Delaware Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame to induct 12 new members

DOVER — The Delaware Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame will induct 12 former players and coaches in its 21st class next month.

The dozen inductees will be honored at the group’s annual banquet on April 20 at 6 p.m. at Dover’s Modern Maturity Center.

The members of this year’s Delaware Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame induction class, in alphabetical order, are:

A former Delaware State College cheerleader, Mary (Jean) Avery has been involved in cheerleading for over 50 years,

Avery has hosted the longest-running cheering competitions in the tri-state area, drawing teams from West Virginia to northern New Jersey. She was also instrumental in establishing the Delaware Cheer Leading Coaches Association and has been the head cheerleading coach at Christiana High for the past 38 years.

Avery has led the Vikings to nine state titles and four national titles.

Cape Henlopen High basketball star Purnell Ayers led the Vikings to back-to-back state titles in 1975 and ‘76, was the state’s Player of the Year both seasons and held the former state scoring record of 1,408 points.

While in the U.S. Army, Purnell led the Army in scoring, 1977-1980. In 2018, he was Inducted into the Delaware Legends Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jay “J-Bird” Faulkner was a football and track standout for Salesianum who rushed for 2,000 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 15 career games. He went on to play in three bowl games for the University of North Carolina as well as playing for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.

Woodbridge High wrestler Alonzo I. Frisby went 25-0 with 19 pins as the 105-pound state champion in 1977. As a member of the U.S. Army, he was the Fort Riley Post 118-pound champion and was invited to wrestle in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1980.

Preston E. Grace has been an assistant coach at Woodbridge High for all but two of the last 32 years. He’s helped the Blue Raiders win a pair of Division II state championships with six state tournament appearances.

Grace is a past winner of the Ed Brown Award as the top assistant coach in the state.

Teresa Hudson-Braxton was a track standout at Dover High who Division I state titles in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relay as a senior in 1992. She also won a state title in the 3,200 relay in 1991. An All-American at Christopher Newport, Hudson later competed as a distance runner at Delaware State.

Andrew Miles was an All-American basketball player at Sanford, where he netted 1,500 career points, was named the state Player of the Year and led the Warriors to a state title. Miles later was an all-MEAC player for Delaware State.

Juanita Parker was a long-time coach of various sports at different levels. She coached Dover High’s girls’ basketball team and organized a softball team at Delaware State in 1990 that finished second in the MEAC.

Parker was also an assistant volleyball coach at DSU and a coach and president of the Delaware/Maryland Eastern Shore Semi-Pro Baseball League from 1971-79.

Wilbert L. Ransburg was an All-State basketball player at both Wilmington and Newark High, leading Wilmington to the 1978 state title and earning state Player of the Year honors. He played at Middle Georgia College, leading the team in assists and averaging 13 points a game.

A three-sport athlete at Middletown High, Clarence L. Saunders was the state’s leading scorer as he helped the Cavaliers to a 9-0 record in football. Saunders also played baseball in Korea with the Pacific Air Force Command and the Middletown Jets slow pitch softball team for several years.

Burton A. Watson, Jr. helped Wilmington High play in three straight boys’ basketball state title games, with two titles, between 1971-73. He went on to coach football, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball at Wilmington before coaching at Buchholz High in Gainesville, Fla. in the late 1980s.

An All-State basketball player at Sussex Central High, Markishia C. Wise went to Delaware on a scholarship before injuries cut short her career. She later became the Golden Knights’ head coach and was inducted into the Sussex Central Hall of Fame.

Tickets for the banquet are $40 each and can be purchased by contacting Michael Brown (New Castle County, 302-898-9102), Clemon Jordan (Sussex County, 302-539-5050) and Shirley Riley (Kent County, 302-736-1767).

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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