The Steward School’s athletic program took a giant leap forward — with a look backward—on January 15 when it inaugurated the Hall of Fame. At a special dedication ceremony, five honorees were inducted in the first class. In his remarks, Director of Athletics Bob Stratton
said, “After one-and-a-half years of thought and preparation, it is exciting to finally recognize The Steward School Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2015. A school’s Athletic Hall of Fame is a chance to recognize the best of the best, as contributors, student-athletes, or coaches. I am honored and humbled to be a part of the process and only hope this will become a major milestone in the deep and rich heritage and history of The Steward School.”
These five members comprise the committee that will select future honorees. They were celebrated at a reception after the ceremony and will be recognized during the Steward Basketball Invitational this weekend.
Perhaps Ms. Rice expressed it best when she praised her fellow classmates: “I am honored to be recognized by The Steward School, but I am especially privileged to be inducted…alongside the other inductees. Sandy, Corey, and Mark were instrumental in building the foundation of our athletic program. They helped bring respect to our program. Lee is a very good friend who has always been a tremendous support to the Athletic Department. No one has any idea of all that she does and most of it is behind the scenes. She is a true unsung hero.”
Each honoree chose a special person to introduce him or her during the ceremony. Congratulations to the five members of the Class of 2015:Lee Healey
Mrs. Healey has been a familiar face at The Steward School since 1990. She has been the Upper School Division Assistant since 2001, has provided administrative support to the Athletic Department, and is a founding member of the Spartan Club. She has served the Spartan Club in many different capacities over the years and has been a volunteer extraordinaire in every way. In her introduction, Carolyn Brandt
described Mrs. Healey as “cheerleader-in-chief. To Lee, it does not matter whether a team wins or loses, whether the season is a good one or not. To her, the team record is not important; the team members are. The athletes have always appreciated her support — and so do their parents!”
Mark Mayers ’87
Longtime teacher Catesby Jones
introduced Mr. Mayers by sharing the reminisces of Janet Rice
, Neil Turnage
, and Ian Coddington
including Mr. Coddington’s praise that he considers Mark to be one of the best natural athletes he had ever coached. Mr. Jones listed just a few of Mr. Mayers’s many accomplishments and athletic traits:
- Mark was always competitive, unselfish, hardworking, true teammate, highly motivated to succeed in everything, whether in sports or in the classroom.
- In the 1983 season of JV basketball, we did not win a game. Mark will probably be the only inductee to ever be on a team that did not win a game. However, during the following season, the team finished fifth or sixth in the regular season, but won the conference tournament, beating the number one seeded team on its home court in the semi-finals and the number two seed in the final.
- Mark won 15 varsity letters in five seasons (grades 8 – 12); what an amazing accomplishment.
Ms. Rice was a fixture at Steward for 33 years, serving as a coach, teacher, and athletic director. She witnessed the school’s growth from 1980-2013 and was responsible for developing the athletic program during those decades. Ms. Rice shared her appreciation: “I have said this many times but would like to reiterate that it is the dedication of the teams of the past and their parents who supported them that laid the foundation for today—for building the pride that has become a part of being at Steward. In the 1980s we had struggles, but we had people who believed in athletics. It is because of the incredible spirit among the kids, parents, administration, and coaching staff that our program really took off. All worked hard, had fun, and were dedicated to pushing the athletic program forward. I am so glad I was able to be a part if that incredible era.”
In introducing Ms. Rice, former Upper School Dean of Students Ian Coddington said, “There is no question that Janet impacted hundreds of young girls and imbued them with a sense of empowerment that they could achieve anything that they put their minds to doing, not only in the classroom, but on the athletic field.”
Sandy Szilassy ’86
As one of three of the original Steward “lifers,” Ms. Szilassy has always been a big Spartan fan. In high school, she was a stand-out field hockey player, and she has carried that passion throughout her career. Ms. Szilassy now runs her own travel field hockey club in Virginia Beach. Fellow inductee Ms. Rice gave Ms. Szilassy’s introduction, as the two have remained good friends ever since their Spartan field hockey days. Ms. Rice said of Ms. Szilassy, “It was her impact upon her teammates that made a lasting impression with me. She radiated enthusiasm for sport and life. Always a great competitor, she was the quintessential TEAM player. You know, the kind of athlete that made her teammates better. All were inspired by her hard work, dedication, and winning personality.”
Corey Turnage ’88
Mr. Turnage was an outstanding soccer player during his years at Steward, and he hasn’t stopped playing the sport yet. He asked his father, former Steward Athletic Director and current Trustee Neil Turnage, to give his introduction. Dr. Turnage talked about Corey’s career, starting with playing up at the age of seven to coaching Corey himself. “When Corey played for me in seventh grade, I told him that our relationship on the field was coach and player, not father and son. I told him that he’d have to prove himself to earn playing time.” He more than earned the time and continued to prove his worth to others throughout his career from Steward to the University of Connecticut and ultimately playing professionally.