William "Pete" Bennett Open or Close
In the world of track, the name Pete Bennett is synonymous with excellence. William "Pete" Bennett distinguished himself as both an athlete and coach at Virginia State where his achievements and winning legacy are a testament to his character and competitive spirit. His passion for track became his vocation when he began coaching at Virginia State in 1953. In a half century of service, Bennett coached nearly 50 All-Americans, won 10 conference championships, two CIAA Championships, and made a positive impact on the lives of countless students. He was named Coach of the Year four times and had the honor to serve as a manager and coach at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico. Coach Bennett was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1982. His wife, Katherine, who was an African-American pioneer for women's athletics,are considered the "first family" of athlectics at VSU.
Johnny Borican Open or Close
Track star and painter of Virginia State University portraits of Presidents, Johnny Borican, VSU Class of 1938, would have been the Jesse Owens of middle distances in track & field. During the 1938 Penn Relays, he was the only representative of a black school to win an individual medal. He became a national and international figure, setting many records. He won the National Pentathlon in ’38, ’39 and ’41 and the National Decathlon in ’41, and was set to compete in the 1940 Olympics if it was not cancelled due to World War II. Tragically, his death in 1942 ended his promising career as a world-class athlete. He was 29 years old.
Larry Brooks Open or Close
As a 14th round draft choice of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1972 NFL Draft, Larry Brooks, VSU Class of 72, was a starter at defensive tackle for 10 years. He was named to the Pro Bowl five straight years 1976-80, including being named All-Pro from 1977-79 while on his way to starting in the team’s only Super Bowl appearance in 1980. Brooks had 17 quarterback sacks in 1976 and led the defensive line in 1979 in total tackles, had 6 quarterback sacks and knocked down 4 passes. Before the 1980 season, he led the defensive line in tackles, had 8 ½ quarterback sacks and 1 forced fumble. The streak ended in 1981 when he was sidelined by a knee injury and surgery.
Alonzo “Al” Bumbry Open or Close
Known affectionately as the “Bumblebee” by Baltimore Orioles Fans, Alonza “Al” Bumbry, VSU Class of '69, played 13 of his 14 Major League seasons as a star outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles. His speed made him one of the Orioles all-time stolen base leaders. In 1973 he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. He was an All-Star and he made two World Series trips with the Orioles in 1979 and 1983, winning it in ’83. In 1987, the “Bee” landed permanently among Orioles legends with his induction into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame.
Interestingly, Al was a late bloomer in baseball. He first distinguished himself on the basketball court, averaging 32 points per game at Ralph Bunche High School (King George County). After accepting a basketball scholarship to VSU, he played four years and was captain during his senior year. When VSU restarted the baseball program during his final academic year, Bumbry decided to play baseball. He captained the Trojans, batted .578 and was the team’s Most Outstanding Player. The decision to play baseball led Bumbry to a lifelong dedication to America’s past time. Following his graduation in 1969, Bumbry fulfilled his military obligation of two years. He was discharged as a first lieutenant after serving a year in Vietnam, where he was decorated with the Bronze Star.
Bryan Burwell Open or Close
Bryan Burwell, VSU Class of 1977, was a veteran newspaper columnist and television commentator who in 1997 joined Turner Sports as a reporter, essayist, and studio commentator for the NBA on TNT and TBS SuperStation. Bryan was also a sports columnist with St. Louis Post-Dispatch and served as a commentator with HBO Sports, "Inside the NFL" and boxing telecasts.
Among the major events he covered was Michael Jordan's comeback and sprinter Ben Johnson's expulsion from the Seoul Olympics after a positive drug test. He wrote a 2011 biography on sports broadcaster, John Madden, a former football player and Pro Football Hall of Fame coach. During his time at VSU Bryan was a hurdler for the Trojan track and field team and wrote for the school newspaper.
Leo Miles Open or Close
After playing one year with the New York Giants, Leo Miles, VSU Class of 1953, served for 22 seasons as an onfield game official in National Football League (NFL). In 1974, he became the first African-American official to work a Super Bowl. (Super Bowl VIII) and the first African-American to become an Assistant Supervisor of Officials. Later, Leo became a teacher and coach in the Washington, DC area and for 16 years served as Howard University's athletic director. He was inducted into the VSU Hall of Fame in 1989.
James "Jim" Mitchell Open or Close
James "Jim" Mitchell, VSU Class of 1969, played eight seasons in the National Football League as a Defensive End for the Detriot Lions. He later became the owner and operator of one of the largest African American automobile dealerships.