MURRAY — After a long wait through the pandemic, the 2020 class to the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame was honored with an in-person gathering at Roy Stewart Stadium on Saturday.
Being on the turf at the old stadium made for a beautiful backdrop, as most of the 10-person class that could attend and their presenters reminisced about outstanding achievements and memories that helped the group produce 31 Ohio Valley Conference awards of all kinds, including 11 annual awards, i.e. OVC coach, player, freshman, defensive or athlete of the year and 11 OVC team championships. The class came from seven Murray State sport programs as the 38th class in the history of the MSU Hall of Fame since the first class in 1965.
The 2020 class and presenters included John Beaton (baseball, 1965-66), who was presented by his brother, Ron Beaton; Jenna Bradley (softball, 2010-11), who was presented by Coach Kara Amundson, an assistant coach during Bradley’s time at MSU; and Tara Isbell (soccer, 2007-10), who was presented by teammate Kellyn Robison. Former Racer men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm introduced Coach Billy Kennedy (men’s basketball, 2006-11), and Jackie Mounts (women’s basketball, 1975-79) was presented by one of the players she coached at MSU, Diane Oakley. Coach Eddie Hunt reminisced about Nick and Patrick Newcomb (men’s golf, 2007-10 and 2009-13), and Cameron Payne (men’s basketball, 2013-15) was presented by Prohm. Walter Powell (football, 2010-13) was presented by former Racer coach Chris Hatcher, and Joi Scott (women’s basketball, 2005-07) was presented by Coach Rob Cross, who recruited her to MSU.
In a rare summer gathering, some of the class couldn’t attend. Jenna Bradley, the first from Racer softball to be inducted, was about to give birth to her third child. Cameron Payne was busy playing for the Phoenix Suns, as they have advanced to the semifinals of the NBA playoffs. Patrick Newcomb was playing on the PGA Latino America in Bucaramanga, Columbia.
Almost eight months after the class inductions were postponed because of the pandemic, family and friends finally had the chance to gather in person. Murray State Director of Athletics Kevin Saal put the evening in perspective.
“Murray State University is a great place because of the community, and you’ve heard it time and time again, it’s the people who make the place,” Saal said. “Murray State Athletics is a great place because of the student-athletes and coaches who have come through here. I think it was about 14 months ago when I made calls to this 2020 class, and it’s the best day of the year for me, calling the inductees with news that they’ve been selected for the MSU Hall of Fame. It was absolutely worth the wait, to do this in person and share this event with you all.”
A bonus of the day was honoring Coach Connie Keasling for her recent induction into the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame. Keasling, a 2018 MSU Hall of Famer, coached Racer women’s tennis from 1984-87 and again from 1992-2011.
The 2021 class to the MSU Hall of Fame will be announced in July and will be honored the weekend of Nov. 12-13.