NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Dolly Parton may not be renowned for her athletic ability but that didn’t stop the Tennessee Sports of Fame from naming her the Tennessean of the Year.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame announced Dolly Parton will be honored as the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame 2020 Tennessean of the Year and Derrick Henry will receive the Pro Athlete of the Year Award. The honors will be formally presented at the Hall of Fame’s annual induction on Aug. 1, 2020 at Omni Nashville Hotel.
The Tennessean of the Year recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to society through sports or other methods, demonstrating strong character and high-profile leadership. Previous recipients include former U.S. Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., 47th Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the Gaylord Entertainment Company.
“This will come as a shock to most of you, but I’m not very athletic. Ha ha,” said Dolly Parton. “I just couldn’t find tennis shoes, cleats, or blades with five-inch heels, so I gave up and settled for music. Seriously, I have always been a proud Tennessee girl and have supported all our athletics through the years; so, of course, I’m thrilled to be honored by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.”
Dolly Parton is being recognized as 2020 Tennessean of the Year for her historic mark on the music industry and her philanthropic work in Tennessee and worldwide. Parton is the most honored and revered female country singer-songwriter of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA-certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards, she has had 26 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard country charts, a record for a female artist. Parton recently became the first country artist honored as Grammy MusiCares Person of the Year given out by NARAS. She has 41 career Top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and 110 career-charted singles over the past 40 years. In 2014 the RIAA recognized her impact on recorded music with a plaque commemorating more than 100 million units sold worldwide. Her 2016 No. 1 album, “Pure & Simple,” which topped the Billboard Top Country Albums and Americana/Folk Albums charts and debuted at No. 1 in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia, added to that massive tally. She has garnered 10 Grammy Awards and 49 nominations, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and a 2020 win with for KING & COUNTRY for their collaboration on “God Only Knows;” 10 Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year; five Academy of Country Music Awards, also including a nod for Entertainer of the Year; four People’s Choice Awards; and three American Music Awards. In 1999, Parton was inducted as a member of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame.
Off stage, Parton has donated over 130 million books to children around the world with her Imagination Library. Her children’s book, “Coat of Many Colors,” was dedicated to the Library of Congress to honor the Imagination Library’s 100 millionth book donation. From her “Coat of Many Colors” while working “9-to-5,” no dream is too big and no mountain too high for the country girl who turned the world into her stage.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry was the NFL rushing leader for the 2019 season with 1,540 yards. He tied with Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones for NFL lead with 16 rushing touchdowns. In three playoff games, Henry rushed 83 times for 446 yards and two touchdowns, including 64 rushes for 377 yards in two playoff wins, leading the Titans to the AFC Championship game. He was named to the AFC Pro Bowl. Henry also was named the FedEx Ground Player of the Year for the NFL’s 2019 season.
Former Vanderbilt University and NBA Philadelphia 76ers basketball player Perry Wallace will be honored posthumously with the David Williams Significant Historical Achievement Award. Woody Hunt, 17-time Coach of the Year and Rawlings Coach of the Year Award winner, will receive the Pat Summitt Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Significant Historical Achievement Award recognizes individuals and teams who were movers and shakers in the sports industry, breaking barriers, setting records and paving the way for future sports individuals.
Perry Wallace grew up in Nashville and played basketball and ran track for Pearl High School from 1963 to 1966. In 1966, Wallace’s basketball team won the TSSAA state basketball championship in the first year in history the tournament was played on an integrated basis. Wallace won All-Metro, All-State and All-American honors. He then enrolled as a scholarship athlete at Vanderbilt University where he would become the first black varsity basketball player in the SEC. He led the team in rebounding each year with a career average of 11.5 per game (second best in school history). His average of 17.7 points per game still ranks as the 11th best average in Vanderbilt history. Wallace was named to the All-SEC second team and became a member of the 1000-point club. He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2003, Wallace was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Vanderbilt retired his No. 25 jersey in 2004; and, he was inducted into the university’s inaugural sports hall of fame class in 2011. Father Ryan High School honored Wallace in 2015 when the high school retired its No. 25 jersey. The ceremony occurred during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Pearl-Father Ryan basketball game, the first desegregated high school basketball game in Nashville. Wallace passed away in December 2017. He is survived by his wife Karen, his daughter Gabrielle and extended family members.
The Pat Summitt Award is given to coaches who have led their teams in excellence, cultivating talent in athletes and are a shining example of mentorship and character within the sports industry.
Woody Hunt began his 39th season as head coach and 41st with Cumberland University baseball this year. The Phoenix have won three NAIA national championships under his leadership in 2004, 2010 and 2014 as well as two runner-up finishes in 1995 and 2006. They’ve appeared in 12 NAIA World Series including six in 11 seasons from 2004-2014. Cumberland University has won 20 regular season conference championships with Hunt at the helm. The program posted 24 seasons with 40 or more wins, including 20 of the last 27 years, while registering more than 50 wins eight times. Hunt has amassed a 1,608-750-5 overall record. Through his mentoring, Hunt has produced 69 NAIA All-Americans and 80 of his players have signed professional contracts. He is a 17-time Coach of the Year, including the 2006 and 2010 Rawlings Coach of the Year awards.
The Tennessee Titans will receive the Pro Team of the Year Award. The Titans had an exciting 2019 season. They reached the NFL playoffs as the No. 2 wild card with a 9-7 overall record. The Titans were lauded as true road warriors as they won against defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots 20-13 in Foxborough and then won against top seed Baltimore Ravens 28-12 in Baltimore. They reached the AFC Championship game before falling to eventual Super Bowl LIV champions Kansas City Chiefs.
Additional honorees include: Amateur Female Athlete of the Year winner Maria Bulanova; Co-Amateur Male Athletes of the Year winners Kumar Rocker and Trey Smith; Female Amateur Team of the Year winner University of Tennessee Swimming & Diving; and Male Amateur Team of the Year Vanderbilt University baseball.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame previously announced its 11-member 2020 Induction Class. The star-studded list of honorees includes Tim Corbin, Terry Crisp, Tony Delk, Jeff Fisher, Bettye Giles, Dick Horton, Heath Shuler, Bruton Smith, Sonny Smith, Carl Torbush and DeAngelo Williams.
Tickets for the 2020 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony are available by contacting The Hall at 615-418-9595.
Established in 1966, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame honors figures from every sport including basketball, baseball, football, golf, soccer and track & field, along with coaches, teams, sports writers and others who made an impact. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development oversees all operations along with the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Notable Honorees:
Amateur Female Athlete of the Year: Maria Bulanova – bowling, Vanderbilt University: 2019 NCAA Player of the Year; First-Team All-American; 2019 Southland Player of the Year; made five all-tourney teams and won MVP twice; second in NCAA in overall average (21.09), baker double (54%) and makeable spares (89%)
Co-Amateur Male Athlete of the Year: Kumar Rocker – baseball, Vanderbilt University: SEC’s Top 2021 MLB Draft prospect by D1Baseball (2020); No. 3 in Baseball America’s 2020 Top 150 Overall Players; Team-best 28 strikeouts in 15.0 innings (2020); First Team Preseason All-America by Collegiate Baseball (2020); First Team Preseason All-America by D1Baseball (2020); First Team Preseason All-America by Perfect Game (2020); Baseball America Freshman of the Year (2019); College World Series Most Outstanding Player (2019); The Tennessean 2019 Sportsperson of the Year (2019); Set a Vanderbilt College World Series record with 11 strikeouts vs. Michigan (2019).
Co-Amateur Male Athlete of the Year Trey Smith – football, University of Tennessee: All-American caliber left guard, one of the top returning players in the SEC; 2020 Fritz Pollard Trophy Winner; 2019 All-SEC First Team (AP & Coaches); 2019 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Finalist; 2019 Wuerffel Trophy Preseason Watch List; first Volunteer true freshman to start at left tackle in 30 years; ranked No. 59 in Sport’s Illustrated’s Top 100 Football Players in 2018; 2018 member of the SEC Community Service Team off-field.
Female Amateur Team of the Year: University of Tennessee Swimming & Diving – Earned their first SEC title; captured 11 medals: eight gold, two silver, one bronze.
Male Amateur Team of the Year Vanderbilt University baseball – 2019 College World Series champions; posted a 10-2 record in NCAA Regional, Super Regional and College World Series; swept SEC Tournament with 4-0 mark with three consecutive wins against Top 25 teams.
About the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
Established in 1966, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame enshrines and honors athletes, teams, coaches, sports writers and sports administrators who have made an impact on the history of Tennessee sports. The Hall serves as a platform to connect athletes, coaches, sports fans, and supporters by acknowledging life achievements implemented through sports. The Hall celebrates athletes of all forms, from all across the state. Additionally, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame aspires to educate youth about the importance of healthy habits and the positive impact they have on lifestyle choices. The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is located at 501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for children and can be purchased at the Visitor Center in Bridgestone Arena, right outside of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Group rates are available for 10 or more. For more information, visit www.tshf.net.