‘Young’ inductees join Chowan / Jim Garrison Sports Hall of Fame

Published 3:46 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

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MURFREESBORO – For the first time in the near 40-year history of the Chowan University / Jim Garrison Sports Hall of Fame, each of the five new inductees are four-year graduates of the school.

This newest class of “young” inductees are Ashley Winslow Miller (Class of 2002; volleyball and women’s basketball), Jaleel Nelson (Class of 2010; men’s basketball), Justin Bagbey (Class of 2012; baseball), Talaya Lynch King (Class of 2013; women’s basketball), and Robert Holland (Class of 2014; football).

They were formally inducted during a banquet held Oct. 28 at the J.M. Jenkins Center.

“Among the athletes who wear the Chowan Blue and White are a select few who have enjoyed remarkable success as student-athletes,” said Chowan President Chuck E. Taylor Jr. “Tonight, five of them will be added to the impressive list of inductees into the Chowan University / Jim Garrison Sports Hall of Fame. We are proud of you and congratulate you and welcome you into the Sports Hall of Fame.”

Miller, a graduate of Camden County High School where she now coaches the volleyball team, played in 115 career matches for the then-Chowan Braves. Her 160 career solo blocks still ranks as the program’s all-time best. The middle blocker tallied 859 career kills, ranking her 6th all-time.

In basketball, Miller scored 993 career points. She averaged 14.0 points an outing, which ranks her 3rd in program history. She hauled in 715 rebounds over three seasons playing basketball and hit shots at a .492 clip. During her junior and senior years, Miller earned All-USA South honors including the women’s basketball program’s first-ever First Team selection.

“My time at Chowan was everything I could ask for,” Miller said. “I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to come to Chowan, play two sports that I love, meet lifelong friends, and graduate with a degree that allowed me to live out my dream as a high school coach. I’m forever grateful for all the things that Chowan brought into my life and I’m extremely honored to be a part of the Sports Hall of Fame.”

With 1,369 career points, Nelson ranks third in scoring in Chowan history. He averaged 13.2 points an outing over his four-year career while grabbing 477 rebounds, dishing out 235 assists, and coming up with 154 steals.

Nelson is a two-time NCCAA All-American who also, in his sophomore season, was named as the NCCAA South Region Player of the Year. In his senior season, Nelson earned All-CIAA and NCCAA All-South Region honors.

Nelson played professionally overseas in China, Kosovo, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Chile.

He recalled coming to the Chowan campus the very first time during his senior year at Lakeland High School in nearby Suffolk, VA. He accompanied his business class on a field trip.

“Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but God was working on me right then,” Nelson recalled. “Low and behold, I wound up at Chowan. I figured I would stay here two years, get my stats up, get my grades to where they were supposed to be, and transfer to a Division 1 school. But God was still working on me.

“Four years later, I’m one of the all-time top scorers here. I’m a two-time All-American. I’m first-team All-CIAA. I’m Chowan’s Male Athlete of the Year. I’m telling you this not to brag, but rather to show you what God had in store for me. Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything. You never know what God has in store for you,” Nelson concluded.

Bagbey made an immediate impact as a freshman at Chowan, setting six single season records that still stand, including 17 homeruns and a .478 batting average. That same year he led all NCAA D2 schools in slugging percentage (.985).

He owns 11 Chowan baseball career records as well as being a three-time All-CIAA and All-Region First Team performer, the CIAA Player of the Year, and the South Region Player of the Year.

“I have a lot of fond memories of going to college here and made a lot of lifetime friends here,” said Bagbey. “I’ve been more than blessed following my career at Chowan. I have a great job, I’m married to a wonderful woman; and I have a great child. I could not do any of this and I would not be standing here tonight without them.”

Bagbey paid tribute to his father and mother, talking about the sacrifices they made to watch him play.

“I never went without; mom and dad were always there for me,” he said.

King was a prolific scorer for the Hawks, averaging 14.0 ppg during her career. As a senior, she closed out the home portion of her college career with 37 points in a win over Virginia Union. That output equals the school’s single-game scoring record.

As a freshman, King won the CIAA Rookie of the Year Award and was named to the NCAA DII Freshman All-American Team. Over the remainder of her career, King racked up three All CIAA Team honors, was selected to two All CIAA Tournament Teams, and was named Most Valuable Player at the 2012 CIAA Basketball Tournament.

“This is the most meaningful award I’ve ever received,” King noted of her Hall of Fame plaque. “Thank you to my coaches for helping me improve my game and for teaching leadership qualities. I also could not have done this without the support of my family. They came to all my games and that meant a lot to me. Thank you for supporting and encouraging me. I had a great time here at Chowan and made a lot of great friends.”

As for Holland, one of Chowan’s most heralded pass receivers, he almost bypassed a chance to play college football.

With no solid scholarship offers while in high school, Holland said he came very close to joining the military.

“But I dreamed about playing college football. We visited every school around and found Chowan and coach Tim Place. I thank him everyday for giving me an opportunity to play. I played my role and my position to the best of my ability,” Holland said.

Holland noted that he started playing organized football in 1997.

“I wouldn’t be here without my family….they pushed me. I knew I wasn’t the biggest, the strongest, or the fastest, but I had a strong mind to overcome that,” he stressed.

He thanked his Chowan teammates for all he accomplished in his four years as a Hawk.

“I’m forever indebted to you guys,” Holland stated.

In his Chowan career, Holland is the school’s all-time leader with 4,138 receiving yards and 40 touchdowns. He remains second in career receptions in NCAA Division II.

He earned All-CIAA honors all four years and was named as the CIAA’s Offensive Player of the Year during his senior season.

“What a special night this has been,” said Patrick Mashuda, the Assistant Vice President of Athletics and Compliance. “The testimonies we heard from these inductees leaves us with warmth that covers your heart. We’re thankful that God led you here to Chowan.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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