Athletic department inducts eight new members into its Hall of Fame

Media Credit: Jordyn Bailer | Assistant Photo Editor

The induction ceremony for the Class of 2022 took place at the Betts Theatre Friday night where the audience, including top administrators, former inductees, current student-athletes and friends and family of this year's inductees.

The athletics department inducted eight members into the GW Athletics Hall of Fame Friday, starring the historic 1993 Sweet Sixteen men’s basketball team and the first three Black athletes who integrated GW sports.

The induction ceremony for the Class of 2022 was held at the Betts Theatre Friday night where the audience was made up of top administrators, former inductees, current GW athletes and friends and family of this year’s inductees. The yearly induction ceremony honors the most consequential athletes who have worn the Buff and Blue.

To open the induction ceremony, Athletic Director Tanya Vogel highlighted the importance of GW sports programs to the University as a whole and recognized all the inductees for their place in the evolution of Colonial athletics.

Vogel introduced interim University President Mark Wrighton, who said his own experience cheering on the Buff and Blue has been a major highlight of his tenure and spoke to the three first inductees of the 2022 class, Norman Neverson, Robert “Rocky” Wright and Garland Pinkston for their role in the integration of GW athletics and the University at large.

“I’m very proud that we cherish the role of students here at GW and those who devote themselves to their athletic talent,” Wrighton said at the ceremony. “And I’m really proud that we have such a strong program of student athletes.”

Norman Neverson, who graduated in 1967, became the first-ever Black student-athlete to receive an athletic scholarship from GW in 1963, when he enrolled as a freshman during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and the same year he joined the March on Washington. Neverson, who was unable to attend the ceremony, paved the way for Black athletes at GW for generations as one of the most consequential student-athletes in the University’s history.

Basketball forward Robert “Rocky” Wright ‘66, whose family was there to receive the award, played an equally important role in the integration of GW athletics as he was the first Black basketball player to make the team in 50 years. At the time, freshmen were not allowed to play varsity under NCAA rules, but he paved the way for the next inductee, Garland Pinkston.

Pinkston was the first Colonial basketball player to be awarded a scholarship. Sporting number 52 for the Buff and Blue, Pinkston graduated with a degree in business administration in 1970.

The first inductee recognized in attendance was soccer forward Diane Rose Kelly, part of the class of 1989, who led women’s soccer to their first period of major success, while smashing the single-season record for goals and points in her first year at GW. Kelly’s 44 career goals and 96 career points rank second of all time despite just two seasons for the Colonials, after transferring from Mercer Community College.

Vogel sat down with each inductee in attendance for a brief discussion about their time at GW after they were presented their plaque commemorating their induction.

“We would practice down at the reflecting pool area at the Mall,” Kelly said. “And we just bonded, a lot of those moments were really just bonding and laughing.”

Danny Rouhier, part of the class of 2003, played first base for four years at GW, underscored by an All A-10 selection in 2000 after the Colonials won 37 games as part of Hall of Fame Head Coach Tom Walter’s first recruiting class. Rouhier graduated in 2003 after setting the then-career record for RBIs, still ranking third in the category and home runs.

Rouhier is now a co-host at 106.7 The Fan for the D.C. Wide WJFK sports radio network and tours as a stand-up comedian.

“If you had told me back then that one day I would be standing up here as a Hall of Fame inductee, I would have said ‘obviously’ because I was arrogant at the time,” Rouhier said.

The next inductee was basketball forward Noeila Gomez from the class of 1998, GW’s all-time career average scoring leader in women’s basketball with 18 points per game. In 1998, she averaged 19.6 points per game and was named the A-10 Player of the Year after already participating in two conference titles and two NCAA appearances.

“It’s really an honor to be here today after so many years,” Gomez said. “I have so many good memories in this university and I can really feel the warmth from the people when I remember those days.”

The seventh inductee, wrestler Chris Peterson ‘87 ranks second all time in career points at GW with 320. He won the now-dissolved Capitol Collegiate Conference, a small collection of D.C. and Virginia schools, in both 1986 and 1987. Peterson was only the fourth wrestler in Colonial history to achieve 100 wins.

“You know it’s really the memories of staying in hotels and late nights and early morning Sunday practices after we had lost a dual meet,” Peterson said. “And everyone smelled like beer, I can say that now, and all the people memories, those bonds just don’t go away.”

Inductee Karen Ercole joined the athletic department as an academic advisor in 1991 and, after multiple promotions, she rose to the role of Associate Athletics Director for Educational Support Services in 2011. Even before 2000, Ercole was responsible for academic support for more than 400 student athletes, including the 1993 men’s basketball team.

To conclude the Hall of Fame ceremony, coach Mike Jarvis, part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2008, inducted the 1993 men’s basketball team into the GW hall. The team’s run to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 marks the furthest men’s basketball has ever advanced toward collegiate basketball’s highest honor in the national NCAA tournament.

The famed run by the 12-seed Colonials staged two major upsets against fifth-seeded New Mexico and second-round opponent Southern University, before narrowly falling to Michigan’s Fab Five team, who lost in the championship matchup.

The ceremony honored those athletes who have played a critical role in the development of GW sports. The 2022 class’ induction was delayed twice due to the pandemic but will go down in history as one of the most decorated ever.

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