By Thomas Sellers Jr.
On most days in the summer you can find Millington Central High School legend Debra Spencer keeping her body in shape on the mile and half track of Frayser Park.
Going around the track multiple times, Spencer builds up a good sweat usually wearing something with black and gold. The school that is never too far from her heart is usually on her mind.
Talking Trojan Football, Basketball or Track, Spencer has a deep love for Millington athletics. And last Thursday the woman with her name on several MCHS records was added to an exclusive class, the MCHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Spencer joined Archie Bennett, Carlton Peete, Abe Massey, Kevin McMillan, the 2000 4x100m and 4x200m relay teams and the 1979/1981 Lady Trojan Softball teams as part of the second Hall of Fame class.
“This feels great after all that hard work and many years,” Spencer said. “Ms. (Beth) Hale called me two weeks ago and told me. I was surprised.”
As a two-sport standout in basketball and track, Spencer earned a scholarship to then Memphis State in the late 1970s. Her specialty of track brought her back to Millington to help fellow Hall of Famers Marcus Barnes, Marlon Barrentine, Darren Garcia and Jody Sneed.
“I feels real good to be inducted with this class,” Spencer said. “I even helped coached the boys 4x100m and 4x200m relay teams. Their coach left them and went to Houston. He told me to make sure they got to State. And they did.”
The plaques presented to the Class of 2014 will hang in the halls of the William Osteen Sports Complex beside the Class of 2013. And the name Debra Spencer will be among them forever.
“It’s good to be remembered,” she concluded. “I had some great years here.”
The Class of 2014 bios:
Archie Bennett was a three-year starter on the Trojan Football team. In 1968, Bennett was selected All-Shelby County, All-State and was named Honorable Mention All-American by Scholastic Magazine. He was also selected to the All-Mid-South team, played in the East-West All-Star game. He went on to play at the University of Arkansas.
Carlton Peete was one of the greatest all-around athletes to ever grace the halls of MCHS. He was an All-District selection in baseball, basketball and football. He was also an All-Shelby County and All-Metro selection in 1975 and 1976 as well as an All-State selection in football in 1976. Peete had more than 1,000 yards rushing in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons in football. He was named to the 1977 High School All-American Baseball Team and still holds the school record for stolen bases with 34. Peete was twice named Millington’s Athlete of the Year and went on to play football at The University of Memphis.
Abe Massey has been one of the pillars of the Millington community for more than 40 years. He has been a long-time supporter in a number of different ways to Millington Central High School from baseball to football to academics, fine arts and much more. Long after his children graduated from MCHS, Massey and his family continue to support the Trojans in various sports including being the sponsor for the summer baseball team for a number of years.
Kevin McMillan was the Millington Lady Trojans Basketball coach from 1990-97 and was responsible for getting the Lady Trojans back to the State Tournament for the first time in 66 years in 1994. McMillan’s teams won multiple district and Region titles as well as having numerous players advance to the next level. He is the winningest coach in school history with a record of 178-45, a winning percentage of almost 80 percent.
2000 4x100m & 4x200m Boys Relay Teams
The “Millington Four” (Marcus Barnes, Marlon Barrentine, Darren Garcia and Jody Sneed) were simply dominating during the 2000 track season. They were 26-1 in the 4x100m and 27-0 in the 4x200m. They were State champions in both events. Their time in the 4x100m is still the fourth fastest in State history and their time in the 4x200m is the 14th fastest in that event. They were ranked in the top 20 nationally in both relays including No. 5 in the 4x100m.
Debra Spencer was a two-sport standout in basketball and track. She was a member of the Shelby County championship basketball team during the 75-76 season. And she was selected All-County in the 76-77 season. She still holds the school record for the 100 and 200 yard dash. Spencer went to run track at The University of Memphis and then returned to MCHS to coach the girls track team for a number of years.
1979/1981 Lady Trojan Softball Teams
Back in 1979, the TSSAA officially recognized softball as an official sport to play for a State championship and the Millington Lady Trojans quickly put their stamp on the sport. Behind the direction of Head Coach Nancy Norwood, these girls cruised to district and Regional titles and finished as the State runner up in 1979, fourth in 1980 and as the State runner up again in 1981.