On Saturday, January 20, friends and family gathered in the cafeteria at Wheeler High School to celebrate the newest class of inductees into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The Wheeler Athletic Hall of Fame was started in 2008 and now contains 15 classes of athletes, teams, and coaches.
This year’s class consisted of five Wheeler grads: Dale Carey, Jermareo Davidson, Matt Haynes, Terry Poor, and Ray Stang. A delicious breakfast was served beforehand courtesy of nearby J. Christophers, which allowed the inductees and their guests to greet each other and reminisce before the ceremony began at 10 AM.
Wheeler Athletic Director Brittny Jones served as Master of Ceremonies and started the event by introducing Principal Paul Gillihan, who gave a short welcome to the guests and Hall of Fame members.
“Wheeler may look different than when you were a student here, but our students still excel. We had the most Governor’s Scholars in the state last year and the second-highest number of National Merit Scholars in the county. We’re going to find those other two because we want to be number one in everything,” Principal Gillihan said with a smile.
The first of the five inductees was Dale Carey, who played baseball for four years and football for three for the Wildcats. He was Georgia’s #2 high school baseball prospect his senior year and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but Dale took a scholarship at the University of Miami instead. While playing for the Hurricanes and earning his Liberal Arts degree, Dale was named the ACC second team, the All-Atlantic Team, and the ACC All-Tournament Team. While at Wheeler, he was named to Team Georgia twice, played in the Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma, was a member of Team USA, and was recognized by the Atlanta Braves 400 Club as one the top players in the state. In 2010, he was named Player of the Year and was selected to the Georgia Dugout Club All-State Team.
Jermareo Davidson played basketball for Wheeler his senior season, breaking single-season records for both blocks and rebounds. The Wildcats also won their third state championship that year (2003). After high school, Jermareo played NCAA ball at Alabama, where he made the All-Freshman SEC team, the 3rd Team All-SEC in 2005, and the 2nd Team All-SEC in 2006. He was among SEC leaders in rebounds, blocks, field goals, and number of games played. He was selected 36th by Golden State in the 2007 NBA Draft. His professional career included playing for Golden State and Charlotte in the USA and internationally in Turkey, Puerto Rico, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.
After setting a new pole vaulting record and winning the Cobb JV County Meet as a freshman, Matt Haynes helped to reignite Wheeler’s pole vaulting dominance that began with Randy Eaton and David Swanson four years earlier. Over the next three years, Matt broke the rest of Randy Eaton’s records and set a few meet records. Matt won a state championship in his junior year and took runner-up in his sophomore and senior seasons. He was twice selected as the Atlanta Track Club Pole Vaulter of the Year (1983 and 1984). Matt also wrestled for the Wildcats and won the JV Cobb County title in the 167-pound weight class his sophomore year. He also lettered in football for three seasons. Matt accepted a track scholarship at Georgia Tech and set a new indoor pole vault record his freshman year. He placed in both the indoor and outdoor ACC conference meets. Matt and his wife Helen, who also attended Wheeler, live in Canton.
A three-sport letterman and a member of Wheeler’s inaugural 10th-grade class in 1965, Terry Poor started every football game during high school on both offense and defense. Along with 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Barry Parker, Terry was selected by his teammates as a permanent captain for the football team. He went on to play for Furman University on a football scholarship. After college, Terry returned to Wheeler to teach and coach. As an assistant on Coach Corky Kell’s staff, Terry coached junior varsity football for two undefeated seasons before being elevated to defensive coordinator for the varsity team, a perennial state playoff contender. Coach Poor also served as Jim Mau’s assistant on the baseball team for several successful seasons, including a state championship in 1975. Terry completed his education career serving as an administrator in both the Marietta and Cobb County school districts. Terry’s wife, Cynthia, is also a Wheeler graduate, and they reside in Marietta. They have two grown children and four grandchildren.
With the unique honor of being Wheeler’s first-ever state champion, Ray Stang became a Wildcat in 1966 when his family moved from Northern Virginia. Ray began swimming competitively at an early age, representing his community pool and later the District of Columbia AAU, where his 4x50 relay team set an area record. During his tenure at Wheeler, there was no swim team; Ray was the team. In the 1967 state meet, he finished 2nd in the 100-yard breaststroke and 1st in 1968, becoming the school’s first state champion in any sport. He also finished 3rd in the 100-yard freestyle. His achievements earned Wheeler a 7th-place finish in the state meet despite him being the only swimmer! Ray was also a member of the Wildcat Track team and won a Region Championship in Shot Put. After graduation, Ray went on to swim at the University of Georgia, where he represented the Bulldogs in the 1969 and 1970 NCAA championships.
Each of the inductees expressed gratitude for their time at Wheeler and thanked the over one hundred guests assembled for the event, including about 25 current Hall of Fame members.
“The academics and athletics at Wheeler helped me to grow into the man I am today,” Dale Carey said about his high school experience. “Wheeler has the environment that helps all to find success in life.”
With the support and encouragement that was on display at the banquet by staff, former athletes and coaches, and family members, it comes as no surprise that Wheeler has had the success it has had since 1965. A broad offering of sports and academic programs and a diverse, international student body make the school a place where alumni want to return and give back.
“Wheeler is a family, and you all show up and show out to support your Wheeler family members,” AD Jones said to conclude the event. “Thank you all for being here, and congratulations again to the newest class of the Wheeler Athletic Hall of Fame!”