Women's Athletics Hall of Honor welcomes six new members
AUSTIN, Texas -- One woman is a flourishing filmmaker in the United States. Another has earned awards and accolades from the major sporting goods company she works for and raises thousands of dollars for charity and community services in Dallas.
Two are giving back as successful educators and coaches, while another guided the graduation of 99 percent of the UT female student-athletes in a 20-year period.
The final woman majored in physics and math before devoting her entire professional life to the sport of golf and gaining Hall of Fame and legendary status in the process.
It may sound like an eclectic group of six people, yet on Friday, November 11 they gathered at the UT campus for a single purpose: recognition as the outstanding members of the Texas Women's Athletics family that they are as they were enshrined in the Texas Women's Athletics Hall of Honor.
In the sixth year of the UT Hall of Honor, it is significant that these "special six" were inducted Friday in a luncheon ceremony in the Lone Star Room at the Frank Erwin Center.
As they stepped to the podium to accept their awards and offer their thanks and gratitude, the messages they sent to the 400 in attendance revolved around how their time at Texas helped them find their passion, understand what it means to have a "commitment to excellence" and what wonderful opportunities await those who take advantage of all the resources here at UT.
Four of the six inducted were former outstanding UT student-athletes:
Shola Lynch (1988-92), an All-America track and field performer and six-time Southwest Conference champion in the middle distances;
Sharon (Neugebauer) Shepard (1981-84), a dual sport-athlete in track and field and volleyball who was a member of 1981 AIAW national championship volleyball squad and the 1982 AIAW national champion outdoor track team;
Cynthia (Sampson) Shipper (1978-82), an AIAW and Southwest Conference tennis standout in the early varsity tennis era; and
Jackie (Swaim) DiNardo, basketball team standout from 1978-81 who went on to star in the USA Basketball program and was the first UT basketball player to earn a gold medal in USA Basketball competition.
In addition, former UT athletics administrator Dr. Sheila Rice, who is credited with developing the highly-renowned women's athletics academic support program in her 20-year tenure at Texas, was enshrined, along with golf legend and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Hall of Famer Betsy Rawls who attended Texas from 1947-50 prior to starting her pro career.
Rawls received the Women's Hall of Honor "Legacy Award". Attending Texas from 1947-50, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a math/physics dual major. With no organized UT women's varsity sports at the time, Rawls picked up the game of golf at 17 and, under the tutelage of legendary golf teacher and Austinite Harvey Penick, she went on to become a legend herself. She was the winner of 55 LPGA tournaments in her Hall of Fame golf career in the 1950's-1960's. Remarkably, Rawls still ranks fourth in all-time LPGA victories to this day. The annual UT women's golf tournament (The Betsy Rawls) is named in her honor.
A resident of Wilmington, Delaware, Rawls was not present but sent a taped message of thanks. Saying she continues to "take great pride in having gone to a great university", she addressed the Longhorn student-athletes in attendance, calling them "among the luckiest people I know because you are able to play and go to school at Texas". She encouraged them to "concentrate on your studies as much as you do on the games that you are playing; that will make you more disciplined, and discipline will lead to an enhanced performance in all you do".
The two teachers are Swaim DiNardo and Neugebauer-Shepard. DiNardo is a standout high school volleyball and basketball coach at Danbury (Conn.) High School where she teaches and administrates and has her sixth year (post-graduate) certificate in guidance counseling. Getting that certification was, she told the audience, "a tribute to Dr. Rice who helped me believe in myself and inspired me to guide kids". Neugebauer-Shepard, who teaches fourth-grade and mentors in the Hays Consolidated School District outside of Austin, thanked her teammates for their tremendous support and friendship and sent her thanks to Dr. Rice "for getting me focused on life after UT".
And Dr. Rice herself gave a moving tribute to the many coaches, athletes, administrators, staff members and fans for her memorable 20-year tenure. She spoke of the former and current student-athletes (Dr. Rice remains a huge Longhorn supporter, attending as many events as possible between her golf competitions) who "are remarkably accomplished young women who are or will be successful in their careers and life - that is why they came to The University of Texas and why we, the administrators and coaches, are here".
The noted sporting goods manager and charitable fund-raiser is Sampson Shipper. Residing in Dallas with her family, Shipper is an executive (National Accounts Manager) with Wilson Sports. Among her numerous duties, she oversees the Wilson "Hope" brand, a new line of tennis and golf equipment created for women in its design and concept, where a percentage of sales goes to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Sampson Shipper noted that "passion and commitment were the two gifts I received from UT, and when I got them, I never realized just how valuable they were until later ... now, I know that with passion and commitment, anything is possible."
And the filmmaker? That would be Lynch, who is emerging as an acclaimed documentary film maker, director and producer. Her work has been recognized at prestigious events including the Sundance Film Festival. Serving as an associate producer with noted filmmaker Ken Burns on his Frank Lloyd Wright, "Jazz" and "Do You Believe in Miracles: The Story of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team" documentaries, Lynch made her directorial debut in February 2005 with "CHISHOLM '72 - Unbought & Unbossed". This is a documentary about Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and first to run for president. It ran on PBS's distinguished P.O.V. Series.
The Hall of Honor marked the second time in seven months that Lynch had returned to Austin from Manhattan. In May, she received a 2005 Outstanding Young Texas Exes Award from the Texas Exes Association, and also gave the keynote address at UT's Plan II (honors major program) commencement ceremony.
At the podium to accept her Hall of Honor award, Lynch concluded her remarks with words which apply to all student-athletes who have competed at and graduated from The University:
"I left Texas knowing how to be a champion. Progress in life, in anything you do, is not linear. You have to set goals and develop skills as to try to rise to excellence. And today, I give my thanks to The University of Texas for teaching me how to pursue excellence."