Rabb Record Breakers Enter HOF
By Gordon Pynes
Three former Rabbit athletes who competed at the national level will enter the Atlanta Athletics Hall of Fame (HOF) Friday night at the Atlanta - New Boston football game. At pre-game induction ceremonies Martin Miller, Sammy Epps and Sherri Steward - Ganz will be honored as members of the HOF Class of 2022. Each had stellar sports careers at Atlanta High School and then went on to compete in college and beyond.
The three honorees will have their pictures and athletic achievements etched on black granite plaques mounted on the left stadium wall as you enter under the press box. Since the HOF was established in 2018 there are already 14 plaques that adorn the wall under the Atlanta Athletics banner.
Martin Miller was honored in 2014 by the Atlanta ISD Education Foundation as a distinguished Alumni. Miller was a successful Assistant District Attorney for a number of years in the Dallas area. He passed away in 2019. A 1971 Rabbit graduate, he had a big impact in sports for the Maroon and White. He was a key football and basketball player but track was the showcase for his accomplishments. Martin became the first Rabbit State track champion when he brought home the gold in the 1970 mile run. He established the school mile record while repeating as the State champ in 1971. During his four high school years he earned a spot in the State track meet each season. His performances brought a scholarship to run at Southern Methodist University (SMU). Running both cross country and track, Miller turned in top finishes for the Ponies in Southwest Conference competition. A pinched nerve in his back during his junior cross country season knocked him out of high level competition but he continued to run distance events for many years beyond college.
Sammy Epps joins his older brother Phillip who was inducted into the HOF last year with the Class of 2021. As did his older brothers, Sammy played football, basketball and ran track for the Rabbits. Although a good high school athlete, Epps was small and physically immature at that stage of life. A good long jumper in track, he got an opportunity to join the track team at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) in Magnolia, Arkansas. He headed off to college after high school graduation in 1981. Put in the Muleriders off season program of weight lifting and distance running, Sammy began to physically mature. Stronger and faster by that first college track season Epps began to make his mark in Arkansas collegiate track. During four seasons he established several school records that still stand. Sammy closed his college career by entering seven events in the Conference meet and piling up 45 points to lead the Muleriders to the championship. He earned an invitation to the 1986 USA Olympic track training site in San Jose, California and just missed a spot on the Olympic team. His performances earned induction into the SAU Sports HOF and in the State of Arkansas’ Track and Field Hall.
The Atlanta HOF welcomes a dynamic female member in Sherri Steward. Truly a pioneer in women’s track she has a long record as an outstanding competitor in distance running events. Sherri began running at Atlanta HIgh School in 1968 when girls sports were severely limited in opportunity and support. As a junior she earned second place for the Lady Rabbs in the 1970 Girls State track meet held then in Abilene. The Texas track club noted her ability and asked her to join them during the summer for various track meets. Accepting a warm up suit and shoes from the club resulted in a protest that robbed her of high school competition during most of the 1971 track season. A year later Sherri joined the North Texas University women’s track program which then was almost nonexistent. Title IX to bring women’s athletics toward equality with men’s was just passed in 1972. Despite funding difficulties, Sherri began to win Cross Country and track events within the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). She won the 880, mile and two mile events among a number of Texas Universities.
Following college competition she ran for the Metroplex Striders Track Club based in Dallas. With the Striders Sherri competed in numerous national level meets like the Texas and Kansas relays plus several national championship meets. Running the 880 and mile she competed against an Olympic champ and several other Olympians finishing second and third. As the anchor runner for the Striders two mile relay this unit had the best time in the nation. Truly a pioneer in women’s track, Sherri blazed a trail, beginning as a small pigtailed girl running the red clay roads of Cass County for the Lady Rabbs. Even now she still does long runs. Honored last Fall by the Atlanta Education Foundation as a Distinguished Alumni, she now joins fellow classmates Ted Thompson and Martin Miller from the class of 1971 as a member of the HOF class of 2022.