When the Suwannee High football program won its 500th game several weeks ago, coach Kyler Hall made sure to quickly praise all the previous Bulldogs that made that moment possible.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling because of all the great people that came before us and laid the foundation,” Hall added after that win at Santa Fe.
That wasn’t just coach speak or empty words.
Hall and the rest of the SHS athletic department really are proud of those who have come before them.
It was evident again Sept. 10 when Hall kept the Bulldogs on the field for the halftime ceremony to honor the 1999 state runner-up Bulldogs, which included Hall.
“When everybody is in it together, that’s what makes Suwannee special,” he said after that event. “Twenty years from now, we talked about it before the game, what are they going to say about this group? They’ve got the opportunity to be special.”
And the pride was back again Friday night when two special former Bulldog greats were inducted into the Suwannee High Athletic Hall of Fame.
It’s a small, yet extremely meaningful, way for Suwannee High to honor the legacies of its former greats.
It’s also a way, as Hall has shown, to provide a learning opportunity and possibly, hopefully, a spark of inspiration to the current and future Bulldogs.
Honor those that came before and inspire those that are coming to obtain that same level of greatness.
During her days at Suwannee, Angela Polite Williams certainly was great.
She won six state titles in track and field for SHS – three in the 100 meters and three more in the 200. She still holds school records in both events.
But then again, what would one expect from someone who was known as “Speedy” as a child.
The nickname definitely fit.
And after then-Suwannee Middle coach Danny Robinson asked her to join the track team, she was soon invited to train with the SHS runners.
And it turned into greatness. In addition to the state titles, Polite attended the Junior Olympics in Rome, Italy, in 1986. When she graduated a year later, she attended Alabama A&M on a full athletic scholarship, continuing to compete across the country for six more years.
The late Barry Roberson left a legacy on the football field and baseball diamond for SHS, earning a scholarship to play both at Valdosta State University.
As a member of the state championship SHS football team for coach Mike Pittman, Roberson played guard, defensive end and kicker, seldom leaving the field.
In 1988, Roberson and Jessie Chaires teamed up for 18 sacks, eight coming in the state championship game.
One of the highlights for Roberson’s SHS career was booting a 42-yard field goal to help clinch one of the Bulldogs’ playoff wins.
At VSU, he continued to star in both sports.
After playing middle linebacker for the Blazers for three years, Roberson — who passed away in 2017, survived by his wife, Melissa Brewis Roberson, two daughters, Sydney and Claire, and a host of other family members — focused solely on baseball as a senior, earning the team’s MVP award.
Chris Beckham, then a sports writer for the Valdosta Daily Times, noted that Roberson “brought a football mentality to the baseball field.”
Beckham could have said he brought the Bulldog mentality. He brought a determination and the heart of a champion.
Or, as we now know, he brought the qualities of a Hall of Famer.