BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Wesleyan College welcomed both the inductees representing the classes of 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame back to Buckhannon this past week to be enshrined together as part of the school’s Homecoming Week for festivities on Thursday, April 21.
The induction ceremony was held in the Benedum Campus Center Social Hall, as the school immortalized the following individuals for their displays of athletic and competitive greatness during their time on-campus. Inducted into Bobcat athletic immortality was, Nicholas “Nick” DiPietro (Class of 1967, football and track & field), John Esposito (Class of 1969, men’s soccer and track & field), Lisa Thompson-Carter (Class of 1995, softball), Ian Burgess (Class of 1995, men’s soccer), Scott Gasper (Class of 1999, football), Stephanie Hatfield-McCollam (Class of 2006, track & field and cross country) for the Class of 2021 and Stacy Brown Harlan (Claas of 1999, swimming), Gavin Donaldson (head men’s soccer coach), Chris Patella (Class of 1979, football), Eugene Rall Class of 1962, football), Jim Wilkinson 1960, basketball) for the Class of 2021.
There were touching moments all around during the four-hour dinner and ceremony. Among the highlights were: the striking personality and charisma of Chris Patella, the insight on the current state of college athletics from former WVWC QB Scott Gasper, who is currently the lead recruiting coordinator for WVU head coach Neal Brown, an emotional tribute to legendary soccer coach, Gavin Donaldson and finally capped off with life advice from former Bobcats point guard Jim Wilkinson.
The hall of fame induction ceremony is always the highlight of homecoming week, acting as a fitting way to honor former Bobcat legends for their contributions to both the school and Upshur County community. This year’s ceremony was twice as special, with double the inductees and with the added gravity of coach Donaldson’s recent tragic passing. Last Thursday night was a long overdue opportunity for the Wesleyan community to come together as a whole and share a much needed opportunity to reminisce about the past.