It was a special night in more ways than one at Augusta Prep on Friday.
With the backdrop of homecoming, the school inducted its seventh class into its Steven Brooks Boyd Hall of Fame.
Those being honored were Cary Gibson (2005), Jim Hull, Jr. (2009), Laura Kopald (2008), the 2007 Georgia Independent School Association state volleyball championship-winning team and current athletic director, track and field and cross country coach Tom Holodak.
Among previous inductees in attendance was Brooke Gibson Hasenauer, a 2009 inductee, who helped introduce her sister Cary.
“It gives me no greater joy than to know that my sister is going in this evening as a fellow hall-of-famer,” said Hasenauer (1997).
In her time at the school, Gibson led the Lady Cavaliers to a state title and won a state singles crown.
“I’m truly proud to be an alumni here and truly honored to have this,” said Gibson to the 60 or so in attendance.
Hull left the school as its basketball career points leader with 2,673, adding 455 rebounds, a school-best 191 steals, 295 assists and a region championship in the 2008-2009 season.
He also holds school track records in the 800 meter, the 1600, the 4x400 relay and 4x800 relay.
Head basketball coach Mike Guthrie noted that Hull didn’t start right away as a freshman, but once he did, he was a fixture on the court.
“We played at West-minster, our archrival, and that game Jim broke out and scored 15 points,” Guthrie said. “It was the fourth or fifth game of the year and it was awesome. From then on, the rest was history.”
Hull said he couldn’t have done what he did without the help of his coaches, teachers and families.
“It’s a great honor to be inducted with so many talented athletes as well as be recognized for my own athletic achievements,” Hull said. “There have been so many unforgettable memories in my four years here at Prep, including winning region titles in basketball and track my senior year.”
Head volleyball coach Rich Bland called it an honor to introduce Kopald, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Among Kopald accomplishments, she was the school’s career girls basketball points leader until 2012, was volleyball all-region three times and all-state twice, helping lead the Lady Cavaliers to state championships in 2006 and 2007.
“Laura’s the kind of athlete you look at and say, how’d she do that,” Bland said. “I don’t mean that in a good way. You look at her, you go, she doesn’t jump very high, she’s not the fastest player in the gym, but she gets it done. She did it through hard work, dedication and she was a very tough competitor.”
Seven members of the 2007 team that went 24-3, winning their second-consecutive title were in attendance. Nicole Abbott and Paige Kerr Alexander spoke about their team that rolled through the state tournament unscathed.
Abbott recalled an incident when the team was in the latter stages of the year and the pressure was starting to mount and doubt seeping in as they approached the state tournament.
“Coach Guthrie simply stepped up and stopped practice that wasn’t going so well because we were all so tight and nervous,” said Abbott. “He said, ‘We do believe in you guys,’ and it was a great reminder and that’s the support you get here.”
Kerr, now a second-grade teacher at the school, remembered what volleyball meant to the school at the time.
“What eveybody was so into was volleyball,” said Alexander, noting that there was no football team or fancy new stadium. “Our gym was packed and people had their chest painted and they would tailgate for volleyball games. Our senior year it was just our whole school came together to support our team, and I really think that’s what made the difference.”
Holodak, who doubled as emcee and recipient, is in his 12th year as athletic director, 11th as track coach and fourth as cross country coach.
“He has overseen the largest expansion in athletics in Prep history,” said coach Moe Bailey, also noting multiple region and state championships the school has won in cross country and track and field. “He has been a game-changer for Augusta Prep athletics.”
It was a proud night for Holodak.
“It’s an extreme honor and privilege to be inducted into the Steven Boyd Hall of Fame and to join this very special group of men and women. To quote the great Lou Gehrig, today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Holodak downplayed his role in the athletic department’s growth, including the creation of a football team and the eventual additions of a scoreboard, lights and stadium.
“The growth that I’ve witnessed here at Prep in the past 12 years is unbelievable and I’m blessed to have had a small part in some of these projects,” Holodak said.