Burney Adams, Christopher Burls, Eddie Shannon, Darrell Spence and Tony Trifonov are the fearless five who made into the hallowed halls of the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame.
The evening began with a melodic serenade by vocalist Fred Lee, who also entertained the room during dinner. FAMU director of athletics, Derek Horne, welcomed the hundreds gathered on the floor of the Lawson Center.
Shortly after dinner, each of the inductees was escorted into the arena, while their biographical information was read by hall of famer and master of ceremonies, Alvin Hollins. Once all honorees were seated, FAMU interim president, Dr. Larry Robinson, inducted each of the members into the organization. Following their induction, each of the night's honorees had the opportunity to speak and give thanks to those who inspired them.
Adams was a football star under legendary coach Jake Gaither. Adams, who had several of his former teammates in the audience, talked about how special it felt to be a part of two national championship teams. After a short speech, he riled up the arena with an emphatic 'Hubba Hubba." Burls' first comment was "And I've got to follow that." It was a light moment in the emotional room. Burls talked about being a part of four consecutive MEAC tennis championships. Burls also ended his time with a message to his children who were present. "If you work hard at something, you can achieve anything," he advised.
Shannon, the 90-year-old veteran of the bunch, was very short and direct with his speech. He talked of how Jake Gaither was a jokester at times. He explained how Gaither gave him the opportunity to play football and remains an influence on his life today. Shannon acknowledged George "Godfather" Thompson in his message. Thompson is a hall of famer for his nearly 50 years as athletic trainer for the Rattlers, but Shannon was FAMU's first full-time trainer. Shannon elaborated on the special bond between he and Thompson.
Spence, overcome with joy from the honor, said, "I had a speech prepared, but when I got here I realized that this was not about me...this is bigger than me...this is about FAMU," he said. The sharpshooter said that after looking at the program in the back, he saw several things that could have been added to his resume, but they were irrelevant to the moment. "It hasn't totally hit me yet, but I am so joyful and thankful to be here and to be inducted. It's a privilege, it's a blessing and it's an honor," he said.
Trifonov, was accompanied by his wife, Mariela. He announced the 19-week old pregnancy of Mariela, with his first son. Beaming from the honor, Trifonov also ditched his speech. "To be here today, after coming to America, to New York from Bulgaria with $20 in my pocket, wow," he said. The usually soft-spoken coach was overwhelmed by the company being inducted into the group. "Just looking at the front of the program, to now be in the same grouping with Andre Dawson, Althea Gibson, Bob hayes and more, it's just a blessing," he added. "As they ran down my accomplishments, I felt like this was an awesome honor. I feel like I'm only half way to accomplishing what I want to accomplish in my career. We're hoping to bring even more to the tablee. I just told "Godfather," that I'm going to keep working and make them want to induct us again," he concluded.
The 2012 sports hall of famers will have their ceremonial breakfast on Saturday at 9 a.m. Following a brief ceremony where Eddie Jackson and Vaughn Wilson will be honored, the unveiling of the new plaques will take place on the veranda level of the Al Lawson Center. To wrap up their weekend, the class of 2012 will be introduced at the beginning of the football game.