Joe Russell Sr., a long-time youth sports coach and organizer, will be presented with the Florida Sports Hall of Fame’s (FSHOF) Hewell Family Fame for Fitness Award at the organization’s Nov. 12 induction ceremony at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.
In addition, former Orlando Sentinel public relations executive Bert Lacey will posthumously receive the FSHOF’s Founder’s Award for his nearly four decades of service to the organization. The two will be honored along with 11 inductees in the Class of 2019.
Those inductees include Orlando Magic founding father Pat Williams, former FSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, long-time Executive Director of Florida Citrus Sports Chuck Rohe, former UCF and NFL quarterback Daunte Culpepper, World Series winner and former Boston Red Sox All-Star Jason Varitek, Stetson baseball coaching legend Pete Dunn, former Florida Southern volleyball coach and athletic director Lois Webb, LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam, UCF and professional soccer legend Winston DuBose and Nick Anderson, the first draft selection in Orlando Magic history. In addition, former Florida Gator All-American and Pittsburgh Steeler David Little will be inducted posthumously.
Russell began his volunteer work while still enrolled at the UCF. The former Knight pitcher conducted baseball clinics for young players at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Upon graduation, Russell became involved in coaching Little League teams at Ward Park in Winter Park, a role he continued for more than 40 years,
He also coached Little League Softball, AAU teams and Pop Warner Football teams, often working with multiple teams at the same time. He serves as a volunteer softball coach at Winter Park High School and was instrumental in the creation of the Florida Collegiate Summer League – a wood bat league for college players. He also coached numerous all-star teams through the years.
Off the field, Russell served many years on the Winter Park Little League Board of Directors, he served a term as President of Winter Park Pop Warner Football, and was a long-time treasurer of WPLL. In all, Russell has mentored more than 1300 youth in his career and has affected the lives of many more through his administration roles with various organizations.
“Each year, we select an individual or organization for the Hewell Family Fame for Fitness Award. In doing so, we honor those who mirror the Hall’s mission of promoting physical fitness awareness, education and the general health and well-being of Florida’s Youth,” FSHOF President Barry Smith said. “For the last 40 years, Joe Russell has made it his life’s mission to do exactly that. There is no one more deserving to be the recipient of our top award.”