth baseball for 32 years, from 1959-91. He mentored community youth long after his own three sons, whom he had coached in league play as children, had grown into adults.
Jamison coached and mentored youth in basketball as well. From 1959-65, Jamison worked with a middle school feeder program for Bransford High School. He taught fundamentals and honed the skills of the seventh and eighth grade students, who, in competition against other all-black junior high teams, won the junior high school tournament each year.
As a coach and mentor, Jamison not only taught young men fundamentals, strategy and teamwork; he also taught his team members the value of hard work, fair play and sportsmanship. Jamison’s legacy has been honored in numerous ways. As a lasting tribute, a baseball field at Robertson County’s J. Travis Price Park was named “Louis Jamison Field” to honor Jamison for his decades of faithful service to the youth and citizens of his community.
Travis Kirby, Springfield Class of 1989 (Wrestling)
Travis Kirby became the first TSSAA state champion in any sport from Springfield High School when he claimed the 1989 TSSAA State Heavyweight Wrestling Championship. As of 2019, Travis remains Springfield High School’s only state wrestling champion in the program’s 40-plus year history. Travis’s performance was dominant, pinning each of his opponents in the championship bracket, a feat rarely been duplicated in TSSAA wrestling history.
After a decorated high school career, Travis attended the University of Tennessee as an preferred walk-on for the football team under the direction of head coach Phil Fulmer. He transferred to Tennessee Martin, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a minor in English.
Travis began his career as a teacher and coach in Louisiana at Northwood High School. At Northwood, Travis served as an assistant football, head boys basketball, head golf, assistant baseball and assistant track coach. In 1999, he moved to Texas to teach at George Junior High.
From 2000-2010, he coached at Terry High School in the Lamar Consolidated School District. Travis began his own wrestling coaching legacy in Texas, starting programs at Terry High School and Lamar Consolidated High School. In 2010, Travis accepted a position at the new George Ranch High School, where he started his third wrestling program in 10 years.
Travis continued to coach football at George Ranch, serving as the offensive line coach and winning the 2015 Class 5A state football championship. Travis currently serves as a member of the English faculty and as head wrestling coach for the girls and boys programs at George Ranch High School. As of 2019, Travis has coached 37 individual district champions, 36 regional medalists and two state medalists. His teams have captured five district team championships, and he has been named the District Coach of the Year five times.
Larry Mayhugh, Springfield Class of 1958 (Football) - Posthumous
Larry Mayhugh was remembered by Coach Boyce Smith as “one of the best players and one of the best kids I have ever known.”
He was a 6-foot-2, 235-pound athlete who was a five-year starter at Springfield. After he broke into the starting line up as an eighth grader, he started 52 consecutive games and played every position on the team during his career.
He made All-Mid-State as a junior. His senior season he made All-Mid-State, All-State, All-Southern, and All-American. As of 2019, he is one of two Springfield athletes to be named an All-American.
Springfield took its 7-2 record to face NIL power Hillsboro in the eighth annual Clinic Bowl. It was Hillsboro’s speed versus Springfield’s power, and the mud battle ended in a 0-0 tie.
Mayhugh was one of Tennessee’s most highly sought prospects prior to signing a SEC grant-in-aid with Vanderbilt. Tragically, Larry died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident just prior to graduation in 1958.
Larry’s feats on the gridiron will be long remembered, but had he never donned a football uniform, he still would have won wide admiration. Teachers and classmates knew him as a “fine all-around boy” – friendly, polite and modest.
Roy Meneese, Bransford Class of 1964 (Basketball, Football and Track)
Meneese attended Bransford High School from 1960-64, where he competed on the football, basketball, and track teams for four years, serving as captain of the BHS football team during his senior year and leading the Lions to a Region II football championship.
Meneese, considered by many as one of the greatest athletes in Bransford history, competed as both a running back and a kicker. He holds season records for the most points scored in one game, the most extra points and the most field goals in one season.
After graduating from Bransford High School, Meneese played football for Tennessee State University from 1964-68. Wearing number 18, Meneese was the team’s placekicker and helped the 1966 TSU Tigers secure a winning season. With Meneese’s athleticism and sure aim, the Tigers won the Mid-Western Conference and went on to become the NCAA Mid-East Regional College Division Champions. Meneese also helped secure the team’s sixth Black National Football Championship trophy and the Grantland Rice Bowl Championship. As a cherry on top, Tennessee State finished a perfect 10-0 in 1966.
After graduating from TSU, Meneese used his knowledge and love of sports in service to his community. Meneese coached Jr. Pro football and basketball for 20 years, from 1971-91. In this capacity, he mentored hundreds of Springfield youth while teaching them the fundamentals of the sports he loved, sportsmanship and fair play. Meneese also gave back to his community by serving on the Springfield Parks and Recreation Board from 1991-93.
Horace Murphy, Springfield Class of 1947 (Football) – Posthumous
Murphy had a stellar football career under the direction of Coach Boyce Smith. Murphy was one of the few two-time captains of the Yellow Jackets, serving in that capacity for the 1945 and 1946 teams. After high school, Horace went on to serve his country in the United States Air Force from 1947-53. Horace was a long-time employee of Cumberland Electric, eventually retiring from CEMC in 1987.
If there was an award given for the most dedicated fan in the history of Springfield athletics, Horace Murphy would have to be in contention. In fact, it is believed that Horace missed only two Springfield football games in a 40-plus year period. His love of Springfield football ran deep. No matter where the schedule took Springfield in the regular season or playoffs, you could count on Horace being there to haul equipment, players, coaches or anything else that was needed.
Horace was a long-time member of the Springfield Athletic Club. He was instrumental in two major building projects during the 1990s. Through his leadership, lighting renovations at Boyce Smith Field as well the first athletic fieldhouse on Springfield High School’s campus became a reality in the mid-1990s.
Horace was a faithful Yellow Jacket supporter his entire life, receiving the Lifetime Service Award from the Springfield Football team in 2000.
W. Boyce Smith, Springfield football coach (1928-1972) - Posthumous
Coach Smith was hired in 1928 to teach biology, chemistry and physical education. He coached baseball and girls and boys basketball, but he is most remembered for his 44-year stint at the Yellow Jacket football coach.
His football teams won 288, lost 116 and tied 34 games. This is an average of 7-2.5-1 per season. He fielded undefeated teams in 1935, 1937, 1939, 1941, 1942 and 1943. His 1937 team made Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” as the point-a-minute team that led the nation in scoring with 406 points. His teams won numerous conference championships and Midstate championships. He also coached basketball for 30 years and won numerous district tournaments. He took 21 teams to the region tournament and four boys teams to the state tournament.
He received numerous awards and honors during his coaching career. However, after retirement he was the first coach selected into the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame in 1972. He was presented the Distinguished American Award by the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Hall of Fame in 1972. He was also recognized as Middle Tennessee’s winningest coach in 1972. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. He became Tennessee’s first inductee into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.
Smith was a well-known community leader who worked tirelessly with the youth. He worked faithfully with the City of Springfield to develop recreational programs and facilities, many of which are still recognized to this day.
Lawrence Thaxton, Springfield Class of 1961 (Football) - Posthumous
Thaxton had one of the most decorated high school careers in Yellow Jacket football history. A dominant defensive player for Coach Boyce Smith, Thaxton captured All-Midstate honors in 1958, 1959 and 1960. He received All-State honors in 1959 and 1960. In 1960, he became the second Yellow Jacket to ever gain All-American Status. He was also named Sporting News’ Defensive Lineman of the Year in 1960.
Lawrence was an avid Yellow Jacket fan, rarely missing a game, especially while his son Bryan (Class of ’89) and grandson James Brown (Class of ’02) were playing. Lawrence coached his grandson and classmates from 1989-97 in Jr. Pro football in Springfield, helping shape a generation of Yellow Jackets who went on to have considerable success at the high school level.
For those familiar with Springfield football, the name Lawrence Thaxton continues to surface as one of the best defensive players to ever don a Yellow Jacket uniform.