Pearl High emerges as the jewel of Metro Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 5:30pm

There is a recurring theme to the annual Metro Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

In all nine, the first of which was in 2005, there has been at least one Pearl High honoree. In all, the school has had 16 inductees, more than any other Metro School.

Four of this year’s eight inductees have ties to the old North Nashville school, now Pearl-Cohn.

The entire 2013 Hall of Fame class was honored Tuesday in a luncheon ceremony at LP Field.

Granville (Sonny) Lyons became the latest selected from the he golden era of Pearl sports in the 1960s. He was a part of the 1969 Clinic Bowl football championship team.

“We had a great group of guys during that time and we really put our North Nashville school on the map,” Lyons said. “It wasn’t that we were just friends, we all cared for one another and were very close. “We had a strong inner circle of support. Coaches like Cornelius Ridley, James Stevenson and Melvin Black as well as our teachers all were very caring people.”

Lyons’ shining moment came on Thanksgiving of his senior year when his fourth-quarter interception stopped a Maplewood drive and secured a 6-0 Clinic Bowl victory, which clinched the old NIL (Nashville Interscholastic League) championship.

“That was the highlight of my season and it helped jumpstart my career,” he said. “That enabled me to get a scholarship to Tennessee State.”

In college, he was a four-year starter at safety and made AP small college All-America as a senior (1974). His 19 career interceptions are still a TSU record.

Lyons signed NFL free agent contracts with Atlanta and Minnesota. He had short coaching stops at TSU, Fisk and Hillwood High and has worked in Metro Government the last 35 years.

He currently serves as an Associate Minister at Lake Providence Baptist Church.

Also inducted from Pearl were basketball and track star Randolph Williamson (1973), football star Reginald Hayden (1974) and assistant football, basketball and Black (1955), the track coach, who at age 77 is still active in helping officiate track meets.

“This [ceremony] just gives me a chance to be around some excellent people,” Black, who served as a Metro Councilman from (1996-2003), said. “I never have had a bad day, just some were better than others.”

Other inductees are:

• Chuck Lewis, whose teams won seven state track championships (five at Hunters Lane, two at Hillsboro), with 10 city championships, eight region championships and seven Banner Relays championships, was inducted (Class of 1961 at Madison).

“It was nice to attend this ceremony since the tickets were so inexpensive [free],” the joke-cracking Lewis said. “And to see a lot of my old colleagues was fun.”

Asked which was his favorite team, Lewis said, “I think most people would say their first one, and that would be for me at Hillsboro. We had two state champion sprinters and hurdlers in Marcus Currie and Jerome Wilson when we won in 1980 [and again in 1982].

“My first year at Hunters Lane we lost a meet 127 points to 25, but later on we finished sixth in the state. Then we went on and won five state titles there. The following year, we had some T-shirts printed with ‘It Ain’t Over’ on the front, then the back said, where trailing runners could read, ‘I thought you knew.’”

Lewis, 71, is retired and living in Florida Village, about 50 miles North of Orlando where he says he plays a lot of golf.

• Jerry Ballou, Isaac Litton (class of 1966): The three-sport star excelled in football, baseball and track. He won the state 100 and 220 dashes in 1966, setting Nashville records in both events. He won the Banner and Tennessean most outstanding trackman that year. He signed a contract with the San Francisco Giants in 1966.

• Marynell Meadows, Hillsboro (class of 1961): She played basketball for the Burros, later became head coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, which she guided to two straight finals appearances. She was named WNBA Coach of the Year in 2009. She has also served as head coach at Florida State, at Tennessee Tech and assistant at Pittsburgh.

• Michael Coleman, Stratford (class of 1994): The two sport star excelled in baseball and football. He turned down a football scholarship from Alabama to pursue a professional career in baseball and the Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 18th round in 1994. He also played briefly with the New York Yankees, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay, then some minor league teams before he retired in 2006.

1 Comment on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 4/9/13 at 3:47

No question about it. Pearl had athletes on the same level as West, MBA and Issac Litton.