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Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival Names Six to Sports Hall of Fame

Reprinted with permission from the Winchester Star
Originally printed April 21, 2021

WINCHESTER — The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival announced Wednesday that it has established a Sports Hall of Fame that will honor individuals who have had a lasting impact on sports across the region.

The inaugural class has six members:

Russ Potts (PSC alumnus)

Potts, a former state senator (1992-2008) and sports editor at The Winchester Star, created the Apple Blossom Festival Sports Breakfast along with Dick Kern in 1965. The first speaker was former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey.

Potts, a pioneer in sports marketing at the University of Maryland, is a member of six Halls of Fame: National College Sports Marketing Hall of Fame, Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, Handley’s Judges Athletic Association Hall of Fame, Potomac State College Hall of Fame, Shenandoah University Hall of Fame and the University of Maryland Phi Delta Theta Fraternity Hall of Fame.

Potts is a former executive director of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival (1969, 1970). During his career he has served as director of athletics at Southern Methodist University and vice president of marketing for the Chicago White Sox. Potts, who runs Russ Potts Productions Inc., has staged, promoted or organized more than 1,000 athletic events during his lifetime.

Dick Kern

Dick Kern, who died this past October, was a co-chairman with Potts on the first Sports Breakfast.

Kern was a star athlete at Handley and Virginia Tech and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1941. He was unable to pursue an NFL career because of serving in World War II, where he was highly decorated for his service in the Army.

He founded Kern Motor Company, the longest standing automotive agency in Winchester/Frederick County. Kern, who served in local politics for more than 20 years, has been recognized as a community leader and philanthropist. He and his sons Richard and Trey are all members of the Judges Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

Walter Barr

Barr is a coaching legend at both the high school and college level and was an outstanding athlete as well. Barr played both football and baseball at Shepherd University, a place he would later coach.

Barr began his football head coaching career in 1966 at James Wood and he’d lead the Colonels to a state title in 1970. He’d move to Shepherd in 1971 and led the Rams to a 104-48-4 mark until 1986.

Barr coached four seasons at Sherando, taking the Warriors to a pair of state title games. He also helped start the football program at Shenandoah University and was its head coach for two seasons. He’d return to James Wood and turn around a program that had not had a winning season in 26 years.

Barr finished his coaching career with a 210-94-5 record. He has been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, Shepherd College Hall of Fame, Clarke County Athletic Hall of Fame, James Wood Athletic Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the Shenandoah University Hall of Fame in 2022. The football field at James Wood’s Kelican Stadium is named in his honor.

P. Wendell Dick (PSC alumnus)

Dick, who died in December, was a longtime supporter of local athletics, especially at his alma mater James Wood. He also was past co-director of the Sports Breakfast.

Dick was an outstanding basketball player and earned 14 letters in football, basketball, baseball and track & field for the Colonels. He played both basketball and soccer collegiately and post-college was an outstanding softball player. He was named to the Fast-Pitch Softball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Dick served as a longtime cross country official and was a fixture at James Wood sporting events. The Colonels’ Athletic Hall of Fame is named in his honor.

Tommy Dixon (PSC alumnus)

A three-sport athlete (football, basketball and track & field) who graduated from Handley in 1971, Dixon became a JV boys’ basketball coach and varsity assistant coach for the Judges in 1982. Dixon became the first Black head varsity coach in Handley’s history in 1986.

Over the ensuing 27 years until he retired in 2013, Dixon guided Handley to a 403-228 record, nine district regular-season championships, 10 regional appearances, three regional championships and six state tournament berths.

Dixon was inducted into Handley’s Hunter Maddex Hall of Fame in 2001 and to the Potomac State College Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2016, Handley named the court at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium the Coach Tommy Dixon Basketball Court.

Ken Mease

Mease, a television sportscaster, was a longtime emcee of the Sports Breakfast, handling the chores nearly every year the better part of two decades before handing off the duties in 2018. In addition to emceeing the Sports Breakfast, Mease spoke at the Festival’s Ladies Horticultural Luncheon and served as the Court Ambassador for the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah. In 2018, he received a lifetime pass to the Sports Breakfast.

From 1986 to 2003, Mease was the sports anchor and reporter for WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C. Mease primarily worked as the station’s weekend sports anchor with weekday reporting duties. Mease covered Sunday night sports specials including Washington football shows.

— Contact Walt Moody at