RADFORD – Radford Mayor David Horton is getting a lot of positive feedback from his daily Facebook spotlights honoring Radford Black History Month, and members of the community are sending him suggestions for the recognition.
His latest honorees include coaches and community volunteers who give a lot back to the community. He writes:
Friday, Feb. 12:
Today in #radfordblackhistory we are featuring a leader on and off the basketball court – Radford University men’s basketball coach Mike Jones.
For the last decade, Coach Jones has led the Highlanders to season after season of success in the Big South Conference. He has twice been recognized as Big South Coach of the Year and helped guide Radford to its first ever win in the NCAA tournament in 2018.
When he was introduced in 2011, my friend Robert Lineburg, Radford University Athletic Director stated “We are extremely excited to have Mike, his wife and two sons join the Radford University family. Mike has demonstrated the necessary qualities and character to lead our student-athletes in the classroom, in the community and on the basketball court. His reputation as a proven mentor, coach and recruiter makes him the perfect fit for Radford University.”
This statement was visionary as Coach Jones has led with character and class in every facet of his life in Radford. The many former players who nominated him for recognition told me how their lives were influenced greatly by his example and his mentorship.
Throughout the community he is known as one of the kindest and friendliest coaches you could ever meet.
His efforts have helped move the community and University forward and he has exhibited the qualities of leadership at every turn. One of the best guys in the game, Mike Jones helps make the young men he coaches the best they can be in basketball and in life. He and his family are not just proud Highlanders but Bobcats as well and each member has worked to make Radford a better place.
Saturday, Feb. 13:
Today in #radfordblackhistory we salute a life of service and dedication as we recognize Jim Hickman.
James “Jim” Hickman was a lifelong Radford resident who made this city a much better place.
Jim was very active serving his fellow citizens by giving his time to many boards and commissions including the 21st Century Committee, Radford City Planning Commission, Habitat for Humanities, and the Radford City Beautification Committee. During his service with Habitat, he had the honor of meeting and working with President Jimmy Carter and Former Ambassador Andrew Young.
Jim was an entrepreneur as he owned and operated businesses in Radford in addition to roles with the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Lynchburg Foundry and the United States Postal Service.
He was a member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars as a veteran of the Navy and he was supportive of and active with the NAACP.
Jim was a leader in the church as well as a member of First Baptist Church Rock Road for six decades where he served as Sunday School Superintendent and Teacher, on the Board of Trustees, and as a Deacon. He was instrumental in building the new physical home for First Baptist and he was pleased to see it come to fruition in 2011.
Radford is a far better place thanks to the hard work of Jim Hickman.
Sunday, Feb. 14:
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate those we love and to let people in our lives know how much we care about them. As we continue to recognize #radfordblackhistory I cannot think of a better person to spotlight today than my friend Vondelear Hubbard.
Vondelear makes a difference for her neighbors and friends every day. All who know her recognize her strength and support.
During the last year, she has stepped that effort up even further helping scores of people save their ears during the pandemic from the mask loops as they have been working to stay well and keep others safe. Her custom mask extenders have been so helpful for people having to wear PPE every day all day.
Her brother Vic Carter, a reporter and anchor in Baltimore who has a wonderful story as well, shared her work with the world as the pandemic was growing around us.
Her dedication exemplified that of so many who gave us hope and light during a very dark time.
She is crafty creative and makes beautiful items that bless so many. One of her beautiful wreaths adorns my mom’s room and brings her joy.
Vondelear is a strong woman of faith and her spirit shows through her actions and through reminders that we are loved and that we can be our best if we try.
This spirit is evident in her work with the kids and teachers in our community through her role with Radford City Public Schools.
She serves on our Police Chief Citizens Advisory Board and helps us keep our eyes on the things we can do to keep Radford a wonderful place to live.
I am not alone in my observations of her impact on Radford. Many people reached out to tell me how much Vondelear means to them and what an inspiration she is.
We are lucky to have her as a part of the Radford family!
Monday, Feb. 15:
In #radfordblackhistory today we feature one of the greatest coaches in Radford University history – Charlene Curtis.
Coach Curtis came to Radford in 1972 to play basketball, only the second year of the women’s program at that level and the year that title IX paved the way for women’s sports to finally grow and begin to find some level of equity with men’s programs.
She was a star on the court and she was even better at helping those around her succeed. She entered coaching and teaching after graduating from Radford.
She returned to her alma mater in 1984 and began an exceptional six year journey at RU that saw multiple conference championships and dominance by her teams.
Coach Curtis moved on to serve as Head Coach at Temple in 1990 and at Wake Forest from 1997-2004.
She has served as a television analyst as well as the supervisor for officials for the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southern Conference, and the Colonial Conference.
She also worked with the WNBA Charlotte Sting as well as USA Basketball.
At every step of her career, she has helped to grow success for her sport and to help the women with whom she worked develop into outstanding leaders on and off the court.
Coach Curtis has also helped shape our region serving on the Radford University Board of Visitors, with Big Brothers Big Sisters, scores of charities, and the Radford University Alumni Association.
She makes those around her better. She helps instill people with confidence and she leads with humor and grace. She is a fierce competitor and knows how to achieve success, a spirit she has passed to all who have played for her.
Any time she is in our community, her personality helps light up the day and we know if she is involved with a project, it will be the very best.