NEWBERRY, S.C. - The Newberry College Letterman's Club inducted four new members into the Newberry College Athletic Hall of Fame at the College's "Welcome Back" dinner Thursday. Heath Benedict, Tom Crump, Jeanette Ergle and Jack Whitesides were publicly introduced as the Class of 2008 at halftime of Saturday's football game against Valdosta State.
In addition to being inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, the Newberry College Lettermen’s Club voted unanimously to bestow its highest honor to Heath Benedict, the retirement of his jersey. Heath’s athletic accomplishments and accolades are unmatched in Newberry history. Additionally, Heath was an outstanding individual who inspired all around him. He truly served as an ambassador to our College and in his honor from this day forward Heath’s jersey, Number 74, will never be worn by another Newberry College football player
Heath's father, Ed Benedict, accepted the award on the family's behalf at the banquet and football game.
Heath Benedict made his mark as one of the most prolific athletes in Newberry College history before his death in March of 2008. As an offensive lineman on the football team, Heath started for four seasons at tackle and was expected to be drafted on the first day of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Benedict, who transferred to Newberry from Tennessee in 2004, was a two-time winner of the South Atlantic Conference’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is awarded annually to the conference’s best offensive lineman. He was also a two-time national finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award, which is presented to the best lineman in Division II.
While he was named to the all-South Atlantic Conference first team for three years, he also racked up more all-American and all-region awards than any athlete in Newberry College history. He was also the only Newberry College player to participate in the Senior Bowl.
He started collecting awards in 2005, when he was named to the D2Football.com all-Southeast Region team. In 2006, he collected three all-region awards and three Division II all-American awards, as well as the Associated Press’ Little All-American team.
Following the 2007 season, Heath was once again named to the AP Little All-American team after earning four preseason all-American and three postseason all-American nods. All told, Benedict collected 13 different All-American honors in his career.
As a freshman, Tom played on the 1960-61 team that advanced to the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City. He was selected as a member of the all-conference and all-tournament teams for two years, and was a member of two Little Four Championship teams.
During his three years as a starter, he averaged 13 points per game and had a 47 percent shooting percentage, as well as a 77 percent free throw average.
After graduation, Tom began a career in teaching, coaching and administration. His basketball teams won three conference championships. He was selected as the assistant coach in the North-South All-Star Game in 1975 and was the head coach of the winning South squad in the 1990 game.
He was inducted into the Newberry College Men’s Basketball Alumni Association Hall of Fame and the Mid-Carolina High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Tom served as principal at Mid-Carolina and Spring Valley High Schools.
He received his Masters Degree in 1976, Educational Specialist Degree in 1990 and his Doctor of Education in 1994. Tom is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where he has served on numerous committees and as President of the Men of St. Paul’s and church council member.
On the volleyball court, Jeanette had an outstanding career as a middle hitter, recording 699 career kills and 994 career digs. She ranks in the top 10 in the Newberry record books in kills, digs, services aces, solo blocks, block assists and total blocks.
In the winter, Ergle moved to the basketball team, where she averaged six points and three rebounds per game while starting in over half of Newberry’s games over her four-year career. She still ranks in the top 10 in Newberry history in assists.
Ergle also played on the softball team for four seasons, finish with am on-base percentage just under .300. Of the all the games she played in her four years, she started in all but three.
Jeanette also excelled in the classroom, as she was nominated for multiple SAC Scholar Athlete awards and Academic All-District awards. She was a four-year member of the Dean’s List and was also in the Blue Key honor society.
He was awarded all-State and all-Conference honors in both his junior and senior seasons. He also served as co-captain in those two years. His batting average consistently improved in his four seasons wearing the scarlet and gray, with a .355 average in his senior year.
Also in his senior year, Jack earned a .507 slugging percentage as he led the team in hits, doubles and triples. For his outstanding season, Whitesides was earned honorable mention to the Little All-American team.
Coach Horace Turbeville referred to Jack as the best catcher in the league. Jack was presented with the W.L. Laval Award in 1967. This award is presented to a member of the senior class who is judged by faculty representatives to be outstanding in athletic achievement, scholarship, character and leadership.
Jack was also the founding chairman of the Newberry College Letterman’s Club.