Featured Image: President Scott D. Miller honors Marissa Coombs with plaque for track and field. VWU Flickr | Courtesy
Every year, Virginia Wesleyan University takes the time to commemorate those who have greatly impacted Wesleyan athletics. Whether that be stellar athletic performances, innovative coaching or monetary contributions, these deeds do not go unnoticed. Established in 2007 by the Board of Trustees, the Athletic Hall of Fame ensures that these paragons are never forgotten and inspires others to follow in their footsteps.
The induction ceremony takes place during the week of Homecoming, in the midst of a celebration of school spirit, during which the athletic community gathers to celebrate and support one another.
Those inducted into the Hall of Fame this year include benefactor William Shelhorse, who played a major role in the construction of Virginia Wesleyan’s 400-meter track and field complex; track and field All-American and ODAC record holder, Marissa Coombs (Class of 2018); 2016 NCAA National Champion for men’s golf, Evan Cox (Class of 2018); volleyball All-American and VWU’s all-time leader in kills and attacks, Kala Guy Herman (Class of 2013); softball All American, VWU Career Home Runs leader, ODAC Career RBI and Walks leader and NCAA Division III All-Time Walks leader Cassetty Howerin (Class of 2018); and record-breaking NCAA Champions, the highly decorated 2018 Softball team.
From left to right: President Scott D. Miller, 2018 graduate Evam Cox and Evan Cox’s father, Brent Cox. VWU Flickr | Courtesy
The night starts off with a quaint reception, a time for inductees to reconnect with former classmates and teammates and form new friendships within the athletic community. Inductees are able to bring as many guests as they would like to share this once in a lifetime opportunity with.
Once the reception ends, President Scott D. Miller delivers a speech to kick off the night, followed by the presentation of awards to each honoree. Those inducted individually have the opportunity to say a few words, reflecting on their accomplishments and relishing their moment of glory. Team inductions are slightly different, as they designate a spokesperson, but the moment is just as gratifying.
For Marissa Coombs, being inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame was the end goal, and after a distinguished career, it was nothing less than expected. “I remember talking with Coach Krista after my first trip to the NCAA DIII championship meet and how I was the first female athlete in program history to make it to that level,” Coombs said. “I knew how important it was for Women’s Track and Field then and did expect it after graduating.”
Nonetheless, this expectation does not take away from its fulfillment and her gratification. “It feels really rewarding to be acknowledged for my achievements by being inducted into the hall of fame alongside some incredibly talented athletes,” Coombs said. “I’m really honored to be inducted, I worked really hard during my four years running, and I have incredibly fond memories from being on the team.”
Coombs is thankful for the recognition in the Hall of Fame. “I’m really just so grateful, and I hope that it can give other athletes on the teams inspiration to try to pursue big goals as well,” she said.
For some inductees, such as Maddy Glaubke, a member of the 2018 Softball team, the induction came as a surprise. “I did not expect to be inducted. That was not the goal for me. My goal was to play alongside my teammates and win each and every game until the very end,” Glaubke said.
She also commented on the bittersweet nature of the award. “College pulls all your friends in different ways once you graduate, so it was so great to see them again,” Coombs said. “Dr. Miller presented us the award, and one of the seniors, Amanda Archer, gave a speech. Her speech brought back so many memories in the little time we had and made me appreciate all the memories we made.”
The Athletic Hall of Fame is more than just an award for athletic excellence. It is the culmination of a lifetime of hard work. It is the realization of lifelong goals and dreams. It fosters new relationships and revitalizes the old. It rewards good character and promotes community service.
Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement Tina Miller (Class of 1988) commented on the importance of the Hall of Fame. “I think it is a tremendous opportunity to honor trailblazers, record setters and people who are outstanding athletes. It also reflects positively on the current program itself,” Miller said.
It also works to shine light on those who work behind the scenes, such as the benefactors who generously donate their time and resources to give athletes the means to accomplish their goals. “Without these kind benefactors, the fields that you see out there that have their names in honor of them, would not be there,” Milligan said.
By: Sydnee Washington