West Virginia Wesleyan College has announced the 2018 Athletic Hall of Fame Class. Induction ceremonies are set for February 3, as six new members will join the enshrined in the Wesleyan’s Rockefeller Center.
Four male athletes and two female athletes make up a diverse and talented class. Eight different sports are represented by these five greats, including, George Mike (’38), football; David Feola (’69), football, basketball, track; Kathy Higgins (’81), field hockey and basketball; David Smith (’85), basketball; Joe Honce (’03), baseball; and Cathy Alt Workman (’02, MBA ’03), swimming.
Mike was a four-year starter for the Bobcats (1934); and was an Associated Press First Team All-America in 1936. To this day, Mike isone of only three WVWC football players to attain First Team All-American status, and the only one that did so during NCAA affiliation. In fact, he was the only West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) player to make First Team during the pre-National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic (NAIA) era.
Already married with two kids, and working as a laborer, Mike hitch hiked to Buckhannon and asked for a tryout. Wanting to pursue his dream of being a coach and teacher, he knew of Wesleyan’s reputation through the legendary stories of future NFL Hall–of– Famers Greasy Neale and Cliff Battles. He quickly became an impact player as a 212-pound two-way lineman.
Mike was a part of the 1935 WVIAC championship Bobcat squad and scored the safety that defeated Duquesne 2-0 in Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field in 1936. It was one of the greatest Duquesne teams ever, going on to play in that year’s Orange Bowl.
Mike played on the College All-Star team that faced the Philadelphia Eagles in August of 1938. He was offered a contract to play with the New York Giants but served as a Major in the U.S. Army, and enjoyed a distinguished career as a teacher as and coach.
Feola was a “year-round” athletic star during his four seasons at Wesleyan. A local standout at Buckhannon-Upshur, Feola came to WVWC in the fall of 1965 and made his mark throughout his four years as a Bobcat.
While playing other sports, it was in the sports of football and track where Feola made the most impact. In football, he was the team’s “go-to” end during his last three seasons and was named First-Team All-Conference in 1968. His best season was in 1967 when he caught 27 passes for 376 yards. For his career, he caught 57 passes for 709 yards and five touchdowns. He also was a key kick returner for those teams. His receiving marks were particularly impressive as the passing game was not a big part of the offense in those days.
In track, Feola was a standout sprinter. He ran the 100 and 220-yard dashes and the 440-relay, twice named First Team All-Conference. His track career was a bookend with several Hall of Fame teammates. He began his career with greats such as jumper Charlie Miller and sprinter Larry Rhodes, and he ended his career with teammate freshman miler Stanley Blankenship. The Bobcats were twice WVIAC runner-up during his track career.
Higgins is one of the true pioneers of women’s athletics at West Virginia Wesleyan. The 1981 graduate was a two-sport star for the Lady Bobcats at a time when women’s athletics was in its infancy on the small college sports scene in the Mountain State.
In turning down an offer to play for the established field hockey team at Davis & Elkins College, Higgins chose WVWC and helped elevate the Wesleyan program to new heights. Playing center-forward/center mid field for the field Hockey team, she was the team’s top scorer all four years.
Higgins was named Wesleyan’s Athlete of the Week at least twice all four years of her career. Captain of the team in both her junior and senior years, she eventually led the team to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships. She was also a key member of the basketball program.
After receiving her degree in education from Wesleyan, Higgins went on to earn her master’s degree in community health education from Virginia Tech. She was on the President’s Council for the 2014 U.S. Open Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships. She had earlier served on the Executive Council for the 1996 and 2001 U.S. Women’s Opens and was the co-chair for the 2007 event.
Higgins is also a member of her high school’s Hall of Fame; Cherry Hill West High School in New Jersey.
Smith was the starting point guard for what was a Golden Era for Wesleyan basketball. From 1983-85, under head coaches Bruce Stewart (’82-’84) and Rich Cameron ’81 (’84-’85), the team posted a remarkable 90-13 record, advancing to the NAIA Finals in 1983, the semifinals in 1984, and the quarterfinals in 1985. They entered the 1984 tournament as the top seed.
Smith was the man on the point who was orchestrating this finely-tuned machine. In 1983, he was named Third-Team All-American.
Two of Smith’s teammates, Daryl Odom ’85 and Chris Harrison ’84, have already been enshrined in the Wesleyan Hall of Fame. The all-star lineup was often on the receiving end of Smith’s passes in the legendary fast break, up-tempo offense employed by Stewart.
Named First-Team All-Conference in 1985, and leading the WVIAC in assists that year, Smith averaged 6.5 assists for his career, with a career high average of 6.7 in 1983.
He was the primary ball handler for one of the greatest starting five’s in state history, including Dewayne Johns, Andrew Tunstall, Odom, and Harrison.
Smith received his bachelor of arts in psychology in 1985.
Honce was one of the most athletic players to ever don a Wesleyan baseball uniform. A true five-tool player, Honce remains in the top 10 in seven different team career offensive categories.
Honce’s father, Joe Honce Sr., was a star at West Virginia University and a First Round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1973. As a Bobcat, the younger Honce was a dominant force through his four years, making Second Team All-WVIAC as a sophomore; and First Team All-Conference as both a junior and senior.
Honce’s finest season was in 2002 when he hit .427 and drove in 45 runs. He also hit .318 in 2000, .379 in 2001, and .408 in 2003. He posted a career average of .387.
In terms of career numbers, Honce is third on the All-Time Bobcat list in two different categories; hits (210); and triples (12). This is particularly impressive as Wesleyan has sponsored baseball for 114 years. He is also on several other all-time lists; 4th in runs (142), 5th in at bats (543), 7th in both doubles (41) and RBI’s (141), and 8th in home runs (19).
After Wesleyan, Honce enjoyed a brief career professionally in the Frontier League.
CATHY ALT WORKMAN
Workman is one of the most decorated swimmers in the history of the Wesleyan pool. She helped lead the Lady Bobcat program to four consecutive WVIAC championships, winning 15 individual titles herself along the way.
Workman held five school records when she graduated; the 100-yard butterfly, the 200-yard butterfly, the 200-yard medley relay, the 400-yard medley relay, and 800-yard free relay, which still stands.
Beyond the league accolades, Workman was a star on the national stage. She twice swam to All-America Honors and was also a two-time Academic All-American. She was the team captain for the Lady Bobcats for the final two years of her career, serving as a key leader on those title teams.
Workman graduated from Wesleyan with a bachelor degree in business in 2002 and an MBA in 2003.
Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Saturday February 3, 2018.