The Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 was officially unveiled during a press conference Monday at the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation’s headquarters.
And the ’20 inductees are: Jaleel Riaz, Charles Smith, Toryan Smith, Charles Culberson and Charlie Culberson.
This marks the first time in the Hall’s history that both a father and a son will be inducted at the same time. There will be two father-son duos inducted this year to include the Smiths and the Culbersons.
Charles Smith will be recognized for his prowess on both the football and the baseball field. He played for East Rome High School in the late 70s and held an integral role when the Gladiators football team won state titles back in ’77 and ’78. He went on to play football at the University of Georgia, for whom he helped win the SEC Championship for three years as well as the National Championship in 1980.
Toryan Smith, Charles’ son, played football and basketball at Rome High, for which he nabbed numerous accolades to include All American status by USA Today. He went on to play football at Notre Dame, where he lettered all four years (and even managed to graduate in less than four years).
The elder Smith says that being inducted into the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame alongside his son is an ‘overwhelming honor’.
Charles Culberson was selected as an All-American while playing baseball at Jacksonville State University. He went on to be drafted by the San Francisco Giants and played minor league baseball for five years, a career which he left in order to care for his family. He was a hitting instructor in the minors before his return to Rome, where he now runs a baseball training facility.
Most area sports fans are familiar with Charles’ son – Charlie Culberson, who now plays baseball for the Atlanta Braves. He has also played for the Giants, the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a youngster, Charlie played for several championship travel teams before heading over to Calhoun High School, for whom he helped secure a state title in 2005.
Neither of the Culbersons were able to attend Monday’s press conference as the younger Culberson is in St. Louis for the Atlanta Braves’ National League Division Series against the Cardinals (though he is sidelined by injury).
Toryan Smith fondly remembers playing baseball with Charlie Culberson on travel ball teams when they were kids.
Jaleel Riaz played tennis as a student and also served as a coach for Shorter College (now University). In the early 1980s, he served as captain and head coach of the Pakistani Davis Cup team. He has spent the last four decades as a tennis instructor for players of all ages in Rome and Floyd County.
Riaz has some advice for anyone who wishes to be successful in tennis (or in any sport) – get an education before you embark on a professional career.
Riaz, along with both Culbersons and both Smiths, will officially be inducted into the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony set for February 10th, 2020 at the Forum River Center.