Those two teams were honored for that success and for their contributions to what has been called “the glory days” of Bluefield College Athletics during a 30th anniversary celebration and reunion on the BC campus, February 7.
“This is a great day,” said BC president Dr. David Olive. “It’s exciting to have these outstanding former student-athletes back on campus. They gave much to Bluefield College Athletics, and we hope that in some small way we are able to express our appreciation with this tribute today.”
The 1980s were indeed “glory days” for Bluefield College sports – an era when the men’s basketball teams averaged 24 wins per season and earned three national runner-up distinctions in the NLCAA, the forerunner of Division II of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA). The ‘80s were also a time when the BC men’s baseball team averaged more than 20 wins a season and claimed the first ever Tennessee-Virginia Athletic Conference (TVAC) championship. That same decade, the men’s golf team earned its NLCAA National Tournament title.
“When you look at what our athletic programs began to accomplish in the 1980s, less than a decade away from transitioning to a four-year college, it truly is amazing,” said alumni director Mark Hipes. “In the NLCAA, we were competing against long-standing programs from the NAIA and NCAA ranks. What our program didn’t have in resources it made up for in grit, heart and determination.”
Twelve former players and coaches from those heralded 1985 teams, 23 alumni total, and 49 guests altogether came back for the anniversary celebration. Among the ’85 basketball greats: Jerome Brown of Pulaski, Virginia; Kevin Clevinger of Charlotte, North Carolina; Will Largen of Rock Hill, South Carolina; Howard Mayo of Fancy Gap, Virginia; Fred Phillips of Cedar Bluff, Virginia; Sammy Poindexter of Dublin, Virginia; Jimmy Whitaker of Roanoke, Virginia; and Coach Mark Blevins of Knoxville, Tennessee.
“Everything in athletics is about family, and family is forever,” said Coach Blevins. “These guys loved each other when they were teammates. That was the main thing about our team. Nobody was heralded as a great player, but they molded themselves into great players. Their camaraderie, their passion for the game, and their work ethic were unmatched.”
Among the four national champion golfers from ’85 back for the anniversary celebration: Roger Hornsby of Martinsville, Virginia; Dean Marshall of Pembroke, Virginia; Jeff Tickle of Pembroke, Virginia; and Mike Wooldridge of Axton, Virginia.
The daylong recognition began with a reception for the players, coaches and their families. In addition to a time of reunion and fellowship, the reception included photographs and remarks from BC executives. Later in the day, the honorees enjoyed a BC basketball double-header in the Dome Gymnasium as the current men’s and women’s basketball teams battled Reinhardt University. At halftime of the men’s game, the players and coaches from 1985 were formally recognized.
“It’s good to see all of these guys back to reflect on their accomplishments,” said current men’s basketball coach Richard Morgan. “When I came here, I knew the importance placed on athletics, particularly basketball, and a lot of that began with the success of these guys from 1985 and Coach Mark Blevins who started it all.”
Other members of the 1985 men’s basketball team unable to attend the February ceremony included Dale Black of Buena Vista, Virginia; Cedric Cruise of Lawrenceville, Georgia; James Hagins of Roanoke, Virginia; Bruce McCray of Sanford, Florida; the late Reggie Owens of Houston, Texas; Ralph Stovall of Richmond, Virginia; and Bobby Thompson of Marysville, Ohio; along with student assistant coaches Daniel Brown of Suffolk, Virginia, and Dave Kessler of Winder, Georgia. The national champion golfers unable to attend the event included David Moore of Bluefield, Virginia, and head coach David Clark, residence unknown.
“It was a great day at Bluefield College,” said Hipes. “Our legacy is our alumni and the impact they are making in this world. That is why days like today are special. We didn’t have a lot of resources back then, and athletic scholarships were small and numbered. They probably sacrificed a lot of time representing Bluefield College, and we appreciate that. We hope in some small way they realized that today.”
COACH MARK BLEVINS (FRONT CENTER) AND MEMBERS OF HIS 1985 MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM.
MEMBERS OF BC’S 1985 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF TEAM.
|View more photos from the ’85 alumni reunion.|