Wednesday night will be one that sticks with two former USF athletes for years to come.
Recognized for their outstanding careers as Bulls, Matthew O’Neal and Lee Ann Spivey were honored at the Sports Club of Tampa Bay Hall of Fame induction ceremony at T. Pepin’s Hospitality Centre, along with former USF baseball coach Lelo Prado, who was inducted into the organization’s hall of fame.
Both O’Neal and Spivey were among the best athletes to ever compete for USF, with both setting school records in their respective sports.
A four-year starter for the softball team, Spivey set a program record for total career homeruns and ranked within the top 10 for numerous other categories such as RBIs and putouts.
Though her career as a Bull is complete, Spivey is still pursuing her passion.
Currently playing professional softball for the Scrap Yard Dawgs, a National Pro Fastpitch team based in Texas, Spivey said that her career is still on the rise a year after her graduation from USF.
“It’s amazing to be honored amongst the greats, because I’m still aspiring to become a great myself,” Spivey said. “I feel like I’m on my climb right now, and for me, it’s amazing to be in the same room with so many people who have knowledge on how to get to where I want to be.”
Upon receiving a plaque on stage from athletic director Mark Harlan, Spivey delivered a speech that would lead to a roar of applause from the audience.
“I committed to USF as a freshman in high school, so I’ve been invested in USF for almost 10 years now,” Spivey said. “I can’t even describe how much (USF) has given back to me, and continue to still to this day.”
Along with Spivey, it was apparent that the night was a special one for O’Neal as well.
A two-sport athlete from Jackson, Mississippi, O’Neal was beaming with a smile on his face from the moment he walked into the ceremony.
Nationally recognized as a track and field competitor, O’Neal earned several honors for the triple jump throughout his career at USF, including six All-American honors, and currently holds the eighth best distance for the triple jump in the world.
Though the triple jump is now his call to fame, it was USF’s offer of a soccer scholarship that ultimately pulled him to Tampa.
“Most of the scholarships I had been offered were either to do one (sport) or the other,” O’Neal said. “USF was tremendous in giving me the opportunity to become the best athlete I could be. I owe it all to USF.”