2021 Year In Review
2021 was another unique year in our history, a history that stretches back to 1966! Regardless of the unprecedented circumstances, we have continued to carry out our mission of honoring athletic excellence and using sports as a philanthropic platform. Looking ahead, the Hall is thrilled to return to a sense of normalcy. Our October Golf Classic fundraiser for the Hall of Fame Foundation and the Student-Athlete Achievement Awards was a resounding success. In January 2022 we will host an evening event in Virginia Beach, Call to the Hall with Bob Dandridge, to celebrate his recent induction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. And this coming April we will host our first induction events since 2019. An unprecedented celebration that will create lasting memories for sports fans across Virginia.
Below, you will find a Year in Review for the Hall of Fame. Please invest 10 minutes of your time to read about all the exciting programs and initiatives the Hall has pursued in 2021 and will continue to pursue. All of this is to show that the Hall of Fame has a role to play in honoring the state’s athletic legacy, while also keeping an eye towards the future.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization our success is not ours alone. It is a direct result of our supporters. I ask, if you are able, please consider renewing your support for the official sports Hall of Fame in the Commonwealth. Whether it is through an Insider membership, or a tax-exempt donation to our Supporters Circle, every dollar counts. Enclosed with this letter is information on how you can continue supporting the 501 (c)(3) Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Foundation.
There is so much excitement around the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and the future is becoming brighter by the day. I take great pride in how the Hall has navigated the challenges of the past 2 years, but our work is not done. We want to continue serving Virginia for many years to come. I ask that you help us do just that, and whatever you do Participate Don’t Spectate!
Student-Athlete Achievement Awards
The Hall began 2021 continuing our support for Virginia’s student-athletes, with our annual Student-Athlete Achievement Awards. The event, held virtually, honored the 16 finalists selected from over 100 nominations for our 2020 scholarship awards. Each student-athlete personified excellence academically, athletically, and in their communities. Four student-athletes were selected as the Student-Athletes of the Year, and were each the recipients of a $1,500 scholarship award:
- Caroline Bowe, 12th Grade, Midlothian High School, Midlothian, VA
- Nina Dao, 12th Grade, Ocean Lakes High School, Virginia Beach, VA
- Joseph Kagel, 12th Grade, Catholic High School, Virginia Beach, VA
- Matthew McEwen, 12th Grade, Churchland High School, Portsmouth, VA
The remaining 12 finalists did not go home empty-handed. Through our annual Golf Classic fundraiser in 2020, and the support of donors and sponsors, the Hall of Fame was able to award each of the 12 additional finalists a $500 scholarship award. In total the Hall awarded $12,000 in scholarships to Virginia’s student-athletes, an increase from $4,000 the year prior.
Looking ahead, we have received over 100 nominations again for this year’s Student-Athlete Achievement Awards and will be selecting the finalists in December. The awards reception will take place Sunday February 6, 2022, in Norfolk, VA and I am pleased to say that because of the contributions received from our supporters, we will be able to match the $12,000 awarded this past year. The Hall takes great pride in supporting Virginia’s student-athletes, and we appreciate all who have helped with that support.
The 16 finalists for the 2020 Student-Athlete Achievement Awards are featured in a photo wall exhibit on our Walk the Hall Tour in Town Center of Virginia Beach. The photo exhibit is housed in the Westin Hotel and features multiple photos of each finalist playing their sport(s).
The Hall’s 2021 Student-Athletes of the Year will be recognized on Sunday February 6, 2022 at our Scholarship Awards Reception.
Sports and Mental Health Platform
The Hall of Fame began its community initiative focused on sports and mental health in the Summer of 2019. In 2020 we formed a partnership with the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and the Hampton Roads Sports Commission to increase our resources and reach regarding this important topic. While the pandemic hindered our ability to support in-person events for much of 2020 and 2021, it did not stop us from hosting multiple online forums as part of our Youth Sports: Coaching Positive Mental Health series to support mental wellness education for those involved in youth sports.
Through our Bench the Stigma and Who R U? discussion forums in 2021 we have helped increase the conversation around mental wellness for youth athletes, while also highlighting specific subject matter such as identity in sports. With the return of in-person gatherings, the Hall, CHKD, and the Sports Commission are actively planning information sessions with sports organizations in the Hampton Roads region.
I would like to thank Sam Fabian from CHKD, Claudell Clark from the Hampton Roads Sports Commission, Betsy Cutler from Cutler Wellness Programs, and Michael Cuddyer, 2018 VSHF Inductee, for their support and participation in this initiative.
#HallCall Interview Series
2021 saw our content platform the #HallCall Interview Series hit a milestone with our 50th episode in November, when we spoke to 2010 inductee Herman Moore about the legendary 1990 ACC football game between #1 Virginia and #16 Georgia Tech. The game itself was the subject of a recent documentary on the ACC Network titled We’re #1! The Story of 1990 ACC Football.
2021 #HallCall episodes featured a variety of sports figures speaking on a number of topics with connections to the Commonwealth. We highlighted events such as the Pure Silk Championship at Kingsmill, and the spring races at Richmond Raceway returning to Virginia after being cancelled in 2020. We looked at the past, present, and potential future of officiating in professional basketball through conversations with Tony Brothers and Chelisa Painter. We hosted a roundtable discussion with professional baseball executives from across the state as they returned to the diamond for the first time since 2019. And we had the chance to catch up with VSHF inductees Ralph Sampson, Beth Anders, Doug Doughty, and Michael Cuddyer among others.
We appreciate everyone who has tuned in to one of our Hall Call’s on Facebook Live or listened to it in its Hall Call Podcast form on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Soundcloud. Through #HallCall we aim to highlight all things sports in Virginia, and we look forward to doing just that with future episodes.
New Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Inductees
This November, the Honors Court Committee reconvened for the first time since 2019 to review nominations for induction into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall did not hold a vote for a 2021 induction class since the Class of 2020 had yet to formally be inducted. The pandemic forced the postponement/cancellation of our induction events in both 2020 and 2021, but we felt it was important to close the gap created by the pandemic, and vote on a partial class for 2022.
The Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors came to the decision to vote on a partial class after reviewing numerous potential scenarios including voting on a full class to join the Class of 2020, and not voting for a second straight year. Fortunately for Virginia’s sports fan the decision to not hold a vote for a second consecutive year received no support. The Board felt it was important to continue our core mission of honoring athletic excellence, and the decision to vote on a partial class to join the 2020 inductees was unanimous.
This group will be honored along with the Class of 2020 at Induction events, April 30, 2022. I am happy to announce, the Class of 2022 is as follows:
- William ‘Sonny’ Allen – ODU Men’s Basketball Head Coach 1965-1975. 1975 NCAA D-II National Champions. Architect of modern-day fast break offense.
- Jon Lugbill – Fairfax, VA. 5x Canoe-Slalom World Champion.
- Anthony Poindexter – Lynchburg, VA/University of Virginia. All-ACC/All-American Safety for Virginia Football. No. 3 jersey retired by the University of Virginia.
- Chris Warren – Fairfax, VA/Ferrum College. 11 NFL seasons. 3x Pro-Bowl selection. 9,631 yards from scrimmage and 57 touchdowns scored.
These four individuals will join the Class of 2020 as we celebrate Induction Weekend in April:
- Dennis Carter – Danville, VA. 37 years as WSET Sports Director
- Mike Cubbage – Charlottesville, VA. 50 years in professional baseball.
- Lawrence Johnson – Chesapeake, VA. 4x NCAA pole-vault champion. 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist.
- Bruce Rader – 42 years as WAVY-TV Sports Director.
- Tracy Saunders – Suffolk, VA. 2x All-American, the 1991 NCAA Division-II Player of the Year, and the 1991 Honda Award recipient for Norfolk State Women’s Basketball.
- Al Toon – Newport News, VA. 8 NFL seasons. 3x Pro-Bowl Selection. 517 receptions and 31 touchdowns.
- David Wright – Chesapeake, VA. 7x National League All-Star. Finished his career with .296 batting average, 1,777 hits, 242 homeruns, 970 rbi, and 949 runs scored.
- Dennis Ellmer – Steve Guback Distinguished Virginian Award recipient. Ellmer and Priority Automotive Group have raised over $3-million for Hampton Roads childrens charities through the annual Charity Bowl football game
We are thrilled to honor all of these deserving individuals. It will certainly be an Induction unlike any in the Hall’s history! Please mark your calendars for the last Saturday in April. Tickets for 2022 Induction Weekend are on sale now.