Hall of Fame, Hall of Distinction inductees honored
Story by Clara Firtos, Contributing writer
Four former Murray State Racers and one coach joined the 36th class of the Murray State Hall of Fame Friday in the Murray Room of the CFSB Center.
The Hall of Fame inductees include Wes Cunningham, Coach Ron Greene, Ashley Hayes, Kim (Koehler) Church and Terry Love. Joining the Hall of Distinction were Richard Blalock, Claire Benton, Phil Bryan and Chuck Shuffett.
The evening started with President Bob Davies introducing the 2016 class. He recognized the inductees and admired their dedication.
“It’s that mindset of athletes, always doing your best and always moving forward,” Davies said.
HALL OF FAME
The first new member inducted was former baseball standout Wes Cunningham. Cunningham is most known for his three-time First All-OVC selection as Murray State Player of the Year in 2010.
Cunningham majored in history during his time at Murray State and was named a three-time ESPN Magazine First Team Academic All-District selection.
“The one thing that I learned early on was being able to turn it around and being able to focus on something else,” Cunningham said. “It just worked for me. I needed it.”
During his speech he thanked family and friends.
“I couldn’t have made it as far as I did without these loving people,” he said.
The next Hall of Fame inductee was Coach Greene. Greene has contributed to the Racer’s 28 consecutive winning season of men’s basketball. While coaching, he led them to their OVC titles in seasons 1982-83. He had led the Racers to a total of 119 wins by the end of his seven seasons between 1979-85.
“If you’re going to be anything, if you’re going to be anyone, you gotta trust the person who’s given you the opportunity,” Greene said.
Kim Koehler, formerly Kim Church, is the second volleyball player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. She was the first Murray State volleyball player to reach 1,000 kills and digs. Her titles include All-OVC First Team for three of her four seasons, OVC Tournament MVP and All-Tournament First Team in 1990. Koehler was a two-sport athlete, playing volleyball and track and field.
She lettered all four years at Murray State in both sports and graduated Summary Cum Laude with her degree in housing and interior design.
“I don’t ever remember not wanting to be the best,” Koehler said. “God gives us responsibilities, and it’s up to us to bring them out.”
Hayes was another inductee titled with many awards in women’s basketball. Hayes even continued her athletic career abroad when she played for three teams in Portugal and Germany.
“It wasn’t a really hard adjustment,” Hayes said. “I like the city and I like the smaller rural areas. I was used to that. But that moment getting off in Germany though, I got into a small sports car; the driver was zooming off in the middle of nowhere. Right then, I asked, what did I get myself into?”
Terry Love finished his career with more than 150 tackles to go along with three interceptions from his position in the Racer secondary. During Love’s speech he said he wouldn’t have made it into the Hall of Fame if it weren’t for his family, friends, coaches and teammates.
HALL OF DISTINCTION
The four people who were inducted into the Hall of Distinction were not athletes but had a lot of influence in the athletic programs. Many went on to help Racers athletics through broadcast, being a doctor, administration and a ticket manager.
First recognized was Blalock, who is the team physician for Murray State Athletics. He worked alongside of Dr. Hal Houston and Tom Simmons as a medical student.
“They made me drive a little faster, work a little bit harder and challenged me to always put in more,” Blalock said.
Blalock is still currently working for the Murray State Racers. His hopes for the athletic medical field in the future include its growth, seeing all student-athletes graduate and seeing the community continue to give back.
Claire Benton is known most for being a Murray State Athletics ticket manager and being a full-time colleague of athletic directors.
“It was great,” Benton said. “We had the greatest group to work with. I remember waking up in the morning and looking forward to work.”
Bryan worked for the administration and was named Dean of Admissions and Registrar in 1982. Bryan retired in 2001 and received an honorary doctorate from Murray State.
He helped out in the registrar’s office, president’s office and Academic Affairs, and at the end of his career, Bryan handed out more than 25,000 diplomas.
Shuffett was the voice of the Murray State Racers for 20 years. His media career included owning WNBS-AM and owning the monthly magazine, Montage. He followed Murray State basketball as it worked its way up to the NCAA DI. Being inducted into the Hall of Distinction is a humbling experience, Shuffett said.
The Hall of Fame ceremony closed with each inductee being honored in front of the Murray State community.
More information is located in the Hall of Champions located in the CFSB Center.