2016 AWM Hall of Fame class announced

Kessinger, Moore headline class

By Billy Woods WM School District

Two iconic names headline the 2016 West Memphis Sports Hall of Fame class. Fresh off a wildly successful inaugural class in 2015, the West Memphis athletic department is excited to name its five-member class that includes two men who are instantaneously connected to the local sports world. Bill Kessinger, the longtime superintendent of West Memphis Schools who died in January, is being inducted along with Grafton Moore, who is best known as the Blue Devil head football coach from 1978-2000, are the two names that jump out at local fans. Also to be inducted are former Lady Devil basketball star Jocelyn Love, who went on to stardom at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Foots Wynne, who was a basketball and football star at the University of Arkansas before going on to play in the NFL for the New York Giants, and the 1963 Blue Devil football squad will be the first team to be inducted into the local Hall of Fame. “We had tremendous reaction from the community with our first class of Hall of Famers,” said West Memphis athletic director Lanny Dauksch. “Everything turned out great last year. Now we just got to keep the ball rolling. We think this is a great class with two local icons in Mr. Kessinger and Grafton as well as Jocelyn, the 1963 team and Foots Wynne.” The 2016 class will be honored at a banquet at Southland Park Game and Racing on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. The following night the Hall of Famers will be honored at Hamilton-Shultz Field as the Blue Devil football team takes on Little Rock Central. Tickets for the banquet will go on sale likely by early August. Although Kessinger is certainly best remembered as the head of the school district from 1973-2013, he undoubtedly had his hand-prints all over the district’s athletic program, from hiring the greatest coaches in the town’s history to providing the support and resources for all the sports teams. He also, however, was the head coach of the 1963 football team that will be enshrined in September. That team went undefeated as conference champs and it was unscored upon in league play. Kessinger served as Blue Devil head football coach from 1962-64 before taking over as West Memphis High School principal. Moore served as the face of WMHS since the 1980s. In 28 years of head coaching, which included stops at Marianna, Helena and Earle, Moore fashioned a record of 209-98-1 with 31 conference championships, 9 state runners-up and three state championships. He also served as the first head coach of the West Memphis baseball program from 1982-86, where in five years he won three conference championships and took the team to the 1982 state championship game. Moore also coached in six high school all-star football games, one year as head coach, and he won the Lowell Manning Award as the top football coach in the state. Moore also played for Kessinger on the 1963 Blue Devil football team. Love led the Lady Devils to the 2002-03 Class AAAAA state championship and a national ranking as the team’s top scorer. She enjoyed a stellar career as the leading scorer for the Lady Trojans of UALR before serving as an assistant coach for the program briefly. Love will be the youngest Hall of Famer in the two years of the program. “It’s going to be a smaller class than last year’s nine, but that’s what the committee decided to do each year,” said Dauksch. “But we think this class is unique with the first-ever team to be inducted, another female star basketball player, the two iconic names and Foots Wynne will be the oldest member. “Looking ahead to the future, I think we’ll go a long way with some very popular names and great athletes that the folks here still love to this day.”

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