Walter Sprye '43
Baseball, Football, Basketball
A three-sport standout, Walter Sprye was one of the finest athletes to attend Hampden-Sydney College. He was also a true leader, having served as captain for both the football and baseball squads.
As a football player, Sprye was a triple-threat quarterback for the Tigers. He called the offensive plays and was equally adept at running, passing and kicking. In 1942, he was a member of the state honorable mention All-American. For his outstanding performance for the Tigers, Sprye was awarded a gold football by coach Frank Summers.
In baseball, Sprye played first base and as a senior was co-captain with Roy Duncan. After graduation he remained at Hampden-Sydney for a year and in 1944 served as assistant football coach for the Tigers. He was also a head baseball coach for a year after coach Summers was called overseas during the war.
In 1957, Sprye and S.A. Martin of Farmville established a sportsmanship award. The first recipient was Hal McVey '57. Today, Sprye is retired an lives in Rocky Mount, NC.
Bill LeHew '57
An exciting running back with breakaway capabilities, Bill LeHew was instrumental in leading the Tigers to an 8-1 record in 1955 and a 7-2 mark in 1956. As a senior in 1956, he led the Tigers in scoring and finished in a tie for second in the state with 42 points.
He was twice honored as an All-Little Seven pick and an honorable mention All-America selection. LeHew played both offense and defense for the Tigers and was also an excellent punter, finishing eighth in the country with a 40.1 yards-per-punt average in 1954. As a senior, he served as co-captain, of the squad along with H-SC Hall of Famer Jim Fraser.
During his career, LeHew gained 1,900 yards rushing and totaled over 2,500 yards in total offense, but is perhaps best remembered for his breakaway runs. Against Johns Hopkins, in a game played in Baltimore, LeHew scored the winning touchdown on a 63-yard jaunt. In the 1955 game against Randolph-Macon, LeHew gained 172 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown run that gave Hampden-Sydney at 7-0 lead entering the fourth quarter. Macon bace back to score and kicked the winning PAT, breaking Hampden-Sydney's record-setting 12-game winning streak.
Also a two-year letterman in track, LeHew participated in the 100-yard dash and the 220-yard dash. LeHew is currently an obstetrician/gynecologist in Norfolk, VA, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of both Hampden-Sydney and the Medical College of Hampton Roads. He son scott is a 1992 graduate of Hampden-Sydney and was a member of the Tigers' soccer and lacrosse teams.
Gene Cooke '58
One of the finest in a long line of multi-sport standouts at Hampden-Sydney, Gene Cooke, a speedy 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, earned eight letters in baseball and football while at the College.
In four years as a baseball standout for the Tigers, Cooke never finished the season with a batting average below .380. His highest single-season average of .464 still stands as the best single-season average in school history. He was a key member of three successive Mason-Dixon Conference championship teams for the Tigers. As a senior in 1958, he served as team co-captain with H-SC Hall of Famer Bobby Humphreys.
Having his choice of several offers, he signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1958. Newspapers reported a bonus of $20,000. He started out in the state of Washington, playing for a Class B team.
Also an outstanding football player for the Tigers, Cooke played tackle for four seasons and was a member of H-SC's 1956 and 1957 Mason Dixon Championship teams. He was an honorable mention All-Little Eight selection as a junior and a first team selection as a senior.
Cooke retired from Gravure Packaging Incorporated after having served as its President and CEO. He and his wife, Mary Jane, have two children and reside in Midlothian, VA.
Ed Owens '80
A gifted athlete, Owens was one of the finest basketball players ever to play at Hampden-Sydney. Six-feet-six inches tall, he used his height to become one of the best rebounders in school history. He is second on H-SC's career list with 1,160 rebounds and holds the single-season record with 464 rebounds during the 1979-1980 campaign. Also a deadly shooter from close range, he owns the Virginia state record, all divisions, for the highest field goal percentage in a season. His .729 percent accuracy during the 1978-79 campaign was the highest field goal percentage in the country. Owens also holds the Division III state record for the highest career rebounding average (15.1 per game) and is fifth all-time in Division III for career rebounding average.
Hampden-Sydney compiled an impressive 65-38 record during Owens' years as a Tiger. He was the first Hampden-Sydney played to ever earn first-team All-ODAC honors three straight years (1978-80). He was also named the Tigers' most valuable player three seasons in-a-row and served as a tri-captain during his senior season.
A popular student from South Boston, Owens was instrumental in the establishment of Alpha Phi Alpha social fraternity. A charter member, he was its first president. He still lives in South Boston and is owner of the Edward Owens Insurance Agency.
William Bull '96
In the final decade of the 1800s, Hampden-Sydney College was a school flourishing under the leadership of President Richard McIlwaine. The student body was the largest in the history of the College and morale was high. The one area in which the College was clearly lagging behind other, similar institutions was in the area of intercollegiate athletics. Hampden-Sydney could boast only a few "class teams," and according to reports they played only sporadically. What Hampden-Sydney needed was someone to lead the College's athletic teams into the modern era. That leader appeared in 1892 in the form of William Ford "Billy" Bull.
Originally from Norfolk, Bull entered Hampden-Sydney as a freshman in the fall of 1892 and immediately saw the need for organized athletics at the college. He started the first Hampden-Sydney football team that year and the Tigers faced the University of Richmond on Thanksgiving Day in what is considered the first intercollegiate football game of the modern era at Hampden-Sydney. Bull was the team's captain for three years and in 1894 led the team to its first-ever victory, 28-0 over William and Mary. He also served as captain of the baseball team and is considered the "Father of Intercollegiate Athletics at Hampden-Sydney."
After leaving Hampden-Sydney in 1896, Bull served with great distinction as a missionary in Korea for 40 years. He was responsible for the conversion of numerous Koreans to Christianity and was great adored by the people of Korea. Following retirement in 1939, he lived in Norfolk until his death on December 17, 1941.
**All information listed is current as of 1992.