APCC in Avon Park, Florida Avon Park Champions Club


The Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame honors and recognizes former students, faculty, staff and citizens of Avon Park who have distinguished themselves by virtue of their outstanding contribution and service to the school, community or society in general.


Bryan Arnold

Bryan Arnold Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame

6/3/1966 - 6/3/2017

Avon Park native Bryan "BA" Arnold started playing competitive baseball at the age of 5 in Avon Park Dixie Youth League. His father Donald Arnold volunteered for many years sharing his knowledge of the sport teaching Bryan and his teammates the fundamentals of the game. As Bryan's passion grew for the sport, his talent and competitive nature also blossomed. As a year varsity starter for Avon Park High School, he got to share the experience of playing at the State playoffs sophomore year as the team came in second place, then again in 1984, Bryan's senior year the Avon Park Red Devils became the AA State Champs.

After high school, Bryan continued to play baseball at the local community colleges South Florida and Polk. During the 1986 season while playing for the Polk Eagles, Bryan helped carry the team by hitting the most triples which was 9 and a school record which still holds to this day. His last two years playing at the collegiate level were at Florida Southern College under Chuck Anderson, another follow native to Avon Park and a member of the Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame. Bryan continued his outstanding performance throughout his senior year contributing 7 home runs and 41 RBI's during the 1988 season. The Florida Southern Moccasins stayed strong that year to become the Division 2 World Series Champs. Bryan was also chosen as 1st team Sunshine State Conference performer and Division 2 All-South Selection.

Bryan joined the professional ranks in June of 1988 when he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a catcher/ designated hitter. After only one season with the Pirates organization, he decided to settle down, get married, and start his own business in construction as a tile setter. Of course, he started playing men's slow pitch softball in local leagues as well as tournament ball throughout the United States. In 2008 "BA" was inducted into the International Softball Association (ISA) Hall of Fame with recognition in the players category. He was a wide-open player who was named to the ten All-World All-American teams, also winning one Major Championship, three AA World Championships, 5 A Championships, 3 B World Championships, 2 Winter World Championships, and 4 Masters World Championships.

Bryan boosts a list of many accomplishments, but his most precious accomplishment would be his family especially his one and only daughter Kaylie Rae, his "huntin' buddy". As Bryan retired from playing ball, he stayed incredibly involved with the sport that he loved. He shared his passion by offering professional instruction to all ages at the Cage Rage batting cage facility, founded by Bryan in 2009. Bryan Preston Arnold, who about everyone knew as "BA", passed away on his 51st birthday, June 3rd, 2017. His legacy lives on at Cage Rage as players continue to advance in the sport that Bryan loved so much!

Mortimer 'Mort' Jackson Jr.

Mortimer 'Mort' Jackson Jr. Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame

Mortimer Jackson Jr. was born on January 11, 1959, in Avon Park, Florida to Mort Jackson, Sr. and Nancy Jackson at Walker Memorial Hospital. He attended Avon Elementary, Avon Park Middle School, and Avon Park High School where he and younger brother Jeff Jackson could be found getting into various forms of mischief.

Mort got married on July 14, 1979 to the love of his life and high school sweetheart, Mary Linda Derkman. The two have been married for 44 years and look forward to many more years of wedded bliss. He has two children, Mortimer (Bo) Jackson III and Jenna Kate (Jackson) Hancock. Bo teaches and coaches at Avon Park High School while his wife Kayla (Yarbrough) Jackson teaches at Memorial Elementary. After nine years of teaching Biology at APHS, Jenna left education to help her husband, Terry, with the family business "Edgewood Landscape and Nursery, Inc." also based out of Avon Park. Mort has six grandchildren listed in order by age: John Hancock, Kasen Jackson, Jackson Hancock, Kellen Jackson, Lyla Hancock and Kayten Jackson. All six excel in sports and academics.

During Mort's high school career, he played football and baseball for the Red Devils. His freshman year he played tight end in football and started at second base for the Red Devils Varsity Baseball team. His sophomore year he did not play football and played shortstop and catcher. As a Sophomore, Mort won the batting title. His junior year he played football and was the starting quarterback. He was the starting catcher for the baseball team and was named best all-around player that year. His senior year he was a captain, the starting quarterback, and earned the award for best offensive player. In baseball he was chosen as a captain and won the MVP award. His love for sports and dedication to his team is easy to recognize in these high school accomplishments.

Mort received a full athletic scholarship to SFSC (then South Florida Junior College.) His freshman year he played for Tim Hill and then for Clay Gooch as a sophomore. He got his AA degree and was awarded the Florida Blue Key Award for Scholastics, Citizenship and Athletics. He transferred to the University of Central Florida and made the baseball team as a walk-on.

At this point in his life, important decisions for the future led Mort to retire from baseball to concentrate on graduation and beyond. Since he did not see a future for himself in professional sports, he wanted to move back to Avon Park. Small town life and family ties had a strong pull to a place that has always been home for him. Mort ran Mort Jackson and Sons Masonry for three years before leaving the construction industry and starting his teaching and coaching career.

In 1984, Mort was hired at APHS as a science teacher. He taught Earth Space Science from 1984-1987. He became a full time Biology teacher in 1987. In 1998 he was the lead science teacher for the Health Academy that was established at Avon Park High School. He then became an Anatomy and Physiology teacher from 2002 to 2021. In 2011, he became the Coordinator for The Executive Internship Program. He was selected to become the third Athletic Director in APHS's storied history. He held the AD role from 2002-2021. During this time, Mort was able to add wrestling and girl's powerlifting to the list of sports offered at APHS. He was able to hire quality coaches for these positions and as a result the programs produced two wrestling state champions, one wrestling runner up, and two girl's powerlifting state champions in his tenure.

Mort became a coach immediately upon accepting a teaching position at APHS. He worked as the junior varsity football coach for four years amassing a 29-3 record. He was a varsity assistant for some 21 years. He was also the varsity head football coach for two years where he had a 6-14 record. Though the record is not impressive, this was a period of time when the districts were realigned and APHS faced some new and larger schools than they had previously. As a consolation, during this period, Mort and his Red Devil varsity football team beat rival Sebring Blue Streaks every time he played them.

Mort also coached baseball for 25 years. He was the head junior varsity baseball coach for three years amassing a 47-4 record. He became the head varsity baseball coach in 1988 and continued for 22 years until his retirement. In 22 years, his record was 372-222. During his tenure he won 12 district championships and five district runner ups. His teams made the playoffs 17 out of 22 years. Mort was selected as the FACA 2A coach of the year in 1988 & 1990. His early 2000's teams got to enjoy some great baseball on the road, as Coach Jackson took them to Charleston, SC in 2001 and to Washington, DC in 2004- trips that are still brought up in conversation today. The most memorable game being played at St. Alban's Academy- which has ties to (and a view of) the National Cathedral.

Mort also coached Dixie Baseball during his career. He was a coach of 13 teams out of 14 years that reached the World Series of Dixie Baseball. He was an assistant coach on the 1986 and 1987 World Series Teams. The 1987 team is the only team to win the World Series in Avon Park's history. Mort won seven Dixie State Championships which got them in the World Series. He also coached four teams as the Host team for the World Series. His teams made a total of 13 World Series appearances.

Mort is well known and loved for his easy-going and fun disposition. He is hardworking, patient, and kind. As a teacher, coach, parent and grandparent, he has high expectations while allowing the young space to make mistakes and learn from them. He has that special quality about him that makes you want to live up to his expectations. This disposition has enabled him to easily make friends, maintain relationships, and have such an impactful career as a teacher and coach.

Family ties are a recurring theme in Mort's life. He played baseball and football under his Uncle Ronnie Jackson for all four years of his high school career. Upon returning to Avon Park and becoming a teacher and coach, he had the opportunity to impact nephews, nieces, cousins, and his own son and daughter. One such student and player is APHS' current head baseball coach, Kyle Jackson. He is preceded into the Champion's Club Hall of Fame by his mother-In-Law Lucy Derkman and uncles Ronnie and Joe Jackson. He continues their legacy of encouraging excellence in Avon Park athletics.

Mort is also a member of Avon Park Lakes Baptist Church. He professes Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior. Though he may not be overly vocal about his relationship with the Lord, he has a quiet and steady faith that serves as the bedrock of his character and explains his style of leadership.

After a life of serving the community through his talents in sports, teaching, and interpersonal skills, Mort is now happily retired with his wife Mary Linda. He enjoys helping coach his grandchildren's Dixie Youth teams, hunting, traveling to ATV races in his RV, doing the occasional DIY project, and playing golf as much as possible. Even in retirement, he continues to support the community he loves so dearly.

A quote that resonates with Mort, and describes his approach to life is as follows:

"Greatness is not how you feel, it's how you make others feel." - Ron Kaufman

Dr. Katharine Wolcott Markell

Dr. Katharine Wolcott Markell Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame

Dr Markell is a dual-boarded general and colorectal surgeon who served 20 years in the Medical Corp of the United States Army, retiring in August 2022. She began her dream of becoming a physician by attending Cumberland University where, having played softball and volleyball at Avon Park Fl High School (graduating in in 1993), she was recruited to play collegiate softball and volleyball. She obtained a Bachelor's Degree of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and graduated with Honors - Magna Cum Laude. COL (Retired) Markell joined the Army in 1998, as a recipient of the Army's Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and received her Medical Degree in 2002 from the University of Miami, School of Medicine. She completed her Internship & General Surgery residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in 2007 and her first assignment was to the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research, where she served as the Burn Fellow. During this year, she also completed the Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCAT) Course in order to participate on the Burn Flight team. In 2008, she began her Colon & Rectal Surgery Fellowship at Northwest Colon and Rectal Clinic in Seattle, WA and upon completion, she was assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in 2009 as a General & Colorectal Surgeon and Teaching Faculty for the General Surgery Residency. COL Markell is dually Board Certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon & Rectal Surgery and she is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

During her career at BAMC, COL(Ret) Markell served in a multitude of positions, including OIC of Wound & Ostomy Clinic for 2 years, Chief of Colorectal Surgery for 3 years, Associate Program Director of the General Surgery Residency program for 3 years and she served as Teaching Faculty for the Residency for 13 years. She served on several SAUSHEC GME subcommittees and has thoroughly enjoyed working with numerous graduating classes of surgical residents. Her career at BAMC culminated in her being chosen to serve as Chief of the Department of Surgery and Chair of the SAMHS Surgical Care Line Team from 2017-2021, where she oversaw the daily operations of 10 surgical sub-specialty divisions including over 500 military and civilian members. She worked side-by-side with senior leaders at BAMC and the SAMHS Market.

COL(Ret) Markell served her country with honor through 4 combat deployments, 16+ months including 2 tours in Afghanistan and 2 tours in Kuwait. Her final tour in Afghanistan was on GHOSTT team, supporting the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan, where she was the senior-most surgeon on her team, providing lifesaving trauma care to numerous coalition forces, bolstering the relationship building of the CJSOTF teams with host-nation forces. At the end of her tour, she was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. At the end of her career in the United States Army, she was awarded the Legion of Merit for her time served as Chief of Surgery and all of her military achievements leading up to retirement.

Upon retirement, Dr. Markell joined the South Texas Veterans Healthcare System in September 2022 and served as the Deputy Chief of Surgery and in January 2024, she became the Acting Chief of Surgery for the Department of Surgical Services at Audie Lee Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. Markell is a wife to her husband Matt Markell for 17 years and they have 2 children, Joshua (15) and Rachel (12) and as a family they enjoy traveling, snow skiing, mountain biking, canyoneering and being outdoors with many of the children's sporting adventures.

Harold 'Hal' McRae

Harold 'Hal' McRae Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame

Harold "Hal" McRae was born in Avon Park, Florida in 1945 and attended Avon Park Hopewell School for elementary and middle school. He then attended E.O. Douglas High School (the African-American High School for Highlands County, Fl), graduating in 1963. He received a baseball scholarship to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fl where he excelled. During his last year for the Rattlers, he averaged slightly under 4 RBIs per game - a Florida A&M University RBI record that lasted for 53 years. McRae later moved to Manatee County Florida when he and Johncyna Williams were married in 1966.

He was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 6th round of the 1965 draft being the 117th overall pick. Freed from a logjam on the Cincinnati Reds bench (1968, 1970-72), Hal found a home with the Kansas City Royals (1973-1987). He became the first player to make a career out of being a full-time designated hitter and retired with nearly every major league record for that position. McRae was named Designated Hitter of the Year three times both by The Sporting News and the Associated Press. Hal ranks #7 among the top 50 all-time designated hitters.

In a 19-year major league career, McRae posted a .290 batting average with 191 home runs, 1097 RBIs, 484 doubles, 65 triples and 109 stolen bases in 2084 games played. McRae played hard - so hard in fact, that the rule requiring a runner to slide into second base when breaking up a double play is still referred to as the "Hal McRae Rule" in honor of the man whose cross-body blocks into second base broke up a lot of double plays and second basemen at the same time.

Following his playing retirement, Hal managed the KC Royals (1991-94) and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2001-02). He also served as hitting coach for the Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, and the St. Louis Cardinals. McRae, won a World Series ring playing for Kansas City against the Cardinals in 1985. At his first 40 at bats in World Series games, Hal hit an amazing .450! He also won a World Series ring as a coach for the Cardinals when they defeated the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 World Series. Hal retired from Major League baseball after a 42-year career in 2009.

Harold and Johncyna are the parents of former Major League outfielder Brian McRae. They are also parents of son, Cullen McRae, Sr (deceased), and daughter, Leah McRae Houston. They have six grandchildren.


  • 3x All-Star selection (1974, 1976, 1982)
  • 2x World Series Champion (1985, 2006)
  • Silver Slugger Award Winner (1982)
  • Hit over .300 six times for the Royals
  • Street Named "Hal McRae Boulevard" in Avon Park, Florida
  • Inducted into the Florida A & M University Sports Hall of Fame (1974)
  • Inducted into the State of Florida Sports Hall of Fame (1986)
  • Inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame (1989)
  • Inducted into the State of Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (2004)
  • Star on "Walk of Fame" at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida


  • Volunteer Baseball coach at Manatee High School
  • Volunteer baseball coach at Palmetto High School
  • Headlined GMC Hoagland Automotive Manatee County Hometown Heroes
  • Headlined Champs Celebrity Sports Night (2010) supporting the 13th Avenue
  • Community Center.
  • Headlined PACE Center for Girls, Manatee County fundraisers

Lewis E 'Lew' Mundt

Lewis E 'Lew' Mundt Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame

Lewis (aka Lew) E. Mundt was born in Illinois City, Illinois in 1944. At a young age, his family moved to the small town of Coal Valley, Illinois, where Lew and his two brothers and three sisters were raised on a family farm. He graduated from Orion High School (in Illinois) in 1962 in a graduating class of 68 seniors.

Lew has been married to Judy (Culbertson) Mundt since 1966, and they have one daughter (Tori Trinder), 3 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.

Lew joined the National Guard in 1968 (serving until 1974), and moved to Avon Park, Florida in 1969.

During his 55 years in Avon Park, Lew has been exceedingly active in youth sports and various civic activities. In the area of Avon Park sports, he coached Little League Baseball for 10 years, helped organize and supervise the annual Punt, Pass, and Kick competition for Bill Owens Ford for 5 years, and served a member and President of the Avon Park Athletic Association throughout the 1970s. Mr. Mundt has served as a valuable board member of the Avon Park Champions Club (since its inception in 2012), having also served as its President.

On the civic front, Lew was a charter member of the Avon Park Morning Rotary Club and has also served as President of the Avon Park Noon Rotary Club (named as a Paul Harris Fellow). He served as a Board member of the Avon Park Housing Authority for 5 years. In 1989, he was named the Sales Manager of the Year for the Gulf Life Insurance Company.

Over his 55 years in Avon Park, Lew has been a prodigious fundraiser for a host of Avon Park Civic, School, and Sports organizations. It seems that when any of these organizations need to raise funds for a needed cause, Lew Mundt is the first person called to help raise those funds. He has built a long-term relationship with a host of Avon Park businesses and owners who place great value on Lew's judgment on which causes deserve their support. In most cases these organizations and individuals will contribute to an organization or cause largely because Lew has endorsed the need as worthy of support.

Lew and Judy are active members of the Avon Park Lakes Baptist Church.

    Avon Park Champions Club

Honoring the Past - Supporting the Present - Encouraging the Future

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