William Carey University inducted eight former students-athletes into the Sports Hall of Fame during the Seventh Annual Sports Hall of Fame ceremony at Southern Oaks House and Gardens on April 1. During the evening WCU also recognized John Clearman with the Legacy Award for his support of WCU athletics.
Marco Bruggner - Tennis
Bruggner arrived at WCU from Switzerland in 1990 and played for WCU Hall of Famer Jack Jones. Bruggner won 70 percent of his matches and helped WCU to a Top 5 NAIA ranking for four straight years. He received the Prince Scholarship Award, was a two-time NAIA Scholar Athlete, and a two-time recipient of the Kappa Mu Epsilon Mathematics award. Bruggner graduated from WCU in 1994 with a 3.93 GPA and a degree in mathematics and minor in biology. He returned to Switzerland after graduation and is currently working for a software development company that specializes in designing banking software.
Dave Bush - Baseball
Bush, a graduate of New Boston-Glenwood High School in Ohio, arrived at Carey in the spring of 1975 and played for WCU Hall of Famer John Stephenson. Bush, along with fellow inductee Carl Merritt, helped anchor a Crusader pitching staff that led to 168 wins over four seasons and a school record 53 wins in 1978. The legendary 1978 team won 28 straight games, captured the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship, and advanced to the NAIA World Series. Bush graduated from Carey with a degree in business administration in 1978 and has been involved in the banking industry for 39 years. He is currently the executive vice president and manager for the First Private Bank.
John Clearman - Legacy
A graduate of Sumrall High School and Pearl River Community College, John Clearman completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in religious education with a minor in social sciences in 1972 from Carey. A lifelong farmer, Clearman has served as a board member of the National Dairy Farmers Association, and in 1990 he became a life insurance broker, starting the Clearman Insurance Agency. Clearman has always given to his community; he was a founding member of Central Lamar Volunteer Fire Department and is a founding member of the Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center in Hattiesburg. He currently sponsors scholarships at both Pearl River and WCU. The legacy award was presented to John Clearman in honor of his continued support of William Carey athletics.
Angela Thomas Cooper - Women's Basketball
Angela Cooper, a graduate of Leedsville High School in Louisiana, played for former WCU women's basketball coach Katie Herrington at Jones County Junior College before arriving at Carey in 1991 to play for Tracy English. Cooper helped lead the Lady Crusaders to a school record 28 wins in 1992-93, two Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Championships, and the program's first appearance in the NAIA National Tournament. She holds the school record for most assists in a season with 265 and is the career holder for assists per game with 8.13. Cooper graduated from WCU with a bachelor's degree in education and recently earned a master's degree in accounting from the University of Phoenix. She is currently working as an accountant with Universal Aviation.
Dr. Neal Gregg - Baseball
A graduate of Hattiesburg High School, Dr. Neal Gregg played first base for Head Coach Bobby Halford from 1994-98, hitting 33 home runs with 105 RBIs in his career at WCU. Following graduation, Gregg was drafted in the 21st round of the 1998 draft by the New York Yankees organization. His professional career included stints in Oneonta, New York; Tampa, Florida; Staten Island, New York, and Greensboro, North Carolina. After the conclusion of his playing career, he received the degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in 2005. He completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia, in 2010. Gregg is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon at Southern Bone and Joint Specialists, where part of his practice includes caring for student athletes at his alma maters of Hattiesburg High School and William Carey University.
Greg Hatten - Men's Basketball
Greg Hatten, a graduate of Hattiesburg High School, played for Coach Steve Knight from 1983 to 1987 and helped lead the Crusaders to an overall 89-42 record during his time at Carey. These very successful teams won four NAIA District 30 Championships, three Gulf Coast Athletic Conference titles, and made four consecutive appearances in the NAIA National Tournament. An excellent overall talent, Hatten is #8 on the WCU all-time scoring list with 1,645 total points and played only one season with the three point line. During that season, he set a school record for 3-point shooting percentage, making 44.8 percent, a mark that held for over 25 years until being broken just three seasons ago. He averaged 18.6 points per game his senior season and was a career 80 percent from the free throw line.
Maghan James - Softball
Maghan James, a graduate of Oak Grove High School, played two years at Pearl River Community College before arriving at Carey to play for Head Coach Wendy Hogue in 2005. She hit .320 during her two years at WCU and was a two-time NAIA Scholar Athlete and All-GCAC selection. James earned her bachelor's degree in physical education and minored in biology. She returned to Pearl River as an assistant coach for the Lady Wildcat softball team, helping them to the 2010 MACJC State Title. She is the current dean of students at Pearl River Community College.
Carl Merritt - Baseball
A graduate of Valley High School in Lucasville, Ohio, Carl Merritt played at Carey for Hall of Famer John Stephenson from 1975-1978. Carl, along with fellow inductee Dave Bush, helped anchor a Crusader pitching staff that led to 168 wins over four seasons and a school record 53 wins in 1978. The legendary 1978 team won 28 straight games, captured the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship, and advanced to the NAIA World Series. Merritt, along with his brothers Harold and Mark, wife and former Miss WCU Beverly, and son Ryan all graduated from WCU. After spending 21 years in coaching, Merritt moved into administration, rose through the ranks, and is now superintendent of the Poplarville School District.
Dennis Ray Smith - Baseball
Dennis Ray Smith, a graduate of Petal High School, arrived at Carey in 1967 after a year at Jones County Junior College, and joined the baseball team coached by John O'Keefe. Smith graduated from WCU with a degree in physical education and became the head baseball coach at Petal High School. He coached his alma mater for 10 years, while also coaching the semi-pro Hub City Wheels as well as American Legion Teams. In 1980, Smith responded to the call of the ministry and began his 34-year career in the ministry as the youth pastor at Carterville Baptist Church. In 1982, he became the pastor at First Baptist Church in Pascagoula, retiring in 2014. Smith is currently the executive director of Trehorn Charitable Foundation.