Published on October 11th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
Benedict Inducts Seven Into Athletic Hall Of Fame
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Benedict College Athletic Hall of Fame inducted seven new members recently adding to an impressive group of Hall of Famers.
This year’s class includes five standout basketball players, and a pair of track & field champions.
The event drew a sell-out crowd at the Doubletree by Hilton ballroom, and a large number of previous Hall of Famers attended to welcome in the new class.
The seven new inductees brings the total number of members in the Benedict College Athletic Hall of Fame to 206.
Bobby Adams, Men’s Basketball
Bobby Adams, a native of Greenville, S.C., grew up loving the game of basketball. He was a high school two-sport standout, where he led the upstate 4A basketball team in scoring and was a Greenville county athlete of the month for track and field.
He received his athletic scholarship in 1985. He exhibited outstanding athletic skills, leadership and abilities while participating as a member of the Benedict College track & field and basketball teams. During the 1988-89 basketball season, he helped lead the Tigers to the SIAC conference championship. He was awarded team MVP 1989 in basketball and finished up as the conference’s leading scorer, averaging 23 points per game. He led the conference in scoring twice during his four years at Benedict. Against Morris College, he scored 40 points.
Bobby Adams not only dominated the SIAC conference in scoring, but also as an All-SIAC high jumper. In track, he was the conference champion for four straight years in the high jump.
Bobby Adams is a service-connected disabled veteran, who has since returned to Benedict to earn his degree and also is a volunteer with the athletic department.
He has a son, Naquan Adams, who is also a track standout for Benedict and will graduate in May 2020.
Tina Hays Arrington, Women’s Basketball
Tina Hayes-Arrington helped lead the Benedict College women’s basketball team to a couple of unforgettable moments and record-breaking seasons. She was an essential part of the Lady Tigers’ success from 2001 – 2004. Tina only played three seasons, but she made sure to make each one of them special.
She only stood 5-foot-1, but her impact was felt whenever she stepped on the floor. She was known as the sparkplug of the team, and she set the tone of every game at the starting point guard position. Those who had the pleasure of playing with her or watching her play, knew she always gave 110 percent to whatever she was doing.5648
She walked on campus and captured everyone’s heart with her no look passes, aggressive defense, and the ability to be an effective leader. Her smile was infectious, and her play was tenacious. In her freshman season, 2001 – 2002, she was ranked fifth in the NAIA Division I individual statistics for assists. That season she also won the following awards; E.I.A.C. women’s assist leader, E.I.A.C. All Freshman Team, E.I.A.C. First Team All-Academic, Benedict College’s all-time leader in assists (158), and Benedict College’s all-time leader in steals (96). The Lady Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the E.I.A.C., and they finished second in the E.I.A.C. Tournament. They received an at-large bid, the first ever in school history, to the NAIA Division National Tournament.
In her second season, 2002 – 2003, she picked up where she left off. She made the E.I.A.C. First Team All-Academic Team once again. She also made the Second Team All-Tournament Selection at the Holiday Inn Northeast Tip-Off Classic. After sustaining a shoulder injury the previous season, she managed to come back full throttle and was awarded the Lady Tiger’s Most Valuable Player.
The 2003-2004 season would be her last season of play, and she went out with a bang. Benedict College re-entered the SIAC, and the men’s and women’s teams swept the SIAC Tournament as Conference Champs. That was the first time any team had done that since 1979. Tina won the following awards that season: SIAC First Team All-Academic, ALL SIAC Tournament Hustle Award, and the Benedict Lady Tigers Hustle Award. The 2003 – 2004 Lady Tigers were also recognized by South Carolina’s General Assembly.
Tina graduated Cum Laude in May 2004 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. After graduating from Benedict, she was an assistant coach at Coral Glades High School for four years. She pushed her girls to be scholars in the classroom with her education first style of coaching. She mentored countless youths and encouraged all who would listen to further their education. She has always been an HBCU advocate and she still considers Benedict College to be the best HBCU in the world.
Tina currently resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with her husband and college sweetheart, Rev. Willie Arrington, Sr. They have three kids – Willie Arrington, Jr. (deceased), Nevaeh Arrington (11) and Willie Arrington, Ill (1). For the last seven years, she been a branch office administrator and a regional mentor with Edward Jones Investments. In her spare time, she loves hanging with her family, supporting her beloved Dillard High School, and raising two of the best kids on the planet.
Vereva Harris, Women’s Track & Field
Vareva Harris has trained thousands of high school and college students around the country how to secure scholarships for college. As an advocate, consultant, executive, speaker, and researcher on leadership and management, she takes a personal approach to matching philanthropic opportunities with communities, students, and future leaders producing transformational results.5649
She is the founder and president of the Institute for Emerging Leaders, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The purpose of IEL, Inc. organization is to educate, expose, enlighten, encourage, and empower young people to be successful. She is a native of Woodruff, South Carolina and is a member of the Woodruff High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Vareva is a 1998 honors graduate of Benedict College where she earned a Bachelor’s of Art degree in the teaching of English. During her college matriculation, she earned several honors and awards. She was an NAIA All-America Scholar Athlete, E.I.A.C. Female Athlete of the Year, and United Negro College Fund/NFL/NFL Players’ Association scholarship recipient. A standout track & field athlete, she competed in the 1996 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championship in the triple jump event. She was All-Conference in the triple jump, high jump, as well as the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles.
After graduating from Benedict College, Vareva continued her education at Columbia College, where she earned a Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution. She is currently working on her dissertation in pursuit of a Doctoral Degree in Management and Organizational Leadership.
Vareva is a servant leader. She has produced a record of accomplishments in various leadership roles at Benedict College. Some roles include associate vice president, director and assistant director. During her 20-year tenure, the impact of her leadership has yielded multi-million dollar grant funded outreach and research projects, scholarship funds for students, and expanded partnerships in government, corporate, and non-profit sectors.
Her passion for athletics continues through her work as a volleyball coach at local volleyball clubs and high schools. She is the wife of Wendell Harris and has been married for 21 years. They are the parents of six children and seven grandchildren. Her favorite scripture is Matthew 5: 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Pamela Prezzy Jeffery, Women’s Track & Field
Pamela Prezzy Jeffery was the driving force behind the Benedict College women’s track and field team from 1989-1992. Prior to college, Pamela was highly recruited by Hall of Fame Coach, Michael Stewart, after leading Holly Hill High School to the South Carolina High School League track and field state championships in the 4 X400 relay, 100 and 200-meter dash. Coach Stewart’s ability to sign Pamela Prezzy to a track and field scholarship for the Benedict College women’s track and field team would turn out to be a pivotal moment.5655
Pamela immediately established herself as one of the best sprinters in the Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (EIAC) and NAIA District 7. As a freshman, she helped lead the Lady Tigers to a conference and district championship by winning the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and 400-meter dash. She was awarded Benedict College Outstanding Sprinter MVP, as well as All-Conference and All-District honors in track.
Pamela never shied away from competition and not only did she excel at individual events but was also known as a team player. This was best exhibited as a member of the Tigers 4×100, 4×200, 4×400, and the sprint medley relay teams. They took the championship at the Paine College Relay, Edwin Moses Morehouse Relay, and the South Carolina State Classic from 1989 -1992. Pamela was also on the relay team that set the Benedict College 4X100 relay record in 1989. Pamela earned Top Sprinter MVP in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992 for Benedict College women’s track and field team. She also was All-Conference and All-District all four years. She qualified for the National NAIA Championship in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
Pamela continued to improve and by the time she graduated, the Benedict College women’s track team had garnered four EIAC Championships and four NAIA District Championships from 1989 -1992, making them one of the most successful athletic programs in Benedict College history.
Joshua Obiajunwa, Men’s Basketball
Joshua Chidimma Obiajunwa, known to his teammates as ‘Semi’ (from the movie “Coming to America”), was born December 24th, 1981 in Jos, Nigeria. The youngest of seven children, he is an Igbo by tribe and a Christian by faith.5650
As a freshman student athlete at Benedict College, Obiajunwa, a 6-foot-6 power forward, led the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds per game. In his three years at Benedict, he averaged 15.6 points and 9.7 rebounds. He helped propel the team to one SIAC regular season title, one conference tournament championship, and two NCAA regional appearances. The team was also recognized by the South Carolina State General Assembly during its 115th session for all its accomplishments. In addition to team accolades and recognition, he also received numerous individual awards from 2003-2006 which includes: Dean’s Scholar three years in a row, All-Academic Team three years in a row, All Conference First Team three years in a row, Freshman of the Year, Most Valuable Player of the Year, Lucius Clark Award Recipient, NCAA Leadership Nominee, Connor Elite 12 Scholar-Athlete, and many more.
Obiajunwa graduated from Benedict College in 2006 as a Summa cum Laude honor student with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He finished with a 3.97 GPA, the highest GPA in his program.
Upon graduation, Obiajunwa gained admission to Savannah State University, where he pursued a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. As a graduate student athlete, Joshua Obiajunwa helped turned the SSU men’s basketball program around. During the 2006-2007 basketball season, the Savannah State men’s basketball team won more games than the previous three seasons combined. Joshua Obiajunwa was named Division 1 Independent Conference player of the week five times and Savannah State Most Valuable Player of the Year. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 2008.
Prior to graduating from Savannah State University, Obiajunwa worked for the city of Savannah as a graduate intern for the Office of Budget and Management. He worked directly with the city manager, city council members, and the office of the Mayor in developing sister-city relationships with other cities around the world. His responsibilities included researching, analyzing, planning and preparing reports using statistics, charts, and graphs to illustrate studies in various areas, and making recommendations.
Upon graduation from Savannah State University, Obiajunwa was offered a job as Assistant Director of Intramural Sports. He was also an assistant women’s basketball coach, responsible for individual player development and academic progression. He held that position until 2012.
In 2014, Obiajunwa was named interim Director of University Recreation and Wellness, and in 2015, he became the Director of University Recreation and Wellness. In 2017, he was also named the University System of Georgia (USG) well-being liaison for Savannah State. He is currently pursuing a Safety and Health Management certification program at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Obiajunwa is a father of two; a son, Joshua C. A. Obiajunwa Jr. (9) and a daughter, Michelle Ada Obiajunwa (2).
Leon Smith Jr., Men’s Basketball
Leon Carroll Smith Jr., was an all-American junior college transfer from Otero Junior College located in LaJunta, Colo. Upon arriving at Benedict College, Smith played under the coaching of Willie Washington from 1991 to 1994.5651
Smith was one of Benedict College men’s basketball elite superstars. He averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds per game as a sophomore, which led to him earning EIAC All-Conference, EIAC All-Tournament, and Honorable Mention All-American accolades. He also shared Co-MVP of the Benedict College basketball team that year.
During Smith’s junior year, he was sidelined for the majority of the basketball season due to a torn ACL in his right knee. Throughout his injury and managed minutes on the basketball court, Smith was able to contribute to Benedict College’s first trip to the NAIA Nationals.
Smith’s senior year was comparable to his sophomore year. He helped the Tigers to a second trip to the NAIA Nationals, averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds throughout the NAIA national tournament.
After graduating from Benedict College, Smith played with the Association Basketball League, a semi-pro league. He was later sidelined with another knee injury that kept him from returning to the team. Smith currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., and currently is the Regional Director for Triad Therapy Mental Health Center.
Smith graduated from Mullins High School in Mullins, S.C., the home of the all-time great coach, the late Mark Gerald. Coach Gerald first encouraged Smith to transfer to Benedict College.
Smith is the eldest son of the late Marian Smith and the late Leon Carroll Smith. He is the proud father of four — Marion Smith, Jaden Smith, Cheyenne Smith and Caitlyn Smith. He has been coaching his youngest son’s AAU basketball team for the past two years. He loves sharing his basketball knowledge to the next up and coming superstars.
Orma Swearinger, Women’s Basketball
Orma Felton Swearinger was one of Benedict College’s most decorated women’s basketball players, earning team MVP honors for three years in a row in basketball and two years in softball.5652
The fifth of nine children of Johnnie and Mary Felton, Orma is a native of Johnson, S.C. and a graduate of Strom Thurmond High School.
She attended Benedict College, where she was a standout on the basketball court. She was named MVP in 1994, 1995 and 1996. During her career, she accumulated such honors as All-Region three times, All-State, Defensive Hustle Award, All-Conference, HBCU Tournament All-Tournament team, HBCU Tournament Highest GPA Award, and Claflin/NationsBank All-Tournament Team.
She also contributed her athletic talents on the softball team, earning team MVP and All-Region honors in that sport as well.
A standout student, she served as President of the Student Government Association, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and was recognized at the Honor Program Capstone Ceremony. She was inducted into a pair of honor societies – Alpha Chi and Beta Kappa Chi. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated.