It took a year, but the 2020 Polk County Hall of Fame class will finally have its day as the Polk County All Sports Awards return to a live event on Tuesday, June 8.
Last year, the All Sports Awards were forced to take place online due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the event will return to the RP Funding Center as Hall of Fame recipients receive their jackets, while celebrating the best teams and athletes of the year in Polk County. .
Tickets are not available to the general public for this year’s event.
Johnny Wiggs, Norm Benn, Sam Silas, Mike Musick Sr. and Ron Myers will all be officially inducted. Musick Sr. will be posthumously inducted by his son Mike Musick Jr. following the death of longtime Lakeland Christian coach in January after battling cancer.
Wiggs, 53, spent his formative years playing baseball, football and basketball at Mulberry High School before turning that into a professional baseball career and then a college coach.
Wiggs said last year, when he found out he had been selected, that he didn’t expect a Hall of Fame call from Polk.
“I never thought about it,” Wiggs said. “I’ve heard of it, but it’s not something you think of. I join Andy Bean, Wayne Peace, guys that I watched growing up in Polk. There were so many great athletes across Polk, to be considered a Hall of Fame, whether it was my career as a pitcher or as a coach, I’m just honored and excited to be included.
Benn, 87, was inducted for her time with the Florida Southern College women’s basketball and golf teams.
As the head coach of women’s basketball from 1985 to 1997, Benn compiled a record of 251-96. In eight of those seasons, the Moccasins have won 20 or more games and won five Sunshine State Conference regular season titles and six SSC tournament crowns. Benn also led the 1995 team to the first Southern Regional title and participation in Elite Eight.
As an assistant coach of the women’s golf team, Benn has competed in three national championships.
This will be Benn’s third Hall of Fame induction, as he’s also in halls at the Sunshine State Conference and Florida Southern College.
“I’m very happy with it,” he said. “I haven’t been training for a while, I thought I was a forgotten mentor. I really enjoyed training both of my sports, but I was very excited to get started.
Sam Silas, 81, was one of the first Bartow’s Union Academy graduates to play on the field in an NFL game. Silas was a punishing defensive tackle for seven years with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. Silas was elected to the Pro Bowl in 1965 and became a professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey.
Musick is the record holder for most state titles by a Polk County coach with 14 years. Musick guided the Lakeland Christian School in the power of track and cross country.
Myers, 65, is the Florida director of operations for the Detroit Tigers, a title that encompasses more than overseeing the team’s 84-year relationship with Lakeland, and will be inducted as a contributor.
However, it is not just about the Hall of Fame, as several individuals and teams will be honored for their performances throughout a difficult 2020-2021 sporting season.
Polk County Athletic Director Dan Talbot will be honored as Bernie Little Executive of the Year for helping coordinate and maintain high school seasons during the pandemic.
Southeastern Track and Field was cleaned up this year and won the Men’s and Women’s Collegiate Team Awards for Baseball and Track and Field, and first baseman Nick Bottari won the Charles Richardson Commissioner Award for perseverance and the collegiate male athlete of the year award.
Also recognized are Sam Horsfield (Professional Athlete of the Year), Bartow Walter Clayton Jr. (Male Amateur Athlete of the Year), Auburndale’s Emily Hart (Female Amateur Athlete of the Year), Mary Haff (Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year). of the Year), Bartow Boys Basketball Team (Men’s Amateur Team of the Year) and Lakeland Christian Women’s Football Team (Women’s Amateur Team of the Year).