UNION COUNTY — They earned honors for their respective high schools and on Friday night six former athletes and/or coaches will be honored for their accomplishments with induction into the Union County Athletic Hall of Fame.
Mike Clowney, Tiffany Grady-Hudgins, Kelly Jenkins, Nikki Knox Loyd, Joe Pitt, and J.T. Rodgers will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at when the Yellow Jackets host Woodruff this Friday at Union County Stadium.
Best known for his prowess on the football field, Mike Clowney was a three-sport athlete at Union High School in the early 1990s.
Clowney was All-Area as a junior and senior and had over 100 tackles for three straight years. He played in the North/South All-Star game and was named the defensive MVP for the North Squad. Clowney was also an AP All American Honorable Mention by South Carolina Prep Football.
Attending Carson Newman College on a full scholarship, Clowney was one of the best linebackers in the school’s history and still holds the single-game tackles record, set in 1996 with 23 against Wingate. He led the team with 153 tackles that season, the third highest total in Eagles football history.
Recognized as a first team All-American in 1996 by the Associated Press and several other organizations, Clowney was also the South Atlantic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was Carson Newman’s Male Athlete of the Year and the cornerstone of the defense that led the Eagles to their first NCAA Division II National Championship game appearance.
After coaching stints as an assistant at Greenwood High and Head Coach at Emerald High, Clowney returned to Carson Newman where he currently serves as Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator.
Clowney currently resides in Jefferson City, Tenn. with his wife, Carrie, and son, Preston.
The very first player from Lockhart to receive a scholarship to play college softball, Tiffany Grady-Hudgins excelled in three sports at Lockhart High School from 1994-1998.
Grady-Hudgins was a starter on the softball team as a seventh grader and completed her prep softball career as a five-year starter. She was named the Most Valuable Player for four years — from 1995-1998 — and was named All-Region every year she played softball for an astonishing total of five All-Region awards. Alternating between playing shortstop and pitching, her career batting average was .464, and she threw two no-hitters.
In basketball, Grady-Hudgins lettered for five years and was a four-year starter. She was named Most Valuable Player during her junior year and was a two-time All-Region selection. She led the Lady Red Devils in points scored, rebounds, steals and assists her senior season.
A four year varsity cheerleader, Grady-Hudgins was captain of the squad as a sophomore, junior and senior. She was selected as an All-American cheerleader as a junior and performed at the 1998 Citrus Bowl.
Grady-Hudgins is a sports journalist and has covered local athletics in both Chester and Union counties. She and her husband, Matt, reside in Union County, and she serves as the choir director for Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church.
An extremely talented and versatile athlete, Kelly Jenkins played on region championship teams in tennis, basketball and softball.
In two years of tennis, Jenkins compiled a 30-9 record for an impressive winning percentage of 77 percent. She was a key player for the 1987 Region 2 4-A Champions. This was the only year in a 25-year period in which the region championship was not won by Spartanburg High School.
Jenkins helped lead the tennis team to the 4-A final four in 1986 and 1987. In 1987, she won 16 matches and was 5-2 in tiebreakers. She still holds the school record for doubles wins in a season. She was All-Region her senior year and was a 1987 Prince All-American Honorable Mention.
As a softball player, Jenkins was named All-Region and All-Area in 1987.
After high school, Jenkins received a scholarship to play softball at Coker College. She was named MVP and All District NAIA for softball during her sophomore year and was also named All District NAIA in soccer.
Jenkins has continued to stay involved in sports since her playing days at Union High School. As a coach, she has won a region championship in softball at Jonesville High and three tennis championships at Union County High School. She will serve as coach at this year’s North/South Tennis Classic.
Jenkins is an active member of Cane Creek Presbyterian Church.
Nikki Knox Loyd
A three-sport standout at Union High School from 1997-2001, Nikki Knox Loyd helped lead the Lady Yellow Jacket tennis team to its first upper-state championship and first appearance at the state championship finals.
A tennis player in grades 7-12, Loyd played as the No. 1 seed in singles and also played on the No. 1 doubles team her senior season. She was team co-captain and was named the All-Region Player of the Year in 2001. Loyd was also named the Spartanburg Herald Journal Player of the Year and also Honorable Mention Player of the Decade.
A varsity basketball player for four years, Loyd received the Coaches Award, Hustle Award and played in the Area Senior All-Star Tournament.
Starting at first base for five years, Loyd received the softball Defensive Player Award. She batted an impressive .569 her junior year and was named All-Region as a senior. She was an All-State selection in 2001. Loyd was the Wendy’s High School Heisman School and Area winner.
After high school, Loyd played tennis at Erskine College and received the H.M. Young Award, the highest award given to a graduating senior for academics, community involvement, and overall achievement.
Loyd has two children, Nathan and Natalie. She currently serves as the Director of Rehabilitation at Heartland Healthcare of Union.
Joe Pitt coached varsity boys basketball at Union High School and Union County High School for 22 years — from 1988-2010.
During his time as coach of the Yellow Jackets, Pitt’s record was 352-244. He was named Region Coach of the Year on three occasions, and his teams were region champions on four occasions in 1992, 1998, 2001 and 2002. Coach Pitt led the Yellow Jackets to back-to-back appearances in the state championship game in 2001 and 2002.
Coach Pitt began his coaching career at Ware Shoals High School and his career coaching record is 536-394. His career record places him in the top 10 overall in South Carolina prep basketball history. Coach Pitt’s teams made the playoffs 15 times during his 22 years as head basketball coach in Union. Pitt was able to reach a coaching milestone and record his 500th victory against Woodruff High School in 2009.
Coach Pitt also served as coach of the men’s golf team and started the cross country program at Union High in 1989.
Pitt and his wife, Linda, have three children — Andy, Ruth Ann and Tyler. He is currently the athletic director and boys basketball coach at Richard Winn Academy in Winnsboro.
A two-year letterman at Jonesville High School from 1982-1983, J.T. Rodgers began playing on the junior varsity basketball team in the seventh grade.
Rodgers led the Wildcats to a school record 23 wins and an upper-state championship during his junior year. In the state championship game, Rodgers was the game’s leading scorer with 26 points.
In 1983, Rodgers was the team’s leading rebounder, had the highest field goal shooting percentage, and was named the team’s best defensive player. He was named the Spartanburg Herald Journal Area Player of the Week during both his junior and senior seasons.
Rodgers was an All-Conference and All-State selection in 1982 and 1983. He was named to the Spartanburg Herald Journal All-Area team in 1983 and was a North/South All Star.
During his two years of varsity basketball at Jonesville High School, Rodgers accumulated the following career totals: 977 points, 549 rebounds, 175 steals, 173 assists and 91 blocked shots.
Rodgers served four years in the U.S. Army and is co-owner of Buffalo Seafood House. He is a member of New Emmanuel Chapel Baptist Church, and he and his wife, Betty, have three children — Jason, Destiny and Terrell. Rodgers is currently employed at BMW.