A cavalcade of Florida athletic greatness will be featured at the Amway Center on Nov. 12 when the Florida Sports Hall of Fame holds its annual banquet and enshrinement ceremony.
“This is going to be an incredible night,” Florida Sports Hall of Fame President Barry Smith said. “While every class is special because of their accomplishments, what makes the Class of 2019 more remarkable is the sheer numbers and diversity this class represents.”
The Florida Sports Hall of Fame, established in 1961, will enshrine a record-tying 11 new members this year.
Those new members include former Florida State Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Chris Weinke, Orlando Magic founding father Pat Williams, LPGA golfing legend Annika Sorenstam and Boston Red Sox World Series hero Jason Varitek.
Joining that group on stage will be Nick Anderson—the first draft pick in Orlando Magic history, UCF’s first player to gain national acclaim in Daunte Culpepper, former professional soccer legend Winston Dubose, retired Florida Citrus Sports Executive Director Chuck Rohe, and NCAA Coaching legends Pete Dunn (Stetson Baseball) and Lois Wise (Florida Southern Volleyball).
In addition, the FSHOF will posthumously induct former Florida Gator linebacker David Little. David’s brother, Larry, is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a 1978 Florida Hall of Fame inductee.
A VIP Party and Reception for the 2019 inductees is slated for Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium the night before the induction ceremony.
“This is certainly an opportunity for the public to meet and honor the biggest and brightest stars in Florida Sports history,” said FSHOF Executive Director Wayne Hogan. “The accomplishments of these men and women are nothing short of mind-boggling. The fact that all of these honorees have ties to the Central Florida region will make this night even more special.”
This year’s Orlando fete follows a string of successful enshrinement events that have taken place across Florida from Hollywood to Tampa to Jacksonville to Pensacola. With legendary inductees in recent years including football greats Tim Tebow and Warrick Dunn, coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, baseball stars Chipper Jones and Johnny Damon, hockey legend Phil Esposito and boxer Roy Jones, Jr., interest and excitement has increased in each successive year. More than 550 patrons attended last year’s event, held at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
“Our events have become lifetime memories as we enshrine many long-deserving hometown legends in front of countless fans, friends and family in the region they have impacted so greatly,” Hogan added. “For each city, this is a once-in-a-decade type of gala that celebrates sports greatness and all for a great cause of supporting kids. It’s a true feel-good experience.”
During the last five years, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame has raised nearly $1 million in support of its programs and charities. Among the hall’s charitable partners are Shriners Hospitals for Children, the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches, The First Tee, Boys and Girls Clubs and the Florida Citrus Sports Summer Camps.
Close to 1,000 sports fans are expected to attend the event and table information can be found on the organization’s web site at www.FlasportsHOF.org/orlando2019. A limited number of sponsorships, which include access to the exclusive VIP Party at Exploria Stadium and priority seating at the induction dinner and ceremony, are still available. For information on sponsorships or table purchase, contact committee member Bobby Kisselback for information at 407-892-2230.