On Friday, September 30, 2022 Bison Express sponsored the 2022 Hall of Fame Induction ceremony for former student-athletes, coaches, and staff that were deserving of recognition. The swanky biennial affair was attended by over 450 people. Bison Express Chair Bruce Williams and board member Jasmine Burton served as the emcees for the event.
There were many honorees of note, but what was perhaps most enlightening was to hear from the honorees about the importance of the community of Howard athletics. There were several that talked about specific games or plays that stood out in their mind several years after leaving the field, gym, or pitch, but all talked about the comradery of being a part of something much larger than themselves. Williams, already a member of the Howard Athletic Hall of fame, talked about playing in what was the described as “the dust bowl”—a colloquial term for referring to the football stadium he played in while he was a student. He remarked about wearing misshaped jerseys and the general conditions of the field, “…but that didn’t matter. I was just happy to be able to go to school for free and represent Howard University on my chest.” Saadia Doyle, the all-time scorer in MEAC history was also inducted, becoming the rare athlete inducted into both the MEAC hall of fame and Howard’s athletic hall of fame. When she appeared on Bison Break, she talked about the fact that while she had numerous on court accomplishments, it was her connections that she made that she most cherished, “…what I think about what’s most memorable to me, it’s not an accolade…it would be the relationships, the interactions I’ve had with various individuals associated with the school.”
Howard athletics is about so much more than the final score. There is an HBCU culture that pervades every single activity on campus. For example, Hall of fame inductee Nic Askew (and former Bison Break guest) currently serves as the head coach of the Howard University swimming and diving team. The team features the Tropical Rhythms, a dance squad for the team—a unique experience, particularly when combined with a DJ. Askew and his team hosted Georgetown’s swimming and diving team the following day, and it was a joy to see the 2022 inductee encourage the next wave of athletes that might one day be recognized for their own accomplishments.
But the night wasn’t only about those that played on fields, it was also about those that continued to contribute to the athletic program in other ways. Bison Express board member Thomas Payne was honored with the Buffalo Soldier award. The award is given to those that have aided in the betterment of the university’s athletic department. Payne was honored for his tireless promotion and fundraising efforts for the benefit of HU athletics. The late Shellie Bowers Jr. was honored for his contributions as a PA announcer. The importance of the award can’t be overstated—it highlights how many people are involved in making Howard athletics the success that it is.
Having so many amazing and talented individuals come together to celebrate not just the inductees, but the Howard athletic program was inspiring. It can be easy to feel downtrodden about a missed play, or even disappointing season, but nights like the hall of fame induction ceremony make it evident that there is so much joy and success that comes from the program that doesn’t appear on scoreboards. They come from stories told, opportunities seized, and unbreakable bonds formed. To help be a part of this positive culture, consider contributing here, so that the next generation of athletes can experience the same support and community and former athletes have.