By Emily West, Correspondent
Saturday May 28, Belton High School unveiled its newest addition to the Wall of Honor–– six student-athletes of the induction class of 2016 ––with the guidance and talents of the Journal’s own sports editor, Tony Adams.
The Belton Wall of Honor was curated by Dr. Billy Wilbanks (Belton’s Class of 1958) and was introduced in 2001, when he discovered a lost and forgotten piece of sports history belonging to Belton: the state championship track team of 1909.
Adams worked in conjunction with the current coaches and administrators at Belton High School in order to complete the 2016 inductees’ write-ups and photographs for each athlete.
When asked about his involvement in the write-ups process, Adams said: “It was a natural fit. These write-ups are basically an extension of what I do here at the newspaper. I have plenty of information and photographs from having covered these athletes for years, and the coaches have these stats… so we just said ‘let’s get this together.’” Of the six photographs used in the most recent addition to the Wall of Honor, five are photographs taken by Adams, who has been covering local sports for The Belton Journal for about four years now.
His coordination with local coaches marks an advent of ease and simplicity for sports writing: “Coaches are great record-keepers and have tons of great stats,” he said, “but when it comes to writing, I helped out the coaches.”
Adams went to high school in Belton from 1983 to 1986. Although he finished high school in Davison, MI, his three-and-a-half years at BHS allowed him to take in a lot of sporting events as a member of the Marching 100 as a percussionist and to experience the deep tradition of Belton athletics. His brother, Robbie Aguilar, is a member of the Wall of Honor as part of the 1994 Belton Tigers Class 4A State Champions in baseball.
In his sports radio career, he helped out with play-by-play and color analysis for the old Jacksonville Lizard Kings in the East Coast Hockey League for one season and Jacksonville Tomcats in Arena Football League 2 from 2000 through 2002. After leaving radio and relocating to California, Adams returned to the airwaves on the internet as part of “Around the Diamond,” TheMajors.net’s weekly baseball program. After he joined the Journal in November 2012, he returned to the sports airwaves on the KTEM-AM 1400 staff as a high school sports and Temple College’s basketball play-by-play announcer. He recently completed his second year as the play-by-play announcer for Belton Tigers’ baseball and Belton Lady Tigers’ softball. He also joins the Belton Tigers Football radio team as a halftime guest during broadcasts.
“It an honor to cover Belton and UMHB sports,” Adams said. “The ability to watch the athletes in action and document their performances has been a blessing.”
Adams has been instated on the Wall of Honor committee to serve henceforth, as his involvement and efficient utilization of resources expedited and smoothed out the process. His new project, working closely with the Wall of Honor committee, is to pore over all of Belton High’s archives in order to ensure that no athlete who meets the tough criteria will be missed from the Wall.
Adams anticipates that the Wall of Honor will continue to receive additions, yearly; “We have been averaging about five or six a year,” he said, “but especially in softball and soccer. Sports are at times cyclical. We’ve had more softball and soccer honorees in the past three years than any of the other sports.” But the criteria to become an honoree is exacting, Adams informed the Journal. Potential honorees are named to all-state teams and the accolades are reviewed for approval.
Some athletes, however, manage to achieve the honor of being recognized in more than one sport, which is an even larger feat.
“It’s not necessarily about being a star athlete,” Adams said. “It’s about excellence in your own position. For instance, a football punter might not contribute as much to a football team as some other players, but we have had three punters on the Wall of Honor because they were just excellent punters. And punting for positioning is a football science that is hard work. But if you can perfect the punt inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and give your defense a chance to get the offense the ball back in good position, you’re going to get recognized. We’re still looking for our first MLB hopeful, with the closest being Toby Rumfield (Temple baseball head coach). Had it not been for a couple of very good Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves squads in the 1990’s, he would have been in the show.”
For more information, a PDF file of the Wall of Honor can be found online at beltontigerathletics.com, and a chronicle of local sports can be found weekly right here in the Journal.