Just how did he prepare for and achieve that success? He’ll share how when he serves as keynote speaker for Bluefield College’s Fourth Annual Tierney Scholarship Awareness Dinner, Tuesday, January 24 at David’s at the Elks Club in Bluefield, West Virginia.
Designed to increase community responsiveness to the need for a strong scholarship program at Bluefield College, the Tierney Scholarship Awareness Dinner brings prominent speakers to the community each year with the hope that local residents will pay premium prices to hear the notable speakers and ultimately support the BC Fund for Scholarships.
The distinguished speaker this year: Ralph Sampson, the most heavily recruited college basketball player of his generation. As center for the University of Virginia, he led the Cavaliers to a National Invitational Tournament title in 1980, an NCAA Final Four bid in 1981, and an NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 1983. Before graduating, he also earned three Naismith Player of the Year Awards and two Wooden Awards as college basketball’s best player.
The Houston Rockets made Sampson the number one overall pick in the NBA draft in 1983. As a rookie, he averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game – good enough to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award and a spot on the NBA All-Star team.
By 1986, Sampson had made Houston one of the NBA’s elite teams. In fact, he led the Rockets to the NBA Finals that year en route to his third straight NBA All-Star selection.
Knee injuries and surgeries plagued Sampson in the latter years of his pro career. After four years with the Rockets, he played two years with the Golden State Warriors, one year with the Sacramento Kings, and one season with the Washington Bullets before retiring.
In 1996, Sampson was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was named one of the best 50 players in Atlantic Coast Conference history. In 2011, he was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Since retiring, he has committed most of his time to giving back to his community. For example, in 2006 he founded The Winner’s Circle, an online community designed to offer open and informed communication. That same year, he created The Winner’s Circle Foundation to help young athletes achieve success.
“His story is an inspiring one,” said Ruth Blankenship, vice president for advancement at Bluefield College. “Our hope is that it will inspire the community to achieve greatness and to support the Bluefield College Scholarship Fund that enables our students to realize their full potential.”
The annual Scholarship Awareness Dinner is funded by the Katharine B. Tierney Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization in Bluefield, West Virginia, with a long history of supporting the community. In the spring of 2006, the Foundation offered a sizable gift to Bluefield College to support the BC Fund for Scholarships through the creation of an Annual Tierney Scholarship Awareness Dinner. Proceeds from the event go directly to the BC Fund for Scholarships.
The Sampson program will begin with a meet-and-greet at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and an autograph session to conclude the event. In addition to speaking about his basketball honors, Sampson will share advice on how to mentally prepare for and achieve success. Specifically, he will speak about motivation (M), attitude (A) and planning (P) — his MAP to success.
“I’ve been taught by some of the best,” said Sampson,” who spends his time now working with kids through his foundation. “If I can pass along the things I’ve learned, most importantly how to succeed off the court, then I’ve accomplished something.”
Individual tickets for dinner and to hear Sampson speak are $60. Individuals who pay $100 may also participate in the meet-and-greet with Sampson prior to dinner. A table of eight is $1,000 and includes dinner, the program, the meet-and-greet, and a basketball autographed by Sampson for all eight guests.