After graduation, Smith returned to Norfolk and embarked upon an outstanding forty two years of teaching, coaching, and mentoring student athletes. His first assignment from 1963-1970 was at his alma mater Ruffner Junior High School. During his tenure at Ruffner, Smith led the track team to its first city-wide championship in 1968.
From 1971-1977, he was a counselor and track coach at Mergenthaler Vocational/Technical High School in Baltimore, MD. In 1977, Smith led varsity and junior varsity track and field squads to division and Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) Championships. As a result of Smith's leadership, Mergenthaler was the first school in the sixty year MSA history to win both championships. In 1976, Smith was recognized as the Track and Field Coach of the Year by the Baltimore Public Schools Coaches Association.
From 1977 to 1990, Smith served as counselor and coach of the volleyball and track and field teams at Southern High School in Baltimore. During the 1979-1980 season, he was the first male coach to win a City-Wide Girls Varsity Volleyball championship. At Southern, Smith was able to develop a track and field dynasty without an outdoor training facility. His teams overcame this and other obstacles and went on to win four cross country and five track and field championships. During the 1980's, Smith coached the fastest relay teams, and the best sprinters and jumpers in the state of Maryland. The following times attained by Smith's team members remain among the fastest in the State of Maryland: 100 meters-10.4 sec.;110 meter hurdles-13.8 sec; 400 meter relay-42 sec.; long jump-24'6"; and high jump-6"8".
At Baltimore City Community College from 1990 to 1998, Smith continued to develop champions and win team championships. Among the highlights of BCCC's track and field performances during this period are the following: 1992 Women's Cross Country District and Region 26 (MD, NJ, NY) Championship; and Team Indoor District and Region Championships. At BCCC, Smith developed and coached ten National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) male and female All- Americans.
Morris Smith retired from the Baltimore City Public School System in 2006. He has received numerous awards recognizing his accomplishments as a teacher, counselor, and coach.
In October 2009, Morris Smith was inducted into the St. Augustine's College Athletic Home of Fame.
James Church is a 2011 Inductee into the HRAASHF as a Community Contributor. Born and raised in Hampton Roads as the youngest of 10 children, Church has found a way to combine his passion for mentoring with his love of football and his business skills.
His work ethic, leadership ability, and athletic skills first emerged during his high school years at Booker T. Washington in Norfolk, Virginia where he was named to the 1st Team All Tidewater and All Regional in football. Church took those same qualities to college when he was awarded a full scholarship and played wide receiver for the University of Richmond. James was named MVP in 1987 for the Richmond Spiders and still holds the record for the most receptions in one season and number ten for the most in a career.
After graduation, Church began a ten year career with Ford Motor Credit. After leaving Ford Credit, he began the pursuit of his dream to own a business and joined the Freedom Automotive team. Church quickly moved up the ranks beginning first as a sales consultant and working as a finance manager, finance director, used vehicle manager, general manager and in 2002 was promoted to President of Freedom Automotive, a position he holds today.
Church believes strongly in helping others along the way, a lesson he learned from his parents. His image in the business community has afforded him the opportunity to establish affiliations with such organizations as Volunteer Hampton Roads, the Boys and Girls Club, the STOP Organization, the Urban League of South Hampton Roads, the Chesapeake YMCA, and the Hampton Roads Automobile Dealers Association. In November 2010, Church was appointed by Governor McDonnell to serve on the board of the Fort Monroe Authority.
When Church isn't at the office or mentoring a group of young people, he can usually be found speaking before a group of high school students about the importance of a good education, washing cars during Teacher Appreciation week at a local elementary school, cutting ribbons at neighborhood revitalization projects, or serving as Grand Marshall at local parades.
Church recently has received the following awards: Inside Business Top 40 Under 40 Recognition, MLK Humanitarian Award, League Magazine's Executive of the Year, the AFR'AM Achievement Appreciation Award, and the Norfolk chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Honorary Man of Tomorrow. In March 2011, he received an Unsung Hero Award from the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
Ken Whitley also is a 2011 Inductee into the HRAASHF as a Community Contributor. As a leader and role model, Whitley has made a positive impact upon the live of many students and athletes. He has served as a friend and role model for numerous area African American athletes including at least two HRAASHF inductees: Andrew Heidelberg (2006) and Larry Stepney (2009).
In 1959, Andy Heidelberg was one of 17 black students selected to integrate Norfolk public schools. He was one of seven blacks attending all white Norview High School. Heidelberg was bombarded daily with racial slurs. He made the football team is senior year and finally felt that he was a full-fledged member of the student body. Ken Whitley was the captain of the football team and was one of the few teammates who welcomed Andy to the team and supported him as a teammate and friend. Their friendship remains true to this day.
Larry Stepney is just another of the many African American males that consider Whitley as either a mentor and/or a father figure.
Whitley's tireless devotion to developing strong young men produced numerous top quality athletes, coaches and individuals. He coached the first predominately black wrestling team in the state of Virginia and led that team to the 1975 State Championship. He coached 6 All-State African Americans in football and numerous other district and regional champions and runner-ups. His unassuming demeanor and straight forward methods of communication contributed greatly to the success of his student athletes. Forty Seven (47) former students have received wrestling scholarships and countless more have received football scholarships.
Ken Whitley sat on the panel for "The End of Massive Resistance Commission" for the city of Norfolk. The Commission was established to look back on the past and to envision the future. It helped to plan the commemoration of the 1959 end of "massive resistance-Virginia's tactic of shutting down its public schools rather than integrate them.
Whitley attended Norfolk's Norview high school from 1957 to 1962. Among his high School accomplishments are the following: earned twelve letters in baseball, football, and wrestling; 3 time All District in baseball; in football, he was 2 time All State, 2 time All Region, 3 time All District, and 1st Team All American; in wrestling, he was a 2 time State Champion.
At Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Whitley was a Three year Letterman in football and wrestling. In 1968, the Roanoke Times elected him as the outstanding wrestler in Virginia and he qualified for the NCAA Championship. In football he was All State and Honorable Mention All American. In 1990, Whitley was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
As a teacher and coach in the Norfolk and Virginia Beach school systems for 35 years, Whitley earned the following awards: Norfolk Sports Club Scholastic Coach of the Year; Chesapeake Athletic Coach of the Year; Virginian Pilot's 70's Decade Coach of the Year; Two Time VHSL Coach of the Year; Eastern District Coaches Association, District Coach of the Year; and in 2004, induction into the Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Service to Wrestling.
Hampton Roads African American Hall of Fame to induct 13, including Mourning
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