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Charles Fortner

Inducted 2008

For Charles Fortner, coaching softball began as an unplanned career move, but developed into a lifelong passion.

Fortner played football, baseball and basketball for Wewahitchka High School in the mid-1960s before attending Florida State University. He began his coaching career in 1974 as an assistant junior varsity basketball coach at Port St. Joe High School. In 1977, he became an assistant varsity football coach at his alma mater, and took on the head softball coaching job in 1978. With only one year off in 1990, he coached the Wewahitchka softball team until his retirement in 2007.

Wewahitchka made the switch to fast-pitch softball along with the rest of Florida in 1994. When the Lady Gators ended the 2003 season as Class A state runner-up to Glades Day School of Belle Glade, Wewahitchka was the first public school to play in a Class A or 2A state championship game. Fortner’s teams won 12 district titles and seven regional titles, made seven FHSAA Finals appearances, earned state runner-up status once and won a state championship in 2007. The state title marked Wewahitchka's first in any sport since 1954. Fortner's career coaching record is 542-171. He is a two-time All-Big Bend Softball Coach of the Year and was named Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year in 2005-06.

Even after retirement, Fortner continues to coach youth football and softball in Wewahitchka, despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease two years ago.