Hall of Fame
Athletes who excelled at their sport while students at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – and in some instances at the professional level – belong to an exclusive team of Hawks, the Hall of Fame.
Athletics and intercollegiate competition have played a significant role in the long history of the institution dating back to the early 1900s.
Archivists in UMES’ Frederick Douglass Library have found evidence that students at Princess Anne Academy, as the school was known then, engaged in organized play – most likely the intramural variety.
As it transitioned from a secondary school to a baccalaureate-degree institution between the two world wars, the Academy fielded teams dubbed the "Fighting Trojans" that played against other institutions with similar missions and credentials.
In the late 1930s – 20 years before yearbooks were published – a student handbook / course catalog mentions an activity called the “Varsity Club,” an acknowledgement by an official school publication that athletic competition indeed mattered.
It was not until John T. Williams arrived as president in 1947, however, that the school emerged as a serious player in intercollegiate sports competition. Many of the 187 inductees in the UMES Athletics Hall of Fame played or coached at the university since World War II.
Not surprisingly, the men who donned the maroon and gray on Saturdays afternoons in the fall dominate that list. Nearly half of all UMES Hall members are football players, including some three dozen whom the pros thought deserved a chance to play on Sundays.
While each era can make a strong case about “who’s best,” most Hawks agree Arthur L. Shell is the cornerstone athlete from the football era, which ended in 1980. Shell, who grew up in Charleston, S.C., is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Seven coaches are HOF members, as is Williams, the former president who himself was a star athlete at Langston University. The entire basketball squad that played in the 1974 National Invitation Tournament was inducted on the 30th anniversary of that monumental achievement. Talvin Skinner and Rubin Collins, two stars from that team, also are individual inductees.
UMES began recognizing its athletes as “hall of famers” in 1973 and did so sporadically over the remainder of the 20th century.
At the dawn of the 21st century, athletics director Keith Davidson initiated a policy to recruit nominees and hold induction ceremonies every other year. In February 2012, UMES expects to welcome (back) its next class of star athletes.
Like many similar recognition programs elsewhere in sports, nominees must be five years removed from playing or being involved in athletics at UMES.
To see the entire list, visit the UMES Hall of Fame website.
-- BILL ROBINSON