Thursday, December 31, 2009
National champ Lady Bearcats first inducted into Hall of Fame
By IRVING R. SMITH
It’s been over two decades since the Rust College women’s basketball team defeated Elizabethtown College for the NCAA championship title in 1984.
Yet their legacy lived on Sunday, Nov. 15, at the 143rd Founder’s Convocation, as the college also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Lady Bearcats’ win.
The players, in a deserving homecoming ceremony, were inducted as the first group of athletes into the newly established Rust College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Eight of the 12 players were in attendance, including Brenda Christian-Lawrence, Diane Ayers, Louise Sanders Tate, Mittie Heidelburg, Angela Agnew-Brazell, Barbara Knox-Seymour, Diane Buchanan and star guard Nancy Binion Relliford, as well as the team manager Bernard Seymour, and coach Dr. A.J. Stovall. Relliford now has her jersey number retired inside the Rust College gymnasium.
Stovall, who coached the Bearcat women’s basketball team for eight years, 1980 to 1988, said the experience of coaching was good.
“Coaching, to me, was an extension to what I do in the classroom; in fact, it was a classroom,” said Stovall, who is a professor of political science and chair of the social science division at Rust.
He is glad the Lady Bearcats are finally acknowledged for their accomplishment with the creation and induction into the college Athletic Hall of Fame.
In the history of the NCAA, the Lady Bearcats are recognized as the only African American athletic team to win a Division III national title. It was not just a huge accomplishment, but a mark in history, said Dr. David L. Beckley, president of Rust College.
Editor’s Note: Contributing writer Irving Smith is a print journalism major at Rust College, and writes for the campus newspaper, The Rustorian.
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