ASD Hall of Fame inducts four athletes
Four noted former athletes and coaches were inducted by the Alabama School for the Deaf Alumni Association to the Alabama School for the Deaf Hall of Fame during the 18th biennial ceremony at the Alabama School for the Deaf Student Center in Talladega on Dec. 13, 2014.
The four inductees included James Brooks, Lucille Dorsey, Jonathan Hollis and Billie Lewis.
James Gordon Brooks
James Gordon Brooks was born in Midland, N.C., on Aug. 4, 1918 to parents, Cias Baker Brooks Sr. and Dora Faye Helms Brooks. While an infant, his family relocated to a farm in Lamar County, Ala. He has one surviving brother, Cias Baker Brooks Jr. Deceased siblings are Julian Baker Brooks, Edna Brown Brooks and Billy O’Neal Brooks.
Brooks entered Alabama School for the Deaf in 1927, graduating as valedictorian in 1941. He played two years of football and was named All American in 1939. His family moved back to North Carolina after his graduation and he began employment in textiles with Cannon Mills in Kannapolis, N.C.
During World War II, Brooks moved to Louisville, Ky., to work for Reynolds Container Corporation, inspecting artillery shells for the military. Many people who are deaf were employed at this company to contribute to the war effort. He remained in Louisville for nearly three years until the end of the war, then returned to Midland, N.C., and resumed his employment in textiles.
Brooks became very active in the deaf ministry as a Sunday school teacher for the deaf and later became a deacon at McGill Avenue Baptist Church in Concord, N.C.
In 1950 Brooks married Georgia Lee Orr Keys Brooks, who also attended ASD. She died March 13, 2001. They have four children: Charles Ray Brooks, Julian Baker Brooks, Peggy Elaine Brooks and Helen Ann Brooks Stallings, and one step-daughter, Sally Ruth Keys Yates. All of the children reside in North Carolina. Brooks passed away on April 2, 2008.
Jonathan Hollis was born in Guin, Ala., on Oct. 9, 1973, and moved to Winfield, Ala., in 1983. He became deaf after a high fever and enrolled at Alabama School for the Deaf in 1979.
Hollis played varsity football, basketball and track and field from 1988 to 1992. He was honored through the football “Super 12” by The Anniston Star and named Player of the Week by The Anniston Star for his performance and three touchdowns scored in a game against Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf. He was listed as Player of the Year in Class 1A and 1st Team Offense by The Birmingham News. He was also listed as Player of the Year and All-American by Deaf Nation.
Hollis was honored as Most Valuable Player for the Mason Dixon Boys Basketball Tournament, won three points completion twice at Mason Dixon and was named to the All-American 1st Team in Deaf Nation. He was a national champion in football in 1988 and 1991, a national champion in basketball from 1991-1992 and a national champion in track and field in 1992.
His loves in life include fishing with his father, his bowling league, working and meeting with his old ASDAA.
Billie Lewis was born in Houston, Texas, on March 2, 1948. March 2 is Texas Independent Day and proved to be a great day to be born. She grew up in Houston attending elementary and junior high school, which she describes as an enriching experience. Houston offered many programs in girls’ sports. At an early age she knew she wanted to teach physical education and coach. After moving to Alabama in the 1960’s to live with her aunt, she attended Shelby County High School in Columbiana.
She graduated high school in 1966, and went on to continue her education at Montevallo University and Livingston University. On April 1, 1971, she accepted a position at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind to teach physical education and coach.
Lewis spent the 1970’s coaching and organizing a volleyball program, with the first team on the court in 1976. She also coached track, a sport already part of the Alabama School for the Deaf sports program, but the 1980’s were exciting and winning years for the track team. The team brought home their first state trophy as runners up in 1980.
The track team brought home first place state championships to ASD in 1982 and 1984, with the 1983 track team being named National Deaf Champions. In 1987, the DEAF AMERICAN magazine named both Lewis’s volleyball team and the ASD football team, under the direction of Coach Dewayne Clark, number one in the country – it was the “Lewis and Clark” year. The school record in 1987 was 28-9 in volleyball, the best in ASD history. Sports continued to win and thrive into the 1990s.
Lewis’s retirement from volleyball came in the 1990’s but she continued to coach track until 2004, when she retired in May with 33 years of service.
Lucille Dorsey’s family was introduced to ASD originally for her sister who was deaf. Lucille became deaf at age 8, enrolled at 9 years old in the fall 1977 and graduated in spring 1987.
After enrolling, she made friends who taught her sign language and helped her understand and communicate with others. Coach Kay Wilkerson encouraged Dorsey and her best friend, Marion G. Hall, to try out for basketball. Both made the ASD Lady Silent Warriors varsity team wherein Dorsey was a teammate during her first year with sister, Cora Mae (Dorsey) Walker. Dorsey participated in sports and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
In her second varsity year, ASD hosted the Mason Dixon Tournament where the team won their first championship after defeating Florida School for the Deaf 54-53.
Dorsey would like to recognize her sister, Cora Mae (Dorsey) Walker, her friend and supporter; Connie Barnes, a big influence in her early life; Toni Davenport, her best friend and a current ASD instructor; Brenda Garrett, a retired ASD instructor; Coach Kay, whom Dorsey describes as a second mother; and all at ASD.
Dorsey obtained a bachelor’s degree in social work from Gallaudet University where she played a semester of basketball. After an injury, she got a job working as a direct care counselor for National Children Center, Inc. (NCC) where she worked with individuals with developmental disabilities in Washington, D.C. for two years before being promoted to house manager. While working, she obtained a master’s degree in social work from Howard University. After graduating, she joined Deaf-REACH as a day program coordinator in September 2005, became Day Program Director in May 2006 and is now Director of Program Services.
Dorsey enjoys working with people and seeing people learn. She likes the beach, fishing, cooking, bowling, pool, swimming, movies, gardening, reading and watching football with friends.
Pictured, from left, are Billie Lewis, Lucille Dorsey, the children of James Brooks (Peggy Brooks, Julian Brooks, Helen Brooks Stallings and Charles Brooks) and Jonathan Hollis.