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Union University to induct six into Sports Hall of Fame

JACKSON, Tenn. - 11/6/2008 - James A. “Jimmy” Bryant, Ronnie G. Giddens, Joe Guyon, Lisa C. Hutchens, Keith Reynolds, and Jim Swope will be inducted into the Union University Sports Hall of Fame during the third annual ceremony on November 7, 2008 at 6:00 pm. The ceremony will take place in the new Carl Grant Events Center on Union’s campus.  The events are a part of Union’s Homecoming week that ends on Saturday, November 8.  All events will lead up to the Union basketball games, including the No. 1 ranked Lady Bulldogs versus St. Catharine (Ky.) College at 2:00 pm and the No. 12 ranked Union Bulldogs versus No. 2 Robert Morris (Ill.) College at 4:00 pm.

To nominate someone for the Union University Sports Hall of Fame, or to view past inductees, please visit the Hall of Fame webage.

James A. “Jimmy” Bryant, ‘63


“Jimmy” Bryant is a 1959 graduate of Jackson High School, Jackson, Tennessee, where he set ten track records.  In 1957 he finished seventh in the Tennessee State High School Decathlon and in 1959 finished third in the 120-yard high and 180-yard low hurdles at the Tennessee State Track Meet.  

In 1959 Mr. Bryant was awarded the first full track grant-in-aid to attend Union University after turning down offers from Furman and LSU.   In 1963 he earned four VSAC and District 24 track titles under head coach John Rose.  Al Allen, former Union University art teacher and 1932 Olympic hurdles competitor, personally coached “Jimmy” in the hurdles. At his 1963 graduation, he was presented with the prestigious Fred DeLay Sports Award. 

Mr. Bryant opened his collegiate track career with three first place wins against Mississippi College.  In 1960, Jimmy was dubbed the “freshman flash” by the Jackson Sun, which quoted, “We feel that Union’s Jimmy Bryant could be one of the best in the South before he finishes his career with the Bulldogs.” 

In 1962 and 1963, “Jimmy “was a member of the Tennessee Intercollegiate Athletic Conference College Division State Track Championship Teams.  Over the course of his track career, he set many records including the 100 yard dash, 120 yard high hurdles, 220 yard low hurdles, high jump, broad jump, 440 yard run, the 440 and 880 yard relay and the Sprint Medley.  He also threw the shotput and javelin.  In 1962, he was named the VSAC Most Valuable Player.  He is the all-time leading scorer in Union University track competition history scoring over 500 points during his four year history.   

After his stellar track and field career, Mr. Bryant earned two Masters Degrees, the Ed.S. Degree and the Ph.D. Degree in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Georgia.  He has spent thirty-two years serving in public education as a teacher, principal and as a supervisor in the DeKalb County School System.  He developed and operated the first AAHPER Physical Education National Program of Excellence in thirteen states of the southeastern region. 

Since his retirement in 1995, “Jimmy” has served with his wife, Lisa, as sports photo-journalists for two North Georgia newspapers. 

Ronnie G. Giddens, Jr., ‘87


Ronnie Giddens was born in Saugus-Newhall, California in 1961.  He was destined from the beginning to be a baseball standout.  Ronnie began his play with the Southern League in 1970 and followed with Little League from 1971-74 and was a Little League All-Star in district, regional, and state play in 1974.  He was a valuable asset to the team which participated in the Little League World Series, taking 5th place in 1974.  To date, this is the only team from Jackson, Tennessee, to play in the Williamsport, Pennsylvania series.  Ronnie went on to have an outstanding career in Babe Ruth, American Legion and Jackson-Central Merry High School baseball, leading the team at J-CM with a batting average of .586. 

Ronnie came to the Union University Bulldogs Baseball team in 1979 on full athletic scholarship. As a freshman he was the only starting shortstop to make the All Conference VSAC team.  Ronnie’s versatility was demonstrated as he started as left fielder in 1982 and second baseman in 1983.  In that same year he distinguished himself as All District, All Conference VSAC, District Player of the Year, the All World Series Team, NAIA All American and the Jackson Sun College Player of the Year.  He is the only player in conference history to receive All Conference honors in all three positions: short stop, left fielder, and second baseman. In 1983 Ronnie played in all 57 games and led the team in batting at .435.  Union University ranked 10th entering the NAIA World Series play in 1983 and placed third.  At Union University Ronnie holds a career batting average of .409 and stills holds the record for career assists with 351. 

In 1983, Ronnie was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, playing for the Billings Mustangs and the Pioneer League Champions.  He later played in the Cedar Rapids Reds Midwest and Tampa Tarpons Florida State Leagues.  In 1986 he was traded to the Montreal Expos and then to the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Today Ronnie makes his home in Jackson, Tennessee, with his wife, Tina, who works at Union University, and with his two daughters Aly and Anna Katherine.

Joe Guyon

Union University Football Coach, 1919-1925

NFL Hall of Fame, 1971


Joe Guyon, an American Indian from the Chippewa Tribe, was born O-Gee-Chidah, on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota.  He received only a sixth grade education from the American government on the reservation.  Guyon once said, “It was hard trying to make something of yourself. Sports were one of the few ways a youngster could pull himself up.” 

Guyon did the only thing he could do.  He used his athletic skill to gain a college education and a satisfying professional career. After playing on Georgia Tech’s national championship team in 1917, Joe signed to play pro football with the Canton Bulldogs in 1919.  After the NFL was organized in 1920, Guyon played for six different teams. From 1919-24, Joe played with another outstanding Native American halfback, Jim Thorpe. 

The paths of the talented Indian pair parted late in the 1924 season when Guyon left the Rock Island Independents to go to the Kansas City Cowboys.  Guyon stayed with the Cowboys in 1925 while Thorpe, then 37, moved on to the New York Giants. 

Two years later in 1927, Guyon became a Giant and played a major role in leading the New York team to the 1927 NFL championship.  Guyon enjoyed one of his finest seasons and gained the first significant publicity he had enjoyed since his college days.  The 1927 Giants compiled an 11-1-1 record largely on the strength of a superior defense that allowed only 20 points the entire season.  Guyon, displaying his many abilities in passing, running, punting, tackling, and blocking, played a leading role in scoring the necessary points for his team that finished second in scoring that season. 

Joe Guyon coached the Union University football team from 1919-1925.  He was among the first class of inductees into the National Football League in 1971 along side his life-long friend, Jim Thorpe.  Guyon spent his last years Louisville, Kentucky, until his death in 1971. 

Lisa C. Hutchens, ‘83


Lisa Hutchens, a 1979 graduate of Greenfield, Tennessee High School, was the All-Time Leading Scorer for the Yellow Jackets with 2,000 points. After graduation Lisa came to Union University, where she experienced a stellar career as a Lady Bulldog.  She earned NAIA All-American, All-District 24 and Volunteer State Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player honors, while graduating third in her class with a degree in health and physical education. Lisa was Union University’s first NAIA Academic All-American and still holds four school records. 

After graduation at Union University, Ms. Hutchens attended the University of Memphis, formerly Memphis State University, where she earned her Master of Education Degree in 1985.  She began her coaching career at Millington Central High School and later moved to South Side High School, Jackson, to lead the Lady Hawks.  While at South Side she was recognized as the District 14 “Coach of the Year” for the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons and was the Jackson Sun “Coach of the Year” for the 1988-89 seasons. She led the Lady Hawks to the only undefeated season in Madison County history. 

Coach Hutchens returned to her alma mater as assistant coach of the Lady Bulldogs and served for six seasons before taking leave of absence in 1997-98 to pursue a doctorate.  In her six years as an assistant coach, Hutchens was very instrumental in the success of the Lady Bulldogs.  The Lady Bulldogs won the TCAC four times, made the District 24 finals four times, capturing one district title during that period.  The Lady Bulldogs made the NAIA National Basketball Tournament field six times during her tenure, finishing eighth on two outings, second, sixteenth, fourth, and second.  Along with Coach David Blackstock, she coached the Lady Bulldogs to the 1998 NAIA National Championship. The Lady Bulldogs won over 30 games in each of five seasons, illustrating her importance to the Lady Bulldogs success. Her jersey, #14, is one of three jerseys retired by the Union University Lady Bulldogs basketball program. 

Keith Reynolds, ‘77


Keith Reynolds, a Hardin County native with both basketball and baseball skills, became the first person drafted into the Major Leagues from Hardin County when selected as a shortstop in the 15th round in 1973 by the New York Mets . He declined the offer from the Mets to attend Union University and play both basketball and baseball. 

Though recruited primarily for his baseball skills, Reynolds quickly moved into the starting line-up after two scrimmage games and his freshman season in basketball.  He went on to lead the Bulldogs in scoring with an 18.3 average per game and was the second leading rebounder that season.  His baseball career at Union would end after only one season. 

The lanky 6’2” post player was usually matched with much taller opponents but used his outstanding quickness and great leaping ability to lead the Bulldogs in scoring each season.  As a sophomore he averaged over 19 points per game and again was second in rebounding.  He continued that pace by averaging 17.5 points as a junior and 7.6 rebounds per game. 

Reynolds eclipsed Jeff Richey’s all-time scoring record his senior season amassing 1,895 points for his career.  He is currently the third all-time scoring record holder for free throws for the Union University Bulldogs.  His 23 free throws made in one game is still a Bulldog record. 

Keith and his wife Vickie have been married for 26 years and live in Bells, Tennessee.  They have two daughters, Megan and Marcy.

Jim Swope

Union University Men’s Basketball Coach


Jim Swope is a native of Marion, Illinois.  During his senior year of high school he earned letters in four sports: basketball, football, track and baseball, and was selected as the Outstanding Senior Athlete.  Swope, an all-state prep basketball star, attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on an athletic scholarship.  After graduation from UTM in 1963, he earned a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from the University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University).  After only one year’s absence from his undergraduate institution, Swope returned to become part of the coaching staff, coaching some of the teammates with whom he had played only two years before.  Interestingly enough, Coach Swope also coached baseball at UTM from 1968-73, earning honors as VSAC Champions, qualifying for the NCAA Mid-East Regional Tournament and finishing fourth. 

Swope, head men’s basketball coach at Union University from 1975-1987, is the second winniest coach in Union men’s basketball history.  He was the first men’s basketball coach to post back-to-back 20-victory seasons in 1977-78 and 1978-79.  And in 12 years at Union, Swope had nine winning seasons and qualified for the district 24 playoffs four times.  He coached his 200th career victory in the Bulldogs’ season home opener against Arkansas College on November 25, 1986. 

Swope has also coached extensively at the junior college level. He served as head men’s basketball coach at Jackson State from 1968-70, posting a record of 30-17.  And he coached both men’s and women’s basketball from 1987-1989.  He was named both men’s and women’s basketball “Coach of the Year” in 1989 for the Western Division of the Tennessee Junior College Athletic Association. 

He was inducted into the UTM Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992; the Jackson-Madison County Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Tennessee Junior and Community Hall of Fame in 2007.  Active in his community, Swope was named “Man of the Year” in 1988 by the Bicentennial Exchange Club of Jackson. 

Coach Swope has been married to his wife, Linda, for 46 years.  They have one daughter Piper Taylor and one son, John.  The Swopes have seven grandchildren and make their home in Jackson, Tennessee.


Steven Aldridge
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Sports Information
Fax: (731) 661-5182

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