Mile High Sports

Kordell Stewart, Daniel Graham, headline 2018 CU Athletics Hall of Fame class

The 14th class that will be inducted into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame this November will feature 11 Golden Buffalo legends who are representative of five different sports across eight decades in the school’s history, all of whom have their special place in history created during their CU athletic careers.

The 11 cover the 1920’s through this decade in Colorado athletics, with two of the group also in coaching and administration. Spanning the group are six who lettered in football, with one a three-sport star, another serving as an assistant coach and a third a long-time administrator; the school’s lone player who went on to win a World Series ring; two star basketball performers in the 1960s; CU’s first nationally recognized female sprinter in track; and the most successful female skier in school history, who will be the first woman inducted in the sport that has captured 20 national championships.

The 2018 class will be the 14th inducted into the Hall since it was conceived in 1998, and the 11 will join 101 individuals (and the 1959 ski team as a unit) who have been enshrined to date (14 have been honored previously after their deaths).

Athletic director Rick George personally notified all 10 living members of the upcoming class of their impending induction, as well as the next of kin for the 11th inductee, Hatfield Chilson, a three-sport letterman and the creator of the “jump pass” in football during the early 1920s.

The group will officially be inducted in the Hall of Fame over the course of Nov. 8-10 and will be featured in the Pearl Street Stampede parade on Friday night and will be introduced at halftime of the CU-Washington State football game on Saturday, Nov. 10, to complete the weekend.

With one throw of the football, Stewart became a Colorado college football legend. Heaving a 64-yard touchdown pass that Michael Westbrook hauled in after the final gun that gave CU a 27-26 win at Michigan on Sept. 24, 1994, the play won an ESPY for the play of the year and can be found regularly noticed as one of the plays of the century.

A second-team All-American that season (behind Penn State’s Kerry Collins), he was also the Offensive Most Valuable Player in CU’s win over Notre Dame in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl.

“To be selected as one of the greatest athletes to ever walk on CU’s campus, after all of the greats that have gone through this program, this honor is beyond me,” Stewart exclaimed.  “It will be an honor to join others in the Hall, including some of my teammates who have previously been inducted.”

Graham was a member of CU’s 2001 Big 12 championship team, and was renowned for both his ability to make a tough catch in traffic as well as blocking well downfield for his teammates.

He was rewarded for those combined efforts with the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end. Graham is a former graduate and football player of Thomas Jefferson high school in Denver and played for the Denver Broncos in his 10 year NFL career.

Williams is Colorado to the core, having graduated from Denver East High School and having played professionally in Denver, when the franchise was first known as the Rockets in the American Basketball Association and then the Nuggets; he donned both uniforms with the club.

“I am very surprised and deeply humbled by this recognition,” Williams said.  “I am grateful for the validation of my achievements and so very proud to join this elite club of former CU athletes, coaches and administrators that have left their mark not only on the court, playing field, or within the University but on society at large.”

Gardner was a senior when Williams was a sophomore, and no doubt benefited from many an assist from him in leading the team with a 20.2 scoring average in 1965-66 (however, assists did not become an official statistic until 1974).   That figure was third in the Big 8 Conference for overall games, and was the second-highest in program history at the time (and still ranks 10th); he did lead the league with a 20.3 mark for the 14 conference games.

Two other November inductees also “cross-pollinated” so to speak and in the same year: Steve Sidwell and Ron Scott were both members of CU’s 1965 team under the late Eddie Crowder, with that team finishing 6-2-2 that ended a run of three straight 2-8 seasons after NCAA penalties devastated the program.  Sidwell was a linebacker and Scott a nose guard in the first season that college football junked the platoon system that required players to play on both sides of the ball.

Sidwell went on to coach at CU for the nest eight seasons before moving on to the professional ranks, while Scott would return some 15 years after graduation to work in athletic administration for a combined 29 years, mainly in CU’s Buff Club as well as a stint directing the Alumni C Club.  He just retired from the department on June 30.

Zikova will become the first female skier to be inducted into the Hall, and is easily one of the most decorated performers in the school’s illustrious ski history – male or female. A three-time NCAA champion and seven-time first-team All-American, winning the slalom in 2006 and 2008 and the giant slalom in 2008, her 16 career wins are third in CU ski annals.  With 16 wins, 11 runner-up finishes and seven third place efforts, her 34 podium finishes are tied for the most by a female and tied for the second-most overall in CU skiing history.

“I am honored to be inducted into the CU (Athletic) Hall of Fame, representing the ski team,” Zikova said. “More than my individual achievements, however, I believe this great honor is a reflection of the values instilled in me by my parents who taught me to work hard and be independent.  I will be forever grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by the generosity of University of Colorado, and the trust the coaches placed in me.

“But what I value most are the life-long friendships with my teammates, including my husband (Miles Cooke) who were there on the slopes with me every day, lived through every race, and with whom I shared all team as well as individual victories. I couldn’t have succeeded without the team and support from my family, coaches, the athletic department and the great academic institution of the University of Colorado.”

Brock, who enjoyed a 12-year career in the National Football League, all with the New England Patriots, will join his younger brother Stan, who was inducted into the Hall last year. They’ll become the second set of brothers to be enshrined, joining Dick and Bobby Anderson.

Howell, who prepped at Boulder’s Fairview High School, is the only Buffalo to earn a World Series ring, which he obtained while a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 1988 championship team.  In fact, he had just returned from the club’s 30-year reunion when he received the call from George.

“I am so blessed and honored to be selected to the Buffs’ Athletic Hall of Fame,” Howell said. “The University of Colorado provided a firm foundation and prepared me for my journey through the major leagues. I’d like to specifically thank coach Irv Brown. His wisdom and guidance played an integral part in my success. This award is an honor that brings my baseball career full circle and back home to Boulder.”

Waller, who is married to a former CU track All-American, Matt Queen, was CU’s first female star sprinter, emerging as one of the top national performers in the mid-1980s.

“It is such an honor to be selected into CU’s Hall of Fame,” Waller said.  “I am ecstatic to have my name forever inscribed, along with the amazing athletes that have been part of the University’s rich athletic history.  It is beyond humbling.”

Hatfield Chilson

Chilson will be honored posthumously, as he passed away in 1991 at the age of 87.  A three-sport star in the 1920s (football, basketball and baseball), he was a 5-foot-8 quarterback and was credited for inventing the “jump pass.”  He would roll out, then jump in the air to see over the offensive linemen to throw a pass downfield.  He was pressed into duty in the middle of the 1923 season and would lead the then-Silver & Gold to a 9-0 record and the first of two consecutive Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles.

All inductees were nominated by their peers in the Alumni C-Club or by members of the selection committee; 25 semifinalists emerged from over 50 names submitted over the last three years.

There will now be 112 members (plus the ’59 ski team, CU’s first national champions in any sport) in the CU Athletic Hall of Fame since its inception in 1998.

An athlete must be at least 10 years removed from their CU career and retired from professional sports (teams) to be considered for induction.

With an induction every year instead of on a biennial basis as was the case for the first 16 years of the Hall, CU has been able to get more of those who are deserving of the recognition honored in a shorter time span with larger induction classes over the last five years.