PRCC announces exciting 2023 Sports Hall of Fame inductees
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River Community College has finalized its latest group of Wildcats to be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame. The star-studded Class of 2023 is comprised of difference makers, both on the playing field and in the community.
This year's class is comprised of football's Craig Franklin, baseball's Jim Murphy and Dr. Thomas Royals and women's basketball's Norma Noel. The 2023 recipient of the Spirit of a Wildcat Award is Francis Herrin.
In addition, PRCC is carrying on a tradition of recognizing past champions. Those title-holding squads will be announced April 22.
"Pearl River Community College has a rich and storied athletics history. Every year one of our most difficult jobs is narrowing our Hall of Fame class down to just a few special individuals," PRCC Director of Athletics Patrick Ochs said. "We believe this class is a special group of Wildcats who all left their mark on our institution in different ways.
"We can't wait to see everyone together on July 28. We hope our Wildcat community will join us in celebrating some of the very best to ever suit up in our maroon and gold."
This year's ceremony is set for July 28 at the Hollywood Casino & Resort in Bay St. Louis. PRCC is hosting its annual golf tournament at The Bridges Golf Club at 9 a.m. Following a 5:30 p.m. social hour,
the Hall of Fame banquet will begin at 7 p.m.
Franklin starred on the PRCC football team in 1971 and '72. A native of Picayune, Franklin did it all for the Wildcats, featuring at defensive end, outside linebacker, fullback and tight end. During his two years at PRCC, the Wildcats posted 9-1 records both seasons. For his contributions, Franklin was an All-MACJC selection at tight end in 1972 and was also selected to the Mississippi JUCO All-Star Game. After his PRCC career, Franklin played at Southeastern Louisiana.
Franklin has been an avid PRCC supporter post-playing career, even presiding over the Wildcat Club to ensure future generations of Pearl River student athletes have a first-class experience while attending The River. Franklin is always at PRCC sporting events, cheering on the Wildcats. Franklin was even an honorary captain for the 2022 spring football game.
Herrin has been an unwavering supporter of Pearl River and is a long-time season ticket holder.
A native of Prentiss, Herrin graduated from PRCC in 1958 and enjoyed a 40-year career as a surveyor with Shell Oil Co. in Jeanerette and New Orleans, Louisiana.
In 2002, Herrin was named PRCC's Alumnus of the year. Twelve years later, in 2014, Herrin was inducted into the Pearl River Community College Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame.
Looking back at his career, Herrin previously remarked his time at PRCC was some of the best years of his life.
Herrin and Joyce created the Francis and Joyce Herrin Scholarship, which is awarded annually to graduates of Jefferson Davis County High School.
Herrin is an active member of the Alumni Association, is a past chairman of the Development Foundation Board and is currently on the Foundation & Alumni Board of Directors.
Murphy took a circuitous route to becoming one of PRCC's more dominant bats in program history. After a short spell at Eckerd in Florida, a scout suggested the Kentuckian consider The River. Then-coach Ned Eades called Murphy and it wasn't long after that that Murphy was headed to Poplarville ahead of the 1983 season. Murphy followed up a strong freshman campaign with an even better year in 1984. The sophomore hit .393 to earn all-state and all-region honors. He was also selected to the Mississippi JUCO all-star game. His performance was good enough to get interest from the likes of Florida and Kentucky. Murphy ultimately returned to his home state to play for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Noel was one of the best basketball players to ever suit up for Pearl River. The Miami, Florida, native had originally planned to play at LSU before suiting up for Polly Kirkland at PRCC between 1997 and '99. The move paid off as Noel became an All-MACJC selection and NJCAA All-American. As a freshman, Noel averaged 16.5 points per game and 7 rebounds per game. The next year, Noel led PRCC with 17 ppg. She also averaged 6.7 rpg.
After starring at PRCC, Noel went on to shine for the University of Houston.
DR. THOMAS ROYALS
Royals had a decorated career for PRCC's baseball program. As a freshman in 2003, Royals struck out 13 and earned four saves with a 4.97 ERA. At the plate, Royals hit .333 with two homers, 20 RBIs and a .446 on-base percentage. Royals really took a step forward in his sophomore campaign, helping lead PRCC to the MACJC Championship. On the mound, Royals was nearly unhittable. Royals posted an 11-1 record with a team-best 1.86 ERA. In 77 1/3 innings, Royals struck out 81 against just 16 walks. He also got the job done at the plate, hitting .400 with three homers, 17 RBIs and a .526 OBP. For his efforts, Royals was named to the All-MACJC and All-Region 23 teams.
Although he was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2004 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers, Royals opted to continue his collegiate career at Belhaven.
The two-way standout continued to be a difference maker for the Blazers and is still heavily represented in Belhaven's record book. His two years with Belhaven were among the program's best as he raked in accolade after accolade, including being an NAIA All-America Honorable Mention twice as well as a two-time Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Royals was a finalist for the prestigious Boo Ferriss Trophy in 2007 as well.
Tickets for the banquet and golf tournament are ONLY available in advance, either by visiting PRCCAthletics.com/tickets or by contacting Coordinator of Alumni Services Mary Alice Chandler at email@example.com or 601-403-1193.
PRCC has unveiled a tiered banquet ticketing schedule for the 2023 ceremony.
Fans will have until April 21 to purchase tickets for an all-time low price of just $80 each.
From April 22-May 31, tickets are $100. Between June 1-30, tickets are $125.
Tickets purchased between July 1-13 are $150.
No tickets will be sold after July 13. Guests will not be able to purchase tickets at the door.
Anyone who registers early for tickets will receive information on discounted room rates at the Hollywood Casino for July 27-28.
The PRCC Athletics Hall of Fame golf tournament will once again feature a four-person scramble format. Teams of four are $600.
The number of golf teams is limited and often sells out quickly. Ensure your team gets to chase glory and compete for bragging rights by registering early.
Previous inductees who are planning to attend the banquet are encouraged to contact Mary Alice Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-403-1193 to provide their jacket sizes. Deadline to submit jacket information is June 1, 2023.
Anyone who registers after the deadline can pickup their jackets at the 2024 ceremony.
Sponsorship packages are available for both the banquet and golf tournament.
The banquet has two tiers of sponsorships, the $2,500 Maroon Sponsorship and the $5,000 Gold Sponsorship.
The Maroon Sponsorship includes eight banquet tickets, 20 beverage tickets, two rooms Friday night at Hollywood Casino and advertising at the banquet; the Gold Sponsorship features one four-person golf team, four rooms Friday night at Hollywood Casino, eight banquet tickets, 20 beverage tickets and advertising at the banquet.
There are several sponsorship opportunities for the golf tournament as well. PRCC is offering $100 hole sponsorships (which include a 24x18 sign next to the tee box), $300 longest drive or closest to the pin sponsorships, $500 awards ceremony sponsorship and $500 beverage sponsorship.
PRCC is also accepting items for the silent auction and food for the golf tournament.
To secure your sponsorship package or donate to the event, contact Mary Alice Chandler at email@example.com or 601-403-1193.
HOW TO NOMINATE
Know a former Wildcat who you believe should be considered in the future? Nominate by visiting https://prccathletics.com/hof/Hall_of_Fame_nomination_form or visiting PRCCAthletics.com/HOF and clicking the nomination form link at the top of the page.