An athletic homecoming
By Molly McSweyn |
“Tomorrow is promised to no one.”
These words were the motto and embodiment of the late Clive Charles, a legendary coach of UP soccer. Many of the athletes inducted into UP’s Athletic Hall of Fame last weekend heard those words repeated during their time on The Bluff.
Saturday, Oct. 4, the Athletics Department inducted Jim Dortch (basketball/baseball), Wally Panel (basketball/baseball), Roman Borvanov (men’s tennis), Shannon Macmillan (women’s soccer) and the 2002 women’s soccer team.
The ceremony was a homecoming for many of UP’s finest athletes who came together for the first time in years. The room hummed with conversation as stories were remembered, memories retold and children ran between tables laughing, unaware of their parents’ special place in UP’s history.
“I think it’s a great honor, and I never thought that it would be possible, but the Hall of Fame Committee made their decision, and I feel honored,” Borvanov said.
Borvanov retired earlier this year after a nine-year career as a professional tennis player. His induction is a full circle back to UP, the place that launched his career as a tennis player.
While students, Borvanov and the other athletes won numerous awards and titles, impacting UP’s place in the athletic and college community. They were honored for their accomplishments by being added to the Hall of Fame, which has 96 members.
For the inductees, the Hall of Fame induction is both a recognition of talent and a homecoming as well.
“My husband went here as well, and when we were driving up on the bluff we were like, ‘It kind of feels like we're driving home,’” Wanda Rozwadowska, a member of the 2002 National Championship team, said.
Rozwadowska said the athletic history of UP spans hundreds of athletes, coaches and games.
“When you are 18, 19 or 20 you don't really think of the history that much. And it wasn’t until a few years later that I realized, ‘That was just one year out of the program.’ But winning it [the 2002 Championship] shone a light on a program that was already great,” Rozwadowska said.
The 2002 women’s soccer team, led by Clive Charles who began coaching soccer at UP in 1986, had a particularly special time in the program.
His athletes, including Jessica Parker, another member of the 2002 Championship team, said that he was not just a coach, but also a mentor to many.
“This is what I loved about being here: Clive Charles loved us not just as players, but as people. And I saw the value of being intentional with my life on and off the field because of how he treated us,” Parker said.
Charles built a program of incredible teams and fostered growth so athletes would become better human beings. His work as a coach lead to the 2002 Women’s Soccer Championship, the first in UP's history.
Charles died in 2003, just one year after this momentous victory.
Shannon Macmillan, one of the most decorated women’s soccer players to have graduated from UP, was also in attendance to receive her Hall of Fame award.
As a member of the U.S. National Team for 12 years and the U.S. Olympic Gold team in 1996, Macmillan understands soccer communities. She points at her time as a student here as a pivotal moment in her life as a person and an athlete.
“One of the greatest memories for me was when I first came up,” Macmillan said. “It’s a small, quiet campus, and then we have our first game and the stands were just packed. And as a little freshman scared to death to start with, I thought I’d come to this very calm, serene place. And you walk out there [on] game day and the crowd erupts, and it gives you literal chills.
“It was my first taste of people just enjoying the game and embracing it.”
Lindsey Huie, another member of the 2002 Championship soccer team, noted the importance of her shared history with the University and other graduates.
“After having left,” she said, “I realized, ‘You know what, had I not chosen this school I don't think I would be where I am today.’”
Molly McSweyn is a sports reporter for The Beacon. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.