Making it into any hall of fame is an accomplishment few people ever have the chance to brag about.
This year, GW’s athletic department inducted six new members to its elite group from a wide range of sports and classes. The oldest inductee is Larry “Tex” Silverman, a basketball player from the class of 1953. The most recent graduate is Jennifer Shasky, a women’s basketball player who graduated in 1993.
Other inductees were Corinne Oravec (’87), of the women’s volleyball team; Gregg Ritchie (’86), from the baseball team; Jim Rota, the head wrestling coach from 1977 to 1989; and Mike Zagardo, a 1980 graduate and basketball player.
The new inductees increased the number of GW Hall of Fame members to 87.
Silverman came to GW from New Jersey as part of the class of 1953. He played freshman basketball during his first year before completing three successful varsity seasons. As a junior, Silverman was named the team’s most valuable player and also was placed on the All-Southern Conference third team. During the 1952 and 1953 seasons, Silverman was the team captain. After his graduation, the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) drafted him. However, Silverman was also drafted into the army, where he served for two years.
“GW provided me an opportunity to form relationships with people from all over the country,” Silverman said. “Not only was I receiving a good education, but I was exposed to new ideas and thoughts.”
In watching the team progress over the past 45 years, Silverman has seen the team have its ups and downs. He said he feels the team currently is on an upswing with head coach Tom Penders at the helm.
Silverman has been a major donor to the athletic program at GW – the Smith Center’s basketball court was named after him late last year.
Shasky, the most recent graduate of the inductees, played basketball from 1990 to 1993. Shasky set several records (which have since been broken) and earned many honors. During her career at GW, she netted 1,643 points and was given the most valuable player award for the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament in 1992.
Oravec played volleyball for the Colonial women from 1983 to 1986. During her years at GW, she set many records and earned several honors. In 1986, she was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference and All-Tournament second team. Oravec is still third in the record book for assists in a single season and fourth in attack percentage for a single season. She is also fourth on the list of career assists and seventh in career blocks. Oravec was instrumental in her four years in helping the Colonial women earn a record of 107-46.
After leaving GW, Oravec continued to play volleyball in the region until her pregnancy in 1997.
“I learned how to deal with life by juggling sports and academics,” Oravec said.
In addition to playing volleyball, she made several lifelong friends and met her husband at GW.
Last year, Oravec was nominated along with three other volleyball players, but she said she was surprised GW named her to the Hall of Fame.
Ritchie is a Washington-area native who played baseball for the Colonials from 1982 to 1986. In 1986, Ritchie was the team’s most valuable player, the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year and was named to the all-America third team by the National Baseball Coaches Association. For three of his four seasons, he was named to the all-conference team as an outfielder. During his four seasons, Ritchie led the team twice with batting averages of .492 and .390.
Ritchie said he looks back at his time with the Colonials with pride and pleasure. He said the baseball program came back to life during his tenure.
“They (the coaches) brought older players, players from junior college who were used to winning and talented freshmen,” he said.
Ritchie still keeps in contact with his teammates by leading hitting clinics during his off-time.
Rota coached the GW wrestling team from 1977-1989. During that time, he took a new team and turned it into a respectable program, which drew and produced high-quality wrestlers.
Zagardo played for the men’s basketball team from 1977-1980. He accumulated 1,418 points and was twice named the team’s most valuable player.