The walls of McGonigle Hall are covered with portraits of athletes inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame. Seven more faces can now be added to those walls.
Kevin Ross, Dr. Santee Ruffin, Beverly Grove, Jane Ann Cantwell, Bill Mendek, Bill Roth and Gary Hardin were inducted to Temple’s Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday in a ceremony held at Lincoln Financial Field.
Some of the previously inducted members, such as former baseball coach Skip Wilson, administrator Al Shrier, former
football coach Wayne Hardin and former
lacrosse and field hockey coach Tina Sloan Green were in attendance.
Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw addressed a room so packed with people that many in attendance had to stand in order
to view the momentous occasion. Many of the soon-to-be inductees expressed their gratitude for being bestowed with this prestigious honor.
“It’s a great honor,” said Ruffin, a former track and field star.
“My participation was years ago … but to be honored by Temple is just icing on the cake.”
Cantwell, an all-American diver for Temple in 1980-81, was also honored.
“I’m really happy about it and I’m really
honored,” Cantwell said with a smile. “I think I deserve it.”
Grove, a two-sport star in field hockey
(Temple’s team MVP 1978 and ’79) and lacrosse (All-College from 1977-80), had trouble describing her emotions.
“I don’t even know how to put it into words,” Grove said. “To be considered among the other athletes that came before me has kind of got me speechless. I never dreamed I’d be one of those athletes that got inducted into the Hall of Fame. It’s pretty impressive.”
Roth, a gymnast who made U.S. Championship history in 1990 by recording the first perfect 10.00 score, was taken aback by her commemoration.
“Dr. Ruffin said it precisely [in his induction speech],” Roth began. “You really
don’t expect it, but when it happens, you’re really blown away by it. It really makes you grateful.”
Ross, a standout defensive back for the football team from 1980-83 and an NFL Pro Bowler, was fond of the induction and of his time at Temple.
“I really am honored,” Ross said. “I had some great times at Temple. And I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done.
Ross’ sister, Joanne Muse, wished the induction could have happened sooner.”I love it. I just wish my mother was here to see it,” she said.
“As a little boy, all he did was play football and I know she would have been so proud of him.”
Mendek, a pitcher for the baseball team from 1981-84, praised those who helped him get to the Hall of Fame.
“It’s an honor and it’s a tribute as much to my teammates and coaches as it is to me,” Mendek said.
His coach, the legendary Skip Wilson, for whom the baseball field is named, felt Mendek’s induction should have come sooner.
But the aged coach said he was still proud of his former player.
“He was an outstanding player and I thought it was long overdue,” Wilson said. “He was the best pitcher we’ve ever had at the university, in my time, so I felt great.”
His former batterymate and current radio
personality, John Marzano, spoke highly of Mendek after the ceremony.
“I learned a lot from him,” Marzano said. “He was a great pitcher and a great guy to play with. He was a little crazy and anyone who played with him knew he was a nut. But he kept his team loose and he was a great teammate and a friend to this day.”
In his induction speech, Mendek mentioned
being suspended three times in four years, and even poked some fun at Marzano.
“John Marzano felt I could have secured a few more wins if I didn’t shake him off so many times,” Mendek said. Hardin, who teammed with his father, Wayne Hardin, to form the second pair of Hall of Fame father and son inductees, also roused the crowd with laughter.
“I joked [with my father] that Temple gave him the head coaching job because I came to play golf,” Hardin said.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at email@example.com.