Magee, Martin inducted into Southern’s Athletic Hall of Fame

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A pair of former Washington Parish athletes received a great honor this weekend.

Central Memorial High School 1955 graduate Gary Magee and 1997 Mt. Hermon graduate Greg C. Martin were inducted into the Southern University Athletics Hall of Fame.

Fourteen people were honored at a ceremony Friday and then had their names called out at Saturday’s football game against rival Jackson State University. Athletes from various sports were honored during the weekend events.

Magee, a 1960 Southern graduate, was a running back for the Jaguars from 1955-1959.

At Southern he was a first-team Southwestern Athletic Conference player his junior year and played on two SWAC championship teams.

Magee’s first carry in college was a 60-yard touchdown run against Texas Southern his freshman year. He said he was running behind two all-Americans, a guard and a tackle. Magee said he could almost feel his heart beating, knowing he was about to get the ball.

He said he broke through the line quickly.

“I was kind of thinking about what was going to happen,” Magee said. “I don’t know if I closed my eyes at that moment, but when I opened them, you could just see the gate open. When I stepped through there, I stepped through there for 60 yards.”

His junior year, when Southern was playing for the conference championship, Magee said he was bruised and beat up from the season, but when the coach asked him if he could go, he said he was ready.

“I ran the winning touchdown,” Magee said. “When I said, ‘I’m ready,’ the whole team cheered.”

He said it was a little more than 50 yards.

“We were in the middle of the field,” Magee said. “It was our last play. John Thomas, our quarterback, he called 28-ram pitch. That’s where your fullback goes off the tackle position. The quarterback tosses the ball. It goes under the fullback’s arm. I’m swinging from that side. When I caught it, I could see my big tackle, and his name was George McGee. I could see him pulling out. He kicked the end out, and when he did I stepped back inside. It was all daylight.”

Magee said he had close to 60 family members and friends on hand at Friday’s banquet.

“It was just a great turnout,” Magee said. “I mean the place was jam packed. It was well handled, and I totally enjoyed it.”

“I want to thank everyone in this parish for their support,” Magee added.

Magee said he loved Southern when he was recruited, and he loves it more today.

“I love her because of what Southern did for me,” Magee said. “I know I got a scholarship. I played there, and I earned what they gave me, but they gave me a chance to get a great education.”

After graduating from Southern, Magee, who coached baseball, football and track, went back to Central and coached (1960-69). After Central and Bogalusa High merged during integration he headed to BHS and coached until 1975. His track team won a state title in 1975, and he was an assistant for three other titles in football (1961 and 1969) and baseball (1966).

After his coaching career, Magee went into administration and was acting principal in 1985 and principal from 1990-94. Magee is currently Victim Assistance Coordinator for Washington Parish. He also supervises Bogalusa’s District Attorney’s office.

Martin, who played basketball at Southern from 1997-2000, also has a long resumé of accomplishments.

He was the SWAC Freshman of the Year for 1997-98 and a SWAC All-Tournament first team player the following seasons. Martin, who graduated from Southern in 2001 with a degree in secondary education (mathematics), won the Student Marshall Award, which goes to the top graduate in a respective class based on grade point average (he had a 3.6). He received a master’s degree from Florida State University, then taught eighth-grade math and coached basketball in Texas. He assisted on a boys’ junior high squad that won the Fort Worth Independent School title (2002-03) and assisted a girls’ team that won a district title (2003-04) and finished fourth in the state.

Martin then went to Purdue University to pursue his Doctorate in Educational Administration, which he is still working on, and he was an academic mentor within the intercollegiate athletic department there. He also volunteered as an assistant high school basketball coach and helped take the team to the 2006-07 Hoosier Conference title and consecutive Class 3A Sectional 20 Titles (2008-09, 09-10).

Today he is the academic coordinator for football at the University of Missouri.

Martin began playing organized basketball in the sixth grade. He was allowed to play on the junior high team at Mt. Hermon that season.

“I was just trying to beat my brothers and cousins and other people in my neighborhood,” Martin said. “When I went to school, people told me I needed to go out for Mt. Hermon’s team. Everyone thinks they’re good at 12 or 13.

“The game consumed me. If I had a bad day at school, I’d go play basketball. If I got in trouble or if there was nothing on TV, I’d go play basketball. Then I wanted to learn the history. Who were the best players? The more I learned about the game of basketball the more it helped me in coaching.”

Martin said there were players he looked up to in Washington Parish like Varnado’s Kim Lewis and Lanear Burns and with Franklinton’s Twentis Magee.

“I just remember getting the paper and seeing those guys,” Martin said. “Those guys were great players and outstanding people in the community. They hosted camps, and I went to those camps. I set my goal to be as good or better than them.”

As a high school player Martin racked up the awards. He was the District 12-B MVP for three consecutive seasons, starting in 1994-95. He was second-team all-state in 1995-96 and 1996-97, and he made the 1997 Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s all-star team.

Martin was impressed with the banquet.

“There were 300 people there, give or take a few,” Martin said.

“You hear people talk about how this award is going to change their lives. When you’re alone, you think you’re a pretty good athlete, but when you hear other people’s accomplishments, you realize that you’re not the only one. There were others before you. I was just excited to add to the legacy.”