ETSU Athletics announces 2020 Hall of Fame Class… Inaugural Trailblazer Award introduced

Published 10:25 pm Monday, December 28, 2020

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JOHNSON CITY – The East Tennessee State University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced on Wednesday its 2020 Hall of Fame Class, along with introducing the inaugural Trailblazer Award.

The 2020 class features eight former Buccaneers – seven student-athletes and one former coach/administrator. The class features women’s basketball standout Siarre Evans, baseball’s home run king Paul Hoilman, Olympian rifleman John Duus, women’s tennis great Tara Byrne, Laura Jansone of women’s golf, men’s golf greats Keith Nolan and Garrett Willis, and men’s tennis head coach/Athletic Director Dave Mullins.

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“The 2020 Hall of Fame Class consists of outstanding individuals who have written ETSU Athletic history with their accomplishments,” said Athletic Director Scott Carter. “It is an honor to celebrate and welcome them into this most prestigious group of Buccaneers.”

In addition, the Trailblazer Award was created to recognize the historical accomplishments of an individual ETSU athletic member based on his/her athletic accomplishments, work in the community/region, and how they helped impact other generations of Buccaneers.

This award will be given annually to a former ETSU student-athlete, coach, or staff member who demonstrated courage in becoming a leader to blaze the path for future Buccaneers to be given a better opportunity to further their education and compete in Division I Athletics.

The recipients of the inaugural Trailblazer Award are Tommy Woods of men’s basketball and football’s Johnny Russaw. The official name for the award is the Woods-Russaw Trailblazer Award.

“The Woods-Russaw Trailblazer Award honors two of our most beloved ETSU Buccaneers, Tommy Woods, and John Russaw,” said Carter. “Their leadership as the first African-American athletes in basketball and football at ETSU paved the way for generations of Buccaneers to follow.

“ETSU is proud to present this inaugural award, named in their honor, to Tommy Woods and John Russaw.”

On February 1, 1964, Russaw broke the color barrier by becoming the first African-American player to sign an athletic scholarship with the ETSU football program.

Russaw played for the Blue and Gold from 1964-67 where he was a wide receiver and punter for the Bucs. In his first season with ETSU, Russaw led the team in receiving yards (291), while he totaled 14 receptions and two touchdowns.

Russaw was extremely versatile as he was also the team’s punter and still holds the ETSU single-game record for punts (14), while his 79 punts in 1967 are the second-most in program history.

In 1965, Russaw hauled in a 62-yard reception from Walter Wolfe, which still ranks as the eighth-longest non-scoring pass in Buccaneer history.

Following a stellar athletic career, Russaw – who graduated from ETSU with a degree in education – worked as an assistant football coach at ETSU, before being hired as a public safety officer for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

After retiring from TVA, Russaw spent time giving back to the community by becoming a substitute teacher in the Tri-Cities region, while also working for a decade as a housing manager at Bethel Housing.

Russaw also spent time on the Langston Educational Arts and Development (LEAD) Board of Directors, which worked to preserve the Langston building for future generations as the renovated Langston Centre.

Woods, who became the program’s first African-American player in 1963, could have simply let the color of his skin define his career as a Buccaneer.

Instead, he set about rewriting the basketball record books at ETSU and creating a legacy that would be equally balanced by his outstanding accomplishments on the hardwood, his character in the face of hate and bigotry, his determination to earn a college degree, and his accomplishments in the professional world once he left the hills of Northeast Tennessee.

Playing for ETSU’s legendary men’s basketball coach Madison Brooks from 1963-67, Woods – like so many others in his generation – was faced with the challenge of changing culture and championing the process of integration, while also excelling at the game he loved.

And though he was faced with opposition in those early years at ETSU and throughout the South as he traveled with his teammates, the subsequent four years witnessed Woods overcome those obstacles to become a team captain and a fan favorite, as well as a source of hope and pride for those who followed the Buccaneers’ program.

Woods finished his career at ETSU with the record for most rebounds all-time (1,034) and rebounds per game (16.2 rpg).

In fact, his rebounds per game average of 16.2 is a full 4.3 rebounds better than any other ETSU player since that time, and he also set the single-game record with a remarkable 38 rebounds against Middle Tennessee State University during the 1964-65 season. All of those marks still stand today.

This group represents over four decades of competition and accounted for 17 All-Americans, 14 Player of the Year honors, 34 conference championships, and three Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. The class highlights Buccaneers from the state of Tennessee, the region, and the world.

Information regarding an official induction ceremony will be released at a later date.

For more information on the 2020 Hall of Fame, visit

Below are bios on each inductee.

Siarre Evans – Women’s Basketball – 2006-10

Two-time ASUN Player of the Year (2008-09 & 2009-10) … Four-time First Team all-ASUN selection … Three-time ASUN all-tournament team selection … Seven-time ASUN Player of the Week selection … Finalist for the State Farm Coaches All-American Team 2008-09 … 2007 ASUN Freshman of the Year … Two-time ASUN Tournament MVP … Three straight NCAA Tournament appearances – first time in program history … Ranked second nationally in double-doubles (21) and 16th in rebounding (10.9) in 2009-10 … Ranked 16th nationally in rebounding in 2008-09 (10.3) … Ranks fifth all-time in program history with 1,829 career points … Ranks third all-time in program history in rebounds (1,116) … Only one of three players in program history to finish with over 1,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds … Ranks fifth all-time in career field goals made (646) … Ranks fourth all-time in career three-point field goals made (166) … Ranks third all-time in career free throws made (371) … Ranks third all-time in career steals (255).

Paul Hoilman – Baseball – 2008-11

ASUN career leader in home runs (73), doubles (83), total bases (615) … Ranks second in ASUN history in RBI (247) and runs scored (239) … 2010 ASUN Player of the Year … Four-time ASUN All-Academic Selection … Became ETSU’s first ever player to finish with 300 career hits; Ranks second all-time with 307 hits … ETSU all-time career leader in doubles (83), home runs (73), RBI (247), runs scored (239) and walks (161) … ETSU single-season record holder for hits (99, 2010), home runs (25, 2010), extra base-hits (51, 2010), total bases (202, 2010), RBI (84, 2010), runs scored (79, 2010), walks (51, 2010) … Two-time ASUN Male Scholar Athlete of the Year (2010, 2011) … Two-time First Team ASUN selection (2009, 2010); 2008 ASUN All-Freshman Team … 19th Round Draft Pick by Chicago Cubs (2011); 49th Round Draft Pick by Tampa Bay (2010) … 2010 Golden Spikes Award semifinalist … 2010 Louisville Slugger First Team All-American … 2010 NCBWA Second Team All-American … 2010 PING Baseball Second Team All-American … 2010 Third Team All-American by Baseball America … 2010, 2011 ESPN the Magazine First-Team Academic All-American … 2010 ASUN First Team All-Conference … 2010 NCAA Leader in slugging percentage (.860) … 2011 Lowe’s Senior Class Award Finalist … 2011 Golden Spikes Award Watch List member … Ranked third nationally in home runs with 22 in 2011.

John Duus – Rifle – 1980-82

Three-time All-American … Two-time Team Captain … Three-time Top Rifle … First Team All-American Smallbore Rifle in 1980, 1981, 1982 (Top 10 shooter in the country) … First Team All-American Air Rifle in 1980, 1981, 1982 (Top 10 shooter in the country) … Three-time Regular Season Champion … Three-time Conference Tournament Champion … Three-time NCAA Tournament Participant … Three-time National Ranking … Represented Norway in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Tara Byrne Findlay – Women’s Tennis – 2006-10

2006 ASUN Freshman of the Year … 2006 ASUN all-freshman team … 3x ASUN all-second team (2006-08) … 2009 ASUN all-first team … 2009 ASUN Tournament MVP … 2009 ITA/NCAA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award … 2008 ITA Scholar-Athlete … Received one ASUN Player of the Week honor … 2x ASUN Tournament Team Champion (2006 & 2009) … 3x ASUN Regular Season Team Champion … 2006 team went 23-4 and 6-0 in ASUN play – 23 wins are most all-time in program history … 107 career wins are most in program history … 29 wins rank second all-time in single-season history … 27 wins in 2006 and 2008 are tied for fifth-most in single-season history.

Laura Jansone – Women’s Golf – 2006-10

Two-time ASUN medalist (2008 & 2010) – first golfer in program history to win a conference championship … Four individual medalists during her career (two ASUN, 2006 Lady Pirate Invitational and 2008 Sea Trail Intercollegiate) … 2007 ASUN Freshman of the Year … Three-time first-team all-ASUN … Second team all-ASUN (2009) … Three ASUN Golfer of the Month selections … Was a part of two NCAA Regional Teams (2008 & 2010) … became the first women’s golfer in program history to win an individual championship (Oct 20-22, 2006 Lady Pirate Invitational) … 15 career top-10 finishes and nine career top-5 finishes … Career scoring average of 75.83.

Keith Nolan – Men’s Golf – 1993-97

1994 SoCon Freshman of the Year … 1995 SoCon Player of the Year … Four-time All-SoCon selection … Helped guide the Bucs to SoCon Championships from 1994-96 … Led the Blue and Gold to three straight NCAA Championship trips from 1994-96 … Three-time Honorable Mention All-American … Finished third at the 1997 NCAA Championships and tied for ninth at the 1996 NCAA Championships … Four career collegiate wins, which ranks fifth-most in program history … Played in 155 career rounds, which ranks second-most in program history … Turned in 144 countable scores in the 155 career rounds, which is a program record … Holds the school record for a lowest 72-hole score at the NCAA Championship (-4, 280) … His +2, 290 in 1994 ranks seventh, and +7, 295 in 1996 ranks 13th.

Garrett Willis – Men’s Golf – 1993-96

1993 SoCon Freshman of the Year … Two-time Honorable Mention All-American (1994 and 1995) … 1996 First Team All-American … Two-time SoCon Player of the Year (1994 and 1996) … Two-time SoCon Individual Champion (1994 and 1996) … Three-time All-SoCon selection (1994-96) … Helped guide the Bucs to SoCon Championships from 1994-96 … Led the Blue and Gold to three straight NCAA Championship trips from 1994-96 … Finished eighth at the NCAA Championships in 1995 … Five career collegiate wins, including four in 1995-96 … Both rank second-most in program history … Won the 1995 Tennessee State Amateur … Won the 1995 Canadian Amateur … Was the No. 1 golfer for ETSU when the Bucs were ranked No. 1 in the country in 1996 and finished third in the 1996 NCAA Championship … His -3, 285 at the 1994 NCAA Championship is the third-lowest 72-round score in program history … His -1, 287 in 1995 NCAA Championship ranks fifth-best in program history.

Dave Mullins – Men’s Tennis Coach/AD

Served as the ETSU men’s tennis head coach from 1987-2002 and Athletic Director from 2002-13 … Inducted into the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame following an ETSU career that saw him win over 78 percent of his conference matches … Collected five Southern Conference regular-season titles … Captured five SoCon Tournament championships … Produced five SoCon Players of the Year … Participated in two NCAA Championships … Launched, organized and maintained multiple events such as the Little Caesars/ETSU Tennis Championships for juniors and adults, hosted ITA Summer Circuit events, the ETSU Snow Volleys Doubles Championships for amateurs, the ETSU Fall Collegiate Championships, and the Citizen Bank Collegiate Clay Court Championships.

During his time as an Athletic Director, Mullins’ leadership led to the reshaping of athletic facilities in program history, as new venues for the sports of baseball (Thomas Stadium), men’s and women’s soccer (Summers-Taylor Stadium), softball (Betty Basler Field) and men’s and women’s golf (Warren-Greene Golf Center) were all completed during his tenure. In addition, major renovation projects to both Brooks Gym and the Memorial Center were also completed.