Courtney Shealy Hart makes a couple of trips each year to visit family in the Columbia area. In May, she will have a great reason to return.
The South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame announced its 2010 class Tuesday, and Shealy Hart will be one of eight new members.
In addition to the two-time Olympic swimming gold medalist, the class includes a Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, a four-time NBA champion, an NFL team owner, the winningest active Division I college tennis coach and a trio of former college football greats, two of whom had long careers in the NFL and one who did the same in Major League Baseball.
"This is a good, well-rounded group," said Ephraim Ulmer, the Hall's executive director.
Shealy Hart, who attended Irmo High before becoming the nation's best collegiate swimmer at Georgia and an Olympic champ in 2000, is the only female member of the class.
The other inductees:
- tennis great Stan Smith, a longtime Hilton Head resident;
- former NBA and Clemson star Horace Grant;
- Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, a USC alum;
- Paul Scarpa, who has coached Furman tennis for 43 years;
- former Clemson and St. Louis Cardinals lineman Joe Bostic
- former USC and New York Giants defensive back Bill Currier;
- Spartanburg native Wayne Tolleson, who starred in football at Western Carolina before enjoying a 10-year MLB career.
"Obviously, I'm really excited," said Shealy Hart, who is the men's and women's swimming coach at Georgia Tech. "It's a great honor for me. The people I'm being inducted with are a great class."
Shealy Hart, who took home gold medals in Sydney, Australia, in the 400-meter medley and 400 freestyle relays for the United States, appreciates the recognition in her home state.
"Swimming in the state of South Carolina has come a long way. I take pride in that I had something to do with that," she said. "It'll be an exciting time to get back there and see the people who helped me get to where I am."
Her excitement is shared by Currier, the Ben Lippen School athletics director, who returned to Columbia after his NFL playing days ended. A Maryland native who starred at USC from 1973-76, Currier played for the Houston Oilers, New England Patriots and New York Giants from 1977-85.
"There's a lot of great athletes in this state, and to be recognized as one of them is an amazing honor," he said. "It's an incredible class, and I'm really honored to be included."
Ulmer is delighted to have such a strong class with the Hall of Fame celebrating its 50th anniversary. Although the organization has had several starts and stops since it began in the 1950s, the S.C. Hall has grown to over 300 members.
Ulmer said the organization's board of directors, which includes media members and former coaches and players, strives to bring in deserving classes that reflect a variety of men and women, professional and amateurs, and big schools and small schools.
Tolleson, whose 10-year Major League Baseball career ended in 1990 with the New York Yankees, also is in the Western Carolina Hall of Fame, where he played football and baseball.
"It's quite surprising," said Tolleson, whose son Steven played baseball at USC and now plays in Triple-A with the Minnesota Twins organization. "It's a tremendous honor. It leaves me speechless. It's not just an honor to be mentioned among the names for this class, but also all the great names already in the Hall of Fame."
Ulmer believes having a of high-profile inductees is a good fit for this milestone ceremony, which will be held May 24 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. He also anticipates a larger number of members to return for this year's induction
"The fact that it's the 50th is special for us, and it will be a special ceremony," Ulmer said.
S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2010
Clemson's 6-foot-10 star captured the 1987 ACC Player of the Year Award when he led the league in scoring (21 ppg.) and rebounding (9.6 rpg.). ... The NBA power forward helped Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls win three championships and won another title with the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers. ... 1994 NBA All-Star team.
Courtney Shealy Hart
A native of Irmo, Shealy Hart won two Olympic gold medals in swimming (400-meter relay and 400 freestyle relay) in 2000. ... Led Georgia to NCAA championships in 1999, 2000. ... In 2000, was named the NCAA Female Swimmer of Year. ... Now serves as swim coach at Georgia Tech.
A California native who has resided in Hilton Head since the 1980s, Smith captured the 1971 U.S. Open singles and 1972 Wimbledon singles titles. ... Won 54 doubles championships, including five grand slams. ... Made 10 Davis Cup appearances. ... Three-time All-American at Southern Calif, he won the 1968 NCAA singles championship and the 1967 and '68 doubles titles.
Tolleson starred at Spartanburg High and Western Carolina University in baseball and football. ... Played 10 years of Major League Baseball, at second, shortstop and third base with the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. ... Enjoyed his best year in 1985 with the Yankees with a .313 batting average.
A 1958 graduate of USC, McNair owns the NFL's Houston Texans and a successful stable of thoroughbred racehorses based in Aiken. ... He and his wife, who is from the Orangeburg area and attended Columbia College, are philanthropists, having donated millions of dollars to their alma maters and other charities. ... McNair serves as chairman and CEO of The McNair Group, a financial and real estate firm that is headquartered in Houston.
An outstanding tennis player and coach, Scarpa is a member of the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame. ... In 46 years of coaching, he has recorded an 835-513 record to rank first among active Division I college coaches in career victories. ... Has coached Furman for 43 years, compiling a record of 266-36 and winning 14 Southern Conference titles.
Bostic played football for Clemson from 1975-78 and was part of the era that put the Tigers back on the college football map, helping them to three bowl appearances. ... Was the cornerstone of the offensive line and an All-American in 1977 and '78. ... Played 10 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals and was named to the NFL All-Rookie team.
As a senior at USC in 1976, Currier won the Steve Wadiak MVP Award, the Bill Guerard Award for highest GPA and the Rex Enright Captain's Cup - the only player to win all three awards in one season. ... Was a three-year starter at defensive back at USC. ... Had a nine-year NFL career with Houston, New England and the New York Giants. ... He is the Ben Lippen athletics director.