Surprises at Hall of Fame Weekend

Sep 8, 2013

It was Hall of Fame Weekend and that not only brought former stars like Jamie Duncan back to campus but also family and friends of the new inductees.

One such buddy making the trip back was Ronnie Gordon, the former starting quarterback in the mid-1990s who is now running an impressive dental business designed to bring quality dental care to low income schools throughout the country.

We walked through Vandyville with the two popular Commodores, who were taken by the impressive increase in support and festive atmosphere surrounding the game. They were equally impressed by the enhanced facilities and the strong crowd despite a forecast that the `Dores were heavy favorites.

Duncan, who lives in Tampa after retiring from the NFL, had his family with him as he accepted his Hall of Fame credentials at Friday night's ceremony. While he said that was a thrill, his weekend had gotten off to a rousing start the day before when he came in to watch the team's Thursday practice.

What he got was the royal treatment, immediately learning that instead of merely watching some drills from the sidelines, he would be provided insider status for all team preparations. That included James Franklin asking him to talk to the team at practice about his experiences at Vanderbilt and how they shaped his future in the NFL and later in business.

What was the big hit for Jamie was when he and his son, who plays football, were invited to sit in on a film session with the Commodore receivers. Duncan has seen more than his share of these reviews but it was a big deal to his son, who was fascinated by the extensive preparation.

This is but one example of how Coach Franklin has bolstered our program through the building of relationships. Count on Jamie Duncan, his family and friends waving the black and gold flag for a long time to come.

The Hall of Fame Weekend also carried a surprise for Carolyn Peck, who played basketball here in the 1980s, won an NCAA title as head coach of Purdue and now is a high profile WNBA and collegiate analyst for ESPN.

Peck also had long-time friends in the audience of 300 that included the former Mara Cunningham, a star in the 1990s. However, she had not anticipated that her boyfriend wanted to see center court at Memorial Gymnasium, then asked what emotions she remembered gazing around the historic venue before dropping to his knee and proposing marriage on the spot!

Carolyn drew a happy gasp from the crowd when she closed her induction remarks by holding up her fancy Hall of Fame Anchor Trophy in one hand and flashing her brand new ring on the other saying "I got inducted into the Hall of Fame and I got me a fiancé on the same day!"

Two years ago, as a side note, it was baseball star Scotti Madison proposing marriage at home plate of Hawkins Field on the morning after he was inducted into the Hall. There must be something about that dinner!

Duncan and Peck were two of seven inducted into the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame this year, making it a total of 47 inductees over five different classes.

The others in the Class of 2013 were Billy Joe Adcock, Vanderbilt's first basketball scholarship recipient who became an All-American, bowling's Josie Earnest, a former two-time NCAA Player of the Year; Dr. A. Brant Lipscomb, a star scholar, athlete and later team physician for 48 years; Jess Roguski Onheiser, who led Vandy to the 2004 Lacrosse Final Four; and Jeremy Sowers, the ace left-hander who keyed VU's run to the 2004 Super Regional.



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