As we enter the 2016 athletic year, UCF saw many past legends inducted this past April into its Athletic Hall Of Fame including an iconic collegiate team and many transcendent collegiate players.
The 1978 Volleyball team, football star Asante Samuel, baseball star Dee Brown and softball star Stephanie Best were all honored as the newest members of the prestigious club.
The UCF Athletics Hall of Fame was established in 1998 to honor members of past athletic teams who have shined in intercollegiate athletics at UCF or have gained national recognition in athletics after their careers at UCF. It also gives recognition to non-athletes who have contributed to the improvement of the UCF Athletics program.
Nominees aren’t eligible until 10 years after they last partook in intercollegiate athletics at the university. Eligible inductees beyond student-athletes are teams, coaches, administrators, staff and donors/supporters. Including 2015, the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame has 75 inductees, highlighted by former athletes, administrators, coaches and national championship teams.
The 1978 Volleyball team went 55-0 on the way to winning the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Division II National Championship. It posted a 39-0 record in the regular season before sweeping through the State Championship Tournament and the Southern Regional Tournament with nine straight wins. Four All-Americans shined on the team, including Karin Fischer, Sharon Koskey, Laura Smith and Celestine Wilson. The team was coached by 2006 UCF Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Lucy McDaniel, who was the programs first head coach from 1975 to 1978. They helped set a program record with 69 straight wins from 1978 to 1979.
Asante Samuel was a defensive back for the Knights football team from 1999-2002. Samuel recorded 127 tackles — 102 by himself — eight interceptions, 38 pass break-ups, 63 punt returns for 673 yards and 10 kickoff returns for 168 yard during his UCF career. Samuel ranks eighth in school history in career interceptions with eight, and sixth in average punt return yardage with 10.8. His 38 pass break-ups broke the old school career-record of 34. Samuel was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round in 2003. Samuel played for the Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons during his 11-year career in the NFL from 2003 to 2013. He went on to become a three-time Super Bowl champion and a four-time Pro Bowl selection. Samuel also holds the NFL Postseason record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns and 227 interception return yards.
Dee Brown was a two-sport star for UCF, playing baseball and football. Inducted as a baseball star, Brown played in the outfield for the UCF baseball team from 2002 to 2005. Brown helped UCF win two A-Sun titles and advance to two NCAA Regionals. He was a 2002 Baseball America and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, the 2002 A-Sun Freshman of the Year and a three-time member of the All-A-Sun First Team. For his career, Brown holds the all-time UCF record for hits with 298, runs batted in with 229 and sac flies with 27. He also ranks fourth in games played (239), third in at-bats (866), third in runs (182), ninth in home runs (26), fourth in total bases (444) and sixth in hit by pitches (45). He is also the single-season record holder with 11 sack flies in 2004. Brown played as a fullback, tailback and linebacker for UCF from 2001 to 2003. He played in 34 games in three seasons, rushing 64 times as a fullback for 303 yards for a 4.7 average rush, scoring four touchdowns and also adding a little defense to his portfolio with 18 tackles. Brown has the honor of being the only Knight in history to hit a home run in baseball and score a touchdown in football within the same year. On the diamond, Brown was selected in the 10th Round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals and played six seasons of professional baseball.
Stephanie Best was the shortstop for the Knights softball team from 2002 to 2005. Best was a 2005 NCAA Woman of the Year nominee, a three-time A-Sun Player of the Year and was named to the Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team twice.
Best is the all-time career leader in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, runs, home runs, RBIs, total bases, assists, walks and games played in UCF softball history. Best helped start the UCF softball program in 2002. From 2002 to 2005, the Knights were a combined 172-100-1 overall and 54-24 in league play, winning the A-Sun tournament in 2005. UCF got to its first NCAA Tournament in program history in 2005, and recorded its first NCAA win when it eliminated Florida. Best went 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and two runs in the win. Best not only performed on the field, but off the field as well. She was on the Atlantic Sun All-Academic Team all four years.
Jimmy Calhoun is a senior staff writer for the Central Florida Future.