TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (August 12, 2008) – Three former student-athletes, a championship basketball team and a long-time supporter will soon become the newest members of the Eagle Athletics Hall of Fame at Tallahassee Community College.
Former student-athletes Destiney Avent (women’s basketball), Donna Coombes (softball) and Mike Ziegler (baseball) headline the Hall of Fame’s seventh class. They are joined by athletics contributor Les McLeod and TCC’s 1996-97 men’s basketball team, all of whom will be enshrined during 7 p.m. ceremonies on Friday, September 26 at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center.
Avent, a native of Manhattan, N.Y., played under Coach Teresa Atkinson from 1998-00 and was a member of back-to-back Florida Community College Activities Association (FCCAA) Runners-up teams. She is currently an assistant women’s basketball coach at Long Island University.
In 66 career games with the Lady Eagles, Avent averaged 2.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. Upon graduating from TCC in 2000, she played her final two seasons with the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. During her senior year (2001-02) at UMES, Avent was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and was also the school’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UMES in 2002 and immediately embarked on what has become a successful coaching career. In addition to her current position at LIU, Avent’s coaching ledger includes stints at Montgomery Community College (head coach, 2002-03), UMES (assistant coach, 2003-06) and Fairfield University (assistant coach, 2006-07).
Coombes, a native of Arcadia, Calif., played under Coach Maria Mendoza in 1995 and 1996. She currently resides in her home state, where she is Manager of Scheduling and Planning for Fox Sports Network On-Air Promotions.
Coombes’ arrival at TCC coincided with the school’s transition from slow pitch softball, and she quickly became the first dominant pitcher in the Eagles’ fast pitch era. The right-hander won 16 games as a freshman and was a member of TCC’s 1995 Panhandle Conference Championship team. In 1996, she established single-season records in wins (28), shutouts (11) and perfect games (2), marks that still stand today. Those numbers also earned her First-team All-Panhandle Conference and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American honors. After graduating from TCC, Coombes returned to California, where she played for California State University, Fullerton. In two seasons with the Titans, she won 23 games and became one of only seven players in school history to toss a perfect game.
Ziegler, a native of Glen Burnie, Md., suited up for Coach Mike McLeod’s Eagles in 1999. He is currently employed by Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics and works as an advance scout.
Ziegler enjoyed arguably the finest season ever by a TCC pitcher in 1999, establishing single-season records in wins (15), games started (17), innings pitched (137.2), strikeouts (137) and complete games (11). The ace of the 1999 Panhandle Conference Champions, he was the runaway choice for PC and FCCAA Pitcher of the Year and earned Second-team All-American honors from the NJCAA. After graduating from TCC, he joined the Florida State Seminoles and earned First-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2000. Drafted by Oakland in the 14th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Ziegler signed a professional contract and pitched in the A’s organization from 2000-05, culminating with a pair of stints at Triple-A Sacramento in 2004 and 2005.
Les McLeod, the father of TCC’s veteran baseball coach, will enter the Eagle Athletics Hall of Fame as one of the program’s most loyal contributors. The elder McLeod has etched his own place in the history of TCC Baseball. From the time TCC rekindled its baseball program in 1990, he has arguably been its number one supporter. TCC Baseball fans, past and present, have grown accustomed to seeing McLeod volunteer in some way, shape or form, during games at Eagle Field, regardless of the day or time.
The 1996-97 men’s basketball team, coached by Mike Gillespie, captured the 1997 FCCAA/NJCAA Region VIII Championship and brought home a third-place finish in the NJCAA Tournament. Finishing the season with a mark of 35-2, a single-season record for wins, the team also enjoyed a 26-game winning streak to start the season, earned the program’s first number one national ranking and won a second consecutive Panhandle Conference Championship. Appearing in its first FCCAA Championship Game, TCC won the crown and punched its ticket to the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., by defeating Florida Community College-Jacksonville, 73-72. In the NJCAA Tournament’s third-place game, the Eagles beat North Idaho College, 121-116 in overtime, a game that still holds the NJCAA Tournament record for most combined points in a game (237).
The following student-athletes were members of the 1996-97 Eagles: Kevin Bruno, Courtney Conyers, Mike DeGruy, Lamont Dixon, Obi Harris, Chris Hill, Paul McPherson, James Smith, Marvis “Bootsy” Thornton, Robinson Tisme, Tyron Triplett and Kevin Wilkins.
Tickets for 2008 Eagle Athletics Hall of Banquet and Induction Ceremony are $30 and can be reserved by calling the TCC Athletic Department at (850) 201-8588. All proceeds benefit the scholarship fund for TCC’s student-athletes.