The Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame honors and recognizes former students, faculty, staff and citizens of Avon Park who have distinguished themselves by virtue of their outstanding contribution and service to the school, community or society in general.
History came to life Saturday night at the Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame banquet at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church’s Grogan Hall. Family members and friends of inductees and inductees shared experiences from on or off the field.
Starting the evening was Charles Devlin, president of the Avon Park Champions Club, and Seth Lambert, vice president, awarding student scholarships. Maria Tataris and Charles Council, Avon Park High School students, each received a $1,000 scholarship from the Champions Club.
Those inducted into the Hall of Fame Saturday night include Ralph Hill (deceased), Dewayne Lemler (deceased), Dexter Seigler, Dr. Ronald Sevigny and Don Sisemore. Thomas Gordon, a 2012 recipient, was presented with his red jacket after a two-year delay.
Hill was a graduate of Avon Park High School. He was part of the Red Devil teams of the 1940s that went to state semifinals six straight seasons, including four straight years in the finals and a state championship team in 1948.
After attending college and a two-year stint in the Army, Hill returned to Avon Park as an elementary physical education teacher. He moved on to teach math at Avon Park High School. During his years at APHS, he coached football, basketball and baseball. In his eight seasons as head baseball coach, he racked up a record of 103-40.
In his first year taking over as head coach he led the Red Devils to the state semifinals. In 1966, Hill led the Red Devils to their fourth state baseball championship. Hill won his second baseball championship and the school’s fifth title in 1972.
Dewayne Lemler graduated from Avon Park High in 1963. After graduating from the University of South Florida he returned to his alma mater to teach math. During his time as a teacher, he also coached JV football, basketball and baseball.
Lemler was the assistant principal at APHS from 1982 to 1986. In 1995 Lemler became principal at APHS and had the opportunity to watch his son play on the same field where he once played. Lemler touched many lives over the years and made a difference both educationally and spiritually.
Dexter Seigler graduated from APHS in 1989. In his time there he played football, basketball, baseball and ran track. Seigler was a part of two football state championship teams and one baseball state championship team.
Dexter attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship. He was part of two national championship teams while playing for the Hurricanes. Dexter signed with the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent after leaving the University of Miami. After retiring from the NFL, Dexter entered the financial industry as a registered investment advisor. He now enjoys a career as an EKG tech in the cardiology department at UF Health hospital, formerly Shands hospital in Jacksonville.
As a founding charter member of the Avon Park Diamond Club, and his long-time involvement with the Avon Park High School baseball program, Dr. Ronald Sevigny developed a great interest in researching and documenting the history of baseball in Avon Park. He has obtained many photographs and memorabilia including a 54-inch gift bat that was presented to Babe Ruth in 1928 in Avon Park.
Due to his efforts, there is a section in the Avon Park Historical Society Museum dedicated to the history of Avon Park Baseball. In the past several years, Sevigny has presented the history of Avon Park baseball many times dressed in a replica No. 3 Babe Ruth baseball uniform and carrying the Babe Ruth bat. Sevigny brings to life the history of Avon Park baseball. Due to his continued support, he encourages future generations of Red Devils to pursue their dreams on the playing field and in life.
Don Sisemore earned letters in football, baseball and basketball all four years he attended APHS. He earned a basketball scholarship to Florida Technological University (now known as the University of Central Florida) where he led the Knights to Division II playoffs all four years he played.
After his college career, Sisemore returned to Avon Park and became Avon Park’s most successful basketball coach. As the varsity coach, Sisemore’s Red Devils won 98 games, losing only 15 before going to the state final four in 1981 and again in 1982. As a coach, he demonstrated his genuine interest in his players, both as players and students.
After a two-year delay, Thomas Gordon, a 2012 inductee of the Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame, was able to attend the banquet and receive his red jacket. Thomas, touted as the most talented baseball player to come out of Avon Park, spoke briefly on the role his coaches, teachers and friends played in life. He was very humble in acknowledging the part they played in his successful career.
Special recognition went to the 1972 baseball team which won the fifth state baseball championship for Avon Park High School. Team members included: Artie Bass, Tim Underwood, Leon McRae, Johnny Todd, Keith Richards, Eddie Ezell, Rick Minard, Roy Lamb, Don Sisemore, Nathaniel Williams, Tony Williams, Robert Lanzing, Del Murphy, Joe Murphy, Howard Sizemore, Buddy DeWitt, Ray Culpepper and Charles Snelgrove under the leadership of Coach Ralph Hill.
The club expressed special thanks to local businesses and individuals who donated gifts, money or their time to support their efforts and help make this banquet a success.