In February 2010, Queens University of Charlotte honored the athletes who helped make the Royals program what it is today with a series of events to mark the opening of the new Royals Hall of Fame.
The celebration began with an inauguration ceremony to honor the first class at the Queens Sports Complex at Marion Diehl Park.
"Each year we will look back at our programs' roots and celebrate the great athletes who helped set the foundation for what we've become," said Jeannie King, director of athletics at Queens.
From Dale Layer, who coached teams during Queens' transition to becoming co-ed, and Jane Mack, who went on to play in the U.S. Women's Open in golf, to Sequoya Friday who etched numerous entries into the Queens record book, each inductee in the first class has a winning story.
Student-Athlete Hall of Fame Inductees
Walter Aikens, '91 Men's Basketball
Aikens was a two-year letter winner while on the men's basketball team. As the first recruit for the inaugural men's squad at Queens, Aikens' impact on the program was immediate. In his first two season Aikens was named the team MVP and team captain. For his career Aikens finished with 38 consecutive games scoring double-digit points, extending through both seasons. In total, he put up double-figure points in 46 contests, missing the mark on just two games in his career. His efforts helped the Royals achieve their first 20 win season in just the second year of the program, doubling the total wins from the season before. Aikens improved his average from 19.5ppg during his first season to 20.1ppg in the second, making him the 13th best field-goal shooter in the country with an impressive .666 shooting percentage. Aikens still holds the single game rebounding record of (21) set in 199o-1991 season. The All-South Atlantic Region named Aikens a member of the first team following the 1990-91 season while also becoming Queens' first-ever Male Student-Athlete of the Year. After graduating in 1991 with a degree in Sociology, Aikens took his talents overseas to Brazil where he played for 7 seasons. In 1992 Aikens was invited to for a tryout with the Charlotte Hornets. Aikens is married to Michele Roseman, also a 1991 Queens graduate. They have two children, Alexis who attends Alexander Graham Middle School, and Walter Jr, who attends the University of Illinois and is a freshman on the football team. Aikens is employed by Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and is a behavior support technician and head basketball coach at Harding High School.
Sequoya Friday '99 Women's Basketball
Friday etched her named in the Queens record book during her four years with the Royals. She is the current leading scorer for the Royals with an impressive 1642 points, holds the single-game scoring record with 40 points, single-season scoring record with 513 points and the most steals in a season with 230. With 648 rebounds, she is second in total rebounding. While with the Royals Friday helped Queens achieve their highest NCAA regional ranking, eighth, and the best program record, 19-9, during the 1998-1999 season. She was twice named a member of the CVAC All-Conference Team, once second team and once first team. During her senior year she was twice the CVAC Player of the Week and was also named to the CVAC All-Tournament Team. Friday finished her career starting all but two contests and averaging 15.4ppg. Each season she averaged double-digit scoring and was 68.4% from the free throw line. Friday resides in Charlotte, works as reimbursement counselor for Lash Group, and is pursuing her PhD in Organizational Leadership at the University of Phoenix with a completion date of November 2011.
Bill Kennedy, '96 Men's Soccer
Kennedy is one of the founding players for the Queens men's soccer team. During Queens first year competing in a conference, Carolinas Virginias Athletics Conference (CVAC), Kennedy helped guide the team to the conference tournament championship. During the championship contest Kennedy netted three goals, a hat trick, to solidify the Royals first CVAC Tournament Championship. His efforts in the 1995 tournament earned him a place on the All-Tournament Team and his consistent play throughout the season gave him the first CVAC Men's Soccer Player of the Year honor, plus a spot on the CVAC All-Conference First Team. Kennedy's experience and talent helped Queens win the 1996 CVAC Regular Season title and the Conference Tournament Championship. Again he was honored for his play during the tournament, this time as the Tournament Offensive MVP and for the second consecutive season he was named to the All-Conference First Team. Following both seasons, 1995 and 1996, Kennedy was tabbed as a All-South First Team and All- America First Team player while being invited to play in the UMBRO Select College All-Star game. Kennedy finished his career at Queens scoring 63 goals, adding 23 assists and playing 63 of 69 possible contests. During his tenure with the Royals they men's soccer team had an impressive record of 61-25-4 and was nationally ranked as high as No. 21. Kennedy is married to Ashley Anderson and they have two children. Porter Kennedy (8) is in the 3rd grade made the honor role in school and is participating in Girls on the Run and Playing soccer. Ryan-Parker Kennedy (5) is in kindergarten and loves to play soccer and wrestle his dog Arden. Kennedy is a sales consultant for SMARTLogix, Inc. and resides in Brandon, MS.
Suzy Sulsona, '97 Women's Soccer
Sulsona is the current leading scorer for the Royals women's soccer team with 68 career goals. In part to her offensive efforts the Royals were nationally ranked eighth for total scoring during the 1993 season. This freshman season she also earned the honor of team captain, a title she held three out of her four seasons with Queens. For her final three years Sulsona led the team in scoring each season. Following her sophomore season she was nationally ranked sixth for goals scored and points earned and fifth in the nation following her junior season. This performance garnered her a spot on the NSCAA/UMBRO All-South First Team and an All-American Honorable mention. In 1995 Queens competed for the first time in a conference, Carolinas Virginias Athletics Conference (CVAC), and the Royals made a name for themselves right away. Sulsona guided the team to a perfect 10-0 league record and the first Regular Season and Tournament Championship. Sulsona was named the Women's Soccer Player of the Year, Conference tournament MVP and selected to the All-Conference First Team. She also earned Player of the Week honors 5 times and finished the season as the conference leading scorer. During her final season Sulsona helped Queens retain the Regular Season and Tournament Championship. For the second straight season she was named to the All-Conference First Team and Conference tournament MVP. Sulsona resides in Manhattan, NY and is an executive recruiter for Pro Advantage.
Kevin Yearick '98 Men's Soccer
Yearick was a four-year starter for the Queens men's soccer team under Head Coach Fred Norchi. During his tenure with the Royals Yearick helped Queens win three Carolinas Virginia Athletics Conference (CVAC) Tournament Championships, 1995-1997, and one Regular Season Title, 1996 and served as a captain his junior and senior years. During his freshman campaign, Yearick was named the NSCAA Second-Team All-South Region Player. This same season he was 10th in the South Region for scoring with 15 goals. Yearick would twice more be tabbed as an NSCAA All-South Region Player; during his junior and senior season he would earn First-Team honors while being named as a 2nd team all American in his senior year. Three times he was named Most Valuable Player on the team (94, 96, 97). CVAC named Yearick the Men's Soccer Player of the Year in 1996 and an All-Conference First Team member. He would earn a spot not only on the All-Conference First Team during his final year, but also on the All-Tournament Team. For his career, he ended up with 46 goals, 38 assists, and a separated shoulder. His final season was highlighted by having the privilege of playing with his younger brother Jeff, meeting his future wife Sarah '01, a fellow Queens soccer player and being named 2nd team All American. He was the Murphy Osborne nominee for Queens his Senior Year and won the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award. He was also named to the inaugural CVAC All Decade team. He and Sarah have two children, Kamden, 4 years old, and Kinsley who is 8 months old. The Yearick's are currently transition from their Huntersville, NC home to Atlanta, GA where Kevin works the Director of Network Services for Grady Health System in Atlanta
Coach and Administrator Hall of Fame Inductees
Phyllis Pharr, 1964-2000 Head Tennis Coach
Pharr has been an integral part of Queens since stepping foot on campus in 1964. She started with Queens as a professor, and quickly became involved in roles outside of the job description including coaching. Pharr has always had a desire to help women have an opportunity to participate in sport and did so at Queens through the Dolphin Club, the equestrian club, other club teams and most notably the women's tennis program. As the women's tennis coach from 1979 until the 1999-2000 season, Pharr guided the squad to the Department of Athletics first-ever NCAA tournament during the 94-95 campaign. While at the helm of the program Pharr coached Brandi Nottingham who reached a national ranking of No. 7 during the 98-99 season. Most recently Pharr was honored for her commitment as a teacher, an administrator and coach with the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award in 2008. The award recognizes individuals whose way of life uniquely inspires the potential of each student. Pharr, who resides in Charlotte, continues to share her passion and wisdom with Queens students, just as she has the last 46 years.
Dale Layer, 1988-1998 Director of Athletics and Men's Basketball Coach
When Layer was hired by Queens President Billy O. Wireman, he was charged with overseeing the transition from a strictly women's only department to a co-ed program. In addition to seeing the creation of men's programs Layer was named the Head Men's Basketball Coach. Six seasons into his tenure Layer helped guide Queens into the Carolinas Virginias Conference (CVAC) and NCAA Division II participation. Layer was at the helm when Queens won its first Hawn Cup, an all-sports conference award. During his nine year stint as the Men's Basketball Coach Layer amassed a record of 168-88, for a .656 winning percentage, five 20-plus win seasons, three CVAC Tournament Championships, two CVAC Regular Season Championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Eight of his nine seasons he guided the team to winning records. He was twice named the National Basketball Coaches' Association Coach of the Year for the region, South Atlantic and East. Away from the court, Layer's players had a 100% graduation rate. Since Queens, Layer was the head coach at Colorado State for seven seasons, an assistant coach at Liberty University for one season, and Marquette University for one season. Currently he is in his first season as the head coach at Liberty University. Married for 28 years to the former Brenda Peterson, they have three children. Valerie, 25, lives in Denver and is working for Jones University; Tim, 22, is a senior at Liberty University, majoring in Business; and Ethan, 17, is a junior at Liberty Christian Academy.
Dr. Billy O. Wireman President of Queens from 1978-2002
The late Bill O. Wireman arrived at Queens in 1978 during a critical juncture in the university's history. He brought a spirit of revitalization, excitement and growth, and established a personable and approachable style that endeared him to the Queens community. Wireman is credited with many sweeping changes during his administration, including the shift to fully co-educational status, the launch of several new schools and colleges, the establishment of an NCAA Division II athletics program, and the change from Queens College to Queens University of Charlotte. Like many native Kentuckians, he dreamed of playing basketball, which he did at the state's Georgetown College as a 5-foot-8 shooting guard, and there he earned a degree in history. After graduating and serving a two-year stint in the Marines, he was honorably discharged as a lieutenant. Afterward, Billy (he was born Billy; his friends endearingly called him "Billy O") Wireman launched headlong into education. He earned a master's degree in educational administration at the University of Kentucky while assisting legendary basketball coach Adolph Rupp during the school's 1957-58 championship season. He graduated three years later with a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University and was hired as a founding faculty member and basketball coach at Florida Presbyterian College, a new school in St. Petersburg, now called Eckerd College. Dr. Wireman went on to be the President of Eckerd College from 1968 -1977 before coming to Queens. With a history and love for athletics, Wireman was instrumental in establishing Queens as a strong and influential player in college athletics and remained a loyal Royals fan until the end. Having fought a valiant fight against colon cancer, Dr. Wireman passed away on July 16, 2005. He is survived by his wife and college sweetheart, Katie Comer Wireman; his son, Gary Wireman; his daughter, Emily Wireman Smith and her husband, Stuart Smith; all of Charlotte.
Royals Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Inductees
Jane Mack, '66 Women's Golf
Mack, who grew up taking lessons at Willow Oaks Country Club located in Richmond, Va., was not allowed to play golf on a high school team. When she went on to Queens -there were very few women who even played golf and certainly not a collegiate team, but they managed a few matches against one another. However, there was the Virginia Collegiate Championship at Mary Baldwin in Staunton where Mack dominated the playing field winning in 1964 and 1966, and was the runner-up in 1965. After graduating from Queens with a degree in Art, Mack went on to claim four Virginia State Golf Association Women's Amateur titles (1977, 1978, 1982 and 1992) and is the only player to triumph in the event over a three-decade span. In her 1977 Women's Am triumph, she bested six-time Women's Am champion Robbye King-Youel of Charlottesville, prevailing for a victory in 37 holes at The Homestead's Cascades Course. In addition, she represented the Virginia team at the annual Virginias-Carolinas Women's Team Matches from 1967-73, 1976-88 and 1990-97, captaining the team on two occasions. In national competitions, Mack qualified for and competed in the U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Women's Amateur championships three times and took part in numerous Trans-National championships. Mack won 15 Richmond Women's Golf Association titles, including posting three straight victories in the event from 1985-87. In 2000, Mack was named one of "Four Aces" of Virginia women's golf, along with Robbye King Unger, Lily Harper Martin and Mary Patton Janssen. In April of 2009, Mack was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame; the only woman in that class. Mack also served eight years on the VGSA Board of Directors and ten years on the course ratings and rules committees. A retired art teacher at Richmond's Hermitage High School, where she taught for more than 30 years, Mack is a talented painter who was honored as Richmond's "Undiscovered Artist of the Year" in 1971.
Christine Safford Beck '64 Women's Tennis
In the fall of 1960, Chris Safford came to Queens as a freshman from Philadelphia. She was an excellent student, majoring in German under her favorite professor, Dr. Ted Weiant, but also taking lots of English classes with the outstanding Dr. Roberta Chalmers. She competed in collegiate tournaments while at Queens, as well as national tournaments including Forest Hills and earned top regional and national rankings. At Queens, she joined Alpha Delta Pi sorority and spent her junior year abroad in Vienna studying German. Having met Arthur Ashe on the junior tennis tour, their friendship sparked a lifelong commitment to use tennis to influence lives and open doors to countless underprivileged children nationwide. Beck served as volunteer president of the board of the National organization of five years. Earlier. Beck and her husband Leif co-founded the Philadelphia National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) which now operates under the umbrella of the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center and reaches 7,500 children each year. Beck has served as chair of multi-million dollar campaigns for Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis & Education and has been recognized by countless organizations including the Jimmy Carter Hammer award from Habitat for Humanity. A Queens board of trustee from 1995 until 2008 she has received the Queens Alumni Service award and most recently was recognized with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 2007. After graduating from Queens, she married the love of her life, Leif Beck, and they have three adult sons - Lars, 38, Eric, 33, and Anders, 32. She currently serves as President and CEO of the 460 student Gesu School in North Philadelphia's inner city.
Queens University of Charlotte is a private, co-ed, Presbyterian-affiliated comprehensive university with a commitment to both liberal arts and professional studies. Located in the heart of historic Charlotte, Queens serves approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students through its College of Arts and Sciences, the McColl School of Business, the Presbyterian School of Nursing, the Wayland H. Cato, Jr. School of Education, the School of Communication and Hayworth College for Adult Studies.