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Torrence inducted


News Staff Writer

The legacy left by local coaching legend Cornell “C.T.” Torrence continues to grow.
Torrence, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 91, was posthumously inducted into the Alabama High School Association’s Alabama Sports Hall of Fame during a Monday, March 18 ceremony at Montgomery’s Renaissance Hotel and Spa Convention Center.
Coach Torrence, whose Escambia County Training School (ECTS) and Escambia County High School (ECHS) boys’ basketball teams posted a 545-210 record during his 40 years as a coach, was one of two figures selected from the “Old Timers Division,” where he is listed as a Hall of Fame coach and administrator.
Torrence began his teaching and coaching career in 1956 at ECTS, which competed in the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association (AIAA). He remained at ECTS through 1970, when the school and the AIAA were consolidated with ECHS and AHSAA after a 1968 federal court order mandated the merger.
He retired from coaching in 1995. His impact on and off the court was rewarded 10 years later, when the ECHS gymnasium was named in his honor.
The late community leader’s legacy is also filled with work to help others outside the sports arena.
He served on the Atmore Parks and Recreation Board 1960-2010, represented District 2 on the Atmore City Council 2010-2016, and was a member and founder of several local civic groups. He was selected Atmore Citizen of the Year and was inducted into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame.
If that weren’t enough, Coach Torrence also taught the GED course to inmates of nearby G.K. Fountain Correctional Facility.
The new Hall members were chosen from a “very impressive list of nominations” received by the coaches, administrators and media representatives who make up the organization’s selection committee.
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame officials took note of Torrence’s community involvement, including his efforts on behalf of school integration, in the bio they provided for the dozen new inductees.
“His selfless example in the community was his best teaching tool,” the bio reads. “Thanks to men like Torrence, who were dedicated to making integration work for all during that time, the school flourished at Atmore with some of its most successful years over the next decade. His legacy in Atmore and Escambia County will continue to live for many more years.”
John Drew, too
There was another Class of 2024 inductee with area ties, as former J.F. Shields High (JFS) basketball standout John Drew — one of the most dominant high-school players in Alabama high school history — who was also enshrined.
Drew, who starred at Monroe County’s smallest school (in Vredenburgh, population 222, per 2010 U.S. Census) from 1969 to 1972, set three AHSAA records that remain intact and remains among the top 4 in four other categories.
His 41-point scoring average over his four years on the JFS hardcourt still stands as a state benchmark. So do his single-season rebounding record (764) and single-season rebound average (21.8 per game), both set in the 1971-72 season.
Drew is also No. 2 all-time in single-game scoring (77 points vs. Snow Hill Institute, 1971-72), No. 3 in single-season scoring (1,302 points, 1970-71), and No. 4 in both single-season scoring average (44.0 ppg, 1970-71) and career scoring (4,018 points).
Drew’s exploits on the court didn’t end at JFS, though. He also starred at Gardner-Webb University, then was a first-team selection to the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) All-Rookie Team after being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, for whom he played nine seasons.
Drew remained a prolific scorer at the professional level, averaging 20.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during his NBA career.

The other Class of 2024 inductees:
*Football coaches — Phillip Lolley, Rick Rhoades, Perry Swindall;
*Basketball coaches — Charles “Chucky” Miller, Thomas “Mike” Boyd;
*Wrestling coach — Richard “Dickey” Wright;
*Baseball and football coach/athletic director — Ron Nelson;
*Softball/baseball coach — Christopher Goodman;
*Track/football coach — Eddie Brundige;
*Administrator — Kimberly Vickers.

  • Coach/administrator (“Old Timer Division”) — Frank “Swede” Kendall