President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg was one of five new members inducted into the GW Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday night. The five inductees joined 131 other Colonials who have been inducted since 1959.
Trachtenberg was honored alongside former men’s golf coach W. Scott Allen, ex-volleyball star Liu Li, and former basketball standouts Mike Battle and Myriah Lonergan Cain.
During his 19 years as president, Trachtenberg oversaw more NCAA tournament appearances by Colonials teams (41) than any other president in the University’s history.
During a speech introducing Trachtenberg, Senior Vice President of Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak joked that Trachtenberg would be inducted first so as not to embarrass him after hearing all the athletic accomplishments of the other inductees. Chernak credited Trachtenberg with a tremendous expansion of both men’s and women’s teams thanks to a University President with “buff and blue running through his veins.”
Trachtenberg said he was honored to be inducted alongside four outstanding athletes and proud of his new place in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m a member of Phi Beta Kappa but was never elected, people call me doctor but I never earned a doctorate and now I’m in the Athletic Hall of Fame. As my mother used to say, ‘America is a wonderful place. You can do anything if you play your cards right,” he said.
Allen, a three-time GW golf captain and the winningest golf coach in the program’s 80-year history, said the selflessness of his players and the support the team received led to his success as both a player and a coach.
“This is a big honor for me. At a lot of schools the golf program often flies under the radar. It means a lot to me that GW would recognize me and the golf program in this way,” he said after accepting his award.
Under Allen, the golf team made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 60 years in 2006.
Battle, a 1973 alumnus, was a physical power forward who often had to guard future NBA stars such as Julius Erving. Former GW teammate Randy Click introduced him as an “enforcer” who combined aggressive physical play with sharp mental ability.
Battle said he played as a “survivor” who often drew the toughest defensive assignments. He said he was shocked and blessed to have earned a place in the hall of fame.
Cain, another basketball star, played for the women’s team from 1992 to 1996 and reached three NCAA tournaments, including the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance in 1995.
She said that in addition to her athletic accomplishments, she is proud of the personal growth that GW fostered.
“I came here as a headstrong, authority-challenging young woman who could only see the world in black and white and I left as a young woman with a greater understanding of all the shades of gray,” she said.
Rounding out the 2010 inductees was Liu, a women’s volleyball star who graduated in 1996 and was named the Atlantic 10 player of the year in 1994. That year and the next, the Colonials took the A-10 championship and won a first-round game in the NCAA tournament.
Former women’s volleyball coach Susie Homan discussed the obstacles that came with bringing Liu to the team as an international recruit. When Liu arrived, she spoke very little English and spent twenty hours a week taking English as a Second Language classes.
“The experience at GW as a student athlete helped me grow and mature and has continued to sustain me as I make my home in this country,” she said. ” I will forever treasure my selection for this great honor.”