March Moments: Athletics
David vs. Goliath on the Gridiron
A legendary gridiron moment occurs on Oct. 14, 1932, when Tommy Scott's Norfolk Division Braves football team, taking advantage of a case of mistaken identity, plays the mighty University of Miami Hurricanes. The Braves lose the hard-fought contest, 6-2, a game that was supposed to be played by parent institution William and Mary. Following a conference ruling that the two-year school can no longer play freshmen, coupled with a $10,000 debt, the Norfolk Division football program hangs up its cleats in 1941. The Braves compile a 62-19-4 record over 11 years.
Oral History Interview with A. Rufus Tonelson
A. Rufus Tonelson was one of the first three students to enroll at the Norfolk Division in 1930. In his 1979 oral history interview, he gives his recollections of the infamous University of Miami game.
The 1960-61 basketball season ends with an amazing 60-point performance by senior Leo Anthony against Lynchburg College. The 128-61 score still stands as a school record for widest margin of victory. Anthony, Old Dominion's first All-American, finishes his career with 2,181 points, still second best in Monarch history. His single-game mark, however, is broken Feb. 14, 1968, when Bob Pritchett scorches the nets for 67 points against RPI.
Leo Anthony is shown with his father and Coach Metheny after scoring his 2,000th point. (Click on image to view full photo)
Oral History Interview with Coach Bud Metheny
Arthur B. "Bud" Metheny served as head basketball coach from 1948-1965, head baseball coach from 1948-1980, and Athletic Director from 1963-1970. He became ODU's coach with the most wins in men's baseball and basketball. In his 1975 interview, he recalls the high scoring game in 1961.
Monarchs Are Crowned
In August 1961, a special faculty committee chaired by Professor John Foster West chooses Monarchs as the new name for the school's athletic teams. The committee members select Monarchs as a name that would "link the traditions of the past to the realities of the present." The following year, the newly independent college becomes the 16th member of the Mason-Dixon Conference.
Oral History Interview with Coach Bud Metheny
Also in his 1975 interview, Bud Metheny recalls how ODU decided on the name "Monarchs" and the school colors.
Men's Basketball in the NCAA
Coach Sonny Allen's Runnin' Monarchs win the NCAA Division II national championship in men's basketball in 1975, defeating New Orleans 76-74 in Evansville, Ind. The ODU team is led by 6-9 sophomore center Wilson Washington, who scores 21 points and earns Most Outstanding Player honors, senior co-captain Oliver Purnell and sophomore guard Joey Caruthers. On Jan. 10, 1981, ODU's Billy Mann deflects a DePaul inbound pass, catches the ball and lays it in the basket with seven seconds to play, securing an amazing come-from-behind upset victory over the nation's top-ranked team.
Coach Sonny Allen coaching a play, 1970s. (Click on image to view full photo)
Fourteen years later, the Monarchs shock third-seeded and Big East champion Villanova, 89-81, in a triple overtime thriller in NCAA Regional play. ODU is led by Petey Sessoms' 35-point performance. The men's basketball team, under coach Jeff Jones, achieves the program's first NCAA Division I national ranking during the 2014-15 season, No. 25, and advances to the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. The Monarchs finish the 2014-15 campaign with a 27-8 slate, including a perfect record at home.
Major Boost for Women’s Sports
In 1974, under the leadership of athletic director Jim Jarrett, Old Dominion becomes the first university in Virginia to award women's athletic scholarships, and is among the first in the nation to do so. ODU holds the inaugural Donna Doyle Smith Scholarship basketball game in February 1975, the school's first event to emphasize raising money for women's athletic scholarships. After 40 years in the AD position, Jarrett retires from the university in 2010, having put his stamp of integrity on the athletic program.
Greatest Women’s Basketball Team Ever
Under the guidance of coach Marianne Stanley and led by superstar Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, the Lady Monarchs capture back-to-back AIAW national basketball championships in 1979 and 1980, amassing an astounding 72-2 record over the two-year campaign. Stanley's stellar cast also features All-American Inge Nissen and Anne Donovan, 3-time All-American, 1983 Naismith National Player of the Year, and Hall of Famer. The Lady Monarch basketball team defeats Georgia in March 1985 to win the NCAA championship, the program's third national title under coach Marianne Stanley. The victory is followed by a trip to the White House for personal congratulations from President Ronald Reagan.
Lady Monarchs with President Reagan, 1985. (Click on image to view full photo)
ODU's program continues to achieve at a high level under coach Wendy Larry '77, who succeeds Stanley in 1987. From 1987 to 2011, Larry's teams capture an NCAA record-setting 17-straight Colonial Athletic Association titles (1992 to 2008), reach 20 NCAA tournaments and advance to the championship game of the NCAA tournament in 1997. After a brilliant regular season and an impressive performance in the postseason, March Madness comes to an end for the Lady Monarchs when they lose to Tennessee on March 30, 1997, in the national championship game, 68-59. Senior Clarisse Machanguana and juniors Ticha Penicheiro and Nyree Roberts are named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team. Coach Wendy Larry earns 1997 National Coach of the Year honors from The Sporting News.
The Lady Monarchs pose for a group photo as champions of the Colonial Athletic Association Women's Basketball Tournament. (Click on image to view full photo)
Sailing Program Captures First National Trophy
The women's sailing squad captures the school's first ICYRA national championship in June 1982. To date, the ODU men and women's sailing program has won 15 national titles and produced 40 All-Americans. As both a crewmember and coach, Mitch Brindley has been directly involved in capturing nine of the national championships.
Field Hockey Dynasty Is Born
In November 1982, the field hockey team wins the first of three straight national championships. Yogi Hightower, a member of the '82 championship team, later receives the Honda Award and is chosen for the Olympic team. Through 2012 the field hockey program, under the direction of Beth Anders, amasses an amazing nine national titles, the most of any school in the country. Anders retires at the end of the 2012 season as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history with 561 victories.
Lion King Ascends Throne
A majestic lion statue is unveiled on Founders' Day, Oct. 17, 1997, in front of Webb Center. Commissioned by the university, the ODU Monarch is designed by 1985 alumnus and adjunct faculty member Kevin Gallup. The 2,000-pound, 6-foot-high bronze sculpture stands guard over Kaufman Mall from atop a platform in the university fountain. It quickly becomes an iconic fixture on the campus.
Article by Steve Daniel about the making of the bronze Monarch lion stature in Kaufman Mall from Monarch Magazine, Fall 2012, Page 6-7. Photo by David Hollingsworth. (Click image to see full article on pp. 6-7)
The university then went on to unveil a new athletic logo on April 18, 2002. Featuring a roaring lion with its right paw raised and ready to strike, the Monarch logo is fresh and contemporary, yet it incorporates a version of the crown from the previous identifier of a stylized, heraldic lion. It also ties in to Old Dominion's heritage through the use of a Columbia blue accent color, which until fall 1986 was the primary school color.
(Click image for fuller view)
Football Returns to Foreman Field
Intercollegiate football returns to Old Dominion on Sept. 5, 2009, after a 69-year absence. Under head coach Bobby Wilder, the Monarchs defeat the Chowan University Hawks 36-21 before a packed crowd at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. ODU's football legacy is both felt and seen, when Johnny Brown, 90, who played in the very same stadium from 1937 to 1939, hands the game ball to athletic director Jim Jarrett's wife, Sugie, the daughter of legendary coach Tommy Scott, during pregame ceremonies. Old Dominion was been a member of the Colonial Athletic Association since 1992, where it has enjoyed great success by winning 51 conference crowns, led by 17 straight women's basketball titles from 1992 to 2009, 15 crowns in field hockey and six men's basketball championships. In joining C-USA in 2014, the Monarchs were reunited with former CAA member East Carolina, as well as Charlotte and UAB, both former members of the Sun Belt Conference where ODU was a member from 1982 to 1991. ODU elevated its athletic programs from NCAA Division II status to Division I in 1976 and competed as a member in the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) from 1977 to 1982.
President Broderick and football coach Bobby Wilder
Verlander Unanimous Choice for Cy Young Award
Former Monarch pitching great Justin Verlander ('04) of the Detroit Tigers unanimously wins the American League Cy Young Award following the 2011 season. Verlander becomes the ninth unanimous AL Cy Young Award winner and first since Johan Santana in 2006. Verlander goes 24-5 with 250 strikeouts in 251 innings of work and a 2.40 earned run average while walking a career-low 57 batters. Teams bat just .192 against him as he wins 12 straight starts down the stretch and helps the Tigers take the AL Central, their first division title since 1987. The Detroit ace leads the majors in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts, and is fourth in ERA. He is selected to his fourth Major League All-Star game. The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year is the Colonial Athletic Association, ODU and commonwealth of Virginia all-time strikeout king with 427 in 335.2 innings. A freshman All-American, Verlander plays three seasons for ODU, from 2002-04.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke Wins Payton Award
Following a record-setting 2012 season, Monarch quarterback (and dean's list engineering student) Taylor Heinicke wins the Walter Payton Award, symbolic of the best player in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Payton Award is the FCS's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, and Heinicke wins it in a landslide, after becoming the first FCS player to pass for over 5,000 yards in a season. It is one of a slew of records he sets during the 2012 campaign. Heinicke completes an NCAA-record 398 passes and 68.7 percent of his pass attempts.
Most of the early oral histories and digital materials are from the University Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives. See Resources. For more information about Women's Athletics, see a 2006 library digital exhibit.