Washburn athletic department welcomes Hall of Fame class of 2022

Former Washburn University president Jerry Farley holds up a blanket gifted to him by the Washburn athletics department. Washburn athletics gave him the blanket as a thank you for his many years of service and support.

The Washburn athletics department admitted six alumni into their 2022 Hall of Fame class Saturday, Oct. 1.

The ceremony welcomed these inductees to honor them for their contributions to various Washburn sports.

Loren Ferré, director of athletics, started the event by introducing Jerry Farley, former president of Washburn. Farley congratulated the new inductees and encouraged them with a few words.

“You are the ones that created the image for sports for Washburn. Your behavior and things that you have done speaks well for Washburn,” said Farley.

The induction began with Breanna Lewis, who was nominated for her contributions to volleyball from 2008-2011. She was the third Lady Blue to earn first team All-America from the American Volleyball Coaches Association in 2011 and graduated cum laude from Washburn in 2012. Chris Harring, her WU volleyball coach, spoke on Lewis’ character and the hard work that she put into the sport.

Next was Dana Backstrom, who played on Washburn’s tennis team from 1983-1986. Unfortunately, after battling ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), Backstrom died May 25, 2022. She was described as one of the hardest workers on her team, humorous, humble and determined.

Mindy Stewart, Backstrom’s younger sister, spoke on her behalf, thanking the department of athletics for the induction and congratulating the other inductees.

The ceremony continued with Dane Simoneau, who was nominated for his contributions to football and baseball in 2008-2011. Simoneau finished college with 35 Ichabod career, single- game and season records as well as the top three passing seasons in school history.

Lisa Smith was inducted for her accomplishments in soccer, holding records such as leading in minutes played and having the lowest opponents goal against the team during her four seasons. Smith was also recognized for her academic work, being a four-time MIAA Academic Excellence Award winner.

Following Smith, Rich Hamilton was inducted for his contributions to basketball. During 1986-1988, Hamilton scored a total of 850 points, averaging 13.7 points per game. He received an honorable mention from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and also a position on the all-Central States Intercollegiate Conference team.

Finally, Ron McHenry, former Washburn basketball coach, was given recognition for his accomplishments throughout his time as a basketball player and coach. McHenry has a long list of achievements, which include leading the Lady Blues to a national championship title in 2005 and guiding his team to a National Collegiate Athletic Association winning streak of 51 games in 2004-2006.

Family members and coaches honored each of these inductees by giving background into their lives and their characters. They were described as hard-working, driven and respectful, which also contributed to their nominations.

To conclude the event, inductees reflected on the importance of the Washburn Hall of Fame and what it means to students.

John Krane, Simoneau’s former baseball teammate and friend, thought that this event serves as a source of inspiration for all.

“I think that it’s to inspire other athletes, or other people for that matter. We heard amazing backstories of all of these Hall of Famers,” said Krane. “So, it’s an inspiration to see their journeys and what in their character got them in the Hall of Fame, what can we take from that and apply it to our own lives.”

Smith added that the event shows how student athletes and colleges go hand-in-hand.

“It’s a good reminder of just kind of what goes into a student athlete experience and the support that you get at this university,” said Smith. “The university does a lot for the student athletes and students in general, and in return student athletes are getting the experiences, the competition and the education.”

Smith also found that the event was great for reconnecting with old friends and reminiscing on her time in college.

The Washburn athletics department congratulates the 2022 class of Hall of Famers on their recent induction and thanks them for their contributions to Washburn.

For more information on Washburn athletics, visit https://wusports.com/.

Edited by Justin Shepard, LeSha’ Davis