Six Named To Tech Hall Of Fame
Honorees to be inducted Oct. 26
August 19, 2001

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Six former Virginia Tech student-athletes representing five different sports make up the latest class elected to the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

The 2001 inductees are:
  • George Canale, an All-America baseball slugger in the mid-1980s who still leads Tech in career home runs, runs batted in and total bases.
  • Amy Byrne Feathers, a hustling center who set records and earned honors both on and off the basketball court during the late 1980s.
  • Margaret Soulen Gilbert, a record-setting swimmer of the late 1980s, who became the first woman swimmer at Tech to score points in the NCAA Championships.
  • Don Oakes, whose contributions as a football lineman at Tech from 1957 through 1960 paved the way for a successful career as a professional player and a high school coach.
  • Ricky Scales, a speedy receiver whose big-play ability helped him rewrite the Tech record book in the early 1970s.
  • Sherman Vandevender, a four-time Southern Conference wrestling champion who advanced to the final Olympic tryouts in 1956.
The six new honorees will be inducted at a Hall of Fame dinner on the Tech campus on Friday, Oct. 26, the evening before Tech's home football game against Syracuse. Each of the inductees and their families will be introduced to fans at halftime of the football game.

The new inductees will bring the total number enshrined to 106. The Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1982 and is currently located near the Bowman Room on the fourth floor of the Jamerson Athletic Center. Hall of Fame plaques engraved with portraits of all the members are displayed there. Under Tech Hall of Fame guidelines, persons are not eligible for induction until they have been out of school for a period of 10 years.

George Canale wasted little time getting his highly-productive Virginia Tech baseball career started. Canale moved into the Hokies' starting lineup at first base as a freshman in 1984 and reached base on his first seven trips to the plate. He hit a grand slam home run in his second collegiate at-bat and went on to lead the Metro Conference in runs batted in as a freshman.

The left-handed slugger from Roanoke, Va., finished his freshman season batting .313 with 21 home runs and 77 RBIs. At the time, both his home run and RBI totals were school records for a freshman. Canale finished 15th nationally in RBIs that season and earned Freshman All-America honors from Baseball America.

As a sophomore in 1985, Canale batted .335 with nine doubles, four triples, 26 home runs and 79 runs batted in. He earned first-team All-Metro honors and ranked 13th nationally in home runs as the Hokies tied a school record with 50 wins.

During the summer after his sophomore season, Canale played for the USA All-Star team in the Intercontinental Cup. During the fall of '85, he traveled with another USA All-Star squad to Venezuela.

In 1986, Canale led the nation in home runs with 29 on the way to first-team All-America honors from both Baseball America and The Sporting News. He hit .373 with 71 RBIs and in the process established Tech career records with 76 home runs, 227 runs batted in and 502 total bases.

Also known for his outstanding work ethic and defensive skills, Canale passed up his senior year at Tech after he was picked in the sixth round of the 1986 amateur baseball draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He made his first appearance in the major leagues during September 1989 and hit a home run in his second big league at-bat. He spent time in five other organizations and also played overseas.

Canale currently lives in Roanoke where he is the vice president of William L. Potter Contractors.

Amy Byrne Fetters not only stands as the only women's basketball player in Tech history to average 20 points per game for a season, she also stands as the first player in the program's history to earn Academic All-America recognition.

Byrne was a key reserve for the Hokies her first two seasons, averaging 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds as a freshman in 1986-87 and 6.2 points and 4.1 rebounds the following year as a sophomore. Her 16-point, 13-rebound effort helped Tech to a 63-61 win over nationally-ranked James Madison during her freshman season.

In 1988, Byrne's hustle and desire earned her a starting job at center, where she finished out her career with 57 consecutive starts. During the 1988-89 season, she scored in double figures 24 times, including a 16-point performance that led the Hokies to victory over 13th-ranked South Carolina. She led the team in scoring with a 15-point per game average and was second in rebounding at 7.5 per game. Her season free throw mark of 82 percent was a school record at that time.

Byrne, who came to Tech from Brookfield, Wis., was even better as a senior when she averaged 20.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. She earned first-team Metro Conference honors in 89-90 and set a school single-season scoring mark of 561 points that still stands today. Byrne closed out her career with 1,291 points, which still ranks her sixth in career points. Her final total of 333 free throws made still ranks third among Tech players, while her career free throw percentage of .760 is still the fifth best.

On the way to her record 20-point average, Byrne hit double-figure scoring in all 28 games to establish a season mark for consecutive double-figure games which still stands. She continues to hold the career record, as well, with 38 straight double-figure scoring outings.

Byrne enjoyed an even more impressive streak off the court as an architecture student, making the Dean's List every grading period she was at Tech. She was named a District III Academic All-American and received Tech's coveted Loria Award based on academic and athletic achievement, citizenship and leadership.

Amy Byrne Fetters now lives in Brookfield and is an architect and project manager for Briohn Building Corporation in Pewaukee, Wis.

Margaret Soulen Gilbert became the first Tech woman swimmer to score points in the NCAA Championships when she finished 13th in both the 100 backstroke and the 200 backstroke as a senior in 1989. Soulen's times in both events set school records and helped her earn honorable mention All-America honors. Her time of 57.21 in the 100 backstroke still stands as Tech's top time in the event.

Soulen qualified for the NCAA in '89 after winning three individual titles at the Metro Conference/National Independent Conference Championship. She was named the Metro/National Independent Swimmer of the Year after taking titles in the 200 individual medley, the 100 backstroke and the 200 backstroke and swimming legs on the 400 free and 400 medley relay teams.

A year earlier, Soulen capped her junior season by making her first appearance in the NCAA Championships. She just missed scoring points in the 1988 event, but still made a strong showing by cutting two full seconds off her best time in the 200 backstroke, which improved her ranking in the event from No. 43 in nation to No. 20. She was also ranked 29th in the 100 backstroke and 40th in the 200 IM. Soulen qualified in the Senior Nationals in four events in 88 and earned an invitation to compete in the 200 backstroke at the Olympic Trials.

Soulen, who was born in Greenwich, Conn., came to Tech from North Springs High School in Atlanta, Ga. As a freshman for the Hokies, she set four school records and excelled in the Metro Conference Championships, placing third in the 200 backstroke, fourth in both the 200 fly and 400 individual medley and fifth in the 200 IM. She was a Senior National qualifier in the backstroke.

By the end of her sophomore season in 1986-87, Soulen held five individual school records and was part of three record-setting relay teams. She capped the season by qualifying for the Senior Nationals for the second consecutive season.

Soulen's school mark in the 50 backstroke was broken last season, while her marks in the 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley were topped during the 1999-2000 season. Overall, she still ranks as one of Tech's top four performers in five different individual events.

An industrial engineering major at Tech, Margaret Soulen Gilbert currently lives in Lawrenceville, Ga., where she worked 10 years as a sales engineer for Cutler-Hammer Corporation. This winter she will be an assistant swim coach at St. Pius X School in Atlanta.

Don Oakes came to Virginia Tech after helping Fork Union Military Academy to the Virginia Military Championship in 1956. Once in Blacksburg, it didn't take long for his size and mobility to put him on the fast track to varsity playing time for the Hokies.

Oakes saw plenty of varsity action as a two-way tackle in 1957. He was switched briefly to guard during 1958 spring drills, but returned to tackle were he became a regular on the left side of the Tech line that fall. At 240 pounds, he was the heaviest player on the Tech squad.

The Roanoke County (Va.) native lettered each of his last three seasons while playing both ways at tackle. He earned a reputation as an excellent blocker and was named all-state and second-team All-Southern Conference following his senior season in 1960.

During his time at Tech, Oakes doubled as a heavyweight wrestler for the Hokies. He was the hero of a much-anticipated match against Maryland in 1959. A year earlier, the Terrapins had snapped a Tech string of 28 consecutive dual match victories. When the Hokies traveled to College Park in '59, they were bent on revenge and Oakes assured it. With Tech clinging to a 13-12 lead heading into the final match, the junior heavyweight posted a 12-0 decision that clinched a victory.

Following his senior football season, Oakes was drafted in the third round of the National Football League draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He went on to play two seasons as an offensive tackle for the Eagles before joining the Boston Patriots in 1963. During six seasons with the Patriots, Oakes was named the team's top offensive lineman in 1966 and was selected to the Eastern Division All-Star team in 1967. He played in the AFC All-Star game following the 1967 season.

After retiring from professional football in 1968, Oakes turned to coaching. In 1969, he began a prep coaching career that would span 31 years in the Roanoke Valley, with stints at Lord Botetourt Intermediate School, Lord Botetourt High School, William Byrd High and Cave Spring High.

Now retired, Oakes lives in Bedford County.

Ricky Scales came close to completely rewriting the Virginia Tech record book for pass receiving during his three varsity seasons with the Hokies. After leading the Tech freshman team in receiving with 16 catches for 468 yards during the 1971 season, Scales rapidly established himself as one of the most dangerous big-play threats in school history.

In 1972, Scales caught a team-leading 43 passes and set a school single-season mark for receiving yardage that stood until 1999 with 826 yards. His seven touchdown receptions that season were also a team record at the time. Three of those touchdown catches in '72 came during a win at Ohio University, setting a Tech single-game record that he still shares today. During the final game of the 1972 season - a 44-9 win at Wake Forest - Scales piled up 213 yards receiving to establish a school mark that still stands.

As a junior in 1973, Scales led the Hokies with 36 receptions for 772 yards and seven more touchdowns. He also rushed eight times for 52 yards and a TD. His 80-yard touchdown reception against Virginia that season was the longest on record at Tech and is still tied for the fifth-longest catch in school history. His season yards per catch average of 21.4 in '73 also stood as a school record at the time.

The Martinsville, Va., native continued his assault on the Tech record book as a senior, leading the team in receiving for the third consecutive season. Scales hauled in 34 passes for 674 yards and four TDs in 1974. His final totals of 113 catches, 2,272 receiving yards, 18 touchdown receptions and 20.1 yards per catch were all Tech career records.

Scales' career yardage total and per catch average still rank as the best in Tech history. He is currently second all-time in both receptions and touchdown catches, and is one of only three receivers during the past four decades to lead the Hokies in receptions three consecutive seasons.

Following his Tech career, Scales was drafted by the Houston Oilers of the National Football League, and went on to play in the World Football League.

Scales now lives in Camden Wyoming, Del., were he is a research and development manager for Dentsply International.

Sherman Vandevender posted a 27-1 dual meet record, won four Southern Conference championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice during his wrestling career at Virginia Tech. But Vandevender's most impressive accomplishment may have come after his freshman season in 1956 when he qualified for the final Olympic wrestling trials in Los Angeles.

Vandevender earned the invitation to LA by winning his weight division at the Eastern Regional. He gained his regional title by winning five consecutive matches, including two within the period of one hour. Among his victims in the regional competition were Donald Thompson, a former NCAA runner-up at Oklahoma A&M, and Andy Kau, a former Big Ten title holder from Michigan. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury sustained during the regional ultimately kept Vandevender from attending the finals in California.

A product of Granby High School's famed wrestling program in Norfolk, Va., Vandevender began his Tech career in 1955-56 by going undefeated in his seven dual matches and winning the Southern Conference championship at 157 pounds. Tech won the SC team title that season, and Vandevender qualified for the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

During the 1957 season, Vandevender went 7-0 once again, tying for the team lead in points with 35 and falls with six. He earned a reputation for finishing off his opponents in a hurry, including pins in 32 seconds against Washington & Lee, 36 seconds against North Carolina, 52 seconds versus West Virginia and 53 seconds against Virginia. He capped the season by winning the 147-pound championship at the Southern Conference Tournament.

Vandevender suffered his only loss in dual competition in 1958 when he dropped a 10-8 decision to Maryland's Nick Biondi. Maryland went on to defeat the Tech team, 17-10, ending its string of consecutive dual match wins at 28. Vandevender finished the season 6-1 and once again tied for the team lead in falls with five. One of those pins helped Tech beat a strong Auburn team that had won 17 straight dual matches.

The Hokies won the Southern Conference championship again in '58 with Vandevender defending his title at 147 pounds. The Tech junior was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler and earned an invitation to the NCAA Championships for the second time.

As a senior, Vandevender posted falls in his first six matches. He led the team in points (35) and pins (6) on the way to another 7-0 record. During the SC tournament, he returned to the 157-pound class and won his fourth-straight conference championship.

Vandevender, a retired businessman who serves as a consultant for Marriott International, currently lives in Oakton, Va.

Enshrined earlier in the Tech Hall of Fame were: Carroll Dale, Chris Smith, George Preas, Bob Schweickert, Johnny Oates, Allan Bristow, Leo Burke, Tim Collins, Madison Nutter, Don Strock, John Wetzel, Harry Bushkar, Howie Wright, Dickie Beard, Glen Combs, Tom Beasley, Brandon Glover, Mike Widger, George Foussekis, Stuart Johnson, Leland Melear, Bill Buchanan, Jerry Gaines, Ken Whitley, Bill Grossman, Jack Burrows, Wendy Weisend, Mac Banks, Lewis Mills, Franklin Stubbs, Keith Neff, Howard Pardue, Lucy Hawk Banks, Roy Beskin, Bill Matthews, Jack Prater, Dale Solomon, Ginny Lessmann Stonick, Neff McClary, Mike Johnson, Linda King Steel, Tony Paige, Bruce Smith, Louis Ripley, Dell Curry, Connie Sellers, Dick Arnold, Frank Beamer, Renee Dennis, Cyrus Lawrence, Rick Razzano, Jim Stewart, Sterling Wingo, Robert Brown, Berkeley Cundiff, Don Divers, Loyd King, Kenny Lewis, Ken Barefoot, Bob Phillips, Steve Taylor, Ted Ware, Mike Burnop, Bimbo Coles, Ken Edwards, Ki Luczak, Bobby Smith, Lori McKee Taylor; and the following persons who are deceased: C.P. (Sally) Miles, Frank Moseley, Frank Loria, Hunter Carpenter, Frank Peake, Herbert McEver, Greene (Red) Laird, Paul Dear, Monk Younger, Henry (Puss) Redd, Mel Henry, George Parrish, Hank Crisp, Ed Motley, Sonny Utz, Wilson Bell, Herb Thomas, Bob Ayersman, Dick Esleeck, Al Casey, Joe Moran, William Grinus, Jr., Earl (Bus) Hall, H.V. (Byrd) Hooper, James Franklin Powell, Bucky Keller, Milton Andes, Richard Bullock, Waddey Harvey, Frank Teske, George Smith and Eddie Ferrell.