The University of Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame inducted its 40th class last Saturday at the Jepson Alumni Center, headlined by Washington Redskins President and former Richmond football player Bruce Allen.
A reception was held for the 2016 Hall of Fame class – Allen, George Edeman, Kristen Samuhel Clarey and Warren Mitchell – with more than 50 people in attendance, including inductees’ families, friends, former coaches and fellow Richmond Hall of Famers.
Allen was a punter for the Spiders from 1974 to 1977 before the Baltimore Colts drafted him in the 12th round of the 1978 NFL draft. Allen, the son of former NFL coach George Allen, went on to become the general manager of the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before taking his current job as president of the Washington Redskins.
In his acceptance speech, Allen thanked his teammates, friends, fellow ROTC members and family while praising the value of sports.
“Sports is the greatest educator you have for your future,” he said. “It does teach you about respect for your teammates, discipline, sacrifice and what it takes to win.”
Allen praised Richmond coach Danny Rocco and his football team for their season and discussed how the life lessons he learned from college football will be ingrained on the current team.
“Your commitment to team sports takes a lot of time,” he said. “It’s not something that you just do with two hours on the practice field. The amount of effort Coach Rocco’s team put in this season to the dedication, the amount of dedication, concentration and offseason workouts means you don’t get to do a lot of what other students are doing. But it’s those same principles that I feel help people later in life, because you’re going to have to sacrifice some options.”
Allen was critical in bringing the Washington Redskins training camp to Richmond, Virginia, before the 2013 season.
“When we first came here I’d like to say it was because I’m a Spider, but it wasn’t,” he said. “We wanted to be the first NFL team to really go into a city. Most training camps are out in the suburbs or remote colleges. We wanted to go into a city. We wanted our players to feel the responsibility of a community, and Richmond embraced us.”
At the end of his speech, Allen offered his Hall of Fame plaque to his wife as a Valentine’s Day gift. “Nobody else has ever gotten you one of these,” he said.
He also thanked the Robins School of Business for “helping guide me through so I could understand how to balance the salary cap at some point.”
George Edelman, Richmond College class of 1989, was the first swimmer to be inducted to the Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame. Edelman was flooded with emotion discussing his family at the end of his speech.
“We just don’t get together a lot, so it’s really great to bring us all together,” Edelman told The Collegian. “I’m the youngest of five, we live all over the country, so it’s really a great honor and great event for everyone to come.
“It’s great to be back on campus. I haven’t been back for 30 years – boy, campus is a lot different.”
Edelman was such a dominant swimmer in his time at Richmond that his commanding leads in races became boring. To keep himself interested, Edelman would stop at the edge of the pool, have a conversation with his lap counter and clean his goggles while waiting for the other swimmers to catch up and then pass him, only to chase them down for the victory.
“That was a lot of fun,” Edelman said. “It kept things interesting.”
Despite being a force in the pool, a series of mishaps kept Edelman from winning conference championships. During his freshman year, he was chasing a friend, who had stolen his Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, when he became winded and realized he was sick. He learned that he had mononucleosis and had to miss the conference championships. His sophomore year, he made it to the conference championships and won the 200 and 500 meter races, but confused the times of the mile, missing the race and a chance for a sweep while he was in his hotel room.
His senior year it all came together, as he won all three events and CAA Swimmer of the Year in 1989. Edelman and his wife both now work as part of the training staff for the U.S. swim team.
“My story is one of perseverance,” he said.
Kristen Samuhel Clarey is the most decorated goalkeeper in the history of Richmond women’s soccer. She has the single-season record for shutouts and was part of Richmond’s first appearance at the NCAA women’s soccer tournament. She said that upon learning that she would be inducted to the Hall of Fame, she was, “shocked, surprised and amazed.”
“It means the whole world,” Clarey said. “It closes out my career at the University of Richmond in a way that I never expected.”
Clarey, who is pregnant with her third child, said that her soccer career still helped her today as a family and sports medicine physician.
“I definitely had more of the pressure being back in goal, the awareness,” Clarey said. “You can stand there for half a game and not see any action, then you’re stuck with a breakaway that could be the difference between a win and a loss, so that definitely prepared me for life off the field, too, keeping yourself cool and calm in urgent situations. It’s very useful to have, especially with what I do.”
Clarey thanked the university and her family, including her parents.
“I’m extremely proud to say the least,” Michael Samuhel, Clarey’s father, said. “If anyone deserves it, it was Kristen. She’s been a hard-working girl her whole life.”
Warren Mitchell was a standout Richmond basketball player from 1954-1957, earning first team All-Southern Conference in 1957. After graduating, Mitchell went into coaching, eventually becoming head coach at the College of William & Mary from 1966-1972.
Athletic Director Keith Gill said he was proud that each inductee noted how their athletic careers at Richmond prepared them for life.
“It’s so nice to think about the impact the university has on [the inductees’] lives, and then vice versa, the impact they’ve had on the university,” Gill said. “It reinforces why we do this, trying to give people opportunities, trying to educate, trying to help athletes grow and impact their lives in very positive ways.”
Contact reporter Danny Heifetz at firstname.lastname@example.org