Turns out, the wait was worth it for former Arab standout athlete Drew Guess.
Guess, who was a three-time MVP for the Knights football team (2001-03) found out in late 2019 that he would be inducted into the Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame the following year. But the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head in early 2020, and the induction ceremony was postponed twice. It was first delayed from June 2020 to Aug. 1, 2020. Then last July, it was postponed until June 5, 2021.
That was this past Saturday, and Guess and seven others finally had their plaques enshrined in the MCSHOF during a banquet at Lake Guntersville State Park.
Even though 19 months had passed since he found out he’d be inducted, Guess didn’t forget his initial reaction.
“I was pretty surprised,” he said this week while on vacation visiting family and friends in the area. “It was surprising, humbling and a great honor.”
For the record, Guess will forever be part of the MCSHOF’s Class of 2020. There won’t be a Class of 2021, according to MCSHOF board president Shannon Allen, the former longtime Sand Mountain Reporter sports editor who is now the newspaper’s publisher.
“The board felt it was best to skip the 2021 class since the 2020 class’ induction was delayed,” Allen said. “We just didn’t think we could pull off two banquets in one year.
“The class of 2022 will be announced in mid to late December and inducted next June.”
This is the 19th induction class of the MCSHOF, which enshrined its first group of inductees in 2002. This is the first time since 2002 that a year will be skipped.
“The board doesn’t plan to make a habit of omitting classes,” Allen joked. “It’s the first time it’s happened since the hall’s inception.
“Of course, we had never dealt with anything like COVID-19, either.”
Guess was impressed with the ceremony/banquet the MCSHOF put on. He’d been to one before with his wife, Katie, whose father, Ken Tyler, was inducted in 2007.
Guess wasn’t overly impressed then. He was on Saturday.
“This event has come a long way,” he said. “It was quite an evening.”
It was father-in-law Ken and his wife, Hanna, who the Guess family was visiting in Union Grove early this week. When the Tribune first contacted Guess, he was working out at his in-laws’ home.
Later in the week, Guess, his wife and their three children – McNeill, Thomas and Margaret – joined his mother and father, Barry and Teresa, at an annual family outing at Lake Guntersville.
“We came straight to the state park (Saturday) from our daughter’s camp,” Guess said.
McNeill had attended a summer camp at Camp Marannook, near Lafayette, about 40 miles from the Guess’ home in Auburn. The closing ceremony was Saturday morning.
The Guess family arrived at the banquet site at Lake Guntersville a little early Saturday, and that’s when events began unfolding that impacted Drew about the significance of the honor he’d accept later in the day.
“Mother ran into a lady in the parking lot that went to the same workout class she did,” Guess said. “She introduced us, then we went inside. They were setting up tables and the woman who was friends with my mother was sitting at the table next to us.”
Turns out, she was Sandra Moody, wife of fellow inductee Rick Moody, the former coach of the Alabama women’s basketball team.
“I’ve always known it’s a small world, and it turns out, her husband was getting inducted the same night I was,” Guess said.
The world got even smaller during the banquet when Guess remembered watching another fellow inductee play basketball years ago.
“When I was in junior high, I remembered seeing Alex Beason play,” he said. “I remember thinking, he’s the best basketball player I’ve ever seen.
“To be in the same class with him and Rick Moody, it’s just a big deal.”
All of Guess’ former coaches at Arab, including Phil Puccio and current Brindlee Mountain head coach Keith Garner, speak extremely highly of their former player.
“As good a player as Drew was – and he was very good – he’s an even better person,” said Puccio, who along with wife Misty named their son after him. Drew Puccio is an up-and-coming multi-sport athlete about to hit high school.
“That’s a real honor,” Drew Guess said. “I hope he breaks all my records and it looks like he might. He’s going to be good.”
Puccio is another life connection that makes Guess realize how small the world is. Guess is an anesthesiologist at Opelika, and his partner is Trey Wagers, a former quarterback at Troy.
“Sometimes during breaks, we’ll talk college football,” Guess said. “We’d tell stories and it turns out, he played with Coach Puccio at Troy.”
Guess played college ball at Samford until an injury derailed his career. While at Arab, Guess was named All-Region and All-County for three straight seasons as well as being named team captain his senior year. He also was a Wendy’s High School Heisman state finalist.
He rushed for a then-Arab High School record 3,109 yards and 39 touchdowns in his career. His senior season, he rushed for 968 yards on 147 attempts, averaging 6.6 yards per carry and scoring 13 touchdowns.
Guess said he doesn’t know but suspects his old quarterback, Matt Patterson, is the one who nominated him for the MCSHOF. Patterson recently was named the head football coach at Buckhorn.
“He sent me a couple of texts then Kevin Serrett got in touch with me,” Guess said jokingly.
“So, I have my suspicions.”
The eight new inductees increase membership in the Hall of Fame to 176.