Three former athletes were inducted into the Gardner-Webb Hall of Fame this weekend. The school celebrated each athlete at a banquet on Friday and recognized them on the field at Ernest W. Spangler Stadium before Saturday’s homecoming game against Kennesaw State.

Taylor Simpson Jackson: Women’s Swimming, 2002-2006 — Boiling Springs

One of the most decorated swimmers in program history, from 2002-2006, Simpson Jackson won 12 individual NEC and Southern States Conference titles, set three Gardner-Webb records and posted an NCAA “B” qualifying time in the 400 IM. Her contributions helped GWU post three consecutive conference championships in the NEC (2004-2006) and rise to as high as No. 15 in the national mid-major rankings.

"I was 14 when I moved from Sarasota, Florida, to Boiling Springs. I was not thrilled to leave the beach but I fell in love with Boiling Springs. In the 20 years since, Gardner-Webb has become my home. We had a chance to establish a legacy. It's something I'm really proud of,” she said.

Thomas Sanders: Men’s Basketball, 2006-2008 — Sugarland, Texas

Dynamic forward Thomas Sanders provided plenty of highlights during two seasons with the Runnin’ Bulldogs basketball squad, earning 2008 Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year honors following his senior campaign. Sanders was an Associated Press honorable mention All-America selection that season and remains Gardner-Webb’s lone Division I All-American in the sport of men’s basketball. Sanders ranked third nationally in Division I in 2008 with 20 double-doubles and finished with averages of 18.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

"I was injured and thinking of quitting but I went to this open gym camp in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and (then-Gardner-Webb assistant coach) Chris Holtmann came to it and told me he had a spot for me. When I got on campus here, the people and the staff welcomed me with open arms,” he said.

Jerry Walker: Football, Men’s Basketball, Track, 1959-1961 — Lenoir

A three-sport standout, Walker was part of Gardner-Webb football, basketball and track teams from 1959-1961, playing tight end and receiver (football), forward and center (basketball) and running the 100, 220, 440 and 4x440 relay (track). Walker earned All-Conference honors at end on the gridiron in 1960 and was an honorable mention All-America choice at the same position. Walker capped his career at Gardner-Webb in style, running the anchor leg on a 4x440 relay team that went undefeated in 1961.

"During my years here at Gardner-Webb, the faculty and staff had a profound impact on my life. I felt everyone here was dedicated to helping me become a great student and a great athlete. I was blessed to play for coach Norman Harris and Bob Blackburn and they ran the program on a tight budget and built winners on the field and in life,” said Walker.

2018 Meritorious Service Award: Alan Ford, 1979-2018 — Concord

Legendary sports writer and editor Alan Ford left a lasting mark on Gardner-Webb athletics during his time in Cleveland County, working for the The Shelby Star from 1979 until his recent retirement in 2018. The Concord native brought some of the most memorable events in Gardner-Webb’s athletics history to his readers in a fair and professional manner. From football’s South Atlantic Conference championship runs in 1987 and 1992 to Big South Conference title marches in 2002 and 2003. He also chronicled basketball from the first seasons in a brand new Paul Porter Arena to an Atlantic Sun Conference regular season men’s basketball championship in 2005 and a 2011 women’s basketball NCAA Tournament run.

"When I came to The Star, I really didn't know much about NAIA sports. I have to thank all of the coaches, players and administrators for their kindness. I made so many lifelong friends being over here. And I have a great respect for what your people do at Gardner-Webb,” Ford said.