RALEIGH, NC — An Olympic gold medalist, a No. 1 NFL Draft pick and four of the top performers in the first 50 years of the Atlantic Coast Conference highlight the 2020 class of the NC State Athletic Hall of Fame, along with a barrier-breaking athlete who changed the course of competition for both his school and conference.
The six-member class is the sixth overall since the establishment of the Hall of Fame in 2012 and will be inducted at a gala in Reynolds Coliseum on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.
“The 2020 Hall of Fame class is made up of remarkable athletes who not only made significant contributions to their sports, but also had a historical impact on our campus and in the community,” said Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan. “We look forward to celebrating and honoring their achievements at the induction gala next year.”
Irwin Holmes was a varsity tennis player during his college days under head coach John Kenfield Jr., but that’s not what made him special. As one of the school’s first four African American undergraduate students in the fall of 1956, the native of Durham, North Carolina, helped fully integrate the institution.
In 1957, he and Manuel Crockett became the first black athletes to participate in an ACC-sponsored event during a freshman indoor track meet against North Carolina. Holmes later joined the tennis team as a three-year varsity player. In 1960, he became the first African American captain of a varsity sport at an ACC school and the school’s first black graduate, when he received his degree in electrical engineering. He retired after a long career at RCA, IBM and other pioneering electronics companies. NC State dedicated Holmes Hall, previously known as the University College Commons, in his honor during Homecoming 2018.
Mario Williams, the first player in ACC history to be selected as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, was a dominating force for Chuck Amato’s Wolfpack defense from 2003-05. He set school records for single-game, single-season and career sacks and tackles for loss and is still the school leader in three of those categories. A two-time All-ACC performer, Freshman All-American and then first-team All-American, the Richlands, North Carolina native, was a key reason the Wolfpack led the nation in total defense in 2004.
After being drafted by the Houston Texans, Williams went on to become a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time All-Pro while playing for the Texans, Bills and Dolphins. He set a Buffalo Bills franchise record with 4.5 sacks in a game. In his eight-year NFL career, he recorded 97.5 sacks.
One of the most decorated players in the history of NC State men’s soccer, Henry Gutierrez led the Wolfpack to the Final Four and the ACC Tournament title in 1990, while being named tournament MVP. The three-time All-American still ranks fifth in school history in points (114), seventh in goals (41) and fourth in assists (32). He was named to the ACC’s 50thanniversary team.
The Hoboken, New Jersey native, who grew up in Miami, was twice named ACC Player of the Year - one of only five players in conference history to win the honor multiple times.
He earned one cap as a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team, but played 87 games with the MLS Miami Fusion. He currently lives in the Triangle and is a coach for the North Carolina FC Academy.
Thori Staples Bryan
Considered the nation’s top defender during her collegiate career, Thori Staples Bryan led the Wolfpack to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a school-record 19 wins. The only four-time All-ACC performer in program history, she was named Soccer America’s Freshman of the Year and ACC Rookie of the Year in 1992, and the North Carolina Female Athlete of the Year in 1994.
A member of the ACC 50thAnniversary Team, Staples played for the U.S. National Team from 1992-99, for the 1995 FIFA World Cup team, and was an alternate for the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team. She played for WUSA’s San Jose CyberRays from 2001-04 and helped her team win the league title in 2001. Following her successful playing career, she now operates the Thori Bryan Soccer Academy in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
John Sadri’s collegiate career may be best remembered for a single match, but his career performance is one of the best in the history of the NC State men’s tennis program. A two-time ITA All-American (1977, ’78), Sadri won two ACC singles titles and two ACC doubles titles – all at No. 1 in the lineup. He still owns the top singles and doubles winning percentages in school history (.860 and .849 respectively) and led the Wolfpack to the 1978 ACC team title.
But it was a match he lost that remains legendary in college tennis. At the 1978 NCAA Championships in Athens, Georgia, Sadri competed against a freshman from Stanford named John McEnroe in what is still considered one of the top amateur matches ever played. Only one point separated the two players after five sets (144-143).
Sadri reached as high as No. 14 in the world professional tennis rankings in 1980 and went on to win two professional singles and two professional doubles titles. He was the runner-up in singles at the 1979 Australian Open and finished second twice in doubles at that event. He was also named to the ACC’s 50thAnniversary Team. A retired teaching professional, Sadri lives in his hometown of Charlotte.
David Fox is among the most prolific performers in the storied history of NC State Swimming. He won championships at every level during his career, as a seven-time ACC champion, an NCAA champion and an Olympic gold medalist. The three-time All America selection (1990, ’91, ’93) was named ACC Swimmer of the Year in 1993 after winning the national title in the 50 freestyle and was twice named ACC meet MVP (1991, ’93).
Another member of the ACC’s 50thAnniversary team, Fox won gold at the 1996 Centennial Olympics in Atlanta as a member of the 4x100 freestyle relay team. He held the NC State record in the 100 freestyle for 19 years before it was broken in 2012. . A member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (2016), Fox resides in Atlanta where he works as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs.
Tickets for the 2020 Hall of Fame event will go on sale at a later date. Stay tuned to GoPack.com for more information.