UM athletics holds 2016 Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2016
FROM STAFF REPORTS
MONTEVALLO– The University of Montevallo inducted the 2016 class of the Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Anna Irvin Dining Hall on the UM campus.
The Hall of Fame honors former athletes and their achievements and contributions to Montevallo Athletics. The 2016 class is composed of seven individuals and the entire 2005-06 men’s basketball and baseball teams. Inductees were chosen by the 11-member Hall of Fame committee and will join an elite group of 96 individuals and three teams.
While the inductees hail from as far away as Billericay, England, many of the class of 2016 have stayed in the Birmingham area and continue to make just as much of a difference in their local communities today as the legacy they started at UM.
Cinda Walchli, a former member of the UM women’s volleyball team during their 1985-86 campaign, is now the vice president of children’s residency services at Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Center in Birmingham.
While Walchli considers the induction an honor and a privilege, she credits her teammates for her success during her time as a student athlete at UM.
“I’m excited beyond words to receive this honor, but it encompasses so much more than just me,” said Walchli.
The former first-team NAIA All-American stated that the University and her teammates are what have allowed her to be the person she is today.
“It takes a village,” said Walchli. “The University provided me an education in psychology to be able to work with children in need, and my teammates have always supported me. Without their shoulders to stand on I would fall.”
For Hansell Gunn, the trip back to campus for the induction ceremony provided more than just an opportunity to be honored for his athletic achievements.
Gunn was brought to Alabama College alongside teammate Lonnie Edwards as the first two African-American student athletes at the school, with his playing career spanning 1969-71.
“Lonnie and I were brought here with a job to integrate,” said Gunn. “To me that was not just an opportunity to bring diversity and ethnicity to campus, but I saw it as my job to inspire, empower and motivate others to bring together races and change the times we were living in.”
The West Point, Miss. native has spent 39 years as a superintendent, principal, teacher and coach at elementary, middle and high schools. He is now director and chancellor of Gunn Christian Academy in Birmingham. The academy provides a Christ-centered education for at-risk children.
“Coming back to the University, more than just the name of the school has changed, Gunn said. “The majority of the basketball team is African-American, as are several other inductees tonight. Someone had to be the person to start a movement, and it’s special to be back tonight and see how others have come along behind me.”
UM also honored Mike Dutton with the 2016 Leon G. Davis Award. The award recognizes a former UM student-athlete who has distinguished themselves through personal achievements and community service. Dutton has coached basketball at Banks High School, Mortimer Jordan High School, Hewitt-Trussville High School and Pinson Valley High School, where he coached for 27 years.
Montevallo Athletics has a storied tradition dating back to the 1950s. The University gained membership in the NAIA in the 1960s and later joined the NCAA in 1996. The program has been invited to play in the NCAA Division II postseason 23 times and has 52 student-athletes that have earned All-American honors.
The current program boasts 16 NCAA sports, with the new women’s lacrosse team making history by winning the first-ever Division II women’s lacrosse match in Alabama on Friday, Feb. 5.