Gilmer Sports Hall of Fame inducts four new members
The Gilmer Sports Hall of Fame inducted its 2017 class last Friday.
This year’s inductees included athletic honorees Diane Beaver Call (Gilmer High School, class of 1967), Jim Bailey (’68), Calah Davis Merritt (’95) and support personnel Ken Buffington (’68).
Call was recognized for many achievements on the girls varsity basketball team. She was a force on the basketball floor her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Her tenacious style of play earned her trophies for “Best Forward” in both the 1966 and 1967 seasons.
In 1966, she averaged 20 points per game and 17 points per game in 1967. For many years Call held the free-throw record for game, season and career. She was a “G” Club officer, serving as secretary in 1967.
She was Miss Gilmer County and Miss GHS first runner-up in 1967. She continued excelling in athletics while at Reinhardt College from 1967-1969. She was a member of both the basketball and volleyball teams. She was an all-star in basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball.
She received the Reinhardt College Sportsmanship Trophy and was presented a plaque for “Most Points Acquired for Participation at All Sporting Events” in 1969.
Today, she enjoys traveling and exploring the back roads of the southeastern United States and is a volunteer for FindAGrave.com.
Bailey played quarterback, defensive back and place kicker. He returned kickoffs and punts, and returned kicks of 75 and 85 yards, a punt of 80 yards and an interception of 94 yards for touchdowns.
He scored 62 points, threw eight touchdown passes, and kicked field goals and extra points his senior season. He kicked the first field goal in GHS history and had six career field goals.
He had 1,520 all-purpose yards, which included 1,041 passing, 145 rushing and 334 return yards. He was the team co-captain his senior season and also lettered on the baseball team.
After college, he taught biology at GHS for nine years and owned and operated Bailey’s Toggery for 24. He has always supported the Bobcats through the years.
Merritt lettered in track, cross-country and basketball.
- was the first three-time state champion in GHS history. She was a track state champion in the 1,600-meter run and won back-to-back state championships in the 3,200-meter run and set the GHS record in 1,600 and 3,200.
She was the state runner-up in Class 2A cross-country. She won multiple Region 8-2A championships. She was the GHS MVP on both the track and cross-country teams and also served as team captain.
She was an officer in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and an honor graduate.
She was awarded a full athletic scholarship to the University of Alabama at Huntsville, a member of the Gulf South Conference. She set the school 5K record and was a member of the All Gulf South Conference Team. She qualified in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional and also was a national qualifier.
In 1998, Merritt completed her collegiate athletic career and was accepted to graduate school at Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy.
Buffington was the head baseball coach at GHS and compiled a record of 97-33. He led the Bobcats to a region championship and subregion championships.
Buffington initiated the Mountaineer Invitational Tournament, the largest high school baseball tournament in north Georgia. GHS won the tournament also.
He had 16 players go on to play at some level of college baseball. He also coached football and basketball. As football defensive coordinator, he assisted many Bobcat winning teams including a 7-6 victory over Cartersville High School.
As the eighth-grade basketball coach, his last team went undefeated.
He taught at GHS and was the social studies department chairman for 17 years. He was selected as Gilmer’s Star Teacher and region baseball coach of the year.
He served as president of the Gilmer Association of Educators, as well as president of the East Ellijay Elementary School Parent/Teacher Association. He was the charter president of the New Gilmer County Jaycees.
He is a deacon at East Ellijay Baptist Church and continues to serve the youth of Gilmer.