FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BROWARD COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES THE CLASS OF 2019

 

GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Oct. 21, 2019) —Today, the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame announces the Class of 2019 inductees, including Dr. Guy Harvey (Fishing), Tamara James (Basketball), Roberto Luongo (Ice Hockey), Otis James “OJ” McDuffie (Football), Eddie Rodger (Soccer), and Jesse Vassallo (Swimming).

Now in its 21st consecutive year, the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame honors and recognizes athletes, coaches and pioneers of sports who are or have been Broward County residents, or have made a significant impact to the county’s sports industry. This year’s six sports greats were nominated by Broward County residents and chosen by 15 members of the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame Committee, co-chaired by Joe Hess and Pat Lawlor.

The Broward County Sports Hall of Fame 2019 Annual Sports Banquet and Induction Dinner honoring Broward County’s Sports legends will take place on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, at the Broward County Convention Center. The evening will begin with a cocktail reception and silent auction benefitting the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame at 5:30 p.m. Dinner and induction presentations will follow at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $55 per person or $500 for a table of 10. VIP tables with priority seating are available for $800. To reserve tickets, call the Broward County Sports Development office at (954) 767-2455 or email sfisher@broward.org. For more event information, visit www.sunny.org/sportshalloffame.

Class of 2019 Inductees

Dr. Guy Harvey

Dr. Guy Harvey is a world-renowned artist, biologist, angler, conservationist and explorer who uses his keen eye, a lifetime spent on the water, and background in marine biology to create wildlife artwork with unmatched authenticity.

Harvey taught as a Professor of Marine Biology at the University of West Indies until his first art exhibition at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in 1986. After selling his entire collection at the boat show, Harvey resigned from his teaching position to become a full-time artist. Soon after he was painting full-time, the iconic Guy Harvey pocketed t-shirt introduced the world to Harvey’s artwork.

Harvey uses proceeds from the sale of his artwork and merchandise to conduct cutting-edge marine research and host marine science educational programs through the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Guy Harvey Research Institute, which is located at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.

The two cornerstones of Harvey and his company are art and conservation; and each plays a crucial role in the success of the Guy Harvey brand. Harvey’s artwork brings the undersea world into everyday life and helps give people a better appreciation for our marine environment.

Tamara James

City of Dania Beach Commissioner and former WNBA player Tamara James grew up in Dania Beach and went to South Broward High School. During her time at South Broward High, James won three state championships and was named the most valuable player in each championship. The school retired her jersey in 2007.

James played college basketball at the University of Miami, where she is the all-time leading scorer for both men and women with 2,406 points. Her jersey was retired in 2010 and she was inducted into the University of Miami Hall of Fame in 2016.

In 2006, James was selected in the 1st round, 6th overall pick by the Washington Mystics of the WNBA. She spent nine years as a professional basketball player, also playing in Spain, Turkey, and Israel.

After her years playing professional basketball, James returned to her hometown of Dania Beach, where she ran for local elected office and served as the city’s youngest mayor. She now serves as a City of Dania Beach commissioner.

In 2006, James started the “Tamara James Foundation, Inc” with a mission to build strong children, families, communities and future generations through sports and community events.

She continues to break barriers and evolve as one of the most decorated athletes in Broward County, recognized for her efforts on and off the court.

Roberto Luongo

Hockey legend and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Roberto Luongo played in the NHL for 20 years, with 11 of those years as the Florida Panthers goaltender.

Luongo is one of the winningest goaltenders of all time. He played for the Panthers over two different stretches, was a fan favorite, a key contributor and leader for the team. Luongo is one of three goaltenders in NHL history to have played 1,000 games and is also the Panthers all-time leader in games played, wins and shutouts.

Aside from his success and legacy on the ice, Luongo is known in his hometown of Parkland as a voice in his community. Following the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, Luongo delivered an emotional speech on the ice prior to start of a Panthers game, where he paid respect to the victims and their families and called for the community to take action together.

Otis James “OJ” McDuffie

Plantation resident Otis James “OJ” McDuffie was an NFL wide receiver with the Miami Dolphins for eight seasons. After earning a starting spot for the Dolphins, he was known as Dan Marino’s favorite receiver.

Last year, the Penn State University All-American launched an in-depth, humorous weekly podcast “The Fish Tank: Dolphins Tales from the Deep." McDuffie and his co-host Seth Levit welcome former Dolphins players, team personnel, and members of the South Florida sports media to share untold Miami Dolphins stories.

McDuffie is also the founder and chairman of the Catch 81 Foundation which helps children through various programs, charitable causes and is committed to enhancing the lives and futures of young people.

McDuffie has been inducted into both the Dolphins Walk of Fame and the Hawken School Athletic Hall of Fame, where he went to high school.

Eddie Rodger

Plantation resident Eddie Rodger is the founder and president of KICS International, a major South Florida sports marketing, promotions, and event operations company. A Boston native, Rodger came to Broward County to become the head athletic trainer for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. He has also served as athletic trainer for Team America Soccer (US National Team), Miami Miracle Baseball, Mickey Mantle/Whitey Ford Fantasy Baseball Camps, and training coordinator for Broward County Public Schools.

Rodger brought The Umbro Select to Broward County, a major college all-star game, which turned into Major League Soccer’s Player Combine and eventually led to hosting the MLS draft. KICS designed, built and managed the country’s first and only hotel sports complex in Sunrise at the former Sunrise Hilton. This was a turnkey facility that hosted many international teams as well as coaching seminars and acted as a South Florida base for United States Soccer.

Jesse Vassallo

Jesus David “Jesse” Vassallo Anadon is the head coach for the Pompano Beach Piranhas Swim Team. Vassallo is a three-time world record holder, who obtained his first world record at the age of 15 when he was a high school freshman. In 1976, he earned the world record in the 400-meter Individual Medley, which is considered the toughest event in swimming, and broke it again in 1978. In 1979, he took the world record in the 200-meter Individual Medley. He is also a two-time US Olympian from 1980 and 1984.

Equally impressive is Vassallo’s national 13-14 age-group record in the 1500-meter freestyle, earned when he was just 13 years old. This record remains unbroken and still stands as the longest US National Age Group record in history. Michael Phelps once admitted that he was not able to break the record time of 15:31.03 at that age. 

Vassallo has been inducted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the University of Miami’s Hall of Fame, the Puerto Rican Hall of Fame and the Japanese Swimmers Hall of Fame. He has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the Olympian and Swimming World Magazine.

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About Greater Fort Lauderdale

Greater Fort Lauderdale, also known as the “Venice of America,” boasts an average year-round temperature of 77˚F and has 3,000 hours of annual sunshine. Explore 4,000+ eateries, 300+ miles of navigable waterways, eight distinct beaches, a thriving arts and culture scene, craft breweries, rooftop bars, outdoor adventure, and world-class shopping – all conveniently located in the center of South Florida. Made of up 31 municipalities, the destination boasts more than 35,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts and Superior Small Lodgings reflecting a cosmopolitan vibe. Upon arrival at FLL Airport (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport), it is just 5 minutes to the beach, Port Everglades, the Broward County Convention Center and downtown. For trip planning inspiration, visit the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.sunny.org and follow @visitlauderdale.