The exceptional class includes the former president of the Pirate Club and philanthropist Bill clark; former football player and head coach Ruffin McNeill, who led ECU to four bowl games in six seasons; former softball pitcher Toni Paisley and infielder Keisha Shepperson (Stewart), both of whom have won All-America accolades during their careers; and Jacob Smith, who was a member of the 1959 NAIA Pirates National Championship men’s swim team. Kelly wernert (Krainiak), a two-time all-conference artist, who becomes the first volleyball-specific player to ever be elected to the Hall of Fame.
The inductees will be publicly recognized inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as part of the halftime festivities during the November 6 soccer match against Temple.
The six new inductees will bring the total membership of the ECU Track and Field Hall of Fame to 178. to themselves and to the University.
Clark (ECU ’66) is an avid supporter of ECU Athletics and has a long history of philanthropy with the Pirate Club. He pledged the principal donation of $ 1.5 million in support of the construction of a new baseball stadium that honors both Clark’s generosity and the legacy of former Pirates head coach Keith LeClair, Clark-LeClair Stadium. He also provided the main donation in support of the Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium renovation campaign, as he has been honored with the Outstanding Alumni Award and the Chancellor’s Amethyst in recent years.
McNeill (ECU ’80) was a three-year starter as the Pirates’ defensive back in the late 1970s before being named head coach in January 2010. In six seasons, McNeill led the Pirates to four appearances. in a bowl and posted the fifth highest head. Coaching victories in program history, while developing 12 first-team selections for all conferences and a trio of MVP / Player of the Year award winners. In 2013, he led ECU to just the second 10-game winning season in the program’s history.
Paisley (ECU ’10) is the most decorated player in pirate softball history. She was named U.S. Conference Pitcher of the Year for three consecutive seasons (2009, ’10, ’11) as well as the league’s Freshman-of-the-Year in 2007. In 2009, she was appointed Co-C-USA. Female athlete of the year. Paisley ended her playing career with 118 wins, 23rd– most of NCAA history, while leading ECU to consecutive conference titles in 2010 and 2011.
Shepperson (ECU ’01) won NFCA All-America honors in 2000 and 2001 and was a three-time All-Region player. She was named Big South Freshman of the Year in 1998 and won first-team honors in all conferences the following season while helping the Pirates win their first conference title and first place in the NCAA tournament. Shepperson holds career records in the program for runs, hits and doubles and has the second most stolen bases.
Smith (ECU ’60) won All-America honors in five events at the 1959 NAIA Nations Championship competition, winning silver in the 100-meter freestyle and bronze in the 50-meter freestyle. He also swam at the top of the 1959 national championship free relay team. The following year, Smith won bronze in the 100 freestyle and helped the 400 freestyle relay team to finish second.
Wernert (ECU ’07) received All-Conference USA first-team honors as a junior and senior, placing third in the league in eliminations per game in 2007. She helped the Pirates record consecutive winning seasons for the first time in a quarter century in 2005 and 2006. In second year, she led ECU to her first C-USA tournament victory. Wernert set season and career records for the winning program, which placed ninth all-time in C-USA history, at the end of her eligibility.
An interactive video listing and clips of all Hall of Fame members can be found in the lobby of the Smith-Williams Center, which opened in 2013. Photos of all Hall of Fame members are now available permanently exhibited and the 2021 dedicated class will be added. at the Hall of Fame weekend exhibit, November 5-6.
All Hall of Fame members will receive an email next week with full details of the Hall of Fame ceremony. If you are currently a Hall of Fame member and need to update your contact details, please email [email protected] with the appropriate changes.