The USC Aiken Athletic Hall of Fame has three new members. The Class of 2014 was recently elected, and includes two former standout players and a major contributor to the overall success of the Pacer athletic program.
• Jeff Goff was a standout player on the golf team from 2006-08.
• Jessica Strickland was a highly-decorated catcher for the softball team from 2006-09.
• Dr. Jim Kauffman helped build the foundation of the USCA athletic program, actively serving in a number of capacities from 1976-2005.
“The Hall of Fame Committee has once again selected several outstanding people to be inducted into our Hall of Fame,” USCA athletic director Randy Warrick said. “Each one, in their own respective ways, has made their marks in the Pacer history books. Each one is very deserving of this honor.”
The members of the 2014 class will be formally inducted into the hall of fame in February of 2016. They’ll be joined by members of the 2015 class – should anyone be elected – at an enshrinement ceremony and weekend full of celebrations. They’ll be honored at a Friday evening induction ceremony to be followed again the next night as part of the homecoming festivities during a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader.
It might be more appropriate to honor the new hall of famers in the spring, because that was the season when they made their greatest contributions. Goff was on the Pacer golf team for the final season of its three consecutive national championships in 2006. Although he only played for the Pacers for two years, Goff made an impact.
He was named All-Region, All-Conference and a first-team All-American. Goff earned that distinction in 2008, when he was the NCAA individual national champion, joining fellow USCA Athletic Hall of Fame member Dane Burkhart as the only Pacer to capture that honor. Goff achieved other accolades, which include the eighth-best career scoring average (73.78) in program history as well as the 11th-best single-season low scoring average (73.20), set in the 2007-08 season.
That was around the same time Strickland was distinguishing herself as one of the best college softball players in the nation. The backstop was a three-time All-American, was named to the All-Region and All-Conference first team four times – including 2007, when she was named the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year, remaining the only Pacer softball player to earn that recognition.
Strickland was a productive and powerful hitter and remains in the top 10 in the Peach Belt Conference all-time statistics for home runs (40) and RBIs (151). She’s also USCA’s all-time leader in six categories (hits, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, total bases) and among the top five in four others. Strickland’s No. 18 jersey has been retired in her honor.
While Strickland set the bar on the field, Kauffman was a pioneer for USCA athletics in a variety of other ways. He volunteered to coach the baseball team during the 1977-78 season, when there was consideration about dropping the sport. He followed that by serving as the associate chancellor & dean of students, followed by a stint as the acting athletic director, and ultimately as the faculty athletic representative. In those capacities – where he worked as a liaison as well as a mentor – Kauffman coordinated a welcome home celebration for the NAIA National District 6 basketball champions, added lights to JH Satcher Field and supported the women’s teams transition to NAIA District 6, part of his overall championing of women’s athletics at USCA. Even today, in retirement, Kauffman continues to be a member of the Pacer Club, attends games and lends great support to USCA athletics.
This induction class brings the total of USCA Athletic Hall of Famers to 33 members. The initial class was inducted in November 2007. It included Johanna Gibbs (former women’s basketball and volleyball coach), Lew Perkins (former Athletic Director and men’s basketball coach), Roberto Hernandez (baseball), Bill Weeks (men’s basketball), Faye Ryans Norris (women’s basketball), Charlie Colclough (baseball), Greg Gibson (men’s basketball), Tisha England (women’s basketball), Kim Merrill Brooks (volleyball), Roxanna Rivera Tirado (volleyball), Brian Kassel (golf), Brooks Blackburn (golf) and Jamie Stanley (golf).
The second hall of fame class was inducted in February of 2010 and included Dr. James Barham (former team doctor), Jami Cornwell (softball and women’s basketball), Derek Moore (men’s basketball) and Dru McPherson Nix (women’s basketball and volleyball).
The third class was inducted into the hall of fame in February 2012 and featured Richard Abney (baseball), Ashley Farr (baseball), Mike Green (men’s soccer), Kendrick Smith (men’s basketball), Sean Gunn (men’s basketball), Meredith Legg (women’s basketball), Ed Reevey (golf) and Adam Riggs (baseball).
The fourth class was inducted this past February. It included golfers Burkhart and Scott Brown – Goff’s former teammates – as well as Dawn Weeks Lybrand (women’s basketball and volleyball), Amanda Gerolstein Wilkinson (volleyball) and Gary Gilmore (former baseball coach).
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 15 years after graduating from Syracuse University.