The late Arizona State University and Arizona Cardinals star Pat Tillman, Olympic gold medal swimmer Gary Hall Jr., former Arizona Diamondbacks star Mark Grace, University of Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea, Xavier College Preparatory golf coach Sister Lynn Winsor BVM and former Chaparral High School softball coach Jeff Oscarson have been elected to the 2018 Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class, the Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission (ASEC) announced today.
The Arizona Sports Hall of Fame honors athletes, coaches, administrators and others who have made significant contributions to Arizona sports. The 2018 class, selected by a vote of trustees and the public, will be honored during the Crest Insurance Group Arizona Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.
“Congratulations to each member of this outstanding new Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class,” ASEC Executive Director Nikki Balich-Cammarata said. “Whether they are renowned locally, nationally or globally, each of these honorees has earned enshrinement for shaping Arizona’s sports history.”
To be eligible for the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, an individual must meet one of three criteria:
• A native of Arizona;
• Immediately recognized as an Arizonan;
• Have made at least two significant contributions to the athletics community in Arizona.
Told he was too small to play football, Tillman led ASU to the 1997 Rose Bowl as a hard-hitting linebacker and earned three consecutive selections to the Pac-10 All-Academic team. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business with a degree in Marketing. After the Arizona Cardinals selected him in the 7th round of the 1998 NFL draft, Tillman became the team’s starting safety and broke the franchise record for tackles with 224 in 2000. In the spring of 2002, Tillman walked away from football to join the U.S. Army. He was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
Hall Jr. was born into a legendary swimming family; his father, Gary Hall Sr., won three Olympic medals and his grandfather, Charles Keating Jr., was an NCAA champion. Hall Jr. launched his career at Brophy College Preparatory. A sprint specialist known for his flamboyant entrances, Hall represented the U.S. in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics, winning 10 medals – five gold, three silver, two bronze. After his first Olympic appearance, Hall was diagnosed with diabetes and, as a world-class athlete afflicted with diabetes, became an inspiration to people with the disease.
Grace, a first baseman, finished his 16-year Major League Baseball career with the Diamondbacks. Popular among fans and media, Grace was a key part of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the Valley’s only major professional sports championship. Although Grace had more hits than any other player in the 1990s, he is best known in Arizona for a single off Mariano Rivera that sparked the Diamondbacks’ dramatic 9th-inning rally to defeat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. Grace, who retired with a career .303 batting average, works as a television analyst and instructor for the Diamondbacks.
The winningest coach in NCAA Division I softball history, Candrea established an enduring dynasty in Tucson. Under Candrea, the Arizona Wildcats have won eight national championships and appeared in 22 Women’s College World Series. He has guided the program to 11 conference championships, including the 2017 Pac-12 title, which earned Candrea his 12th conference Coach of the Year Award. Candrea has also been named the national Coach of the Year four times. He also coached the U.S. Olympic softball team to a gold medal in 2004 and a silver in 2008.
Sister Lynn, Xavier College Preparatory’s Vice Principal for Activities and Athletic Director, has coached the Xavier Girls’ Golf Team to 35 Arizona 6A/Division I golf titles, including 16 in a row, both national records. Since she arrived at Xavier in 1974, Sister Lynn has led Xavier to a 457-25 record, a .948 winning percentage. Under Sister Lynn’s tutelage, more than 55 percent of her golfers have earned collegiate golf scholarships. Sister Lynn has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, a master’s degree from the University of Iowa, and multiple honors and distinctions for her groundbreaking career in the field of Athletic Direction. She entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Catholic Order of Women Religious, in 1967.
Oscarson’s Chaparral Firebirds won five state softball titles during his 22-year tenure, which he finished in 2003 with an overall 450-122-3 record. Oscarson played baseball at Saguaro High School and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1970. He decided not to sign and instead attended Mesa Community College, where he played on back-to-back national champions. Oscarson played for Arizona State in 1973 and 1974. Oscarson also served as a teacher and athletics director and played a pivotal role in establishing athletics programs at Scottsdale Unified School District middle schools, enabling children to participate on organized sports teams.
Sarah Ansboury, a pickleball standout from Portland, Ore., has been named Grand Canyon State Games Athlete of the Year and also will be honored at the Induction Ceremony. Ansboury was selected from the thousands of athletes who compete annually in the Games.
The Crest Insurance Group Arizona Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will kick off at 7
p.m. on November 1 with inductees meeting the media on the Pepsi Red Carpet Run. The Paramount Promotions Pre-Party, with registration, cocktails and a raffle, begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.
For more information on the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, or to purchase tickets to the induction ceremony, please visit www.azsportshof.com.