By Devin Golden
Two weeks ago, the only testimonial to Ron Bell at the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame was a plaque on the top row — and at some 10 feet off the ground in a low-light area, it was a strain to read.
Now, his legacy “feels alive.”
That’s what Bell and others believe a new video kiosk brings to the GACA Hall of Fame, which inducted six new members Saturday at the trade center in Dalton, the hall’s home. Leslie Baker, Bill Holleman, Chuck Miller, Billy Peek, Joe Williams and Charles Winslette made up the Class of 2013.
The new video addition was a pleasant one for both new and old inductees. The touch screen already has a list of honorees dating back to 2007, and the plan is to continue adding classes until the first — 2001, which includes former Dalton High School football coach Bill Chappell — is represented. Guests can navigate by year and choose a specific inductee by touching his photo, which then brings up career information. Touching the photo again causes a pop-up video screen to emerge, and the induction ceremony for that Hall of Fame member is played.
“Five years ago, you would’ve thought this was impossible,” said Bell, a 2011 inductee best known for coaching basketball for 35 years at Atlanta’s Marist School. “I’m going to bring my grandchildren here and let them watch (my induction ceremony).”
Bell wasn’t aware of the new feature until he talked to GACA Executive Director Terry Rogers on Friday, and he said the description gave him “the chills” in an awe-inspiring way. Before, it was tough to read the limited career information on the plaque — inductees receive a ring, medal and photo replica of the plaque — since it was on the top row and closer to the ceiling than anyone’s eyes.
“My plaque is so high up on the wall,” said Bell, who grew up in Ringgold. “Someone would have to work hard to see it, and then they couldn’t read it. Plus, the plaques don’t cover everything about your career, and the speeches tell stories. It opens that up to a live situation. ... My family, friends and former players and coaches all can be at my banquet now. It makes it feel alive.”
Dalton resident Tom Bryson designed, built and programmed the new feature. He said the kiosk — which was manufactured at Dalton Metal Fabricators — costs around $5,000 and uses a Windows-based video software.
Rogers was pleased with the new element for the hall.
“It was static information (before),” he said. “Now it is live. ... As time evolves and everyone finds out about it, it will become a bigger attraction. People who came here didn’t know about it before.”
Winslette and Holleman were two of those who had no idea before arriving at the trade center. A high school football coach in Georgia for 34 years, Winslette won state titles at West Rome in 1985 and 1993 and accumulated a record of 262-134-3.
“The video downstairs makes everything better,” he said.
Holleman coached high school soccer for 28 years in Georgia and earned a record of 607-184-50, including seven state championships.
“I think it’s a great element and addition to the hall of fame,” he said. “I was surprised when I walked in and saw it.”
Doug Phipps, the trade center’s general manager, said the kiosk has been in the works for around a year. April Bennett, events coordinator for the trade center, said the kiosk was unveiled a week ago. She thinks it better preserves the information from the induction ceremony in the Hall of Fame.
“Now you can really see them get inducted and listen to the stories told about each one,” she said. “Instead of just the plaques on the walls, now you get a variety of information. Before, when people walked in and asked where the coaches hall of fame is, I used to say, ‘Well, the plaques are downstairs.’ Now I can show them the screen.”