By David Hunter
During the short history of the Cannon Courier Hall of Fame, Tara (Solomon) James has inducted three members, Beth Stewart, Randy King and Julie Powell. Now in 2017, it is her turn to join this select group as a member of the 1989 TSSAA Girls State Tournament Championship team.
"I am honored and flattered, and I did not know if it was coming or not," James said. "It is an honor to join the other folks who are in there."
James, nee Solomon, helped make history during her time as a Cannon County Lionette.
She was a member of the CCHS girls' basketball team, who played in three consecutive state championships with he dream finally came true in 1989 with a state title. The Lionettes were no longer the "bridesmaid" in the state finals.
It's been 28 years since the Lionettes won that state title.
It was a special time in Cannon County and these female players were supported by the community like rock stars. James admitted she and her teammates did not realize how special the time was all those years ago, but today she remembers it very fondly.
"I do not think we realized then how special that was," James said.. "It was a special team, and it almost became where we were supposed to go to the state tournament. There was never, we hoped to go, we just had it in our minds we were supposed to go, and that is how we worked every day.
"It was a very special team that I did not realize at the time how special and how talented we were."
James can't believe the legendary run of success is still talked about today.
"We had supporters and the parents were unbelievable, and they would come to games holding signs, 'We Believe.' They would follow us and it would almost be an entourage to sub state or wherever we played. It was not just the school where we felt extremely special, but it was in the county itself.
"It was just a championship program which brought the county together. It brought the community together, but we did not realize it then, but looking back it was pretty special. The whole town shut down, and it was just like those movies where shops were closed, kids got out of school, and the whole Murphy Center was filled with Maroon and Gold. It was incredible the support of our parents, merchants in town and students," James said.
During the 1988-89 season, James made the All-Region, All-Midstate and All State Tournament and during her senior season, she was named to the All-District and All Region team.
Her college career took her to Roane State for a couple of seasons, then she spent her last three collegiate years at Kennesaw State. As a member of the Lady Owls, James was the leading scorer during her junior and senior year, and she was named All-Conference in basketball and cross country, when the school was a member of the NAIA.
She later was an assistant at Murfreesboro's Riverdale High School under Michael Burt, then she returned home to Woodbury to coach the Lionettes for five seasons. She then took some time off from coaching high school basketball to have children
After she had her second baby, she wanted to get back into coaching high school players. One day, she was touring Providence Christian Academy in Murfreesboro trying to find a school for her child, when she ran into one of last year's Cannon Courier Hall of Famer Randy King, who was the athletic director for the PCA Lions.
"He stopped me and asked me 'Are you here to coach?' I did not know. I was just looking for my child," James said.
Since that meeting four years ago, she has coached the girls' basketball team, and she became the school's athletic director after King retired from the position last year.
This school year has been a transition period for the 20-year-old campus as they moved to the TSSAA, which the program is in Division II-Class A.
This past season, the Lady Lions finished 22-5, and they advanced to the region tournament during their first season as a member of the TSSAA.
As for the Hall of Fame ceremony on May 23, she will be finally get her spot, and her inductee will be her brother, Aaron, who spent a nearly 20-year career as a sportscaster at Nashville's WSMV Channel 4.
"He was the one that pushed me all along, because of his love of basketball," James said of her brother, who made the All-District Tournament after the 1986-1987 season, while a member of the CCHS Lions. "He would have me read stat cards to him, so he can remember what each player in the NBA went to college. He had me at AAU practices."
They also worked on their game at Auburn town's famous gym all the time, because of course he had a key to it.
After inducting three fellow Hall of Famers during previous ceremonies, James will take her place in the Hall of Fame on May 23 as another member of the "Believers" who won the state title almost three decades ago.