St. Petersburg High inducts 3 into Sports Hall of Fame
By JON WILSON, Times Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG -- Two members of the Greatest Generation and a sports agent who engineered a record-breaking contract were inducted into St. Petersburg High School's Sports Hall of Fame last week.
Richard Nowling and William Reynolds graduated in 1942. Both helped put the Green Devils on the Florida sports map, and both served in the military during World War II.
Jim Neader, a 1969 graduate, was a four-sport letterman who became an agent after college. One of his clients was Gary Sheffield, for whom Neader negotiated a $61-million contract to play for the Florida Marlins that was then considered the most lucrative deal in baseball history.
A versatile athlete, Neader played offense and defense on the high school football team, averaging 10 tackles during his junior year. He played on the Green Devils' first soccer team, becoming the first player to score three goals in a game. In baseball, he batted a career .325 and stole 31 bases, never being thrown out.
"I tried them all -- wasn't very good at anything," Neader said about his multisport approach. "I just played them enough to be effective, I guess."
At Bradley University, Neader started at goalie for three years on the ice hockey team. The team went 27-7-1 during his tenure. He compiled a 1.69 goals-against average during his best year.
Neader helped organize the hall of fame, which inducted the first batch of its 43 members in 1997.
Nowling was captain of the football team during his senior year and captain of the 1941 state championship swimming team.
His older brother Bill Nowling, one of the best football players in the school's history, was inducted in the inaugural hall of fame ceremony.
The Nowlings are among four family units in the hall. The others are sisters Margaret Fleming McDonnell (Class of 1984) and Katherine Fleming McDowell ('85); brothers Charles Harrison Jr. ('52) and John B. Harrison ('56); and father-son combo John Burroughs ('31) and Bill Burroughs ('61).
Bill Nowling was killed in action while fighting in France in 1944, a few weeks after the D-Day Normandy invasion.
The brothers both won football scholarships to the University of Tennessee.
"He was a senior, I was a freshman," Richard Nowling said. "We scrimmaged together."
He recalled vividly his first full-speed practice.
"I went roaring across the line, and someone hit me. I saw blue sky, white clouds and green grass. My brother was standing there laughing at me," Nowling said.
Reynolds played football and basketball, but he earned the most recognition in track and field. In 1942, he won the state pole vault championship with a leap of just less than 12 feet.
Eugene Williams, a 1941 St. Petersburg graduate and friend of Reynolds, recalled the origins of Reynolds' vaulting skill.
"I was in the sixth grade, and Billy was in the fifth grade at West Central Elementary. I went home with him one day and we went to this vacant lot," said Williams.
"He'd rigged up a stand with a bamboo cross bar, and he'd run along this dirt path and stick this bamboo pole into a hole in the ground.'
The makeshift practices paid off for both. Williams, a hall inductee two years ago, won the state championship in 1941.
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