William “Pete” Bennett
In the world of track, the name Pete Bennett is synonymous with excellence. Bennett distinguished himself as both an athlete and coach at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) where his achievements and winning legacy are a testament to his character and competitive spirit. An outstanding high school athlete in three sports, Bennett continued his success at Virginia State. He was an All-State halfback and was selected to play in the 1941 College All-Star game against the NFL Champion Chicago Bears. He ran track on two CIAA Championship teams and was named All-State three times. In 1941, Bennett won honors in the one-mile relay event at the Penn Relays. His passion for track soon became his vocation when he began coaching at VSU in 1953. In a half century of service, Bennett coached 48 All-Americans, won 10 conference championships, and made a positive impact on the lives of countless students. He also had the honor to serve as a manager and coach at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico. Bennett remains a popular mentor to many of his former athletes. He can recite a seemingly endless list of former athletes who he trained to be not only champions on the track but successful individuals in the game of life. His work with the Boys Scouts and other civic organizations in developing youth sports programs has enriched the lives of thousands of young people. Pete Bennett was a talented athlete who became a skillful coach, popular professor, and dedicated community activist. In 1982, Bennett was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame.