2011 Hall of Fame Class
(Left to Right): Fred Banks, Bill Bell, Paul Annan, Heather (Sagan) Zealand), and Jerry Edwards
(Men’s Soccer – 1982-85)
Paul Annan was a two-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).
A co-captain of the Ghana Amateur National team before attending Liberty, Annan 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 1984, 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). He currently works as a Fixed Assets Accounting Controller for a Mercedes Benz dealership in Birmingham, Ala., after earning his MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson in 2001.
(Football – 1982-84)
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.
(Men’s Soccer Coach – 1980-2000)
One of two coaches in Liberty Athletics history to guide his program for 20 or more seasons, Bell was integral in the men’s soccer program’s growth, as it moved from the NCCAA to NCAA Division I level competition and find 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.
(Radio Play-by-Play – 1981-2010)
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 station manager for WRVL and hosts “The Morning Full of Music” on the station. The radio broadcasting booth inside the Williams Stadium Tower is named in his honor.
Heather (Sagan) Zealand
(Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field – 1999-2002)
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 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 is a nine-year member of the Flames Track and Field and Cross Country coaching staffs and currently serves as a volunteer assistant coach with the program.