There were laughs and tears, but most of all, reverence towards former student-athletes being inducted into the UTA Athletics Hall of Honor Friday night.
Gina Miller, former CBS11 sports anchor and host of TXA 21’s The Fan Sports Show, emceed the class of 2015’s induction ceremony, which was held in the Bluebonnet Ballroom.
The night began with a cocktail hour as head coaches, current UTA student-athletes and supporters of the athletic department mixed and mingled prior to a sit-down dinner, which was prayed over by baseball infielder Darien McLemore.
The crowd of over 100 people then listened to UTA Athletic director Jim Baker praise the accomplishments of the program and its athletes before introducing President Vistasp Karbhari.
“This history, this legacy of champions, leads us forever forward to reach heights of excellence,” Karbhari said.
Inductions began with Hunter Pence, a two-time World Series Champion with the San Francisco Giants, who got his footing as a two-year Maverick and All-Southland Conference outfielder in 2003.
The Arlington native was unable to attend the ceremony due to preparation for the Giants’ 2015 season, but thanked the crowd for the accolade via video.
1992 Southland Pitcher of the Year and Hall of Honor member Chris Gay spoke in person on Pence’s behalf. Pence said Gay was a “second-dad” to him growing up.
“He’s like, ‘Man, I got to get ready for the season,’ and that is truly him,” Gay said. “He didn’t miss tonight because he didn’t want to be here. That is what made him who he is and that’s why he’s going to be representing UTA for the rest of his life.”
1966-68 defensive back Mike Stamps then received recognition as an All-American and first-team All-Southland selection during his stint at UTA.
Stamps recalled memories of the days when Maverick football was a way of life, but also remembered former teammates who’ve passed away.
“I thank you all and I look forward to the day football will be back at UTA,” Stamps said as the crowd cheered in agreement.
Outside hitter Valeria Whitfield took UTA volleyball by storm by earning 1990 Southland Player of the Year honors as a freshman and becoming the one of five Mavericks to reach 1,000 kills, digs and 100 service aces in her career.
Whitfield touched the crowd with stories of her parents passing away while at the age of four and how she found love and support, both through her Maverick family and God’s grace.
Inductions of runner Elston Cawley and the 1996-2000 track and field teams closed the event, but not before members of the squads were commended for their four of five indoor Southland Conference Championships, two outdoor league titles and the 1999 cross country crown.
Cawley stood out specifically for his seven All-America achievements, making him the program’s most decorated athlete in history.