Athletics Hall of Fame

Celebrating the Best of the Best of Liberty Athletics

 

Nominations

Nomination Form

Nomination Form

Updated as of 9/20/13

Five new members were inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony in September. The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 included representatives from football, men’s basketball, women’s soccer, volleyball and the athletics administration.

The five-member class, the fifth such to be inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame, was honored during an induction banquet on Sept. 13 and was recognized during a special halftime celebration at Liberty's football game against Morgan State on Sept. 14.

The five-member class included Anthonia (Akpama) Oyedele (volleyball), Bailey Alston (men’s basketball), Brenda Bonheim (volleyball and women’s basketball coach/SWA), Nancy (Davis) White (women’s soccer) and Robby Justino (football).

The Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame celebrates the best of the best, honoring those who helped shape the face of Liberty Athletics. The Hall of Fame’s now 27 members have each played a key role in helping Liberty grow from an NCCAA program in 1972 to its current status as a thriving NCAA Division I program today.

Nearly as old as the University itself, Liberty’s Athletics Department fielded its first athletics team in 1972, when Dan Manley guided a junior varsity men’s basketball team to a 7-1 record. Football followed the next fall, with Lee “Rock” Royer coaching the Flames to a 3-3 mark.

The Athletics Department has quickly grown over the past four decades, moving from its affiliation with the National Christian College Athletics Association during its infancy, to gaining full-time NCAA Division I status on Sept. 1, 1988.

On July 1, 1991, Liberty joined the Big South Conference and has since dominated the league, capturing more than 100 conference championships and the most Big South Sasser Cup awards in conference history.

The Athletics Department Hall of Fame committee, comprised of nine members from the University and Athletics Department, will be looking to honor those who have stood out from among the rest during the last four decades, helping the Flames quickly join the highest level of intercollegiate athletics competition.

The committee is comprised of the following members: Kevin Keys, Associate Athletics Director – External Operations, who chairs the committee; Mickey Guridy, Senior Associate Athletics Director; Erin McKeown, Senior Woman Administrator; Bob Good, Associate Athletics Director for Development; Todd Wetmore, Associate Athletics Director for Communications; Dr. Bill Gribbin, Faculty Athletics Representative; Brenda Bonheim, former Women’s Basketball/Volleyball Coach and Senior Woman Administrator; Dr. Linda Farver, Liberty Kinesiology professor and former Women’s Basketball Coach; Ed Gomes, Football Director of Spiritual Development and former Liberty basketball player.

Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame

Class of 2009 (Inaugural Class)
Dr. Jerry Falwell (founder/former University chancellor)
Arthur L. Williams (athletics financial supporter)
Elena (Kisseleva) Bengds (women’s basketball)
Bob Bonheim (wrestling and football coach)
Sid Bream (baseball)
Kelvin Edwards (football)
Karl Hess (men’s basketball)

Class of 2010
Theresa Bream (women's basketball/volleyball)
Gina Gibson (women's track and field)
Lee Guetterman (baseball)
Chip Smith (football)
Al Worthington (baseball coach and athletics director)

Class of 2011
Paul Annan (men's soccer)
Fred Banks (football)
Bill Bell (men's soccer coach)
Jerry Edwards (radio play-by-play)
Heather (Sagan) Zealand (women's cross country/track and field)

Class of 2012
Jesse Castro (wrestling)
Mark Chafin (men’s basketball)
John Sanders (football)
Sharon (Snodgrass) May (women’s basketball)
Ryan Werner (men’s track & field

Highlight Video from 2012 Hall of Fame banquet:

Class of 2013
Anthonia (Akpama) Oyedele (volleyball)
Bailey Alston (men’s basketball)
Brenda Bonheim (volleyball and women’s basketball coach/SWA)
Nancy (Davis) White (women’s soccer)
Robby Justino (football)

Highlight Video from 2013 Hall of Fame banquet:

Dr. Jerry Falwell (Founder/Former Chancellor)
2009 Hall of Fame Inductee

Dr. Jerry Falwell will long be remembered as Liberty’s No. 1 fan, as the sports fanatic had a vision of Liberty Athletics competing alongside the nation’s best from the day he opened the doors at then-Lynchburg Baptist College.

Falwell’s presence at athletics events often spurred Liberty student-athletes to victory over the years, as the founder rarely ever missed a home event, while he traveled the country cheering Liberty’s best until he passed away. At his home-going celebration, 10 Liberty student-athletes served as honorary pallbearers, exhibiting Falwell’s passion for athletics.

Arthur L. Williams (Athletics Financial Supporter)
2009 Hall of Fame Inductee

Arthur L. Williams, the founder of Primerica Financial Services, has long been one of Liberty Athletics strongest supporters since he was first introduced to the program by Dr. Jerry Falwell during the mid-1970s.

Williams’ financial generosity over the years helped a small NCCAA program quickly transition to the NCAA Division I level. Several athletics facilities around the campus still bear his name, including Williams Stadium and the Williams Football Operations Center, home to Liberty’s two-time defending Big South championship football program.

Anthonia (Akpama) Oyedele (Volleyball: 1996-99)
2013 Hall of Fame Inductee

Anthonia (Akpama) Oyedele was Liberty’s first dominate volleyball player at the Division I level, helping the Lady Flames to their first two Big South titles and a pair of trips the NCAA Volleyball Championships (1997 and 1999).

Oyedele is the only player in program history to amass more than 2,000 career kills, finishing her four-year run on the court with a program-best 2,024 kills. She is one of only two Liberty volleyball players to have her jersey retired, joining fellow Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame member Theresa Bream on this short list.

The native of Lagos, Nigeria, is the only player in program history to be named Big South All-Conference all four years of her career. She capped off her career accolades when she was named the 1999 Big South Player of the Year.

Oyedele became the fifth Liberty Athletics representative inducted into the Big South Hall of Fame in May 2013. During her four-year career, Liberty posted a combined 93-43 record, winning 20 matches each of her four seasons on Liberty Mountain.

Bailey Alston (Men's Basketball: 1988-90)
2013 Hall of Fame Inductee

Bailey Alston helped usher in a new era for the men’s basketball program, playing his last two seasons at Liberty as a NCAA Division I student-athlete. In his final season at the Division II level, Alston was named the 1988 Mason-Dixon Player of the Year.

Alston is one of only three players in program history to score 2,000 career points (2,115), doing so in just three seasons on Liberty Mountain. He also holds the program’s career scoring record, as he averaged 25.5 points per game in 83 career games played.

Alston is the only player in program history with three career 40-point games to his credit and he finished his three-year span with the Flames with 42 career 20-point games.

The Henderson, N.C., native suffered a career-ending injury shortly after finishing his last game at Liberty, prevent him from pursuing a professional playing career.

Paul Annan (Men's Soccer: 1982-85)
2011 Hall of Fame Inductee

Paul A. Annan was a three-time All-American, earning such distinguished honors in men’s soccer, as the program’s goalkeeper during its formative years. He still holds five different program records, including the career marks for saves (634) and shutouts (28), along with the single-season shutout mark (12).

Annan was a co-captain of the Ghana National Academicals squad, a member of the Ghana National under-20 team and a member of the Ghana Amateur Junior National team before attending Liberty. Annan, known as the “black panther” for his agility, reflexes and diving ability, was a dominating force in the Liberty net during his four years, becoming the first Liberty student-athlete to be named a NCAA All-American.

In 1983, the Accra, Ghana native, earned the first of his three NCAA Division II All-America honors. He capped his career in 1985 by helping Liberty post 14 victories, which is a program record for wins in a season and his third All-America honor, to become the men’s soccer program’s only three-time All-American. Today, he still ranks second in career goals against average (0.98) and single-season saves in program history (205).

Annan currently works for Mercedes Benz U.S. International in the finance department. After graduating from Liberty, he earned his MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson in 1998 and became a certified public accountant in 2000.

Fred Banks (Football: 1982-84)
2011 Hall of Fame Inductee

Fred Banks played a large part in the football program’s move to the NCAA ranks, becoming the third student-athlete from the era to be named to the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame. The wide receiver was a standout on the gridiron during his three years at the school, finishing his career by being named an Associated Press Little All-American honorable mention in 1984.

The Columbus, Ga., native became Liberty’s first NFL Draft pick and one of only seven in program history, when he was drafted in the eighth round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.

Banks finished his Liberty career in 1984 by ranking No. 2 nationally among all NCAA Division II players in total receiving yards (1,029), the fourth most in the program’s all-time annuals. He also became only one of four student-athletes in the athletics department flagship sport to post three-straight 100-yard receiving games in a year and had eight touchdown receptions, the fifth most in program history.

After Liberty, he played eight years in the NFL. During his eight-year career, Banks played with the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins. Banks came to Liberty from Chowan after his freshman season and was inducted into the Hawks Athletics Hall of Fame class in 2004.

Bill Bell (Men's Soccer Coach: 1980-2000)
2011 Hall of Fame Inductee

One of two coaches in Liberty Athletics history to guide his program for 20 or more seasons, Bill Bell was integral in the men’s soccer program’s growth, as it moved from the NCCAA to NCAA Division I level competition and found conference affiliation in the Big South.

After 22 years playing professionally in England and Scotland, Bell, the longest tenured coach in program history, led Liberty to winning seasons in 12 of his 21 years as its head coach. Liberty posted a winning record in eight of its 10 Big South Conference seasons with Bell at its helm, reaching three Big South Men’s Soccer Championship games (1994, 1998 and 1999).

In 1985, he was named the South Atlantic Coach of the Year and was voted the Big South Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1999. During his tenure, he coached two All-Americans, 14 NSCAA South Atlantic All-Region players, Liberty’s only Big South Men’s Soccer Player of the Year and 22 Big South all-conference players.

After retiring from Liberty in 2000, Bell returned to England and served as the Executive Director of Within the Walls, a prison ministry he started with his wife, Mary, in 1993.

Bob Bonheim (Wrestling/Football Coach: 1973-86)
2009 Hall of Fame Inductee

Bob Bonheim orchestrated the first true national powerhouse at Liberty, guiding the Flames wrestling program to five-straight NCCAA national championships (1977-1981). The two-time NCCAA National Coach of the Year (1976 and 1981) finished his days roaming the mats with a 118-31 dual meet record, winning at an impressive 79.2 percent clip.

A 2003 inductee into the Central Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, Bonheim coached 35 All-Americans, including eight at the NCAA level. Twenty-one of his grapplers went on to win NCCAA national titles. Bonheim, who also served four years as a defensive line coach for the football program, helped wrestling move from NCCAA to NCAA Division II, finishing fifth nationally during his final season as head coach in the Flames third year at the new level.

Brenda Bonheim (Volleyball and Women's Basketball Coach/SWA: 1975-2000)
2013 Hall of Fame Inductee

Brenda Bonheim was a pioneer for women’s athletics at then Liberty Baptist College when she arrived in Lynchburg in 1973 and championed women’s athletics during her 26 year association with the athletics department.

Bonheim helped start the women’s basketball (1975-76) and volleyball (1976) programs, serving as both program’s inaugural head coach. She also was Liberty’s first-ever Senior Woman Administrator, serving in the administrative position from 1977 until she retired from athletics in 2000.

Bonheim, along with Dr. Linda Farver (women’s basketball coach from 1977-86), helped initiate Liberty’s membership into the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), where Liberty’s women’s programs competed until the entire athletics department made the transition to full Division I status in 1988.

Bonheim joins her husband, Bob Bonheim, in the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame. Bob was a member of the inaugural Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame Class in 2009, honoring his efforts as an assistant football coach and head wrestling coach.

Sid Bream (Baseball: 1979-81)
2009 Hall of Fame Inductee

Sid Bream was one of Liberty’s first true athletic stars, earning NAIA and NABC All-America honors during his time at first base for the baseball program. He still holds seven different baseball program records, including the career mark for both batting average (.435) and slugging percentage (.830).

Bream was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 1981 MLB Draft. The 12-year major leaguer and the 1990 Hutch Award winner, Bream helped the Pittsburgh Pirates to the National League Championship Series in 1990 and the Atlanta Braves to back-to-back World Series appearances in 1991 and 1992.

Feature Article on Sid Bream:
Mt. Holly Springs' Bream slid his way into baseball history
Story provided by The Sentinel Cumberlink.com (Oct. 6, 2013)

Theresa Bream (Women's Basketball: 1987-90/Volleyball: 1990-93)
2010 Hall of Fame Inductee

Theresa Bream was Liberty’s first true female standout student-athlete, as the two-sport athlete excelled on the basketball and volleyball courts for the Lady Flames from 1987 to 1993. Despite nearly two decades elapsing between her playing days and her induction, Bream is still the owner of three volleyball program records and two women’s basketball program marks.

Around the nets, Bream was a dominating force and is one of only two student-athletes in program history to earn AVCA All-Region honors. She is also the only player in program history to rank inside the Top 5 of four different key volleyball statistical categories.

On the basketball hardwood, Bream finished her career by averaging a double-double (11.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game), and is one of only three student-athletes to accomplish the feat in program history. The two-time team captain is a member of the Lady Flames’ 500-500 club for career points (589) and rebounds (536).

Bream excelled as an athlete away from Liberty Mountain and on the world scene, as she was an alternate for the U.S. Olympic handball team in 1992. The Mt. Holly Springs, Pa., native is the sister of Sid Bream, a member of Liberty’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2009.

Jesse Castro (Wrestling – 1977-81)

2012 Hall of Fame Inductee

Jesse Castro, a four-time NCCAA national champion (1977-78-79-81), was one of a handful of athletes that helped a start-up wrestling program quickly emerge to become a national powerhouse.

One of eight wrestlers in program history to enter the Eagle Medal Gold Club (100 career victories), the 142-pounder finished his four-year stay on Liberty Mountain with a 101-20-2 record and the highest career winning percentage among 100-career winners (82.9 percent).

During his time on the mat, Castro helped the Flames win four of their five NCCAA national team championships (1977, 1978, 1979 and 1981), culminating in 1981 when Liberty also finished 18th at the NAIA national championship.

Castro returned to his alma mater in 2005 to restart the wrestling program for its five-year run at the NCAA Division I level (2006-10). Castro was named NCAA East Region Coach of the Year four times, guiding the Flames to five consecutive NCAA East Region titles and sending 24 individual wrestlers to the NCAA Division I national championship.

Mark Chafin (Men's Basketball: 1975-78)
2012 Hall of Fame Inductee

Mark Chafin finished his four years racing up and down the basketball court as Liberty’s all-time leading scorer (1,951 career point), a figure that stood until it was surpassed by fellow Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Karl Hess two years later.

Chafin was a three-year starter, earning NCCAA all-district team honors in 1975, 1976 and 1977 and honorable-mention honors in 1978.

Chafin was one of Liberty’s most prolific scorers and the program’s most accurate shooters during his last three seasons with the program. He finished his career with a 45.8 field goal shooting percentage (783-of-1709) and a 73.6 shooting percentage from the charity stripe (381-of-517).

Chafin, who is an active participant in his sport as a NCAA Division I referee, still currently ranks among the program’s leaders in scoring, field goals, free throws and steals (225).

Nancy (Davis) White (Women's Soccer: 1998-2001)
2013 Hall of Fame Inductee

In just four short years, Nancy (Davis) White helped turn Liberty’s women’s soccer team into a conference championship program. Prior to her arrival in 1998, Liberty had posted a 2-30 record in Big South play over a six-year span. However, White’s success on the pitch would eventually lead the Lady Flames to their first two Big South titles (2000 and 2001).

White’s career numbers far surpass any other in program history. She is the program’s all-time scoring leader with 106 points (second on the list has 55 career points) and 43 goals scored (second on the list has 24 goals).

In 2000, Liberty captured the program’s first-ever Big South title and advanced in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship with a Play-In game victory over Tennessee Tech. That season, Liberty set a program mark for wins with its 15-7 overall record.

The native of Modesto, Calif., was a four-time Big South All-Conference team member (1988-99-00-01), a three-time Big South all-tournament team selection and the 2000 Big South Championship MVP. In the classroom, she was honored as a CoSIDA Academic All-District team member, as well as the Big South Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2001.

Jerry Edwards (Radio Play-by-Play: 1981-2010)
2011 Hall of Fame Inductee

Broadcasting his first Flames football game just after the opening of the 1981 season, Jerry Edwards went on to serve as the radio “Voice of the Flames” for 29 years. He broadcast Liberty football, men’s basketball and baseball games during his three decades behind the microphone.

Edwards aired more than 300 football and 800 men’s basketball broadcasts, having traveled as far as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico to cover Liberty athletics programs. During his time calling the action, he only missed one football game and just a handful of men’s basketball games.

After moving to Lynchburg, Va., in 1979 to attend the Liberty Bible Institute, Edwards broadcast his first game in the radio booth on the Flames Sports Network on Sept. 12, 1981, from Salisbury, N.C., for Liberty’s football game at Catawba. He was on hand to report all the action of some of the most memorable athletics events in program history, including football’s first FBS victory over Eastern Michigan, 25-24, in Ypsilanti, Mich., in 1989 and Liberty’s two men’s basketball NCAA Tournament appearances in 1994 and 2004.

Edwards still serves as the general manager for WRVL and the Victory Radio Network and he hosts “The Morning Full of Music” on the station. The radio broadcasting booth inside the Williams Stadium Tower is named in his honor.

Kelvin Edwards (Football: 1982-85)
2009 Hall of Fame Inductee

Kelvin Edwards helped the athletics department’s flagship program make the move to the NCAA ranks, as the wide receiver shined for the football program during a star-studded four-year career. A 1985 Associated Press Little All-America first-team honoree and Blue-Gray Football Game participant, Edwards still holds the program records for career receiving yards (2,546) and career receiving touchdowns (24).

Upon graduating from Liberty, Edwards became Liberty’s second-highest NFL draft pick, when he was selected in the fourth round of the 1984 draft by the New Orleans Saints. His three-year professional football career was spotlighted when he was a starting wide-out for the Dallas Cowboys.
 

Gina Gibson (Women's Track and Field: 1982-85)
2010 Hall of Fame Inductee

Gina Gibson was a five-time All-American, earning such distinctive honors in the track and field disciplines of long jump and the 4x100 relay. She had the honor of helping Liberty circle the track for the first time at two different competitive levels, as Liberty moved to the NAIA level during her freshman year and to the NCAA Division II level as a junior.

Gibson was Liberty’s first female student-athlete to earn All-America honors at the AIAW and NCAA Division II levels. As a freshman, she placed sixth at the AIAW Division II Championships in the long jump and was part of a fifth-place 4x100 relay team at the same outdoor meet.

In 1983, the Nassau, Bahamas, native placed fourth at the NCAA Division II outdoor championship, helping her claim the second of four career long jump All-America honors. The next year, Gibson was a three-time event winner at the Mason-Dixon Conference meet and was named the event’s co-MVP.

Despite the long-standing success of Liberty’s track and field teams, Gibson still holds the program’s indoor and outdoor long jump records (19-1.25/20-0.25 feet).

If she were still actively competing today, Gibson would be considered one of the best, as only one student-athlete in the 26-year history of the Big South Conference has eclipsed the 20-foot mark in the long jump.

Lee Guetterman (Baseball: 1978-81)
2010 Hall of Fame Inductee

Having only been in existence for two years and already having two former baseball student-athletes in the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame speaks to the considerable success of the program. Lee Guetterman played a large part in that success. The left-handed pitcher set the tone from the mound early on for the Flames.

During a highly successful four-year stint in a Liberty uniform, Guetterman set benchmarks that still stand three decades later. He is Liberty’s all-time career leader in games started (47), complete games (30), shutouts (7), wins (29) and innings pitched (334.2). Additionally, his 3.07 career ERA ranks second in school history, while his 220 strikeouts are sixth on Liberty’s all-time listings.

Not just a dominating force on the mound, Guetterman certainly helped out his own cause at the plate. He posted a .325 career batting average, with 108 RBIs, 33 doubles, 12 triples, 11 home runs and 82 runs scored. The impressive statistics helped the Oceanside, Calif., native to earn NAIA All-America first-team honors as a senior in 1981.

After finishing his career with the Flames, Guetterman was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round of the 1981 MLB Draft. An 11-year career saw him play for the Mariners, New York Yankees, New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals. He was one of the more consistent relief pitchers of his time, as he made 425 professional mound appearances and 23 starts.

Karl Hess (Men’s Basketball: 1977-80)
2009 Hall of Fame Inductee

Along with Sid Bream, Karl Hess helped put Liberty Athleics on the national scene. He became the men’s basketball program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,373 points and dazzled fans on the hardwood. Hess capped off his four-year career at Liberty by leading the Flames to a 28-11 and an NCCAA national championship in 1980, earning tournament MVP honors during the event.

The CoSIDA Academic All-America first-team honoree still holds 12 program records, including six career standards. Still active in the game, Hess is now considered to be one of the nation’s top referee’s, primarily officiating ACC, BIG EAST and SEC men’s basketball games. In 2007, he served as the crew chief for the national championship game between Florida and Ohio State.
 

Robby Justino (Football: 1989-92)
2013 Hall of Fame Inductee

During his four years with the Flames, Robby Justino set the standard that all other Liberty quarterbacks will look to aspire to during their time in a Liberty football jersey.

Justino’s career passing yards of 9,548 yards is more than 2,000 yards ahead of the next quarterback on the career list. He finished his career as Liberty’s all-time leader in career completions (769), attempts (1,267), passing touchdowns (64), total offensive yards (8,806), most plays (1,469) and total touchdowns (66).

Justino, a native of Green Cove Spring, Fla., led the Flames to the program’s first-ever victory over an FBS opponent, helping Liberty upset Eastern Michigan, 25-24, in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Oct. 21. 1989. The contest was his first career start, as he stepped in for an injured Paul Johnson to lead the Flames to the momentous victory.

During his sophomore (3,076 yards) and junior (3,176 yards) years, Justino posted two of the programs three 3,000 yard passing seasons. He also holds a program record with 26 career 250-yard games and 11 career 300-yard games.

Elena (Kisseleva) Bengds (Women’s Basketball: 1997-2000)
2009 Hall of Fame Inductee

Elena (Kisseleva) Bengds helped turn a fledgling women’s basketball program into one of the Big South Conference’s longest-running dynasties. During her magnificent four-year career, the Moscow, Russia, native led the Lady Flames to four-straight league titles and the first four of 10-straight NCAA Tournament berths.

The two-time Big South Player of the Year still lays claim to 12 program records, including the career mark for points scored (2,154) and minutes played (3,860). During the 1997-98 season, Bengds helped the Lady Flames enter the 1998 NCAA Tournament with an unblemished 28-0 record, where they faced eventual national champion Tennessee in the only NCAA Tournament matchup of two unbeaten programs in women’s basketball history.

Heather (Sagan) Zealand (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field: 1999-2002)
2011 Hall of Fame Inductee

Heather (Sagan) Zealand was Liberty’s first Division I national champion and one of two female track and field student-athletes to capture All-America honors. She was named the 2002 Virginia NCAA Woman of the Year and Eastern Track Athlete of the Year after winning the NCAA Division I Indoor national championship in the women’s mile and earning All-America honors with a second place finish in the outdoor 1500.

The distance runner also was named to the 2002 CoSIDA Academic All-American women’s cross country/track and field team and USTFCCCA Division I Women’s Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She became the first collegiate athlete since 1987 to capture the Olympic Development mile title that year at the Penn Relays. She was a 14-time Big South champion, the most by any female student-athlete in program history.

The native of Warrenton, Va., was a two-time Big South Outstanding Women’s Track Performer and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She still holds five Liberty records, including three Big South records in the indoor mile run (4:38.52), indoor distance medley relay (11:52.36) and outdoor 1500 run (4:14.71).

After graduation, the track and field standout represented the United States at the 2003 World Cross Country Championships and made the 1500 finals at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. She was a nine-year member of the Flames Track and Field and Cross Country coaching staffs, coaching the program from 2002-10.

John Sanders (Football: 1979-82)
2012 Hall of Fame Inductee

John Sanders was one of Liberty’s first dominate defensive players on the football field. He is the only player in program history to finish his career with 100 or more tackles all four seasons he took to the gridiron.

Sanders finished his stay on Liberty Mountain with 550 career stops, a mark that leads all career tacklers in program history and is 123 stops ahead of No. 2 on the all-time career tackles list (Mickey Paige – 427 career tackles).

Sanders was a four-time winner of Liberty’s “Big Hit” award and earned AFCA (Kodak) first-team All-America honors as a senior. He also was named to the NAIA all-district defensive team (District 29) and the NAIA honorable-mention All-America team in 1982.

In 1979, Sanders was a part of a Liberty team that posted a 9-1-1 record, the first of three seasons where the Flames finished a year with nine or more victories. Sanders, who took the 1981 season off, helped Liberty post a combined 27-13-2 record during his four years on the field, with three seasons of seven or more victories.

Chip Smith (Football/Baseball: 1974-76)
2010 Hall of Fame Inductee

Chip Smith quickly helped jumpstart Liberty’s athletics program as the department’s first-ever athletics standout when the football program first hit the gridiron in 1973.

Smith was Liberty’s first scholarship football recipient and was the first Flame to cross the goal line during Liberty’s inaugural game against Massanutten Military on Sept. 27, 1973. Adding to his list of “firsts,” Smith was the program’s first-ever team captain, MVP, leading rusher, scoring leader and letterwinner, garnering those honors all four years he donned a Liberty uniform (1973-76).

Because Liberty did not start playing a full varsity schedule until the 1976 season, several of Smith’s notable performances are not officially included in Liberty’s record book, as the NCAA does not recognize statistics against junior varsity and prep school opponents.

Had all of Smith’s games officially counted, the standout would have amassed 15 100-yard rushing performances, 208 career points, 33 rushing touchdowns, 3,342 career rushing yards and averaged 101.3 rushing yards per game.

All of these figures would rank in the Flames’ Top 5 in each statistical category. He still holds the program mark for the longest touchdown run (86 yards) and highest average rushing yards per carry in a game (19.8), with both records coming against Ferrum on Nov. 13, 1976, his final career outing.

Besides his gridiron accomplishments, Smith also holds the distinction of being Liberty’s first team captain for the baseball program. He also led the program with a .454 batting average and was a four-year letterwinner (1973-76).

Smith continues to flourish in the sport that made him a Liberty star. He is currently the owner and founder of Competitive Edge Sports (CES). The organization, based in Duluth, Ga., is widely recognized as one of the world’s elite sports performance training centers.

Sharon (Snodgrass) May (Women's Basketball: 1979-82)
2012 Hall of Fame Inductee

After joining the women’s basketball program as a walk-on student-athlete, Sharon (Snodgrass) May became the Lady Flames’ first-ever standout on the hardwood during her four-year career.

May is one of only three players in program history to finish their careers with more than 1,000 career points and rebounds. She joins WNBA players Katie Feenstra and Avery Warley, as Snodgrass finished her career with 1,169 career points scored and 1,026 career rebounds.

During her senior season, May became the first female in athletics department history to be awarded the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award, Liberty’s highest athletics honor. She also became the program’s first-ever VAIAW Division II all-state honoree, earning a spot on the all-state squad after averaging 12.9 points and 9.9 rebounds in 1981-82.

May is the only Lady Flame ever to average a double-double for her entire career, having scored an average of 11.7 points per game and pulling down an average of 10.3 boards per contest.

Ryan Werner (Men's Track & Field: 1992-96)
2012 Hall of Fame Inductee

Ryan Werner is one of the men’s track & field program’s most decorated student-athletes, becoming Liberty’s first three-time All-America decathlete in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

Werner’s then program record of 7,662 decathlon points was a mark that stood for more than 13 seasons, spanning a time where four other Liberty athletes earned All-America honors in the same track discipline.

A 1996 Rock Royer/Mac Rivera award winner, Werner was the first athlete in program history to earn an IC4A title in 1992 (decathlon) and would go on to win a total of five IC4A titles during his Liberty career.

One of only four four-year members of Liberty’s 100-Point Club, Werner became Liberty’s first-ever inductee into the Big South Conference Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 2007. He was a two-time Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year and helped the Flames capture men’s outdoor titles in the Big South in 1994, 1995 and 1996 and an IC4A title in 1996.

Al Worthington (Baseball Coach: 1974-86/Athletics Director: 1983-89)
2010 Hall of Fame Inductee

Al Worthington used the knowledge gained from 19 years of playing major league baseball and his passion for Christ to help him become one of Liberty’s first coaching legends.

Following a three-year standout career at Alabama, Worthington played for five different major league programs, including a five-year stint with the Minnesota Twins. He became that team’s first true closer with 110 career saves.

In 1974, Worthington came to Lynchburg to start Liberty’s baseball program. His 13-year coaching stint enabled him to become the winningest coach in program history and finish with a 64.4 winning percentage (343-189-1). Following the first year of the program, Liberty never again had a losing record during the final dozen years under Worthington’s tutelage.

During his time at the head of the program, Worthington coached four All-Americans and nine players who went on to play professional baseball, including Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame inductees Sid Bream (2009) and Lee Guetterman (2010).

On May 3, 1986, Dr. Jerry Falwell named Liberty’s baseball facility Worthington Stadium. Liberty would go on to win that day, 19-3, against Maryland, capping off Worthington’s stellar 13-year coaching career.

On Dec., 19, 1983, Worthington was named Liberty’s fifth Director of Athletics, a role he held until he retired in 1989. During the final years of his tenure at Liberty, Worthington helped usher Liberty Athletics into the NCAA Division I ranks on Sept. 1, 1988.