Western Carolina's 2002-03 women's golf team and former football player Leroy Holden comprise the silver anniversary class, and will be enshrined in the Western Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame on the weekend of November 14-15 with a special on-field recognition during the Catamounts home football game against returning Southern Conference member, VMI, on Nov. 15.
Under the direction of head coach Steve Lott, WCU's 2002-03 women's golf team was the first women's team to advance to a NCAA post-season tournament. The Catamounts ended the nine-year run of the Furman Lady Paladins, carding a SoCon record-low 54-hole score of 894 that still stands today.
All told, the squad won three team championships that season including the home Great Smokies Intercollegiate, the John Kirk-Lady Panther Intercollegiate, and the 2003 SoCon Women's Golf Championship which resulted in the automatic berth in the NCAA post-season.
Playing in the NCAA East Regional at the Salem Glen Country Club in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Catamounts finished 16th overall with a three-round score of 913 (306-307-300).
WCU's 2002-03 roster featured back-to-back top 20 recruiting classes, and included 2010 individual Hall of Fame inductee, Rebecca Twiner Hastings; Danish-born Line Cordes; Tumba, Sweden native Johanna Lundberg; and Hendersonville, N.C., product, Meredith Beck. Freshmen on the 2002-03 squad included Brandy Andersen, Ashley Hovda and Jennifer Palmer. Five of the golfers on that first championship team remain among Western Carolina's top 20 in terms of career scoring average.
That season, Twiner became the first women's golfer to officially break the 70-scoring barrier with a three-under par, 69, at the ECU Lady Pirate Intercollegiate. Andersen, who went on to garner All-Southern Conference accolades and SoCon Freshman of the Year plaudits, lowered the benchmark with a round of 66 at the Great Smokies Intercollegiate. Cordes and Twiner were additionally tabbed All-SoCon at the season's end while Lott was honored as the Coach of the Year by his peers.
Andersen was additionally dubbed Western Carolina's Student-Athlete of the Year in 2003, while Lundberg garnered Female Scholar Athlete of the Year honors at the year-end banquet.
Overall, four individuals on the 2002-03 Catamount women's golf team were named National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) All-American Scholars - Andersen, Cordes, Hovda and Lundberg. Andersen and Hovda went on to be just two of three SoCon women's golfers all-time to secure three-or-more SoCon Golfers of the Month awards.
Leroy Holden lettered four years at wide receiver for the Catamount football team from 1963-66. He recorded 78 career receptions including 10 receiving touchdowns, amassing 1,310 yards. His best season came in 1966 when he tallied 38 receptions for 656 yards and five scores. In 1965, he returned a kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown against Lenior-Rhyne. During his career, Holden was named player of the year four times and received three game balls for outstanding individual game performances.
Following his graduation from WCU, Holden embarked on a tremendous career in education, spending over 40 years as an educator, coach and high school athletic director. He joined the faculty at North Mecklenburg High in 1971 where he would serve as head coach for the baseball, softball and tennis teams, while also making his name as a basketball coach.
Named one of the top 100 coaches in North Carolina - and a four-time Mecklenburg County Coach of the Year - Holden compiled 464 career victories as a head basketball coach including a 30-1, state runner-up finish with his 1987 squad, which won 30-straight games before falling in the title game. He was chosen conference coach of the year seven times between 1977 and 1994, and garnered Sportsman of the Year in 1999.
In 1985, Holden was promoted to athletic director at North Mecklenburg High where he continued his hall of fame career. He was named the 2001 Charlotte Observer Athletic Director of the Year and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Athletic Directors' Association in 2008. He was inducted into the North Carolina Athletic Director Hall of Fame in 2012.
For his service to North Mecklenburg High, he was honored in 2012 with "The Legends of North Mecklenburg" award. In 2013, the basketball court was named "Leroy Holden Court" and an annual basketball tournament coined "The Holden Classic" that is held in his honor. Additionally, the Holden Cup is given each year to a football player who displays excellence in athletics and scholarship.
Holden remains an active member of the Sportsman Club of Charlotte where he served as the president, program vice president, secretary and treasurer. In 1999, the organization named its Sportsman of the Year award after him. He has also been a member of the Charlotte Sports Commission.
Holden has been married 49 years to his high school sweetheart, Ginny Severs Holden of Charlotte. The couple has three children and four grandchildren. They are members of Grace Covenant Church in Cornelius.
Including this year's induction class, Western Carolina's Athletics Hall of Fame has enshrined 112 individuals, five athletic teams, 11 Patron Award winners and two recognized for career achievements since its establishment in 1990.
To be considered for induction into the Western Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame, nominees must be submitted to the Hall of Fame committee where they are kept on file for a period of five years. Each spring, the committee convenes to vote upon a list of nominees that are approved by the Hall's executive committee, which checks that those nominated meet the criteria as put forth by the constitution. Appropriate forms are available online at CatamountSports.com.