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Inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame Class inducted

By Jason Hanes

Reinhardt Athletics inducted its first class into the Reinhardt Athletics Hall of Fame last Friday night at the Gordy Center on the University's campus.

Nine individuals and one team were inducted during the emotional ceremony. Throughout the night, a love for the school, for teammates, and for family was a common theme that was weaved throughout each speech.

1998 Reinhardt Men's Soccer Team

No team in Reinhardt's athletic history has won a national championship, but the 1998 men's soccer squad can legitimately lay claim to one. The team went 21-1-1 in Reinhardt's final year at the NJCAA level. Its only loss came in the finals of the NJCAA National Championship to a team that would later vacate the win due to using ineligible players. Many of those players would go on to continue to have careers in soccer, including Hall of Fame inductee Carsten Krogh and Benji Walton, the current women's soccer coach at Kennesaw State University. The coach of the team, Lars Andersson, is the current women's soccer coach at UNC Pembroke.

Coach Andersson, speaking on behalf of the team, spoke of how he knew this team was something special after a tie with Young Harris during the season. "They told me, 'Coach, we didn't come here to tie. We came here to win.'"

Daniel Jape ('08)

Jape was Reinhardt's first baseball First Team NAIA All-American in 2008 after hitting 18 home runs and driving in 83 runs. Both marks led the Southern States Athletic Conference, and his 1.596 RBIs per game average ranked fourth in the country. Jape hit .333 for his career in 145 games played with 26 home runs and 146 runs batted in. He had a slugging percentage of .572 in his three years with the Eagles.

In addition to showing appreciation to his family, Jape gave credit to current RU director of athletics and former head baseball coach Bill Popp for bringing him to Reinhardt and helping him with his baseball career.

Leigh Baker (Prather) ('07)

Baker was a 13-time Southern States Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week and a two-time SSAC Pitcher of the Year. Baker was an Honorable Mention All-American in 2006 and a Second Team All-American in 2007. In just two years, the Macon, Georgia, native pitched 432.2 innings with 78 games and 63 starts. Her career ERA was 1.08, while she struck out 683 batters over her two seasons. In 2006, Baker led the country in batters struck out per nine innings (15.29) and was eighth in ERA with a 0.99 mark. Her 26 wins ranked her ninth in the country that year. Batters hit just .158 against Baker in her two years with Reinhardt.

Prather had a large contingent of friends and family in attendance for the ceremony and recognized the importance of Reinhardt in her life in her remarks.

Brandon Jennings ('06)

Jennings scored more than 1,500 points in his two years with Reinhardt with the men's basketball program. Averaging 24.3 points per game for the Eagles, Jennings scored 29.8 points per game in his senior season in 2005-06 to lead the country. The 6-foot-6 guard from Canal Winchester, Ohio, would be named an NAIA Third Team All-American following his senior season and was an Honorable Mention All-American following his junior year when he scored 19.1 points per game.

Jennings mentioned in his remarks that he took an odd route to Reinhardt, but it was a route he was thankful he took. "I drove down here from Ohio, and I had to have passed 70 different NAIA schools along the way," Jennings said.

Amanda Clonts (Brickhouse) ('05)

Clonts is widely regarded as the best women's basketball player to suit up for the Lady Eagles. An NAIA Honorable Mention All-American in her senior season, Clonts scored more than 1,800 points in her career with Reinhardt. In the 2004-05 season, Clonts ranked 13th in the country in points per game (19.2). She led Reinhardt to 20 wins in 2003-04 and 21 wins in 2004-05, still the only 20-win seasons in Reinhardt's NAIA women's basketball history.

Brickhouse gave an emotional speech where she thanked her family, especially her mother and father. "Every game day, my mother made sure to have my favorite meal cooked for dinner," she said. "My father would go out and rebound for me for two hours a day while I practiced."

Ken Dixon ('02)

Dixon was a four-time team captain for Reinhardt's men's golf team. He was the first three-time All-American in Reinhardt's history, earning NJCAA honors in 1998-99 and NCCAA recognition in 1999-2000 and 2000-01. As a freshman, he finished fourth at the NJCAA Division III National Tournament and helped the team to a fourth-place finish overall at the championship event. He finished fifth at the NCCAA National Tournament in 2000 and third at the same tournament in 2001. In 2002, he was First Team All-Conference in the Georgia Alabama Carolina Conference of the NAIA.

Dixon became emotional during his brief speech when he remarked about receiving his honor in front of his former coach and fellow inductee Gerald Sharpe.

Carsten Krogh ('00)

Krogh, a Denmark native, was one of the great athletes of Reinhardt's junior college athletic period. A men's soccer player, he was an NJCAA All-Region Team member in 1997 and then was an NJCAA and NSCAA All-American in 1998. Krogh is believed to be Reinhardt's first First Team All-American athlete. He was the team captain of the 1998 men's soccer team that went 21-1-1 that reached the finals of the NJCAA National Championship. He would stay on at Reinhardt during the transition to becoming a four-year school and earned his bachelor's degree in 2000.

Krogh spoke about how Reinhardt really became home for him. "Driving into Waleska, and seeing the four-way stop sign, that was the first time I had ever seen one of those," he said. "In Denmark, we had roundabouts. Other people would get to go home on weekends, but for us international students, we couldn't go home. Reinhardt quickly became home."

Gerald Sharpe

Sharpe was athletic director at Reinhardt during its big period of transition from 1993-2003. He led Reinhardt's move from the NJCAA to the NAIA. The Georgia Alabama Carolina Conference Athletic Director of the Year in 2003, Sharpe also coached men's basketball and golf during his time with Reinhardt College. He was 241-149 as the men's basketball coach from 1988-2001, and he coached men's golf from 1991-2003. He was a four-time NJCAA Division III men's golf Coach of the Year and the 1997 NJCAA Division II District 7 men's basketball Coach of the Year.

Much like other inductees during the evening, Sharpe became emotional when talking about his family. He spoke of what a special place Reinhardt is and, much like other inductees during the evening either during a speech or at a dinner table, remarked on how much the school had grown.

Thelma Rogers

A mainstay of Reinhardt's athletic programs in its formative years, Rogers coached many sports and was a role model for young women who wanted to get a job in physical education following graduation. She headed Reinhardt's physical education program, which would morph into the current sport studies program. Reinhardt's Silver Eagle award is named in her honor and goes to honor a male and female student athlete for their "Loyalty and Team Spirit." She is a Professor Emeritus for Reinhardt University.

Rogers spoke of her love for the students, and student-athletes, during her speech. "I prayed that everyone that walked through the doors of the [Brown Athletic Center] would feel as though they were loved and were important," she said.

Ken White ('61)

A member of Reinhardt's Board of Trustees, perhaps no one has helped to mold Reinhardt's athletic programs in the same way as White. A successful businessman in the carpet industry, all of Reinhardt's outdoor athletic facilities bear his name thanks to his generosity. He also helped spearhead a practice facility for Reinhardt's softball program and laid the foundation for Reinhardt's football success with the turf field that is named in his honor.

"I really don't know why I'm up here," said White. "I always just wanted our student-athletes to maybe have just a little better than the other guys."

"I can tell you why you're here," Popp said to White in his closing remarks. "You're here because you love Reinhardt."

Nominations are now being accepted for the next class for the Reinhardt Athletics Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame Committee will meet again in July of 2017, and all previous nominees and new nominees will be considered at that time.

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