Hall of Fame grants membership to six inductees

After five years of dedicating time to John Brown University’s athletic program, alumni, coaches and players are eligible for the Hall of Fame. The hall just recognized 6 prestigious athletes.

On Feb. 16, 2019, approximately 115 people gathered to recognize the new members to JBU’s Athletics Hall of Fame, which was established in 1973. Robyn Daugherty, JBU’s athletic director, said that this honor is the most prestigious award that athletes can receive. As of the latest ceremony, 40 individuals and two teams are currently members of the Hall of Fame.

There are five types of inductees to the hall: athletes, coaches, meritorious achievers, pioneers and teams. The meritorious achievers are honored “either by virtue of their performance on athletic teams representing JBU … or exhibited a dedication and loyalty to the philosophy and ideals of John Brown University,” according to the Hall of Fame guidelines. A pioneer is someone who has been instrumental in JBU’s athletic programs.

Daugherty said that this honor requires more than an athlete to score a lot of points or become an All-American. She said that inductees need to pour sweat and hard work into the program but also must contribute more: “It’s also about what have you done for the university since [graduation or retirement], what have you done for your community since then. Just because they might be on the Wall of Fame downstairs … doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll become a part of the Hall of Fame.”

The six people inducted to this year’s Hall of Fame were Holly Beitel, a basketball player from 1987-1991, Terry Brown, a soccer player from 1990-1993, Kendra Knoner, a basketball player from 2002-2006, Bob Gustavson, the men’s soccer coach from 1980-2008, Rodger Low, a cross country and track runner from 1969-1973, and Roger Vann, a cross country and track runner from 1972-1976.

Each of these inductees were first recognized in a ceremony in Simmons Great Hall and then later honored during the men and women’s basketball games the same day. This event brought numerous teams, players, and athletes together including current hall of fame members.

John Sheehy was the head coach of the men’s basketball program from 1989-2007 and won the NCAA National Championship in 1991. He was inducted in 2002 with the rest of the championship team. Sheehy said that receiving recognition for all the hard work he put into his time at JBU was a big honor.

“I think that John Brown III had a philosophy that athletics was an integral part of the student activity part of the campus … He wanted that to be a part of the college experience for the young people here, players and non-players,” Sheehy said. “So, I think it’s important to honor the success of the past and keep building onto traditions of the past. Athletics should not be the focal point of the university, but it should be an integral part of the activities.”

Another inductee, Steve Matchell, who played basketball from 1974-1978 and was inducted in 2008, said that it humbled him to be inducted and that the Hall of Fame highlights different aspects of the athletic department.

“It shows a responsibility but also a privilege of the past. You see what the past is like because those people that are here now, they will be the past at some point in time,” Matchell said. “People in the future are going to look back at them and what they did, how they played and what they did to help the school grow. I think it’s part of our culture, part of our school heritage.” 

Although the Hall of Fame has been around for a while, there was a gap between 1985 to 2002 when no one was inducted. Daugherty and other people in the athletic department are working to find those who were missed to give players and coaches the recognition they deserve.

“My biggest fear is that somebody is out there that I don’t know about. That’s why we’re continuing to look at past history,” Daugherty said. “For the centennial this fall, we’re going to have all kinds of old photos and a timeline for all these people to come back [and tell us] who are we missing, who is this person.”

In the future, Daugherty has plans to create a display so that more people can learn about members of the JBU community who have impacted athletics. As for now, they will continue to search for deserving athletes who help make JBU what it is today.

“It’s more than just if you were an athlete, it’s how you got a chance to represent your school, whether it’s in athletics or academics. There’s all kinds of different teams and groups that the school has,” Matchell said. “All of those are a part of the school’s heritage and culture. That’s what this represents, the school’s culture and heritage in the athletics department.”