No sooner had the curtain fallen away from the new plaques than Ashley Creech cried out: "There's Mommy!"
Thus, with a child's exuberance, opened the Radford University Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday in the Dedmon Center.
Ashley's mother, Suzie Rath Creech, along with Melissa Gaitka Halpern, Ian Spooner, Duane Filchner and Coach Ron Bradley joined 32 previous inductees into the Athletics Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony that followed the unveiling.
"There's no prouder moment than when a child recognizes and acknowledges the parent's accomplishments," RU President Penelope W. Kyle said as she shared Ashley's moment.
All five inductees had their moments of recognition with dozens of family members, alumni and friends who gathered to see the Class of 2012 join the honor roll of RU's athletic achievers.
"Thank you, RU, for my friendships and memories, but mostly for my college degree," said Creech, who walked onto the fledgling RU softball team in 1992, became its first scholarship and All-Big South player, and ultimately led the team to its first winning season in 1996.
Spooner, the Big South Conference's first two-time Big South soccer player of the year, recounted how he came to RU as a camp counselor and described "the special place in my heart that is Radford." Spooner also reflected on the academic inspiration provided by then-Athletic Director Chuck Taylor and Academic Advisor Gary Upp, saying, "They helped me understand why I was in college."
After having traveled to the ceremonies from her home in New Jersey in the company of her 13-member extended family, Halpern, a women's soccer star from 1991-94, said, "Coming back to RU is like a breath of fresh air. I love remembering the best years of my life with my family today."
Bradley, the winningest men's basketball coach in Radford history and a member of the Big South Conference Hall of Fame, acknowledged the special honor but deflected the credit, saying, "When a coach gets into a hall of fame, it is because of his players." Several RU players from Bradley's 11-year stint at RU traveled to see their coach enshrined.
Current RU Baseball coach and former teammate Joe Raccuia represented Duane Filchner, a four-time first-team all-conference baseball player who still holds several statistical records.
Taylor, the former RU athletic director and a Radford Hall of Famer as well, was the induction ceremony's keynote speaker. He harkened back to the beginnings of the intercollegiate athletic program with anecdotes about incidents from the growth and development of the current 19-team Division I program.
"It is still your Radford, no matter how we got to where you're at now from where we started out," he said. "It has continued to change, and I continue to come back because it is a beautiful place with great people."