Madison-Ridgeland Academy inducts members into Athletic Hall of Fame
Three people were inducted into the Madison-Ridgeland Academy Hall of Fame last week.
The 2024 MRA Hall of Fame inductees were Suzy Kelty Bradly and Valerie Webb Henry – both from the class of 1982 — and the late Sam Rea of the 1987 class.
Ruston Webster from the class of 1981 was named the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
Rea, a standout running back who wore #26, was a team favorite and took his talents to Delta State University where he excelled on special teams over his career there.
He was tragically killed in a farm accident in 1992 at age 29. His son, CJ, was only three months old at the time and never got to know his father but has learned of his legend and love for life from family and his dad’s friends.
CJ and his grandfather, Jimmy Rea, were on hand to accept the award.
“He still holds a lot of records at MRA,” CJ Rea said. “My daddy never met a stranger and didn’t have an enemy in the world. I’ve been on this earth for 26 years and I’ve met random people in random places and I’ve never heard one single bad thing from anybody. He was a remarkable man. I feel like I know him so well because of the stories and memories all his friends have told me. I still hear stories and I love it.”
Rea was honored to introduce his late father to the crowd.
“I talked about his teammates and I told them we are here to celebrate my daddy’s accomplishments and the cliché, there is no ‘I’ in team in reference to my daddy and his commitment to his Patriot teammates,” Rea said.
“His accomplishments on the gridiron were great but he left a good impression on everyone he met. He died when he was 29 and my grandmother always said, ‘he lived 80 years in those 29.’ He was a salt of the earth person and people were the most important thing to him.”
In his acceptance speech for his father, Rea pointed out that “all these accomplishments are worthy of being celebrated but in the end, there’s only one that’s important. I encouraged everyone to go home and read The Gospels and try to live a little more like Jesus.”
A plaque commemorating Sam Rea at the MRA football field includes a quote from his former coach, the now late Jack Carlisle.
“Sam’s exploits on the football field are Legendary in the minds of all who knew him. It is only fitting that his creed for life be included here: ONE WORLD – ONE CHANCE.”
During the banquet, MRA established the Distinguished Alumnus Award this year to honor MRA graduates whose commitment to their profession, community, and service to others sets them apart.
John Weaver, Director of Athletic Development at MRA introduced the recipients.
“Our first inductee into our Hall of Fame was MRA Boys Basketball Coach Richard Duease in 2015,” Weaver said. “We wanted to honor and recognize high school athletes, coaches, officials, administrators, teams, and others for their extraordinary achievements in high school athletics on Old Canton Road. This honor is becoming one of the most cherished traditions for MRA Athletics. Inductees are now part of a distinguished circle of individuals or teams who have made a distinct and lasting contribution to MRA in the field of athletics. All three of these former student-athletes proudly wore the MRA jersey and maintained the high standard that comes with the Patriots name in competition. They are now cemented into Patriot Athletic History.”
“Through a commitment to excellence, our Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients truly exemplify the phrase, ‘What starts here, changes the world,’” Weaver said. “MRA’s vision includes being committed to excellence in teaching the mind, reaching the heart, and inspiring servant leaders who will impact the world for Jesus Christ. Our first recipient of this award truly embodies this vision. Our first inductee of the Distinguished Alumnus Award goes to Mr. Ruston Webster, MRA Class of 1981.”
Webster currently serves as the Senior Personnel Executive for the Atlanta Falcons.
He previously was the General Manager for the Tennessee Titans and VP of player personnel with the Seattle Seahawks. Webster cut his teeth in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1988-2005 serving in multiple roles throughout those years.