Liberty pays homage to former Flames

The fourth class of athletes was inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame in a private ceremony Friday, Sept. 21. A nine-person committee chaired by Director of Athletics Marketing Kevin Keys was tasked with selecting each new class of hall of famers. The 2012 class of athletes includes Jesse Castro, Mark Chafin, John Sanders, Sharon (Snodgrass) May and Ryan Werner.

The Hall of Fame began in 2009 under the direction of Athletic Director
Jeff Barber.

It was initiated for the purpose of honoring those coaches, athletes and other key figures in Liberty athletics that have and are continuing to use an athletic platform to fulfill Liberty’s mission of reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What separates this class from the rest is that all of this year’s athletes were pioneers in their sport. They played in days before guaranteed scholarships, competitive facilities and many of the other amenities that Liberty athletes enjoy today.

Jesse Castro: Wrestling

Castro on award: “To be mentioned among some of Liberty’s greats is very meaningful to me … To see where we are now and where we came from, I think it’s a fulfillment of Dr. Falwell’s vision, and to be part of that is just very humbling.”

– Competed in the 142-pound weight class.

– One of only eight athletes in Liberty history to gain entrance to the Eagle Medal Gold Club for wrestlers earning at least 100 victories.

– His career win ratio of 83 percent is the best in school history among those with at least 100 matches.

– Returned to Liberty as a coach in 2005 and led the Flames to five consecutive NCAA East Region titles, earning NCAA East Region Coach of the Year four times.

Sharon (Snodgrass) May: Basketball (1979-1982)

May on being back at Liberty: “I’m just so amazed and so proud of how this campus has grown. I’m proud that I was able to be a student here at Liberty, and the honor is just wonderful.”

– One of only three players in the history of the program to record over 1,000 career points and rebounds. She averaged a double-double every game.

– First female athlete to be awarded the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award given to an outstanding graduating senior that displays excellence on the field and in the classroom.

– Played in a time when Liberty had no home court. There were no scholarships, and women’s basketball and volleyball shared one set of uniforms.

John Sanders: Football

Sanders on being back at Liberty: “It looks like they took a bulldozer and just bulldozed everything that was here when I started out and erected a whole new campus. I’m just overwhelmed with the facilities and how nice the campus is.”

On his induction: “When I first stepped on campus here, that was the farthest thing from my mind that I would be honored in such a way here at Liberty,” Sanders said.

-Only player in program history to go over the century mark in tackles in each of his four seasons on the field.

-Finished career with 550 career tackles — a total that 30 years later remains 123 ahead of the next closest defender on the list.

Mark Chafin: Basketball

Chafin on award: “In terms of athletics, it’s just the greatest honor of my life. I never dreamed of this kind of honor, this kind of presentation.”

Chafin on Liberty: “Liberty is where he found “the Lord of my life, the love of my life (wife), and learned how to parent the joys of my life (kids).”

– Left Liberty as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1951 points.

– Three-time National Christian College Athletic Association all-district team honoree.

– Among the most accurate shooters in Liberty history, with a 46 percent field goal shooting percentage and a 73.6 percent percentage from the free-throw line.

– Continues to be involved in basketball as a NCAA Division I referee.

Ryan Werner: Track & Field (1992-1996)

On his induction: “I just like to run, you know? I never thought about hall of fame. All I wanted to do was run and train in my decathlon events. I just went for it with all I had and had pretty good success. I feel outclassed among the other people here, but I’m really honored and humbled to be here.”

– Liberty’s first-ever three time All-America decathlete 1994-1996.

– 1996 Rock Royer/Mac Rivera award winner.

– Left Liberty as the record holder in decathlon points with 7662. The mark stood for 13 years.

– Liberty’s first ever athlete to be selected to the Big South Conference Hall of Fame in 2007.

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