INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Patricia Melton ‘82 had an unexpected surprise in her first visit to the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis on Monday Jan. 18. As she toured the exhibits and watched the Martin Luther King Day functions with student-athletes from both Butler University and IUPUI, she took her first look at the Hall of Honor, where she is a member.
Melton, a seven-time Heps track champion at Yale, was a 2007 recipient of an NCAA Silver Anniversary award, along with Dartmouth's Gail Koziara and Brown's Steve Jordan.
But the surprise came when Kelly Dodds of the NCAA staff approached and escorted her to the newly-installed Black History Month section of the Hall. The exhibit had been unveiled that morning. There were only 22 athletes included on the panels and Melton was the only Ivy Leaguer in the bunch. Directly beneath her on the panel was Anita DeFrantz, who competed at Connecticut College, but later earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Among the 22 athletes were such giants as Jesse Owens, Althea Gibson, Bill Cosby, Wilma Rudolph and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
"It was surreal because so many people on there are people I watched as a kid in the Olympics and on television," said Melton. "It's such an honor. When one of the tour guides found out that it was me, he told me that it is what the NCAA Hall of Champions is about -- what you do with your life not just in sports."
"I was particularly shocked to be on the panel with Anita DeFrantz, because I had just met with her last month about being involved with the launch of a charter high school in her hometown of Indianapolis. It was a great way to start a day."
Melton has founded Schools Building Communities, an Indianapolis-based charter development and management organization. For more information, please visit http://www.sbcworks.org/.