Champions in Athletics
Black student-athletes make athletic history at Notre Dame
By Pete LaFleur
Notre Dame's athletic history has included many noteworthy and record-setting accomplishments by black student-athletes:
- The 1987 Heisman Trophy winner thrilled Notre Dame football fans with his kick returns and clutch receiving, as a flanker with the Irish from 1984-87. Brown was one of the key players in the memorable comeback win at USC (38-37) that capped the 1986 season, with his 254 all-purpose yards that day including a 56-yard punt return to set up the winning field goal. His all-purpose yardage totals - which featured some rushes out of the backfield - ranked him third nationally as a junior (176.5 per game) and sixth as a senior (167.9). Brown's Heisman Trophy season in 1987 was highlighted by a pair of punt-return touchdowns (covering 66 and 71 yards) versus a Michigan State team that went on to win the Rose Bowl.
The Dallas native ended his career as Notre Dame's all-time leader in pass reception yards (2,493), in addition to totaling six kick returns for touchdowns (three on punts and three on kickoffs) and also proving to be a top sprinter with the Irish track team. The sixth overall selection in the 1988 NFL draft, Brown spent most of his 17-year NFL career as a member of the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders. He was named to the NFL Pro Bowl 11 times and retired in 2005 with 14,934 career receiving yards, second only to Jerry Rice in NFL history.
AUBREY LEWIS - A gifted all-around athlete who had the makings of an Olympic decathlete (he was runner-up to Bob Richards at the 1954 U.S. Nationals), Lewis was a speedy halfback with the Notre Dame football team in the mid-1950s and a two-time All-American in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. As a sophomore in the spring of 1956, Lewis won the NCAA 400-hurdles title in a time of 51.0 and he also set the world record in that event (49 seconds, in '56). It would be nearly a half-century later until another Notre Dame competitor won an NCAA track-and-field event, via Ryan Shay's victory in the 10,000 meters at the 2001 NCAA meet (five months before Lewis died, due to a heart ailment). A three-year monogram winner in football, the six-foot, 185-pound Lewis was noted for his agility and pass-receiving ability from the left halfback spot. He became the first African-American to captain a Notre Dame varsity team as one of the leaders of the 1957 Irish football team that ended Oklahoma's NCAA-record, 47-game winning streak.
Lewis was a legendary prep athlete at Montclair (N.J.) High School and was named by the Newark Star Ledger as New Jersey's "outstanding high school offensive player of the 20th century." His three-year high school football career included two state titles, a 26-1 team record and rushing for nearly 4,500 yards and 49 touchdowns, highlighted by one night when he scored four times and rushed for 223 yards - all in the first quarter. Lewis also was a top basketball player at MHS and set three state track-and-field records at one meet, in the discus (154-1) and the 100- (9.8) and 220-yard (21.0) dashes.
Despite seeing his football career slowed by an ankle injury, Lewis went on to become one of the first two African-Americans to complete the FBI's training program and served as a Notre Dame trustee. His FBI career was followed by several years as a top executive with F.W. Woolworth, Co. Lewis later served as a chairman and commissioner for various organizations in his home state of New Jersey and received the NCAA's prestigious Silver Anniversary Award. His son, Aubrey Lewis, Jr., is entering his fifth year as the track and field coach at Montclair State.
- The high-scoring guard was named the 1970-71 national men's basketball player of the year (from both the AP and UPI), after averaging 37.9 points per game during that senior season. Carr ranked as the nation's second-leading scorer in each of his final two seasons (38.1 ppg as a junior) and remains second in the NCAA record book with a career scoring average of 34.6 points per game. The most prolific scorer in the history of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (41.3 ppg), Carr also holds the record for most points in an NCAA Tournament game - after scorching Ohio University for 61 in the 1970 NCAAs (his other six career games in the NCAAs included 52 points versus both Kentucky and TCU, 47 vs. Houston and 45 vs. Iowa).
The 6-foot-3 Carr -inducted into the Men's College Basketball Hall of Fame in November of 2007 - was a three-year starter (22.0 ppg as a sophomore) and two-year captain with the Irish, helping guide his team to the NCAAs each season. He scored 40-plus points in 23 games during his Notre Dame career and went on to be the first selection in the 1971 NBA draft, with his 11-year NBA career including nine seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Washington, D.C., native was an NBA all-rookie selection with the Cavaliers in 1972 and averaged 15.4 ppg during his NBA career.
SHANNON BOXX - A two-time Olympic soccer gold-medal winner with Team USA, Boxx is considered one of the world's elite defensive midfielders while fashioning an inspiring story of perseverance and making the most of one's opportunities. Her all-BIG EAST Conference career at Notre Dame (1995-98) included totaling seven goals and 10 assists for the 1995 NCAA championship team and playing a key role on the 1997 Irish team that remains one of the most dominant in NCAA history (with a 135-9 final scoring margin). Boxx is one of 11 Notre Dame players ever to reach 30 goals (39) and assists (57, sixth in ND history) and shared the Irish record for career games played (101), until that mark was eclipsed by two members of the 2007 senior class. Her Freshman All-America season in 1995 included scoring three times in an NCAA tournament win over Wisconsin while her goal at Portland in the 1996 NCAA quarterfinals helped spark an Irish comeback win (3-2) from a 2-0 deficit. Boxx helped Notre Dame compile an 89-8-4 record during her four seasons, with each of those teams reaching at least the NCAA quarterfinals (the '96 team was national runner-up).
Boxx played three seasons in the former Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) but was set to shift her focus to graduate school and college coaching, in the summer of 2003. She also had every intention of attending the 2003 Women's World Cup ... as a spectator. Boxx never had merited serious consideration for the national team but she was pleasantly surprised with an invitation to attend the final training camp prior to the 2003 World Cup. That fateful day may have provided Boxx's final shot at an extended career in the upper echelon of women's soccer. Non-sports alternatives were waiting on the horizon and the WUSA was set to fold, removing the opportunities to prove herself on that stage.
It was "now or (possibly) never" for Boxx at the August '03 training camp and the native of Redondo Beach, Calif., blasted through the door of opportunity in unprecedented fashion. Not only was she named to the World Cup roster - the first player ever to do so without having appeared in a game with Team USA - Boxx was inserted into the starting lineup and responded by scoring goals in both tuneup games and again in the World Cup opener, becoming the first ever to score in her first three games with the national team.
After earning a spot on the prestigious 11-player all-World Cup team, Boxx went on to finish seventh in voting for the 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year award and then was third in the 2005 balloting, behind Germany's Birgit Prinz and Brazilian sensation Marta. Despite later missing eight months due to hip and knee injuries, Boxx returned to the U.S. squad in 2007 and played all 600 minutes for an American squad that won gold in Beijing, capped by a 1-0, overtime win over emerging world power Brazil (which also lost the 2004 Olympic final to the U.S., 2-1). Boxx assisted on the winning goal in the Olympic quarterfinal versus Canada (2-1), en route to becoming the 22nd player ever to reach 100 career games played for Team USA.
Boxx - whose sister Gillian won gold with the 1996 U.S. softball team - joins her U.S. teammate Kate Sobrero Markgraf, fencer Mariel Zagunis and middle-distance runner Alex Wilson as the only competitors with Notre Dame ties who have won multiple Olympic medals.
- Part of an elite group of 11 Notre Dame men's fencers ever to win an NCAA individual title, Beshin was an elite epeeist for the Irish in the early 1980s. The quick and smart-bouting Beshin won the 1990 NCAA epee title (held at nearby Saint Mary's College), capped by a 5-4, 5-3 final win over second-seeded Dan Nowosielski of Princeton (the brother of Beshin's ND teammate and standout sabreman Leszek Nowosielski). One year later, at Penn State, Beshin nearly joined former sabreist Mike Sullivan as the only Notre Dame men's fencers to win multiple NCAA titles - but Columbia's Marc Oshima emerged with the hard-fought victory (3-5, 5-2, 5-1). Beshin, a native of Newark, N.J. currently ranks as one of one seven Notre Dame men's fencers ever to appear in multiple NCAA title bouts, joining fellow epeeist Michal Sobieraj, foilists Pat Gerard and Andy Bonk, and three sabreists (Sullivan, Gabor Szelle and Patrick Ghattas) in that distinction. He competed with the U.S. Junior National Team at the 1991 Pan-American Games.
DICK ARRINGTON - As one of only four Notre Dame student-athletes ever to earn All-America honors in football and a second sport, Arrington is part of an elite club that includes fellow heavyweight wrestler Bob Golic, track sprinter Raghib Ismail and Notre Dame all-around legend Edward "Moose" Krause (who was an All-American in football and basketball during his undergrad days at Notre Dame). Arrington was a two-way star with the Irish football team, helping protect quarterback John Huarte during his 1964 Heisman Trophy season before collecting his own consensus All-America honors as a senior in 1965. The previous winter, the pride of Erie, Pa., turned in an impressive showing at the 1965 NCAA Wrestling Championships, finishing third in the heavyweight division at that meet in Laramie, Wyo. A humble leader who captained the Irish wrestling team, Arrington was a tough and quick lineman who impressed Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian with his skills on both sides of the line of scrimmage - most notably in 1965, when an injury to star defensive lineman Kevin Hardy forced the Irish to quickly shift Arrington from offensive guard to defensive right tackle. The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Arrington proved to be a natural on defense, regularly shedding blockers as part of a talented Notre Dame program that was one year away from winning the national title.
Others of note include (look for feature stories on several of these individuals, in upcoming game day programs):
LaKeysia Beene - Standout soccer goalkeeper who set ND record with 0.63 career goals-against average (now 2nd in ND history, 13th in NCAA record book); ended career by leading Irish to 1999 NCAA title game; named 1997 All-American, also finalist for national player of the year in '98 and '99; her ND-record 0.36 GAA in '97 included six straight shutouts; native of Gold River, Calif., who spent several years in U.S. National Team program.
Ross Browner - College Football Hall of Famer and recipient of two prestigious national lineman awards (1976 Outland Trophy, 1977 Lombardi Trophy); consensus All-America football defensive end in 1976 and '77 who played on two national-title teams ('73, '77) and holds ND record for career tackles by a defensive lineman (340); intimidating presence (6-3/240) and native of Warren, Ohio.
Candace Chapman - Canadian citizen (born in Trinidad) who excelled as a right back (All-America in '02 and '03) and forward (starter on '04 NCAA champs) with Irish women's soccer team; totaled 20 goals and 24 assists in 92 career games played; starter for Canadian National Team that reached 2008 Olympic quarterfinals; native of Ajax, Ontario.
Adrian Dantley - Basketball Hall of Famer and Washington, D.C., native who was named national player of the year as a junior in 1975-76 (per U.S. Basketball Writers); helped U.S. win 1976 Olympic gold medal; ranked second nationally in scoring as a sophomore (30.4 ppg) and fourth as a junior (28.6); second on ND career scoring charts (2,223 points; 25.8 ppg) and ninth in NBA career scoring (23,177 points), with his 15-year career including season with 1989 NBA champion Detroit Pistons.
Ron Gregory - St. Louis native who set world record in 1960 with a dirt-track time of 1:50.5 in the 880-yard race; versatile distance runner who also set ND records in the indoor mile (4:10.0) and two-mile (9:14.6) events; earned 1958 cross country All-America honors with 13th-place finish (20:47; four-miles) to help Irish place fourth in team standings.
Tom Hawkins - Chicago product who was first African-American to earn All-America honors as a member of the Notre Dame basketball team in 1958 and again in '59.
Bill Hurd - World-class sprinter who was named Notre Dame's "athlete of the year" for 1967-68, after establishing American indoor record in the 300-yard dash (29.8); set eight ND records and totaled five All-American finishes at the NCAAs in 1968 (3rd in 200-meters, 4th in 100, 6th in 55) and '69 (220-yard runner-up, 5th in 100; placed fifth in U.S. Olympic Trials 100-meter dash; native of Memphis, Tenn., and recipient of NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.
Raghib Ismail - An All-America flanker/kick returner with the 1989 and '90 Irish football teams; runner-up for the 1990 Heisman Trophy; native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., who had five kickoff returns for touchdowns during his career; placed second to earn All-America track honors in the 1991 NCAA 55-meter race (6.07, still the ND record).
Niele Ivey - All-America point guard for Irish women's basketball team that won 2001 NCAA title; helped Irish compile 109-22 record during her career; set ND record for career games played (348), assists in a season (247), and steals in a career (348) and season (95); St. Louis native who now serves as an ND assistant coach.
Tameisha King - Four-time All-America long jumper, highlighted by third-place finish at 2003 NCAA outdoor meet and sixth at '03 NCAA indoors; holds ND records for indoor (20-8.5) and outdoor (21-8.25) long jump; placed sixth at 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials; native of Mableton, Ga.
- Softball All-American who ended career in 2003 as ND all-time leader in walks (87), stolen bases (60) and runs (164), also second in home runs (31), third in RBI (148) and fifth in career batting average (.347, with .402 in final season); product of Riverside, Calif., who was strong defensive player at third and first base.
Selim Nurudeen - Competed for his native Nigeria in 2008 Olympics, with a top time of 13.58 in the 100-meter hurdles; earned All-America honors at the 2005 NCAAs, after placing sixth in the 60-meter indoor hurdles (7.78) and seventh in the 110-meter outdoor hurdles (13.86).
Jacqueline Batteast - The South Bend native ended her career in 2005 with All-America honors and ranks fourth in Irish women's basketball career scoring, with 1,874 points. She was named the BIG EAST Conference player of the year for 2004-05, after averaging 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Alan Page - Imposing 6-5, 230-pound defensive end who earned consensus All-America honors after helping Irish football team claim 1966 national title; NFL Hall of Famer, enshrined in his hometown of Canton, Ohio; received NCAA Silver Anniversary award in 1992.
Shane Walton - Came to Notre Dame as a scholarship soccer player and led team in scoring as a freshman (10G-7A), earning 1998 all-BIG EAST honors; San Diego native who switched to football and became three-year starting cornerback as a junior and senior, earning 2002 consensus first team All-America honors.
Errol Williams - Set ND record in the 55-meter indoor hurdles (7.26); posted All-America NCAA finishes of eighth in the 55-meter hurdles ('97) and third in the 110 outdoor hurdles ('99); native of Lauderhill, Fla.
Chris Zorich - College Football Hall of Famer and two-time consensus All-America nose tackle who received the 1990 Lombardi Award, as the nation's top football lineman; Chicago native who helped Irish win 1998 national title; current member of ND athletics department, as manager of student welfare and development.
Note: In addition to many of those listed above, nine other Notre Dame football players - Luther Bradley, Jeff Burris, Clarence Ellis, Vagas Ferguson, Tom Gatewood, Todd Lyght, Aaron Taylor, Bobby Taylor and Mike Townsend - have been named consensus All-Americans ... John Shumate joins Carr and Dantley as Notre Dame basketball consensus All-Americans.
Notre Dame Black Student-Athletes
Who Have Earned All-America Honors
Dick Arrington (football & wrestling)
LaKeysia Beene (women's soccer)
Jubba Beshin (fencing/epee)
Jerome Bettis (football)
Ayesha Boyd (track/relay)
Luther Bradley (football)
Gary Brokaw (men's basketball)
Reggie Brooks (football)
Derek Brown (football)
Tim Brown (football)
Ross Browner (football)
Jeff Burris (football)
Dominique Calloway (track/hurdles)
Austin Carr (football)
Tom Carter (football)
Candace Chapman (women's soccer)
Andre Crompton (fencing/sabre)
Adrian Dantley (men's basketball)
Anthony Denman (football)
Autry Denson (football)
Kristen Dodd (track/relay)
Demetrius Dubose (football)
Dave Duerson (football)
Vontez Duff (football)
Clarence Ellis (football)
Jeff Faine (football)
Vagas Ferguson (football)
Cedric Figaro (football)
Willie Fry (football)
Tom Gatewood (football)
Ron Gregory (cross country)
Tommy Hawkins (men's basketball)
Ryan Humphrey (men's basketball)
Tony Hunter (football)
Bill Hurd (track/sprints)
Raghib Ismail (football & track)
Niele Ivey (women's basketball)
Carl Jackson (fencing/epee)
Collis Jones (men's basketball)
Randy Kinder (track)
Tameisha King (track/long jump)
Toby Knight (men's basketball)
Aubrey Lewis (track/hurdles)
Andrea Loman (softball)
Kymia Love (track/relay)
Todd Lyght (football)
Derrick Mayes (football)
Robert Nobles (track/relay)
Selim Nurudeen (track/hurdles)
Alan Page (football)
Danny Payton (track/relay)
Allen Pinkett (football)
Tony Rice (football)
David Rivers (men's basketball)
Allen Rossum (track)
John Shumate (men's basketball)
Irv Smith (football)
Kevin Stoutermire (fencing/sabre)
James Taliafero (fencing/sabre)
Aaron Taylor (football)
Bobby Taylor (football)
Mike Townsend (football)
Brant Ust (baseball)
Shane Walton (football)
Ricky Watters (football)
Courtney Watson (football)
Marshaun West (track/long jump)
Bryant Young (football)
Chris Zorich (football)