Jack Knight, Valdosta State Slugger

Jack Knight (March 2, 1934 – November 28, 2009)

As a young man, Judge William Daniel “Jack” Knight was among the hometown athletes of Ray City, GA. He was , son of Elias M. “Hun” Knight and Gladys Daniel Knight.

Jack Knight, Class of 1951, Ray City School, Ray City, GA

Jack Knight was raised at Ray City, GA where he attended the Ray City public schools. His father built the Mayhaw Lake Resort in 1914 and was a farmer and businessman of Ray City. Jack graduated with the Ray City High School class of 1951.  He continued his education at Valdosta State College. He excelled at sports in high school and college; he was the leading scorer for the Ray City Beavers basketball team, and was a member of the first baseball team ever fielded by Valdosta State College.

1950-51 Beavers, Ray City School boys basketball team, Ray City, GA

Jack Knight with the 1950-51 Beavers, Ray City School boys basketball team, Ray City, GA. Team mates at Ray City included Billy Moore, Wendell Clements, Curtis Skinner, James Walter Temples, Jimmy Gaskins, Murray Comer, Thomas Studstill, Charles Scarboro, Robert Conner Jimmy Grissett, Talton Rouse, and Junior Cornelius.

Jack graduated from VSC with a Bachelor of Science degree, and went on to the University of Georgia Law School where he received his L. L. B. degree.  He practiced law in Nashville, Georgia.  He served as a Ray City Councilman, State Representative, and as a judge of the Superior Courts of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, 1977-1996.

Jack Knight on the 1955 Valdosta State College baseball team.

Jack Knight played on the 1955 Valdosta State College baseball team.  The VSC Rebel Diamondmen included Jack Knight and Murray Comer of Ray City, GA, Sam McGowen, Buck Pafford, Ashley Hill, Jack Bates, Ed Deaton, John Mobley, Gene Gray, Robert McElvey, Milton Blaine, Bob Green, Noel George, Coach Cottingham.

The Valdosta State College baseball team, under the coaching of Walter Cottingham, showed up very well under fire last year.  VSC is entering its second year of intercollegiate baseball competition and has become affiliated with the Georgia Intercollegiate Baseball Conference. A total of eighteen games are scheduled for this season. Victory may not be certain but excitement is!  – 1955 VSC Pinecone

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SAVE THE DATE!

Many interesting sports stories are coming to light as the Berrien County Historical Foundation prepares for an exhibit on  Hometown Teams, A Smithsonian Exhibit. The Hometown Teams Exhibit opens August 13 – September 24, 2016, at the Nashville Community Center, Nashville, GA.

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Ray City, GA Women’s Hoops, 1934

Given public attitudes about women and sports, local school support for girl’s athletic teams in Ray City, GA seems downright progressive.  That progressive optimism was apparent in a 1934 Ray City ‘Booster’ article, which included information on the Ray City School.

Ray City, GA  has always taken pride in its athletic teams.  A Ray City School alumnus recalls the  hometown girl’s basketball team.

“We had a tremendous basketball team, and they’d win. They played basketball all over the county. There were a bunch of schools. I never played on the basketball team, but Edna Francis [Futch] did. Hazel Futch was one of their best players. That was in 1943. They just played on hard courts outside. Some of the places that they played had gyms. They didn’t build the gym at the Ray City School until after I left.”

1934 Ray City School - Girls Basketball Team (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill. Coach: Jesse Webb.

1934 Ray City School – Girls Basketball Team (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill. Coach: Jesse Webb.

While women’s basketball followed almost immediately upon the invention of the sport in1892, for many years there was strong resistance to women on the court.  The Women’s Sports Foundation gives this assessment of the opposition to women’s basketball in the 1930s.

As the game’s popularity grew, so did the backlash from educators concerned that the physical activity was unladylike, inappropriate and unhealthy. This seesaw battle of growth and resistance continued into the early ‘20s, but the balance shifted in 1923 when Lou Henry Hoover, head of Girl Scouts of America and wife of President Herbert Hoover, helped organize the Women’s Division of the National Amateur Athletic Federation (WDNAAF). In 1925, the WDNAAF passed a resolution outlawing extramural competition, opposing gate-receipts, all travel for women’s games and all publicity of women’s sports. The National Association of Secondary School Principals supported the resolution and they, in turn, pressured high school sports associations to disband tournaments. By the mid-‘30s, competitive basketball at elementary, high school and college level in many states had all but disappeared.

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