AP recognizes its champions
JIM TAYLORAVON PARK - The Avon Park Champions Club inducted five new members to its Hall of Fame. Those who become part of the second class to be inducted were Chet Brojek, Frederic "Fred" Jahna, Virgil Martin, J.C. Walker and Rance "Hoppy" Rewis.
Published: March 5, 2013
Published: March 5, 2013
The Avon Park Champions Club started last year and inducted six members in the first class that included the following: Lucy Derkman, Joe Franza, Reginald "Guy" Garrett, Thomas Gordon, Ronnie Jackso and Bill Jarrett.
Charles Devlin, the president of the Avon Park Champions Club, spoke briefly about their goals and purpose, which is to create a championship environment in Avon Park by honoring the past and supporting local academic and athletic programs, as stated in the ceremony program.
Chet Brojek was the first inductee to be introduced. Brojek became the Avon Park track head coach in 1970 and started the Avon Park cross country program in 1971 to develop runners for the track and field program.
He became the athletic director for Avon Park in 1980 and remained in the position until he retired in 2003. As the athletic director, he worked to continue the winning traditions while adding swimming and many girls' sports such as: cross country, volleyball, basketball, soccer, track and field, softball and golf.
Brojek said in his acceptance speech that the honor of being inducted into the Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame came about because of the terrific young people that he has been able to work with during his 40 plus years of coaching.
"Their hard work, determination and dedication to our program brought the wins and the championships year after year," Brojek said.
The second person inducted was Frederic "Fred" Jahna. In 1953, Jahna became the official timekeeper for Avon Park football and kept that title until his death in 1996.
Jahna was a member-booster-supporter of the Avon Park Athletic Association and provided the football team with a visible clock and scoreboard. Many of the contributions made by Jahna were made without public recognition, as he preferred.
Accepting for the family was son Conley Jahna. Conley spoke glowingly of his father as he had all the family members present stand up.
"This is the company he built," said Conley Jahna. "His family; that was what was most important to him."
The third inductee was Virgil Martin. Martin was part of the Avon Park baseball team from 1945 to 1949 as they posted 86-7 record during those years. Martin not only played baseball, but played four years of football as quarterback and tailback and three years in basketball as a forward.
Martin's activities were not limited to the playing field as he was part of the Avon Park School band for four years.
Steve Rewis made the introduction to the fourth inductee of the evening, who he called his best friend, his hero and most importantly and proudly his dad; Rance "Hoppy" Rewis.
"This is not the Pro Football Hall of Fame," said Steve Rewis, "But when you are born and raised in Avon Park, being inducted into the Avon Park Hall of Champions is much bigger and better. To use his own saying from 1987, Hoppy Rewis is from the park and proud of it."
Hoppy Rewis cited three reasons for why he was standing before them.
The first reason was his parents.
"My dad always believed that you should play sports in high school as long as you can," he said. "My mother went to every sporting event and supported it, she may not have known what was going on, but she supported it."
Second part was his wife Judy. Rewis said that she was his high school sweetheart, college sweetheart, middle-aged sweetheart and she is still my sweetheart.
"She has always supported me and always put what I wanted first," said Rewis.
The third thing was his parents moving to Avon Park, where church was important, school was important and playing sports was important. Rewis stated that he did not know what would have happened if they had moved to a community where school was a business, church was what you did on Sunday and sports did not mean anything.
"I don't know what heaven is like," said Rewis, "But if it is better than being 9 years old and playing Little League, then I want to go there because being 9 years old and playing little league was totally awesome."
The last person inducted was J.C. Walker. Accepting on his behalf was his son Steve Walker and grand-daughter Nancy Walker.
Walker was the ace pitcher and top hitter for the Red Devils from 1945 to 1948. During that time span the Red Devils went 57-3. He never hit below .450 in a season and never lost a regular season game.
He was also a letter-winning halfback on the football team.
It was because of the dominance of Red Devil baseball during this time period that the 10-run mercy rule was implemented.
The 1987 Avon Park football team was also honored. The Red Devils went 13-0 and captured the 2A state football championship under then head coach Rewis and assistant coach Brojek.
Another rule was put in place due to how dominate the Red Devils were beating their opponents. They posted six shutouts, including one in the championship game when they beat Bonifay 34-0. After that year they instituted the running clock.
The final award of the night was the President's Cup, which Devlin presented to Jackson for all his support, hard work and dedication to the Champions Club the past couple of years.
For more information on the Avon Park Champions Club and their Hall of Fame, visit apchampionsclub.com.
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