Earning the most coveted distinctions for a BC athlete were 1942 alumnus and former football player Richard “Dick” Bogdan, 1977 graduate and award-winning weightlifter Paul Sutphin, and 1978 alumnus and former Rams basketball player Frank Short.
Established to pay tribute to former Bluefield College athletes, coaches and others with meritorious service, the BC Sports Hall of Fame recognizes former players who achieved outstanding accomplishments during their time as athletes at Bluefield College. It also acknowledges former players who have made exceptional contributions to the athletic program or who have displayed significant leadership in the community
Bogdan, who came to Bluefield on a football scholarship in 1941 after a stellar career at Wilbur Lynch High School in Amsterdam, New York, was the focal point of BC’s high-powered offense. In fact, one of his claims to fame was that he scored the football team’s last touchdown in a win against Rio Grande University in 1941 before World War II ended the sport at BC in 1942.
In addition to football, he was a member of the track and field team, the Varsity Club, and the Newman Club for students of the Catholic faith. He also worked in the dining hall to help pay for his tuition, room, and board.
“Although it’s been nearly 70 years since I last stepped on campus at Bluefield, it seems like yesterday, because of the vivid memories I have of this fine institution,” said Bogdan, who at 87 years old will soon relinquish his touchdown claim to fame, since BC reinstated football this past fall. “I want to thank everyone involved for this honor of being inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame. I’m very proud to be a small part of that family and legacy.”
After serving the United States Navy in World War II, Bogdan returned to New York to attend Albany Business College and later Sienna College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration and a master’s degree in secondary education.
His career includes 35 years as an instructor and later a full professor and 20 years as a basketball coach and athletics director at Albany Business College. After retiring from Albany in 1985, he created Custom Golf to manufacture and repair custom golf clubs. In that endeavor, he earned acceptance into the Club Makers Hall of Fame and a Distinguished Service Award from the New England/New York Division of the Pro Golfers Association.
“As I have followed the development of athletics and academics at Bluefield over the years, one thing that permeated through me was what the students were doing for others,” said Bogdan. “It seemed to be part of the culture and something I took to heart all of these years in my own career.”
Sutphin, a Bluefield, West Virginia, native was a popular powerlifter during his college days. While not an intercollegiate sport at the school, powerlifting became Sutphin’s passion at BC and quickly brought him national recognition.
In fact, in 1976 in his first national competition, he placed second in the National Collegiate Powerlifting Championships. Three years later after college, he placed first in the National Powerlifting Championships, breaking the national record in his division, lifting 10 times his body weight. He went on to earn four additional National Championships in 1991, 2002, 2003 and 2011.
Sutphin’s resume also includes 28 West Virginia State Powerlifting Championships and 200 West Virginia powerlifting records. He has been chronicled twice in Powerlifting USA magazine, and in 2000, he was ranked among the top 10 lightweight powerlifters of the 20th century.
“Paul has taken his passion for weightlifting to a level of significant national acclaim,” said Josh Cline, BC’s director of alumni relations. “He is also sharing his passion and expertise with the next generation as a high school strength and conditioning coach and as an advocate for health and fitness at local community centers. He is definitely worthy of the BC Athletic Hall of Fame.”
After Bluefield College, Sutphin worked as a sales representative for numerous companies in the grocery and food industry, before going back to college to earn a bachelor’s degree in teacher education and a master’s degree in math education in order to teach and coach. He currently works as a math teacher for Mercer County Schools and shares his weightlifting passion and expertise as a strength coach for the football team at Bluefield High School.
Short, a native of Bramwell, West Virginia, who was a standout basketball player at Bramwell High School before coming to Bluefield College, earned his way into BC’s Sports Hall of Fame for his heroics on the court and his service and charity off the court.
As a member of the Rams basketball team, he was a prolific scorer. In fact, he led the team in that category in his first season on the squad. He also earned an All-Tournament distinction at the King College Invitational, and outside of basketball he was a history major and a member of “The Brothers” fraternity, Sigma Phi Omega.
“My time at Bluefield College was wonderful,” said Short, who met his wife, Debbie Waid, at BC. “The faculty and staff during my stay there were wonderful. Professor David Armbrister, Dr. Gerald Clay, and many others cared about their students. It did not go unnoticed. I loved my time there and will always be thankful for the relationships that got their start at Bluefield College.”
After BC, Short worked 23 years in the automotive industry, before becoming a teacher and coach at Clover Hill High School in Midlothian, Virginia. It was there that Short met a student whose unfortunate circumstances in foster care left him homeless. With the values he says he learned from his parents and professors at Bluefield College, Short and his wife took the kid into their own home, nurtured him, and helped get him back on the road to graduation and success.
“His passion for basketball and children who are in need has created a life’s work that is nothing short of a beautiful ministry,” said Cline. “He works daily to teach honesty and integrity and to be a dependable mentor to a generation of young men who desperately need it.”
Short has served 10 years as a teacher and coach at Clover Hill. He also works in various ways with disadvantaged youth in Greater Richmond.
“His athletic achievements, his meritorious service, and his efforts to uphold the values instilled in him as a student at Bluefield College,” said Cline, “are more than worthy merits to be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame.”