Troy Athletics Announces Seventh Hall of Fame Class
Published 7:01 pm Thursday, December 7, 2017
Troy University Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain and the Troy University Sports Hall of Fame Committee announced Thursday the members of the seventh induction class into the Troy University Sports Hall of Fame. The eight new inductees will be enshrined in a special ceremony on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
The class consists of Mandee Armstrong (women’s basketball), Chuck Ash (administration), Ben Bates (men’s golf), Bob Lambert (track & field), Leodis McKelvin (football), Bobby Pierce (baseball), Wendell Stephens (baseball) and Steven Venable (track & field).
Seats for the ceremony in Trojan Arena can be purchased for $100 each and tables can be purchased for $800. Sponsorships are also available for the evening. For more information, or to purchase tickets, contact Helen Shirey at 334-670-3482.
Mandee Armstrong (Women’s Basketball)
One of the most dynamic scorers in Troy women’s basketball history, Mandee Armstrong’s name is littered throughout the Troy record book. Armstrong ruled the court for the Trojans from 1993 until 1997 and finished her career with 1,606 points, a total that stood as Troy’s Division I record for nearly 20 years and still ranks as the second-best mark in the school’s Division I history and fourth-best overall. A two-time Mid-Continent Conference First Team selection, Armstrong led the Trojans to their first-ever NCAA Division I postseason appearance as Troy finished 23-7 overall and 13-3 in conference play en route to a matchup with Virginia in the NCAA West Regional. Armstrong averaged 18.8 points per game as a senior and 18.2 points per game as a junior, which rank as the sixth and seventh best marks in school history, respectively. She also checks in fifth all-time in Troy history in scoring average (17.1), fourth in field goal percentage (51.2), second in blocks (196) and ninth in rebounds (7.6). Armstrong ranks third, fourth and fifth on the single-season blocks list in Troy’s record book. It was evident from the beginning of her career that she would make a mark during her time at Troy, as she was named the 1994 East Coast Conference Freshman of the Year after averaging 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game; she also set the then-Troy record with 62 blocked shots. After a professional career in Europe and a stint in the coaching ranks, Armstrong has gone on to become a leader in the community. In 2016, Armstrong was named the police chief of the Monroeville Police Department – the first female police chief in the town’s history.
Chuck Ash (Administration)
An influential voice in collegiate athletic training for more than three decades, Charles “Chuck” Ash served Troy University student-athletes from his roots as an undergraduate student athletic trainer in the mid 70s until he retired as the Director of Sports Medicine in the fall of 2017. The 2016 Troy University Alumnus of the Year, Ash was inducted into the Alabama Athletic Trainer Hall of Fame in 2008 and was also named the Alabama Athletic Trainer Association College and University Athletic Trainer of the Year during his career. Ash attended 305 consecutive Troy football games in his role as an athletic trainer and in 2001 was granted membership into the prestigious American Sports Medicine Fellowship Society. A 1978 and 1979 graduate of Troy, Ash coordinated all aspects of athletic training, including the supervision of students enrolled in the athletic training curriculum, which has become one of the most respected programs in the country. Ash didn’t limit his dedication to just Troy University, he also used his expertise as an outreach to the local community.
Ben Bates (Men’s Golf)
Two-time All-American, national champion and PGA professional, Ben Bates has been successful at every level throughout his golf career. A four-time all-Gulf South Conference honoree, Bates earned All-America honors in 1983 and 1984 under Troy University Sports Hall of Fame head coach Mike Griffin. Bates and Troy won the 1984 NCAA Division II national championship and the Trojans finished no worse than third in the four national appearances during his career. Bates claimed individual medalist honors five times over his storied career at Troy, including the 1984 Gulf South Conference individual title. Following his wildly successful collegiate career, Bates dabbled on mini tours for the next seven years before qualifying for the now-Web.com Tour in 1990. A 1997 victory at the Wichita Open pushed Bates into the top 10 on the Web.com Tour money list which in turn qualified him for the PGA Tour where he played until 2002. All told, Bates won twice on the Web.com Tour and is the all-time leader with more than 200 cuts made during his career. Bates was elected five times to represent his peers on the Player Advisory Board for the Web.com Tour and he still competes on the Champions Tour.
Bob Lambert (Track & Field)
Eight-time conference coach of the year, Bob Lambert served as the director of track & field / cross country for 14 seasons and finished his career as one of the most successful coaches in Troy history. Lambert led the Trojans to seven men’s conference titles and one women’s conference title, while more than 300 of his student-athletes earned all-conference honors. Additionally, Michael Green was named the Atlantic Sun Athlete of the Year for all sports under his watch. Among his eight coach of the year awards, Lambert was named the Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year on the men’s side five consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2005 and just missed an eight-year run by one season (2000). Lambert helped lead Troy’s transition from the Atlantic Sun to the Sun Belt Conference as he led the Troy men to a runner up finish in its first year in the league. Troy athletes were such a dominant force in the Atlantic Sun, that Trojan student-athletes held 13 league records when Troy made the move to the Sun Belt. His commitment to the sport reached far past Troy’s walls as he served as the Alabama High School Athletic Association Track & Field Meet Director for 11 years, he was named the AHSAA Track and Field Official of the Year and he served on the U.S. Track & Field / Cross Country Association Division I Executive Committee. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Lambert finished fifth in the javelin at the U.S. Olympic Trials. He set Air Force records in the high jump and javelin before returning to the service academy as an assistant coach in 1974. Following his graduation in 1965, Lambert served as a commissioned officer in the Air Force for 28 years with two tours in Vietnam and more than 400 combat hours of flying. Following his retirement from Troy, Lambert continued his service to the University as a volunteer coach with the track & field / cross country programs for several years.
Leodis McKelvin (Football)
Troy’s only Football Bowl Subdivision All-American, Leodis McKelvin was a terror for opposing offenses and special teams units. In 2007, McKelvin ranked third nationally averaging 18.3 yards per punt return and was the only player in the country to return three punts for a touchdown. Those numbers landed him on the Rivals.com, The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly All-America Teams. McKelvin also led the Trojans in all-purpose yards (1,192) despite not taking an offensive snap at all that season. When his storied Troy career was all said and done, McKelvin had returned a combined seven punts and kickoffs for a touchdown, just one shy of an NCAA record. McKelvin helped jumpstart Troy’s run to five straight Sun Belt Conference championships as he was a junior and senior on the first of those two title teams. A three-time All-Sun Belt selection as a return specialist, he ranks first in Troy history in career punt returns, punt return yards, punt return touchdowns, kickoff returns and kickoff return yards; he ranks fourth all-time in yards per punt return and 13th in yards per kickoff return. McKelvin was a true two-way star for the Trojans as he earned All-Sun Belt honors as a defensive back his senior year after he recorded 60 tackles, two interceptions 11 pass break ups and three forced fumbles. The Buffalo Bills made him the 11th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, which is tied with Troy’s DeMarcus Ware for the highest overall selection ever out of the Sun Belt Conference. McKelvin played nine seasons in the NFL – eight with the Bills and one with the Philadelphia Eagles – and recorded 360 tackles, 15 interceptions and six touchdowns.
Bobby Pierce (Baseball)
The all-time winningest coach in Troy baseball history, Bobby Pierce led Troy to four conference titles and four NCAA Regional appearances, while his players earned numerous All-America, all-conference and NCAA statistical champion awards. In his time at Troy, Pierce coached 15 All-Americans and had 28 players sign professional contracts. He also coached 42 all-conference selections, four Pitchers of the Year (2005, 2006, 2011, 2013), two Players of the Year (2005, 2011), one Newcomer of the Year (2007) and two Freshmen of the Year (2009 & 2014). Pierce’s teams posted a grade-point-average of 3.0 or higher in nine of his 13 seasons and Troy student-athletes were named to the prestigious CoSIDA Academic All-America team on three different occasions. Troy led the nation in runs scored in 2006 and in doubles in 2013. For an unprecedented six straight seasons from 2004 to 2009, a Troy player was recognized as a statistical champion as a Trojan led the country in ERA, stolen bases per game, batting average, doubles, strikeouts per nine innings and doubles per game in addition to a Golden Glove recipient. A member of the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Pierce retired in 2015 following his 13th season at the helm of the Troy program. Of the four NCAA Regionals that the Trojans played in under Pierce, the final one in 2013 might be the most memorable. Troy defeated Pierce’s alma mater, Alabama, twice, including a walk-off walk to eliminate the Crimson Tide and send Troy to the Regional Final against Florida State.
Wendell Stephens (Baseball)
In what forever will be known as the “Grand Slam at Midnight”, Wendell Stephens etched his name in Troy lore for all-time with one powerful swing of the bat. Stephens stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning with one out and the bases loaded in Troy’s opener of the 1986 NCAA Division II World Series. Down to his final strike and with Troy trailing Mankato State, 6-4, Stephens sent his 12th home run of the season deep into the midnight sky to give Troy the lead and eventually the national championship. That alone would get most people into the Hall of Fame, but Stephens’ credentials keep going. He earned all-region and third-team All-America honors the season prior after batting .396 with 14 doubles, two triples, 15 home runs and a then-school record 67 RBIs. His 1986 campaign was just as impressive as he hit at a .387 clip with nine doubles, 12 home runs and 64 RBIs. The son of two Troy graduates, Stephens ranks second all-time in Troy history with a career .391 batting average and a .513 on-base percentage, while ranking third in slugging percentage (.704), eighth in RBIs (131) and ninth in home runs (27). His single-season RBI record stood until 1999 and currently ranks as the eighth best mark in Troy history while his .396 batting average stands 10th best in a season at Troy.
Steve Venable (Track & Field)
One of the most decorated athletes in Troy track & field history, Steven Venable is a five-time All-American and still holds numerous school records more than 30 years after his final meet for the Trojans. Venable ran on six Troy teams that won both conference and regional championships during his tenure and he himself won seven individual conference titles – five in track & field and two in cross country. Nicknamed “Animal”, Venable earned a trio of All-America honors in cross country in 1978, 1980 and 1981 and a pair of outdoor track & field All-America honors in 1979 and 1980. On one of the toughest 10K courses in the country, Venable finished 15th at the 1978 NCAA Division II National Championship Meet, just 20 seconds off a top-five finish. Additionally, Venable took second at the 1980 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship, finishing just 1.3 seconds away from the title. He holds both Troy school records for the mile with a time of 4.04.40 indoors and a 4:04.84 outdoors. Venable is also Troy’s record holder in the distance medley relay (10.16.80), 1500 meters (3:44.69), 5,000 meters (14:08.86) and 10,000 meters (30:10). A member of the Dean’s List and President’s List during his time at Troy, Venable earned a full academic scholarship to complete his master’s degree in computer science at Southern Mississippi.