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October 10, 2011

Tech athletics inducts six into Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame

By: Jimmy Robertson

On Oct. 7, the Virginia Tech athletics department inducted six former student-athletes into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. The six new honorees bring the total number enshrined to 158. Here’s a closer look:


Sport played: Baseball
Years played: 1990-92
Notable accomplishments: Set Tech single-season records with 130 innings pitched and 12 wins in 1992 – both records that still stand

Thanks to Chuck Hartman’s close relationship with one of his players, who happened to be the baseball coach at Patrick County [Va.] High, Brad Clontz went from having no college offers to being a member of the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

“My best friend’s dad used to take us up there for games, and I’d always be pulled toward the trophy cases and see the plaques on the wall,” Clontz said. “My dream was always to pitch in the Major Leagues, and my second dream was to be inducted into the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame. This was the last accolade I could get, and one of the best.”

And certainly one of the most deserving. Clontz started his career at Tech as reliever, posting a 4-1 record, with five saves and a 2.81 earned run average as a freshman. Then Tech’s coaching staff moved Clontz to the starting rotation for his sophomore season. As a sophomore, he worked 85 1/3 innings, striking out 84 batters and posting a 5-5 record and 3.69 ERA.

In 1992, Clontz pitched 130 innings and registered 12 wins – both school season marks that still stand today. He struck out 115 batters, which still ranks as the second-highest single-season total by a Tech pitcher. He worked seven innings or more in 15 of his 16 starts and finished with a 12-3 record and 3.32 ERA.

Clontz was drafted and signed by the Atlanta Braves following his junior season. He won a World Series with the Braves and also pitched in another. For his career, he played for four teams during a six-year stint in the majors.

With the exception of his first two years in the majors, Clontz wore No. 30 – a tribute to former Tech basketball and baseball star Dell Curry.

“He was the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen,” Clontz said. “The whole ‘30’ thing was because of Dell. That’s how much passion I have for him and for Virginia Tech.”

Currently, Clontz is living in Alpharetta, Ga., where he is an independent casino marketing host.


Sport played: Wrestling
Years played: 1989-1994
Notable accomplishments: Won three CAA titles and was an All-American as a senior

Josh Feldman is a hard person to get in touch with, but at least he had good reasons.

Feldman serves in the Armed Forces. Presently, Lieutenant Commander Feldman is serving overseas with Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron Two stationed out of Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. His military obligations carried him abroad in the weeks and months before the induction dinner, and attempts to reach him for an interview understandably failed.

During his time at Tech, the Dunwoody, Ga., native took over the starting heavyweight duties as a redshirt sophomore in 1991-92 and made an immediate impact. He put together a 29-5-1 mark for the year, including a 16-0-1 slate in dual meets. He won the inaugural Colonial Athletic Association heavyweight championship that season and placed 13th at the NCAA Championships with a 2-2 finish.

Feldman was ranked the No. 9 heavyweight in the nation prior to the 1992-93 season. He won his last 11 matches that year heading into the NCAA Championships, where he placed ninth. His win in the CAA heavyweight championship match gave Tech the team title. His 27-7 record was the fourth-best in school history at the time.

As a senior, Feldman went on to win his third consecutive CAA title and capped a 28-7 record by becoming Tech’s second All-American in wrestling (at the time) when he took seventh place in the 1994 NCAA Championships in Chapel Hill, N.C.

After graduation, Feldman served as an assistant wrestling coach at the University of Virginia from 1994-96. Recently, Feldman has served as the coach of the Great Bridge (Va.) Youth Wrestling Club and as the head coach of the Great Bridge High School wrestling team.


Sport played: Football
Years played: 1996-1999
Notable accomplishments: Still ranks as the leading scorer in Tech’s football history

Shayne Graham is finally equal to his sister in terms of athletics accomplishments. He, too, is a Hall of Famer.

Graham, whose sister Michelle was inducted into the USC Spartanburg (now USC Upstate) Hall of Fame for her basketball and volleyball exploits a few years ago, received induction into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame after an unbelievable four-year run as the Hokies’ starting placekicker.

In 1996, Graham became the first true freshman placekicker to start for Tech in 15 years. He connected on his first field-goal attempt, a 26-yarder against BC, and went on to finish his Tech career as not only the Hokies’ all-time scoring leader, but also the all-time leading scorer in the BIG EAST Conference.

“I had kicked well that summer, but then I got there, and I didn’t kick that well at first,” Graham said. “But then I decided to just let it go. I thought of kicking as having fun, and I got into a groove. Coach Beamer later sat me down and told me I was the kicker and to do what I have to do. I kept having fun and never looked back.”

Graham’s 371 career points are still the most ever for a Tech player. He was named the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year following his senior season in 1999 and became just the second player (Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb was the other) ever to earn first-team All-BIG EAST honors four consecutive seasons.

The soccer-style kicker’s signature kick came during Tech’s drive to the national championship game in 1999 when he booted a 44-yard field goal as time expired for a 22-20 win at West Virginia that saved the Hokies’ unbeaten regular season.

“That’s usually the first thing people say to me,” Graham said. “If they see me in public, they refer to that kick against West Virginia, and I’m completely okay with that.”

Following graduation, Graham bounced around the NFL as a free agent before settling in with the Cincinnati Bengals for six seasons (2003-09). Graham set a number of franchise marks during his stint in Cincinnati, and in 2005, was the first Bengals placekicker to be selected to play in the Pro Bowl.

Graham, who is currently a free agent, lives in Fairlawn, Va.


Sport played: Football
Years played: 1952-53, 1956-57
Notable accomplishment: Has worked for nearly 40 years in athletics fundraising at Tech

John Moody chuckles when he relays the story of how he wound up at Virginia Tech after a good high school career at Hermitage High in Richmond. Hermitage had good players, and Coach Frank Moseley wanted them.

“My father was the principal, so I think that’s one of the reasons why Coach Moseley offered me a scholarship,” Moody laughed. “He thought he could get some of those other players.”

What Moseley got was a young man who has ended up giving the better part of his heart and soul to Virginia Tech athletics.

Moody arrived in 1952 as a scholarship football player. He played his first two years before serving a two-year stint in the United States Army. He then returned to Blacksburg prior to the 1956 football season and finished his career.

Moody, who worked as a coach and teacher for four years and in the private sector for several years, came back to Blacksburg in 1972. While on business, he ran into Mac McEver, who oversaw Tech’s Student Aid Association back then. That encounter led to a job as the assistant director of the Student Aid Association, and Moody never left.

“I was in Blacksburg on business, and I went to a football practice,” Moody said. “While there, I ran into Mac, and he told me he had a job opening. My wife’s parents lived in Blacksburg, and after a couple of interviews, I decided to come back. It’s been fun times every since.”

During the past 38 years, Moody has shown an uncanny ability to bring people together, especially Tech people, while working for the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund. He played a key role in the highly successful Hokie Representative System that put more than 300 committed, well-informed volunteers in the field making contacts to increase support for Tech athletics. He also established the “Hackin’ Hokies,” a group that provides support for the golf program, and he has helped raise money for facilities and for Tech’s endowment.

In 2008, Moody received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Athletic Directors of Development, an award only given when deemed appropriate.

Moody, who recently had the Lane Stadium flagpole plaza named in his honor, maintains a part-time position in the Athletic Fund office and is still heavily involved in major fundraising.


Sport played: Football
Years played: 1972-75
Notable accomplishments: Was the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, became Tech’s first African-American quarterback

Phil Rogers was a highly touted recruit out of Gate City High School in Southwest Virginia when he signed with Virginia Tech in 1972. A running back by trade, Rogers would go on to re-write Tech’s rushing records, and then, in a surprising turn, become the school’s first African-American quarterback.

Rogers played as a true freshman under Coach Charlie Coffey, and then in 1973, he moved into the starting tailback role and responded with a record-breaking year. He finished the season with a then-school season record of 1,036 yards, which made him the first Tech player to rush for a 1,000 yards in a season. His 103.6 rushing yards per game were also an all-time mark at the time.

Rogers found himself running out of the wishbone formation as a junior after Jimmy Sharpe took over the coaching duties from Coffey, but the spring practice in 1975 brought an even bigger change for Rogers when Sharpe decided to put the elusive back’s athletic skills to use as a triple-option quarterback.

“He ran the wishbone, and I had never played quarterback,” Rogers said. “He asked me to try it, and I said, ‘Okay.’ That’s just part of the game. You do what the coaches ask you to do, and we were able to have some success.”

The following fall, he started every game under center. He guided the Hokies to big road wins at Auburn and Houston on the way to an 8-3 record. He rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown against Auburn and posted a career-best 168 yards rushing against the Cougars.

“I don’t get asked a lot about it, but I don’t think a lot of people know about it,” Rogers said of being the first African-American quarterback at Tech. “That’s been so long ago. I take pride in it, but we had a lot of good players in my class. That’s why we were able to have some success that year.”

Rogers, who finished his Tech career with 528 carries for 2,461 yards (both school records at the time), currently lives in Blacksburg and has been employed at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant for 30 years.


Sport played: Women’s basketball
Years played: 1997-2001
Notable accomplishments: Still ranks as Tech’s all-time leader in rebounding, field goals and field-goal percentage

When Tere Williams, arguably the best women’s basketball player at Tech in the past 20 years, received the letter notifying her of her selection into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, she thought it was a hoax.

I called a close friend of mine in the academic advising office and asked about it,” she said. “They had no clue, so I kind of pondered it alone for a bit. It didn’t really sink in until almost two months later that it was happening.”

Williams, who came to Tech from Chapel Hill, N.C., made her mark immediately at Tech, leading the team in scoring (13.4), rebounding (7.6) and field-goal percentage (.538) as a freshman. She shared the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Year honor and was a third-team freshman All-America selection.

The 5-foot-11 forward went on to lead Tech in scoring, rebounding and field-goal percentage during each of her four seasons, helping the Hokies to a 92-33 overall record and four postseason appearances during the four-year span. She was the first Hokie to be selected for the All-BIG-EAST team after being named All-Atlantic 10 her first three seasons. Following her senior season, she became the first Tech player to be selected in the WNBA Draft when the Phoenix Mercury picked her in the third round.

Williams is still Tech’s career leader in rebounds (853), rebound average (7.2), field goals made (694) and field-goal percentage (.550).

I’m going to let you in on a little secret,” Williams said. “I’m not that great of a player, but I’ll out-passion you any day. I got my teammates, who already had the talent, fired up about being players again. I’m very passionate about basketball. I’m not sure if I love to hate it or hate to love it, but it’s in my life in a huge way, and whenever I go at it, I go hard.”

Currently, Williams is taking a break from a budding music career to travel and write. She has participated in several music and jazz festivals and just recently moved back to Chapel Hill.