DATE: October 3, 2019
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
Western Albemarle’s Athletics Hall of Fame Debuts This Month With Two Events to Raise Money to Support Student Athletes
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – One of Virginia’s highest-rated public high schools for the quality of its athletic programming, Western Albemarle, is establishing an Athletics Hall of Fame to recognize athletes, coaches, administrators and teams who have excelled throughout the school’s storied history. In all, Western Albemarle boys and girls teams have earned 60 state championships for the school, including eight this past year.
Niche, the national education assessment organization that evaluates high school academic and athletic programs throughout the state and nation, bestowed a grade of A+ for both Western’s academics and its athletic program. Out of 541 schools, Niche ranked Western the second best high school for athletes in Virginia.
The inaugural class of inductees includes six student athletes, an athletic director, a coach, and an entire team—the 1996 boys soccer team, the first Western Albemarle team to earn a state title. The team’s remarkable performance included outscoring all opponents by a score of 86-9.
During the 2018-19 school year, Western’s boys and girls teams won state titles in tennis, soccer and swimming. The girls indoor track team and the boys cross country team also were state champions.
Two events this month are being held in conjunction with the new Hall of Fame to raise funds to support athletic programs that benefit all student athletes. These include a Warrior Club Golf Tournament on Friday, October 25, at Old Trail Golf Course, and a Warrior Club Banquet on Saturday, October 26, at Restoration, located within the Old Trail Golf Club. The banquet will include the formal induction of Hall of Fame members. More information is available at wahswarriorclub.org or by calling 434-823-8705.
Among those being honored at the Banquet on October 25 is Marie Whitten, who joined the school in 1979. She has coached the girls indoor and outdoor track and field teams for 35 years, has been Coach of the Year three times, and her teams have earned five state titles and 16 district and 13 regional championships.
The school’s first director of athletics, Joe Bingler, also will be in the inaugural class. During his tenure from 1978 until 1986, he hired many of the school’s most successful athletic coaches.
One professional football player, Billy Baber, is among the student athlete honorees. Baber was all-state in football, basketball and baseball at Western Albemarle. He played football for the University of Virginia and professionally for the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Also all-state in multiple sports was Missy Dudley, who earned her honors in basketball and track and field. She had an outstanding collegiate basketball career at James Madison and was a member of the Colonial Conference’s 1985-1995 All-Decade team.
Tasmin Fanning ran cross country and track and field for Western and was all-state for all four years she attended the school. She went on to compete for Virginia Tech and finished third in the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships, for which she was named an All-American.
Another all-state performer in cross country and track and field was Tyler Stutzman, named a Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2009, as a senior at Western. He went on to earn All-American honors at Stanford.
A football and lacrosse all-state athlete, Kent Henry, earned a place in the Virginia High School League record book for top 10 performances during his career at Western, for the yardage he gained as a quarterback and the number of touchdown passes he threw. Later, at Hampden-Sydney College, he was a 2018 Scholar All-American in lacrosse.
“Every one of these educators and scholar athletes represent thousands of students down through the years who have excelled in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and most important, in life,” said Steve Heon, Western’s athletic director. “When you talk with each one of this year’s inductees, you easily see why they represent the very best. They set high personal standards, exhibit world-class determination and hard work, and never stop believing in what they and their teammates can accomplish,” Heon said.
The Hall of Fame and its supporting events, the athletic director said, is Western Albemarle’s way of saying thank you to those who gave so much to the school. “They modeled the skills and attributes that produce winners in life, which deserves to be celebrated,” he said. “Our golf tournament and banquet provide an opportunity for the community to not only express our appreciation for their contributions, but also to provide financial support that will allow us to serve the fitness and development needs of today’s and future Western Albemarle athletes. In a most valuable way, they still are giving back to their school,” Heon said.