Robert Lawson '30
Football, Basketball, Baseball
A versatile performer, Robert Lawson was a three-sport standout for the Tigers. In football, he played end and quarterback, in basketball he was a center, and in baseball he played outfield.
In football, Lawson still holds the Hampden-Sydney record for most interceptions in a game, with four during the 1929 contest against Lynchburg College. During the 1929 game against Virginia Tech, he served as acting captain and scored H-SC's only touchdown on a 12-yard interception return. In 1928, he was quarterback of the unit that defeated the University of Richmond, 13-0, and Randolph-Macon, 39-6.
He played a key part with the Tigers' famed "wrecking crew" during the 1929 baseball season, and served as baseball team captain during his senior season. He was awarded the prestigious Gammon Cup at graduation in 1930.
Lawson briefly coached at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, before attending law school at the University of Virginia, where he served as an assistant football coach for the Cavaliers. Lawson practiced with the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson in Charleston, West Virginia, from 1935 to 1988, serving as senior partner in the Charleston Office. In 1992, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Hampden-Sydney.
Originally from South Boston, Virginia, Lawson is a member of the South Boston-Halifax County Athletic Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Virginia Peyton Brown, have three children and eight grandchildren and live in Charleston, West Virginia.
William N. Balas '49
During his four-year basketball career at Hampden-Sydney, Balas annually earned all-state recognition and was the team catalyst during one of the most successful periods in H-SC basketball history.
In February 1949, the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote, "Bill Balas has done the most in recent years to get Hampden-Sydney College a prominent place in the Old Dominion court picture." Balas was also called "the Barrymore of the Backboards" because of his good looks and thespian tactics on the court.
A four-time all-state basketball selection, Balas brought his one-hand shot from Pennsylvania to the South in the fall of 1945 and immediately made an impact on Tiger basketball.
As a freshman, he was the state scoring champion with 340 points. The following season, he earned second team all-state honors as the Tigers posted a 14-6 record and claimed the Virginia State Championship. As a senior, Balas was co-captain and leading scorer on a record-setting team. Under legendary coach George "Gummy" Proctor, the Tigers' 22-3 season record earned the Mason-Dixon championship, with numerous impressive victories, including two wins each over Virginia Tech, Richmond and Randolph-Macon. The 22-3 record posted by the 1948-49 team stood for 43 years before being broken in 1992; their .880 winning percentage stood as the school record until the 1994-95 season.
Originally from McKeesport, Pennsylvania, Balas is now retired and lives with his wife, Mary Jo, in Salem, South Carolina.
John Hodges '58
One of H-SC's best-ever linemen, John Hodges was described by Coach Jim Hickey as "the old rugged type, an aggressive lineman who could play 60 minutes of football." Unanimously, opposing coaches said "Big John" was the best lineman they faced all season. He played both offensive and defensive line for the Tigers and was considered a standout on both sides of the ball.
A member of the Tiger football squad from 1950-52 and again in 1955, he left Hampden-Sydney after the 1952 season to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. He returned to college in 1955 and was a key member of the team that posted an 8-1 record.
Hodges received All-Mason-Dixon Conference honors and All-State recognition in both 1952 and 1955. He was honored as honorary captain of the all-state team both seasons and also received honorable mention All-America recognition.
Originally from Buggs Island, Virginia, Hodges is retired and currently lives in Crystal River, FL.
Phil Suazo '85
During his career at Hampden-Sydney, Phil Suazo was the dominant defensive back in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and is arguably the best ever to play the position for the Tigers.
From 1981 to 1984, Suazo patrolled the defensive secondary for H-SC and was a key member of two ODAC Championship squads. He served as team captain of a 1984 squad that posted an 8-2 record during Stokeley Fulton's final season as coach of the Tigers. As a senior, Suazo tied the school record with seven pass interceptions and finished his career with 15 interceptions. Also a standout punt returner, Suazo ranked fifth nationally in punt returns as a junior and seventh in the nation as a senior.
Suazo's list of individual honors during his career at Hampden-Sydney is quite extensive. He was a three-time first-team All-ODAC selection and was named H-SC's most valuable player during his junior and senior seasons. As a junior, Suazo earned honorable mention AP Little All-America honors and as a senior was a first-team All-American selection. He was selected to the Virginia College Division All-State team twice and was named the Division III Player of the Year in Virginia as a junior and senior.
Following graduation, Suazo spent four years as a teacher, administrator and coach at Worcester Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts. He later spent three seasons as an assistant football coach at the College of Holy Cross. Currently living in Boston, Massachusetts, Suazo is program director for Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries in Boston and is also co-chairperson of the Access Now Coalition.
Dr. Edgar Gammon '05
A varsity athlete at Hampden-Sydney who later served as College Chaplain and College President, Dr. Edgar Gammon was an ardent booster of athletics at the College.
During his days as a H-SC student, Gammon earned varsity letters in football, baseball, and track and served as team captain in football and baseball. During his service as pastor of College Church and College Chaplain from 1917 to 1923, he was also a coach for the baseball team.
As President of Hampden-Sydney from 1939 to 1955, he was instrumental in developing and supporting the athletic program. He was also an enthusiastic fan, attending practice and games whenever possible. During his tenure as President, Gammon Gymnasium was built and later named in his honor. In addition, he is the founder and namesake of the prestigious Gammon Cup, given each year to a senior who best served the college through character, scholarship and athletic ability.
Dr. Gammon remained a supporter of Hampden-Sydney athletics until his death in May of 1962.
Dick Burrell '38
A 1938 graduate and former football player at Hampden-Sydney, Dick Burrell wore many hats during his two decades of service to the College. Burrell served as Athletic Director at Hampden-Sydney from 1960 to 1970 and as Sports Information Director from 1970 to 1979. He also worked as an assistant football and basketball coach and as head golf, cross country and tennis coach. Since his retirement, Burrell has remained an active supporter of the College's athletic programs.
Before returning to Hampden-Sydney, Burrell served as a coach at Clarksville High School, Emporia High School, Highland Springs High School and Woodberry Forest High School. He also spent four years in the United States Coast Guard during World War II.
Born in Auburn, New York, Burrell and his family soon moved to Prince Edward County where he graduated from Farmville High School in 1934. Burrell and his wife, Frances, lived on campus for many years before her death in 1991. He and his current wife, Chris, live in Farmville and are fixtures at most Hampden-Sydney athletic events.
**All information listed is current as of 1995.