Twenty alumni inducted into inaugural Deaf American Distance Runners Hall of Fame ceremony

August 05, 2019

Author: Phil Dignan

Dr. Robert Davila,’52, stands with Jaida Scott, one of TSD’s top three cross country runner.  Ken Norton, ‘51, stands behind Dr. Davila. (Each TSD XC runner escorted each inductee.)

Featured photo: Robert Davila, ’53 & H-’96, stands with Jaida Scott, one of Texas School for the Deaf's top three cross country runners. Ken Norton, ’50, stands behind Davila.

The Texas School for the Deaf (Austin) was the site of the first-ever Deaf American Distance Running Hall of Fame ceremony, held May 2. Of the 25 members inducted, 20 were Gallaudet alumni, including President Emeritus Robert Davila, ’53 & H-’96, and President Emeritus I. King Jordan, ’70 & H-’14

Nearly 400 people attended the event. TSD Superintendent Claire Bugen, member of the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees, collaborated with Deaf Television Foundation in making this unique event possible.  

The hall of fame, established in 2018, stemmed from a need to recognize deaf distance runners. Of the USA Deaf Sports Federation’s nearly 100 hall of fame athletes, only one distance runner is included. Due to its prescribed criteria, only three are recognized by the USA Deaf Track and Field’s hall of fame

Dr. Stephen Baldwin, ’68, president of Deaf Television Foundation and himself a long distance runner, spearheaded the creation of the hall of fame, specifically to acknowledge the achievements of those inducted and those of future inductees.

“The lack of recognition and appreciation for outstanding distance runners from 1936 to 2001, either from GU or elsewhere, and the need to rejuvenate interest in having coaches develop Deaflympics material since our American distance runners last won a medal in 2001– a nearly 20-year drought–are two main motivations that led to establishing this hall of fame,” said Baldwin.

This year’s inductees were partially chosen based on detailed records from the Mason-Dixon Conference (1936-1986) kept by Dr. Frank Żarnowski, a USA Track and Field Hall of Fame member and a member of the new deaf distance running hall of fame. The inductees include coaches, writers, and historians from the 1940’s-1990’s. At least 18 deceased distance runners, coaches, leaders and writers from the old-timers category were recognized, 11 of them attended or graduated from Gallaudet.

The event featured Dr. Donalda Ammons, ’74, current president of the Gallaudet University Alumni Association, former chairperson of USA Deafiympics (2003-2009), and former president of Comite International des Sports des Sourds, the top organization for international deaf athletics. 

Other alumni inductees were Natalie (Ludwig) Alloway, ’03; Betsy Bachtel, ’89; Steve Baldwin, ’68; Ricky Berg, ’70; Gerald Buyas, ’62; John Dyreson, ’68; Tina Hall, AAS ’90Rudy Hines, ’47; Ron Hirano, AA-’55; Wayne Langbein, ’96; Stan Mals, ’72; Bob Morrison, ’72; Marcus Myers, ’79; Ken Norton, ’50; Ken Pedersen, ’72; Larry Puthoff, ’70; Keith Sanfacon, ’91; and Barry Strassler, ’66.

Plans have already begun for next year’s class of inductees.

We already identified seven new distance runners who met our criteria for the 2020 class,” said Baldwin. “Each will get a certificate.  We hope the next induction ceremony will be hosted on the west coast by the end of 2020."  

Information provided from a May 2, 2019, TSD press release.

3)	Dr. Donalda Ammons, ’74, president of GUAA, was the inspiring keynote speaker.

Donalda Ammons, ’74, president of GUAA, gave an inspiring keynote.

Group picture.

Deaf American Long Distance Running Hall of Fame inductees, from left: Dr. Owen Logue (Maine); Leonard Hall, Esq. (Kansas); Steve Baldwin, ’68 (Texas); Ron Hirano, AA-’55 (California); Robert Davila, ’53 (Maryland); Bob Morrison, ’72 (California); Dr. Marcus Myers, ’79 (Texas); Ken Norton, ’50 (California); Tina Hall, AAS ’90 (California); Betsy Bachtel, ’89 (Ohio); Tom Bachtel (Ohio); and Ken Pedersen, ’72 (California).

All photos courtesy of Fernando Munoz (Texas) and Ron Hirano (California).