McKenzie, Tenn. -Bethel University will induct three former greats into the Bethel University Athletic Hall-of-Fame Saturday. The induction will take place during the annual homecoming alumni luncheon which will be held in the Vera Low Center Saturday at noon.
Sammy Fisher (66), Matt Rooks (2002), and Steve Smith (2002) will be inducted during the ceremonies.
Sammy Fisher earned his degree at Bethel in 1966 (B.S.). After graduating he returned to Decatur County where he served as head girls' basketball coach and head baseball coach at Riverside High School. In 1968 he became the head baseball coach and boy's basketball coach at Lexington High School. He coached there 13 seasons and became one of the most successful coaches in Tennessee High School boy's basketball history. In 1981 Sammy returned to Decatur County to coach for the next nine years. He was the head coach of baseball, and girls' and boys' basketball. He later coached at Scotts Hill from 1992-1994. He then returned to Riverside and coached from 1994-1996. His coaching career came to a close after he returned to fill in as coach at Lexington High School during the 2000-2001 school years. His teams amassed 781 wins during his career. He won 11 district titles and was district runner-up eight times. He won five regional championships and was region runner-up four times. His squads won five of seven Sub-State games. He carried six teams to state tournament berths. In speaking of Coach Fisher City of Parsons Special Projects Coordinator Branson Towsend said, "I was fortunate to work closely with Coach Fisher as a fellow teacher and later as a principal. I witnessed first-hand the many lives touched by his winning philosophy. His commitment to developing young men and women to become winners and therefore positive contributors to society was paramount by the example he provided." Towsend added, "I have also seen the commitment and love demonstrated by him for his family." Bethel graduate (91) and current Riverside High School Head Baseball coach Dusty Rhodes shared his thoughts. "Coach Fisher has served as a mentor for many players and young coaches that have and continue to follow in his footsteps."
Coach Fisher resides in Decaturville with his wife who he met at Bethel. He and Judy have three sons, Scott, Stan, and John. Coach Fisher is also a member of the Freed-Hardeman University Athletic Hall-of Fame and the TSSAA Hall-of-Fame.
Matt Rooks is a 2002 Bethel graduate (Business Administration-CIS). He scored 2,183 points and is 3rd all-time on the scoring list in men's basketball. He ranks 8th in field goals made, 19th in rebounding, 5th in all-time steals, and 12th in all-time assists. He is still Bethel's all-time leader in free throws made with 491 and 3rd in three-pointers made with 214. He was a KIAC 1ST team selection both his junior and senior seasons. He was an Honorable Mention All-American both of those seasons. He was a key member of the only Bethel Men' basketball team to advance to the NAIA Division II National Tournament with the Cats going to Branson, Missouri in 2002. After his playing career at Bethel he served as a student assistant for one semester. He then returned to his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio where he was an assistant boy's basketball coach at Moeller High School, his alma mater. Recently he accepted the head's boy's basketball coaching position at Wyoming High School in Cincinnati. Bethel Head Coach Jeff Britt commented on Rooks. "As an outstanding teacher, husband, and father, Matt is a credit to his profession and Bethel University. He was a great player for us but even more so he is simply a great individual. His numbers speak for themselves but his heart and passion is even more profound." Longtime Bethel Public Address Announcer Kerry McElhinney expressed his thoughts on Rooks. "In my sixteen years as public address announcer, there have been very few players in Matt's class. He was a great player on the court and great person off the court. I am so pleased for him and his family for this honor is well deserved."
Matt and his wife Michelle and son Drew reside in Cincinnati.
Steve Smith is a 2002 Bethel graduate (Business Administration -Management). He ranks 17th on the all-time Bethel Men's basketball scoring list with 1,281 points. He is 12th on the all-time career rebounding list with 654 boards. His 6'8 defensive presence helped Bethel advance to the school's only men's basketball NAIA Division II National tournament in 2002.After graduating from Bethel he served as a grad assistant for one season and then returned to his hometown of Leitchfield, Kentucky where he resides with his wife Heather and their children Eli and Hannah. He is a banker at the Bank of Caneyville.
Coach Jeff Britt said, "Steve was a talented player and a joy to coach. He was our anchor in the middle and his overall improvement was crucial during his tenure with us. It also carried over to the rest of the team. He was one of the hardest working players ever in our program and I am thrilled with his induction." Longtime Bethel Public Address Announcer Kerry McElhinney added, "Steve was an outstanding example of the ultimate student-athlete and was a leader on the court, in the locker room, and the classroom. He always interacted with the crowd and was a true fan favorite. Being the Sports Information Director at that time, I always counted on him to be helpful and courteous. I am so pleased with this induction."