Athletic halls of fame are established by various high schools, colleges and professional organizations to honor athletes who excel in extraordinary ways.
Guidelines are established for each hall of fame, ones that dictate the way inductees are to be nominated, considered and selected.
However, in some cases, the requirements for an athlete to be nominated, considered and inducted are too stringent.
For example, Ralph Sampson, who grew to be 7’1” during his basketball career at Harrisonburg High School where he led his team, the Blue Streak; to back to back Group 2A State Championships in 1978 and 1979, became the second colligate basketball player in history to win three Naismith Awards. Bill Walton was the first to achieve it.
As an All-American for Terry Holland’s University of Virginia Cavaliers, Sampson became the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 1983, the year that Alleghany County Public Schools consolidated with Clifton Forge City Schools, ending Alleghany County High School’s Colts after a 20-year history of Group 2A competition.
Allehgany County High School became Alleghany High School, and the mascot, “Colts,” was replaced by the “Mountaineers,” the mascot that Clifton Forge High School had held while winning state championships in both girls and boys basketball and completing two undefeated football seasons with a combined 23-0 record.
The point is that Alleghany County High School has its ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame, but had Sampson played basketball for the Colts and led Alleghany County High School to win back to back Group 2A State Championships the way he did for Harrisonburg High School, Sampson could not be inducted into the ACHS Colts Athletic Hall of Fame unless he competed in more than one sport.
A rule concerning the requirements for an inductee in the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame states that an athlete must participate in more than one sport. Had Sampson attended ACHS and only played basketball at ACHS, he would not have been eligible to be inducted.
That brings me to another point in that Kevin Phillips, a four-year letterman in basketball for ACHS, averaged 16.4 ppg. for his senior season. He was selected as a member of the Blue Ridge District All-Tournament Team after he helped lead the Colts to the only varsity basketball championship in what turned out to be the school’s 20-year history.
The Colts defeated William Byrd High School 50-48 on a buzzer beater by Lindy Bazzera in the first round of the tournament that was held at Washington & Lee University in 1981.
During the championship game the next night, the Colts defeated Lexington High School 60-48 to qualify for the regional tournament at Rustburg High School where the Colts lost in the first round to Martinsville High School 94-71. MHS went on to win its third straight Group 2A State Championship.
Phillips, who scored 32 points in the Colts’ victory over James River High School his senior year, lived in Falling Spring, and participating in more than one sport would have resulted in a hardship on him and his family.
Consequently, he did not try out for any other athletic team, and he went on to play basketball for Garrett Junior College and complete a successful career as an employee of UPS.
Having served as the varsity basketball coach for the Colts during Kevin’s sophomore, junior and senior years, I believe that the rule that requires a former athlete at ACHS to participate in more than one sport in order to qualify for becoming a member of the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame is unfair.
The rule for induction into the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame needs to be changed, and if it is not changed, it will remain as a mar on the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame itself.
A look back at three other Colts’ basketball starters in the championship game reveals that the following have been inducted into the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
David Wilkerson, 16.6 ppg., a point guard; Bazzera, 13.6 ppg., a small forward/shooting guard; and Todd Campbell, 9.6 ppg., a shooting guard; are all members of the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Wilkerson played tennis, Bazzera played baseball and Campbell played baseball and football.
Michael Carrol and David Sizemore, two other members of the championship team have been inducted into the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame as well. Both played football, and Sizemore played golf while Carrol participated in track.
It is long past time to change the rule that was set more than 40 years ago, the one that prevents outstanding athletes who excelled in only one sport at ACHS to be inducted into the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
The door to the ACHS Athletic Hall of Fame needs to be opened for those Colts who excelled in only one sport, and Phillips should be one of the first inducted in order to join his teammates.