UMES ATHLETICS TO TAKE PART IN CHAMPIONS WAY UNVEILING
April 17, 2014
SALISBURY, Md. - The City of Salisbury will help celebrate the accomplishments of the Lower Eastern Shore's collegiate and professional championship teams Friday night, April 18, with the unveiling of Champions Way at 5 p.m. on the corner of West main and North Division streets.
The seven National Championship teams from UMES, 17 from Salisbury University and a pair of South Atlantic League Championships from The Delmarva Shorebirds will all be honored as the 26 combined championships, spanning from 1963-2013, will have flags unveiled Downtown. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony, held in conjunction with the Salisbury Arts 7 Entertainment District's monthly Third Friday celebration.
The project arose from an idea by Pastor Ryan Weaver, of Remedy Church, located on the plaza, to celebrate the region's athletic victories.
"We are so proud of the legacy of champions who have represented our community," Weaver said. "Champions Way is a beautiful opportunity to celebrate the successes of many students, athletes and coaches who have scarified much on the field and courts...There is no greater way to honor our champions than in such a prominent place in the fabric of our beloved urban epicenter: downtown Salisbury."
"The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has a long tradition of combining the best of academics and athletics, and we are happy to share our story of successes on the fields of play through this exciting project. The UMES Hawks proudly take our place along Champions Way alongside the SU Sea Gulls and the Delmarva Shorebirds" UMES President Juliette B. Bell said.
Area leaders have hailed Champions Way as an example of the strong collaboration that exists between institutions, including the City of Salisbury, local higher educational institutions and the Shorebirds.
"I applaud efforts to solidify partnerships between community stakeholders," said SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. "We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate not only SU's outstanding record of athletic excellence, but those of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the Shorebirds. Interestingly, all our mascots have feathers, and it seems appropriate that we flock together on Champions Way."
City Council President Jake Day agreed: "We have so much to be proud of in this community. In this small display of collaboration and partnership we are able to celebrate the dozens of champions in our midst whose talent was tested and proven to be the best. They were Salisburians, they are Salisburians, and it brings me great pleasure to honor them in the heart of our city."
"This will be a great way to recognize the local teams in the community that have won championships in their respective leagues and/or sports. The Shorebirds are proud to be a part of Salisbury's very own Champions Way," added Chris Bitters, general manager of the Shorebirds.
Each of the 26 aluminum flags on Champions Way will commemorate a specific athletic victory win. They include:
SU men's lacrosse - 1994, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012 NCAA championships
"We are thrilled that the City of Salisbury has chosen this unique opportunity to recognize all of the collegiate and professional championship teams here on the Eastern Shore," said UMES Director of Athletics Keith Davidson. "UMES is honored that we will have the chance to showcase our seven National Championships among the other titles won at Salisbury University and by The Delmarva Shorebirds. Sports here on the Shore is special and unique and all three of our organizations work well together to provide the best experiences we can in a community that has embraced all of us 'birds."
While the team responsible for winning five of the Hawks National titles, women's bowling, won't be on hand, UMES hopes many members of the Hawk family will come out and show their support.
"Regretfully, we can't be there," said women's bowling head coach Kayla Bandy from Reno, Nev. where her team is bowling in another National Championship event. "I am so proud to be part of this legacy and I know our team is as well. Being honored in this way is special and a testament to the great student-athletes and coaches who have come before."
The unveiling also includes recognition of the UMES men's outdoor track and field championship team from 1963. The team was special as it won both of its national titles in the same year; much like women's bowling did in 2011. Back then, UMES was competing as an NAIA school and as a member of the NCAA's College Division, which would later be renamed Division II. Schools could hold dual memberships and UMES took advantage, winning both titles that year with just a seven-man roster. Those seven student-athletes earned 13 All-America selections.
"We have a great tradition of track and field," said UMES head coach Ernest Barrett. "The squad from 1963 really defined Hawk track and field for all of us and each season we try to live up to the legacy they created."
Admission to the unveiling is free and the public is invited.
Large portions of this release are compliments of The City of Salisbury and Salisbury University.