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Media release: The five newest member of the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame were announced during a press conference at Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority on Monday. Randy Davis, a member of the Hall of Fame, served as the master of ceremonies, kicking everything off by praising the five newest members.
“These five individuals exemplify the attributes needed to be elected into the Rome Floyd Sports of Hall of Fame,” Davis said. “They are all great athletes, but what is just as important is that they are all great people as well.”
The five people, who will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame Banquet on Monday, Feb. 10 at theForum River Center are Charles Smith, Toryan Smith, Charles Culberson, Charlie Culberson and Jaleel Riaz.
Davis, of WLAQ 1410 AM and 96.9 FM, pointed out before introducing the next four inductees that the quartet offers something unique for the Hall of Fame. For the first time in its history, two father-son combinations will be inducted into the hall at the same time.
“We have fathers and sons that are in the hall,” Davis said. “But this is the first time we’re inducting fathers and sons at the same time.”
Jaleel is well known throughout Rome, the state and the Southeast for tennis. Jaleel was an All-
America tennis player at Shorter College. Over the years, Jaleel has served as assistant or head
tennis coach at Berry College, West Georgia College and Shorter. In the early 1980s, he also
served as captain and head coach of the Pakistani Davis Cup Team.
Along with that, Jaleel has been avid tennis instructor for all age levels in the Rome and Floyd
County area, having given instruction to thousands of players over the last four decades.
“I tell kids not to worry about becoming a pro but to focus on getting an education. Then if
you’re good enough give it a try,” Riaz said. “I played professional tennis and it’s fun but it’s
tough. The competition is very strong.”
Charles played football and baseball for East Rome High School in the late 1970’s playing a key
part as the Gladiators won state football titles in 1977 and 1978. Upon graduation, he went to the
University of Georgia and played on three SEC Championship winning teams while at Athens,
including the 1980 national championship team.
Charles returned home to Rome after graduation and has been a fixture in the community and on
the sidelines since. He’s helped coach Rome Middle School football teams for several years
leading many of those teams to the playoffs and championship games. He and his family are very
involved in the community as well.
“This is so special to grow up here and compete in athletics here. And to have your peers think of
you in this light is pretty special,” Smith said. “You set goals in life but you never think of
anything like this. It’s overwhelming for me right now.”
Smith starred for Rome High in football and basketball, earning a slew of accolades, including
being named the Region 7-AAA defensive player of the year, the Rome News-Tribune Player of
the Year and earning All-America honors from USA Today. Toryan had too many offers from
Division I schools to list before he chose to play at Notre Dame. During his time playing for the
Fighting Irish, Toryan played in more than 40 games, lettered all four years and managed to
graduate in less than four years with a double major in sociology and computers.
“My dad and I had always talked about wanting to build a special legacy in Rome and to have
something that we can always remember and be proud of,” Smith said. “It’s just great that I now
get that opportunity and get to enjoy this with my dad and this great group of athletes. Words just
can’t describe this feeling.”
After earning a uniform from Jacksonville State University with a tryout, Charles Culberson
proved the uniform was well worth it compiling astonishing statistics during his time on campus
ending with an All-America selection. After college, he was drafted by the San Francisco Giants
and played five years in their organization, reaching AA with the Memphis Chicks.
After his playing career ended, he spent time as a minor league hitting instructor for the Chicago
White Sox before returning to Rome and opening a baseball training facility for local youth now
known as Charlie Culberson Baseball.
Charlie proved baseball was his sport from a young age, playing on several championship
winning travel teams before starring at Calhoun High School, where he played major roles on the
2005 state champion team and the 2007 state runner-up team.
The San Francisco Giants drafted him that summer. Since then, Charlie has played for the Giants, the Colorado Rockies, Los
Angeles Dodgers and is currently a member of the Atlanta Braves.
The Culbersons were not able to be in attendance on Monday but plan to be at the banquet in
The Willard Nixon Hall of Fame Golf Tournament is also approaching on Friday, Oct. 25 at Stonebridge. All proceeds from the tournament go to help fund scholarships for athletes from local high schools. Schools will be selecting those athletes over the next couple of months and they will be honored at the banquet.