JACKSON, Tenn. - 10/29/2010 - The Union (Tenn.) University Sports Hall of Fame will induct six new members on Friday, November 5, 2010. The ceremony will take place in the Carl Grant Events Center on the campus of Union at 6:00 p.m. as a part of Union’s Homecoming week.
Dr. Bob Agee (track, cross country, tennis), Kenneth Hawkins (baseball, football), James “Casey” Jones (football), Lauren Hayden Martin (volleyball), Warren Olden (basketball) and Gerry Neese (radio voice of the Bulldogs) make up the induction class of 2010.
The Union University Sports Hall of Fame began in 2006 and now has 29 individual members and two teams. (Union Sports Hall of Fame)
Below are bios on each member of the class of 2010.
Dr. Bob Agee – Cross Country, Track, and Tennis – Class of 1960
Mr. Kenneth Hawkins – Baseball and Football – Class of 1955
Mr. James “Casey” Jones – Football - Class of 1943 (posthumously)
Ms. Lauren Nicole Hayden Martin – Volleyball – Class of 2002
Mr. Warren Olden – Basketball – Class of 1998
Mr. Gerry Neese – Voice of the Bulldogs – Special Merit Inductee
Bob R. Agee, ‘60
Cross Country, Track, and Tennis
During Bob Agee’s four years at Union between 1956 and 1960 he earned eight athletic letters in cross country, track, and tennis. Of those years, Union’s cross country teams won four conference championships and in 1958 and 1959 went undefeated, won the southern regional championship and competed in the national championship meets in Omaha in 1958 and in Chicago in 1959. The 1956 cross country team, Union’s first, set the standard of excellence for future teams to strive and accomplish. That first team defeated Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) and Vanderbilt University in dual meets competition, a feat which was repeated often enough that the large schools stopped scheduling Union.
Though competing in both fall and spring athletics, Bob took his academics seriously. During his four years he served as Editor of The Cardinal and Cream, Assistant Editor of Lest We Forget, the University yearbook, President of the Rutledge History Club, member of the Nestor Club (Union’s scholastic society of top twelve male students), won the Strickland Oratorical Medal, and was listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. During this time, he also served as pastor for rural churches in Gibson County. Bob and Nelle married between his sophomore and junior year.
Following his Union graduation, Bob earned the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary followed by the Ph.D. from Vanderbilt’s George Peabody College for Teachers. Dr. Agee served on the Union Board of Trustees. In 1975, he joined the faculty and staff as Dean of Religious Affairs.
In 1982, Dr. Agee became President of Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee. Over his sixteen years of service as President, the University grew in enrollment, built eleven new facilities and achieved national recognition for the high quality of education offered. In 1999, Dr. Agee was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame.
After sixteen years as President of OBU, he retired in 1998 and became Executive Director of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools. He was co-founder and served as Executive Director for the Consortium for Global Education (CGE).
Dr. Agee has been married to the former Nelle Hulme for 52 years who is a Union University alumna. They have two daughters, Denise Allen, ’81, and Robyn Hari, ’86. The Agee’s have four granddaughters, one of whom is currently a fourth generation family member to attend Union.
Kenneth B. Hawkins, ‘55
Basketball and Baseball
Kenneth B. Hawkins, better known as “Sadie” among his closest friends and colleges, came to Union University in 1951 on a basketball scholarship. He was a three-year starter and served as captain of the team in 1954. He was an ATO All-American and made the All-Conference teams his sophomore and junior years.
As a valuable member of Union’s baseball team, “Sadie” set the record for hits in a double-header baseball game: 5 for 5 in game one and 5 for 5 in game two. He was named to the All-Conference Baseball Team his junior and senior year.
As a Union freshman, Mr. Hawkins received a primary appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy by Congressman Tom Murray, which he declined in order to remain a student at his beloved Union. After completing his degree at Union in 1954, Mr. Hawkins was set to sign on with the Chicago Cubs farm team but was drafted into the U.S. Army. He received a Masters Degree from Memphis State University (now University of Memphis) and completed other post graduate work as well. He began his teaching career in 1957 at Selmer High School where he was also a very successful head football coach. He later coached basketball in Ripley, Tennessee, where he led his teams to three district championships, regional championships, and two state tournaments.
Mr. Hawkins started the first Little League Baseball Team in McNairy in 1957 and began American Legion Baseball in 1981. He served as State-wide Liaison for Principals and Administrators from 1967-1977 for the Tennessee State Board of Education.
Serving Union University as a Trustee from 1985-1988 was a highlight for Mr. Hawkins. He has been a member of First Baptist Church, Selmer since 1977, where he has served as a deacon for 32 years and a trustee for 15 years, in addition to many other leadership positions. After First Baptist Church Selmer burned, Mr. Hawkins was named Chairman of the Committee to rebuild the church.
Coach Hawkins married Inez Kirk in 1958.
James “Casey” Jones, ‘42
James “Casey” Jones is the only Union football player to ever be named to the Associated Press Little All-American first team. He was selected to the first team in 1941 and was the only repeat selection on the 1942 team. The 6’1 175 pound Florence, Alabama native starred in the annual North South Football All-Star game played after his senior season in Montgomery, Alabama.
Jones heroics led Coach Fred Delay’s bulldogs to their finest seasons ever. As a junior he ran back a punt for 93 yards against Southeastern Conference Champion Mississippi State. It was first time any player had crossed the State goal line that season. Their previous three games had included Alabama, LSU and Florida. He totaled 82 total points his junior year making him one of the top scoring backs in the south.
The two time Union Captain led the Bulldogs to a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship his senior year. The Bulldogs were undefeated in conference play losing only to Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. After the Vanderbilt game Commodores coach Red Sanders said, “Jones was the best back we saw the entire year”.
After a great game against Memphis State, Memphis Commercial Appeal sports columnist Walter Stewart wrote, “Harried members of the Memphis State football team say that Casey Jones, the Union University back, is the smoothest dasher they have met all season – that he is more elusive than a ghost 10 minutes before sunrise and harder to hit than a six horse parlay”. The longest run of his career was 103 yards against Mississippi College.
In a story in the Cardinal and Cream about Jones, repeating as an Associate Press Little All-American the writer said this about Jones, “The cleated Ghost of Death Valley stalks, in the dream of the coeds and the nightmares of the football players upon nearly every small college campus from the sultry Mississippi Delta to the chilly Kentucky Mountains”.
Jones had one of his finest games against Western Kentucky his senior season when he rushed for 108 yards in ten carries and also passed for 75 yards. The triple threat back also punted for a 49 yard average in the game.
Jones was named to the Who’s Who in Colleges and Universities in 1942 and also served as the president of the “U Club”.
Lauren Nicole Hayden Martin, ‘02
Lauren’s four year career at Union University spanned 1998-2001. She enjoyed tremendous success on the volleyball court at both the individual and team level. She was part of Union’s first ever recruiting class during the school’s inaugural season under former coach, Brian Dunn.
Lauren was a four-time member of the TranSouth All-Conference Team in 1998, 1999, 2000, and in 2001, in addition to being a two-time TranSouth Player of the Year in 1999 and 2001, a four-time member of the NAIA All-Region Team, and a three time NAIA All-American. She was a four-time NCCAA All-American and the 2001 Player of the Year.
Ms. Martin currently hold 12 Union University individual volleyball records as well as the NAIA record for the most career kills at 3,427. She was a frequent recipient of the TranSouth and NCCAA Player of the Week Awards and featured in Sports Illustrated Magazine in 2001 for her accolades.
During Lauren’s tenure, the Union Lady Bulldogs amassed an overall record of 145 wins and only 35 losses. The team won two TranSouth regular season championships, one TranSouth Tournament championship and three NCCAA Mid-East Regional championships.
Subsequent to obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in nursing at Union, she worked as a Registered Nurse at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis before “retiring” to become a full-time mother of three: Reagan, age 5, Landon, age 3, and Kennedi, age 1.
Ms. Martin has been involved in volleyball at both the club and high school levels for five years. Together with her sister, former Union University standout, Melinda Massey, and her mother, the trio run a youth volleyball club and conduct personal training sessions and camps to grade school and high-school aged girls. Lauren has also served on the coaching staff of O’Fallon Township High School’s volleyball program in O’Fallon, Illinois for three years.
Warren Olden, ‘98
Warren Olden’s basketball career at Union University spanned the years 1990-1994. During his sophomore year, the Bulldogs played in the NAIA National Championship tournament. During his four-year career the team went 71-58.
Mr. Olden set numerous records during his basketball days at Union:
- Most points in a career: 2,210
- Most field goals made in a career: 865
- Best field goal percentage in a career: .641
- Best field goal percentage in a season: .661
- Most free throw attempts in a career: 684
In addition, Mr. Olden held other significant Top-10 positions in Union’s basketball record books:
- 2nd most field goals made in a season: 289 in 1991-92
- 2nd most free throws made in a career: 480
- 2nd most field goal attempts in a career: 1,349
- 3rd best scoring average in a season: 24 pts., 1993-94
- 3rd most points in a season: 767 pts., 1993-94
- 4th most rebounds in a career: 827
- 6th most points in a season: 706 pts. 1991-92
Warren goes down in the Union University record books as one of the best, all-round players in Union history, adding to the rich heritage of great Bulldog basketball.
Warren currently serves on the Jackson police force.
Voice of the Bulldogs
Gerry Neese has been the 17-year, veteran voice of the Union University Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs. Mr. Neese’s faithfulness and commitment to Union University sports has led him to be present to broadcast not only home games, but also those games on the road, including national tournaments locally and far away.
Gerry has called six NAIA national championship games since 1992, including all five national title victories for Union. During the era of 1992-2009, Gerry’s total matches the number of Southern Nazarene’s for the most national championship calls.
He has called 10 semifinal games. Gerry called 15 quarterfinal round games. Gerry called 17 consecutive NAIA’s women’s national tournaments. No broadcaster in America can match that total.
In men’s basketball, Gerry called games in seven NAIA national tournaments, including two Elite Eight rounds and three Sweet Sixteen rounds. He has called 15 conference championships, including 12 titles in women’s basketball and 10 conference championship games, including seven title victories in men’s basketball.
During his 17-year career with Union, Gerry Neese has called more than 1,150 basketball games on radio. He has traveled 85,000 miles since 1992 to bring the story of Union basketball to loyal listeners in West Tennessee. During national tournaments he has often traveled by plan between Jackson and Kansas City in order to provide radio coverage for both men’s and women’s tournaments.
Gerry serves as a Madison County Commissioner and former Jackson City Councilman and a Board member and former Chairman for JACOA (Jackson Area Council on Alcoholism). He has been a developer, builder, and realtor for 25 years. He is active in Senior League Softball, is an avid golfer and racquetball player.
Bottom line: The dedication of Gerry Neese to Union University basketball is unsurpassed. Gerry does what he does for the love of the work; for the love of the game; and for the love of Union University.
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Fax: (731) 661-5182