Submitted by Tabatha B. McDonald
BELLE GLADE, FL –– The Palm Beach State College Belle Glade campus has been designated as the official host of the Muck City Sports Hall of Fame awards ceremony, an annual tribute that recognizes athletes and patrons who got their start in the communities of Belle Glade, Clewiston, Pahokee, and South Bay on the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. The region, known as Muck City, is home to more than 80 NFL players and more than 400 collegiate athletes.
Launched by the Muck City Project this year, the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class was honored on June 5 at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center on the PBSC Belle Glade campus. Inductees in the football category included Rickey Jackson, former player for the Saints and 49ers and 2010 inductee to the NFL Hall of Fame; Santonio Holmes, former player for the Steelers, Jets and Bears and 2009 Super Bowl MVP; Jessie Hester, former player for the Raiders, Falcons, Colts, and Rams and a 1985 first-round draft pick; and Jimmy Spencer, former player for the Redskins, Saints, Bengals, Chargers and Broncos. Additional awardees included Milton Watson, football coach; Evette Lyman, basketball and track and field athlete; and Jerry Seymore, wrestling athlete. Earl Poitier, PBSC alumnus Clarence Anthony, Janet Taylor and Willie Gary, notable members of the community outside of athletics, were also honored with the Lifetime Achievement award.
“PBSC’s support of the Muck City Sports Hall of Fame demonstrates our commitment to the community and the Muck City Project’s celebration of the Glades’ athletic history,” said Dr. LaTanya McNeal, executive dean of the PBSC Belle Glade campus. “The event brings forth collective pride and bonding from residents, highlights the historic athletic feats of the honorees and is a great motivator to local secondary school-age youth and our very own PBSC students.”
With many athletes calling Muck City home, it’s become known as a “football factory.” The name for the region, which has both a rich agricultural and athletic history, was derived because of the Black soil that produces sugar cane.
Through the Sports Hall of Fame, the Muck City Project intends to chronicle the story of its many players and inspire courage, dedication, fair play, integrity, and excellence. The Executive Advisory Committee select seven awardees each year using a point ranking system and votes submitted by residents.
“Our relationship with the college has been very close. PBSC has been a huge supporter of the organization,” said Jonathan Mann, president of the Muck City Project, who added his intention of incorporating PBSC in as many programs as possible to promote a higher education for high school students and student athletes.
One such opportunity is the Muck City Sports Hall of Fame Kickoff Classic, a match between the Booker T. Washington Tornadoes and Glades Central Raiders, on Friday, Aug. 19, at Glades Central High School. The game will include a halftime recognition ceremony for the inaugural Hall of Fame class. PBSC will also be present at the game to share information with the community about programs, student support services and financial aid.
“Football is a transcendent sport in America, and there is a huge following for that. But there are so many ways we can bring substance, appeal, information, and support to the community. Our goal is to become a centerpiece for economic development and community enhancement projects,” added Mann.
The second annual Muck City Sports Hall of Fame awards ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, June 4, 2023, at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center. Additional forthcoming initiatives include a sports museum, which is set to be housed in Belle Glade, a semiannual Golf Classic, and ongoing media opportunities to highlight coaches and top players. For more information, visit www.muckcityproject.com.
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