Hall of Fame ceremony opens new arena
Troy University athletics past and present collided on Friday night as the inaugural class of the Troy University Sports Hall Of Fame was inducted.
The star of the night might have been the building that the event took place in. The induction ceremony also was the official opening of the new Trojan Arena.
All of the night’s honorees gave the new building rave reviews.
“I am very excited at the progression of Troy,” said inductee Denise Monroe. “What we did over at Sartain Hall is a reason that we have this, but my only disappointment is that I can’t participate.”
Don Maestri has coached basketball at Troy for over 30 years. Every year of his career has been spent a few steps down Luther Drive at Sartain Hall. Maestri said the new arena will rival any arena in the nation.
“It is special for me, but I think it’s special for everyone associated with Troy University,” said Maestri. “I have been to arenas across the country, but I feel that this is as classy a facility in the United States of America, not Alabama. It is the best in Alabama.”
Eleven current or former Trojans took their permanent place in Troy history: Ralph Adams, Billy Atkins, Larry Blakeney, Sim Byrd, Don Maestri, Vergil Parks McKinley, Denise Monroe, Charles Oliver, Chase Riddle, Mike Turk and DeMarcus Ware.
Ralph Adams served as chancellor of Troy University from 1964-1989. Under the guidance of Adams, the Trojans captured three football national titles, two baseball national titles and multiple golf championships.
“He (Adams) lived and breathed Troy sports,” said Sam Adams, who accepted the award on the former chancellor’s behalf. “The only thing he loved more was Troy University itself.”
Adams was a strong supporter of the Troy baseball team, and fellow hall of fame inductee Chase Riddle.
Riddle led Troy to the 1986 and 1987 NCAA Divison II baseball national titles and 10 appearances in the NCAA baseball tournament. Riddle coached 30 collegiate All-Americans and 36 first team all-conference.
Charles Oliver, or Coach O as he is known to the Trojan faithful, won the 1976 NAIA 400 meter champion in track and field. His time in the 400 is still the fastest in school history.
Oliver won national titles at the University of Tennessee as a coach and administrator, but said that Troy is still with him to this day.
“My whole time here and even now that I’m not here, this place feels like home, said Oliver. “I have often thought about after I retire and coming back, because I just love the atmosphere here.”
Denise Monroe was the only female athlete to be inducted in the inaugural class.
During her stint at Troy, Monroe averaged a double-double in each of four seasons, and also was invited to try out for the 1980 US Women’s Basketball team.
Monroe said that Troy basketball has given her the opportunity to see the world and share the game she loves with children around the world.
Vergil McKinley is called the “Father of Troy Football,” for a reason. McKinley put together the first team, and coached the squad to a 1-0-2 record in 1909.
McKinley left Troy to return to his alma mater, the University of Alabama in 1918. Both Troy and Alabama award a “Vergil Parks McKinley Employee Award” for non-faculty.
Two members of the 1968 NAIA National Championship Football team also took their permanent place in Troy History, quarterback Sim Byrd and head coach Billy Atkins.
Byrd said that the 1968 team was “way ahead of everyone else” in terms of offensive production. Byrd’s 79 touchdown passes are still the most in school history and Atkins’ forty-four wins are the second most, behind only Larry Blakeney.
The next class of the Troy University Sport Hall Of Fame will be announced in the future.