Gibbs 2024 Hall of Fame induction ceremony

The Gibbs Gladiator Alumni Association inducted 8 new members into its Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 16, in the Gibbs High School auditorium. Pictured, Rufus Lewis, Kelly Sims and Matthew Williams.


ST. PETERSBURG — For nearly 30 years, the Gibbs Gladiator Alumni Association has been celebrating extraordinary athletes and inducting them into the Gladiator Hall of Fame. This year’s induction ceremony took place on Friday, Feb. 16, in the Gibbs High School auditorium, where eight outstanding athletes were honored for their football, basketball, baseball, tennis and wrestling prowess.

Before the inductions, Assistant Principal Michael Machado presented the Minson Rubin Award to current student-athlete Kevaun Jones, who exemplifies the respect, excellence, and pride that Mr. Rubin personified.

“[Rubin] was a dedicated teacher, coach, father, husband and mentor to all of St. Petersburg,” Machado said. “He was very passionate about Gibbs High School and his community. Only the most deserving student-athlete could be eligible to win this award.”

Gibbs High School Assistant Principal Michael Machado, Kevaun Jones and Hall of Fame President Matthew Williams

Kevaun is a member of the band program, the number two-ranked wrestler in his weight class, a talented football player with college potential and a starting catcher on the baseball team. He also participates in the fishing club, where he’s nicknamed “Snook.”

Machado said Kevaun works tirelessly in the classroom and with all his extra-curricular activities; however, his best trait is treating staff members, classmates and teammates with respect and sincerity.

“Kevaun leads by example and is the best role model any student could ever possibly have. He displays perfect sportsmanship and professionalism at all times, even in the most stressed athletic situations.”

Demetrice Johnson-Allen

Demetrice Johnson-Allen was a track and field team member during her time at Gibbs High School. She competed on the 440 and mile relay teams and the long jump. She consistently qualified for district, regional and state track competitions. Johnson-Allen was named the Pinellas County All-County team and an honorable mention. She concluded her senior track career by being honored as the team’s MVP.

After graduating from Gibbs in 1982, Johnson-Allen joined the army reserves for three years. In 1985, she enlisted in the army as a communication specialist. She continued to compete in military track and field meets throughout her military career, with winning results. Johnson-Allen served in various places, including Germany, New York and South Korea. She retired as a master sergeant after 23 years of faithfully and honorably serving the United States.

After retiring from the army in 2008, she worked for the Department of Defense as a contracting professional and retired in 2020. Johnson-Allen is currently working on her third retirement with the Veterans Affairs as a program analyst. She and her husband, retired Command Sergeant Major Earl Allen, reside in Woodbridge, Va.

Dwight Brown

Dwight Brown was a phenomenal athlete for the Gladiators boys’ basketball team under the leadership of Coach Freddie Dyles. In two seasons, Brown amassed more than 1,500 points.

As a junior in 1990, he and the Gladiators were 3A regional champions and made it to the FHSAA Final Four. He averaged 22.5 points a game as a junior. The Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times and the Pinellas County Athletic Conference (PCAC) selected him as first-team All-County.

Following their impressive 1989-90 season, the Freddie Dyles-coached Gladiators spent the 1990-91 season as one of the top-ranked teams in the FHSAA 3A state polls.

Brown helped Gibbs capture the PCAC and 3A-11 district championships as a senior. The Gladiators finished with a 31-3 record and an appearance in the #A Regional Finals.

That season, Brown led Gibbs in scoring and was second in the county after averaging 25.7 points a game. He also tallied six rebounds, four assists and three steals a game. Brown was named 1990-91 St. Petersburg Times Player of the Year for his efforts on the court and finished fourth for the prestigious Mr. Florida Basketball award.

Brown’s success continued in college at Vincennes Junior College in Indiana, where he was an All-American honorable mention. He transferred to Seton Hall University and was the starting shooting guard for the Pirates. Brown was a member of the Pirates team that made the 1994 NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament.

Brown earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is currently employed with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, where he holds the rank of corporal. He has two children, Teja and Noah, who followed in their dad’s footsteps by becoming collegiate athletes.

Brown is looking forward to retirement and plans to return home to St. Petersburg, where he plans to spend more quality time with his family and get back on the basketball courts.

Joseph Denmark

Joseph Denmark, known as “Chico,” was a star baseball and basketball player at Gibbs. He was an impactful second baseman on the baseball diamond for Coach Hollin and the Gladiators.

He attended Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on an athletic scholarship. He played basketball and baseball for the Stillman Tigers and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a minor in history. He also served in the United States Army Reserve.

Denmark taught history in Hillsborough County for 28 years. He was a member of the Wildwood Dodgers Baseball Organization board of directors and the Jamestown Neighborhood Tenant Association president. He worked as a group supervisor for the Pinellas County juvenile court, teacher coordinator for the neighborhood Youth Corps program and paraprofessional for Pinellas County schools.

He coached basketball at Gibbs, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg High Schools, and Little League. He loves helping youth grow up to be responsible, productive citizens. You could find him in the community teaching, coaching or assisting the youth on any day. Denmark was a teacher, coach and friend to hundreds of youths in St. Pete and Tampa.

Denmark is the son of the late Joseph Denmark Sr. and Marilyn Roberts. He has credited his mother for raising seven children as a single parent in Methodist Town. Today, you’ll find him fishing, coaching, and gardening.

Willie B. Felton, Jr.

Willie Felton played baseball at Gibbs High School under the direction of Coach Harvey Hollin. In the 10th grade, Felton was the starting right fielder. He shifted to the infield to become the starting shortstop in his 11th and 12th grade years. As a senior, the Gladiators baseball team won the conference championship. Felton was known for his sharp fielding skills for the Gladiators.

Felton began his postsecondary education at St. Petersburg Junior College. After a year at City College in New York, he served a two-year stint in the United States Army. He was awarded the Army Commendation Award for Distinguished Services after serving in the combat zone in Vietnam. He also completed formal studies at the University of South Florida and the University of Texas at Austin. In the summer of 1991, he completed his doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Professionally, Felton worked as an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg Junior College. In 1981, he began full-time employment at the college, teaching accounting, business mathematics and introduction to business. Using skills gained in earlier student development, he helped develop a model program for minority and disadvantaged student retention called Project Success at the college and served as a campus instructor in charge from 1983-86.

Other professional affiliations have included member and past president of the local chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., membership of the College Board, the National Council of Instructional Affairs and Advisory Committee for the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Florida.

Felton has been honored with a distinguished service award for his service on the Florida Community College Activates Association board of directors and the Florida Association of Community Colleges Distinguished Service Award. Locally, Felton acts as president of the Bethel AME Human Services and Education Foundation, the Board of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic (past member) and as a mentor at Melrose Elementary School.

Felton and his wife Suzanne are proud parents to two daughters, Simone and Sonja, and grandfather to Christopher.

Henry Gilstrap

Henry Gilstrap played football under Coach Alphonso Campbell. In his senior year, he and the Gladiators went 7-2-1 and competed for the conference championship. Gilstrap anchored the Gladiators offensive line as a starting offensive guard.

He attended Fisk University in Nashville, the alma mater of Campbell, his high school coach and mentor. Starting as a defensive back for the Fisk Bulldogs in 1968, he was named Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) All-Conference Defensive Back.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in human services at Eckerd College. His love for football continued as he coached and mentored young men with the St. Petersburg Little Devils and Gibbs Gladiator Little League organizations for 32 years.

Gilstrap has always been passionate about counseling both youth and adults alike. He utilized that passion while employed with the Pinellas County Urban League, State of Florida Fosters Care Social Worker, Boley Centers for Behavioral Health Care, Inc. and the West Care Foundations. Gilstrap retired in 2012.

He and his wife Loretta have three children: Darryl, Shauna, and Sonja. He is the proud grandfather of Emmett III, Erica, Marcus, and Jean. He is a longtime member of First Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

In his leisure time, Gilstrap enjoys fishing, watching war movies, spending time with family and friends and keeping an eye on the world of football.

Akilah James

Akilah James served in the No. 1 singles position on the girls’ tennis team at Gibbs. As a senior in 2010, James led the Gladiators to an incredible season culminating in a state championship. She won the 2010 FHSAA Class 3A No. 1 singles championship.

James captured the crown after winning a grueling three-hour and 11-minute match in three sets. James finished the 2010 tennis season as the FHSAA Class 3A overall singles runner-up. She was selected second-team All-County Public School, and the mayor awarded her the key to the city.

James attended South Carolina State and the University of Arizona on a tennis scholarship. She was named 2011-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Rookie of the Year and 2011 All-MEAC 2nd team after posting a 15-2 overall record in the No. 3 singles position for the South Carolina State Bulldogs.

She then attended the University of Arizona, where she continued to be honored for her tennis abilities. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) named James the 2013 Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship recipient. She was also named the ITA 2014 Most Improved Senior of the Year.

James graduated from the University of Arizona in 2014, most recently serving as its assistant tennis coach.

Alvin Jones, Jr.

Alvin Jones, Jr., class of 1996, played varsity football, basketball, and baseball. He was voted “Most Athletic” by his classmates. As a sophomore, he was a member of the varsity football team. He was named All-Pinellas County Athletic Conference (PCAC) and was recognized with an honorable mention by the Tampa Tribune.

After hauling 902 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior, Jones was selected to the 1994 PCAC, St. Petersburg Times, Suncoast and Tampa Tribune All-County football teams. His outstanding season helped lead the Gladiators to the playoffs as the Class 5A District 8 runner-up. The St. Petersburg Times recognized Jones as “Class of the County” after a stellar performance in a 23-22- victory over Seminole High School. In that game, he caught 11 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown.

As a senior in 1995, he threw for more than 1,000 yards and played in the Palm/Pinellas All-Star football game. In addition to his football prowess, Jones excelled on the basketball court. As a senior, he was named an honorable mention by the St. Petersburg Times.

After graduating from Gibbs, Jones attended the University of Cincinnati on a football scholarship. He now resides in Tallahassee with his lovely wife, Brandi, who is a remarkable life partner. Jones is also a devoted father to four beautiful children and three wonderful stepchildren. He is employed as a journeyman plumber and has been in the business for 18 years.

Kelly Sims

Kelly Sims was a versatile three-sport standout at Gibbs. He earned varsity letters in football, track and field and wrestling. As a senior, Sims became the first Gibbs football player in 11 years to sign a Division 1 football scholarship.

Sims was a stellar, strong safety and flanker for the Gladiator football team, earning 1st team defensive back honors.

Wrestling at 171 pounds, Sim was named to the 1988 St. Petersburg Times All-County Wrestling Team with a 29-2 record and winning both conference and district wrestling titles.

As a senior in 1988, he was named All-Pinellas County Conference in the long jump. He had a personal best jump of 21-1½. Sims capped his illustrious prep career by being named the school’s most outstanding student-athlete.

Sims played collegiate football for the Cincinnati Bearcats, where he was a team captain and a four-year starter. He recorded 22 tackles, five interceptions, four fumble recoveries and eight tackles for loss for the Bearcats. Sims graduated with a double major in business marketing and management.

He pursued and achieved his goal of becoming a professional football player. During his playing career, Sims was actively involved in Athletes in Action and Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministries directed towards athletes.

Upon retiring from a nine-year professional career, Sims established several small businesses in addition to coaching football. In 2010, he was an assistant coach for the Bethune Cookman Wildcats football team that won the HBCU National Championship. Sims also coached the Cincinnati Commandos of the United Indoor Football League to a championship in 2012.

On June 19, 2011, Minister Sims answered the call to preach the gospel and is currently in the final year of graduate school at the Apex School of Theology, pursuing a master’s in divinity degree.

He is the proud son of Elder Zeke and Sandra Sims and is married to the lovely Kahlya. They have three beautiful children: Tylor, Ciarra, and Kelis.

Photo Gallery

Sonja Felton accepted the award for her father, Willie Felton, Jr.
Terrell Dukes Sr. accepted the award for his good friend Dwight Brown.
Gladiator Alumni Association committee members Ray Tampa, Rufus Lewis and Thomas "Jet" Jackson

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