Some of South Florida’s most iconic athletes have been tapped for induction into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame as part of the 2020/21 Class. This year’s eight-member class represents careers spanning from 1970 to current and across six different sports – swimming/diving, basketball, hockey, football, and baseball. They will be enshrined into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in an induction ceremony to be held at Trump Doral Resort on November 10, 2021. A previous class was announced in July of 2020, but with scheduling changes due to COVID-19, some original nominees were unavailable and will be added to a future class induction.
In making the announcement, Florida Sports Hall of Fame Chairman and President Tim Ramsberger noted that the eight-member, 2020/21 class was representative of some of the greatest contributors to sports in the state. “This class represents some of the most impressive accomplishments attainable: members of their respective sports Halls of Fame, World Champions, All-Stars, major champions and Olympic medalists,” Ramsberger said. “We’re extremely excited to be able to honor them as they are inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
“As we re-emerge from the shutdown and impact to our organization from COVID-19, we look forward to celebrating sports in Florida once again and enshrine the newest Hall of Fame members on November 10 in Miami,” Ramsberger continued. “Tickets and customizable sponsorship packages are now available and can be purchased at our website, www.flasportshof.org.”
The Florida Sports Hall of Fame 2020/21 Class (in alphabetical order)
Bill Diaz (Swimming/Diving Coach)
Bill Diaz was synonymous with the University of Miami swimming program, where he served as head coach from 1970 to 1985. While at the U, Diaz coached Olympic swimmers Jesse Vassallo, David Wilkie and Matt Gribble, as well as countless nationally ranked swimmers. He was credited with adding a world-class diving program to the university, which later produced Olympic Champion Greg Louganis. Under his leadership, 27 swimmers and divers earned All-America status at the University of Miami. Coach Diaz passed away in 2014 and will be inducted posthumously.
Al Leiter (Baseball)
During a major league career that spanned 19 years, Al Leiter won 162 games. Al spent three years with the Florida Marlins including the 1997 season, where he won 11 games and helped lead the Marlins to a World Championship. During his career, he won 10 or more games 10 times, played in three World Series and was named to two All-Star teams while posting a career 3.80 ERA.
Roberto Luongo (Hockey)
While his career is certainly worthy of NHL Hockey Hall of Fame consideration, Roberto Luongo’s two stints with the Florida Panthers more than qualified him for inclusion in the 2020 Florida Sports Hall of Fame. During his career, he earned second-team All-NHL honors twice and played in five All-Star Games. In 1,044 games in the net, Luongo recorded a 489-392-91 record and had an impressive goals-against average of 2.52 for his career.
Jim Morris (Baseball Coach)
In his 25 years at the helm of the University of Miami Baseball, there wasn’t much Jim Morris didn’t accomplish. Morris won more than 1,000 games in his time with the Hurricanes. He was named the National Coach of the year in 1999 and 2001. He won two College World Series Championships (also in 1999 and 2001) and made it to Omaha 13 of his 25 years. At Miami, Morris’ teams made the postseason 23 times. Morris helped lead the charge on funding of Alex Rodriguez Park at the University of Miami. He ended his career with 1,590 wins and became only the 6th coach in Division I history to eclipse 1,500 wins. Morris was elected to the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020.
Alonzo Mourning (Basketball)
A center and power forward, Alonzo Mourning spent the majority of his National Basketball Association career with Miami, playing 11 seasons over two different stints for the Heat. He averaged more than 17 points and 8.5 rebounds in his career, earning seven All-Star nods. Nine times Alonzo helped the Heat to the post-season. Mourning finished in the top 20 in the NBA in blocks 11 times and in rebounds five times. Alonso won NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards twice and was the 2001-02 recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Ed Reed (Football)
Ed Reed was a star at the University of Miami and parlayed an All-American career with the Hurricanes into a Hall of Fame career in the NFL. His list of accomplishments is beyond impressive. Reed earned nine Pro Bowl nods, was named to the NFL All-Pro Team eight times and led the NFL in interceptions three times. Reed was the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and holds the distinction of being elected to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Baltimore Ravens Ring of Honor.
Dwight Stephenson (Football)
Dwight Stephenson played center for the Miami Dolphins from 1980 to 1987 where he established himself as one of the best in the league. He was drafted in the second round from the University of Alabama. From 1983 to 1987 he earned both All-Pro and All-AFC recognition. He also made five straight Pro Bowls (four as a starter). In his eight seasons, Stephenson played in all 16 games six times. He also won two AFC Championships and started in Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX. As an inductee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998, Stephenson is one of just nine Dolphin players to have donned the Gold Jacket.
Dara Torres (Swimming)
A University of Florida graduate, Dara Torres was one of the most successful Olympic swimmers in history. She was the first athlete to represent the United States in five Olympiads and won a total of 12 medals in Olympic competition. She set the World Record in the 50-meter freestyle three times and was part of three relay teams that also established world records. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Dara shocked the world by winning a silver medal in the 50-free at age 41. At the University of Florida from 1986-89, Torres won nine individual SEC Championships and was on 12 winning relay teams.
The Florida Sports Hall of Fame attraction is housed in the MidFlorida Events Center in Port St. Lucie, FL. Visitors can walk among and view more than 60 memorabilia exhibits from some of Florida’s most well-known sports stars, including legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus; Coach Bobby Bowden; National Hot Rod Association legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits; golfer Andy Bean; tennis great Chris Evert; football legend Bob Griese, and many more. Ticket and sponsorship information can be found at FlaSportsHoF.org/Miami21.
About the Florida Sports Hall of Fame
Celebrating its 60th year, The Florida Sports Hall of Fame was started by the Florida Sports Writers and Sportscasters Association to recognize and honor Florida’s greatest sports figures and events and leverage this collective celebrity to promote fitness awareness, education and sports activities among our state’s youth and adults. Equally important is the promotion of the qualities of discipline and honor among sports participants.