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Six new athletes inducted to Hall of Fame

The+inductees+were+honored+during+in+between+the+girls%27+and+boys%27+varsity+basketball+games+on+Friday%2C+January+19.
The inductees were honored during in between the girls' and boys' varsity basketball games on Friday, January 19.

The inductees were honored during in between the girls' and boys' varsity basketball games on Friday, January 19.

Victor O'Neill Studios

Victor O'Neill Studios

The inductees were honored during in between the girls' and boys' varsity basketball games on Friday, January 19.

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The W-L Athletics Hall of Fame was created to honor athletes who “have brought a measure of distinction and pride to our school and community as an athlete, coach, administrator or as a contributor to the development and success of the Washington-Lee athletic program,” according to the Hall of Fame website. The alumni who are accepted earn a plaque on the wall outside the gym that details their accomplishments. Previous inductees include Michael Callahan, the current men’s crew coach at the University of Washington; Frank Haven, who was named one of CNNSI.com’s top 50 Virginia athletes of the 20th century, and many others.

This year, six new athletes earned a place in the Hall of Fame. These alumni were Henry Kerfoot Jr. (class of 1952), Ronald Deskins (class of 1963), Robyn Johnson (class of 1964), Dave Morgan (class of 1970), Walter Palmer (class of 1986), and Crawford Palmer (class of 1988). “It means a lot, because it’s not something, when I came to W-L as a freshman, that I would have ever expected,” Walter Palmer said. “It’s a real honor to come back to your high school and be recognized.”

Other Alumni already in the Hall of Fame were also present at the ceremony to support the new inductees. Brothers Edward (1963) and Josh Hummer (1966) both played basketball at the school and both went on to play at Princeton University and get selected in the National Basketball Association Draft. Josh played with the Buffalo Braves and Seattle Supersonics until 1976. “The coaching at W-L was brilliant,” Edward Hummer said. “Our coach, Morris Levin, he also coached John, had played at the University of Maryland, he was very strong on fundamentals.”

Ronald Deskins, who played football and baseball while in high school, was named Washington Post’s football player of the week in his senior year. In college, he played football for Morgan State University. However, he’s most famous for desegregating Stratford Junior High when he was twelve, and thus became one of the four first African-American students to attend a Stratford Jr. High School, now H-B Woodlawn Secondary School. “Ron is going to be one of the most historically significant members of the Hall of Fame,” Edward Hummer said. “He’s a wonderful guy, and I’m especially happy that he’s being recognized.”

When asked about his experience, Deskins said his parents were truly the brave ones. “I often think of how they sent their twelve-year-old child into an unknown situation, one that you know could be sketchy, and that took courage. There were threats and all kinds of things,” Deskins said. “I think [that took] much more [courage] than what I did.”

Robyn Johnson, the only female athlete to be inducted this year, was the country’s best freestyle swimmer at the age of 15. “[The time when Johnson was in high school] was pre-Title XI, so [swimming] was just a club sport,” Edward Hummer said. “Robyn, just like all other girl swimmers at the time, was basically forced into retirement after age 17. There was no NCAA swimming for women.”

Despite this, Johnson earned a gold medal for her 200-meter freestyle and a bronze for her 400-meter freestyle during the 1963 Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She was featured on Sports Illustrated, Swimming World and Listen Magazine.

Walter Palmer (1986) and his younger brother, Crawford (1988), both played and dominated on the basketball court. As he is seven-feet-tall,  Walter was an excellent defender. When Walter played for Dartmouth College, he set an Ivy League record when he blocked 11 shots against Harvard’s team in 1990. He played in professional teams such as the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks and professional leagues in Argentina, France, Italy, Spain and Argentina. He later worked as the Deputy Executive Director for the NBA player’s association and is now a consultant for athlete’s unions.

Walter was very appreciative towards his coach in high school, Dale Bethel. “I would not have continued on with sports, I think, if not for him and his influence,” Walter said.

Crawford graduated from the school and played at Duke University. He then won the national championship in 1991, and he played for team France and won the Silver Medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. “My athletic experience was outstanding,” Walter Palmer said. “It’s a real honor to come back to your high school and be recognized. It’s an honored to be inducted with my brother.”

Dave Morgan wrestled and played baseball for the school, however, his greatest achievements came after he graduated, as the Athletic Director in Fairfax County. He was named Virginia Athletic Director of the Year and has been inducted into the VHSL Hall of Fame, Arlington Sports Hall of Fame and NI-AAA National Hall of Fame. “I had a chance to mentor coaches and work with a lot of great athletes in my career,” Morgan said. “When you grow up in Arlington, all the dads, they went to W-L. So, going to W-L, it was the thing you looked forward to.”

Henry Kerfoot Jr. played varsity golf for three years at the school and received a full athletic scholarship to play for Wake Forest University. At Wake Forest, he was a four-year starter and captain his senior year when his team also won a Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. He is a founder of “The First Tee of Washington,” an organization that uses golf to promote character and leadership to youth. “All the Hall of Famers are great athletes,” Dave Morgan said.

Coming back to Arlington reminded the alumni of their experiences in high school where they stepped onto the path to success. The athletes were honored on Friday, January 19, with a ceremony in the gym after the girl’s basketball game and many members were able to stay and cheer on the boy’s varsity team as they defeated Herndon High School. “I’ve watched Arlington change over the years,” Morgan said. “I was able to work with a lot of great people, lot of great experiences, but anytime you’re recognized by your hometown it’s great.”

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Six new athletes inducted to Hall of Fame