greg.mcilvain@gaflnews.com



VALDOSTA -- It's a story many a Valdosta State student-athlete tells.

The South Georgia school may not have been his or her first choice. All that student-athlete wanted was a chance.

Many times, he or she made the most of that chance. A degree was earned, friendships were made.

And some times, that student-athlete excelled on the athletic field -- team championships and individual honors.

The university recognize four of those student-athletes Saturday at the University Center, inducting its seventh class into the school's athletic hall of fame.

Baseball's Jeff Agerter, basketball's Sue Ann Christie, tennis' Masa Oreskovic and softball's Libby Parks bring the hall of fame to 34 members. The university has added at least four members to the hall since the first class in 1997.

Agerter wanted to go to the University of Florida. Christie was entering uncharted territory in Valdosta State women's athletics. Oreskovic came to America from her native Croatia. Parks thought she was asking for a spot on a slow-pitch softball team.

They left Valdosta State with much more.

Agerter won 25 games in two years (1982-83), helping the Blazers to one national and two regional tournaments. The 1982 team won a school-record 49 games, the 1983 team won a school-record 22 straight games. He was an all-America pick in 1982 and all-conference and all-region both seasons.

And yes, he was a part of a Blazers' win over Florida.

"Thanks to Coach (Tommy) Thomas and my teammates," said Agerter, who told the story of the Blazers' comeback against the Gators with a late grand slam. Agerter threw out the first pitch at Saturday's season-opening baseball game.

Christie went from Lowndes High to play for Valdosta State's first women's basketball team in 1974. Then in the old AIAW women's association, Valdosta State played against the nation's biggest and best schools. Her teams went 91-19 in four years, and she's the program's fourth-leading scorer (1,978).

She was all-state, all-region and all-America and was the school's first four-year letterwinner.

She joins her coach, Lyndal Worth, as a VSU hall of famer. Worth sat at the head table with Christie Saturday.

"She gave me a chance to play for a great coach and a great school," said Christie.

Oreskovic was VSU's No. 1 singles and doubles tennis player from 1991-94. She was all-conference four times and an all-America twice, winning 52 of her 67 singles matches. She also won the Gulf South's Commissioner's Trophy as the league's top student-athlete.

Oreskovic, who returned to Croatia after getting her bachelor's and master's degrees, was unable to return to Valdosta for induction. Another former Lady Blazer player, Keri Langdale, read a letter from Oreskovic.

She recognized coaches, teammates, teachers and friends she remembered from her days in Valdosta. "Thanks y'all," her letter read, joking about some of the Southern culture she picked up.

"Valdosta State played a positive role in my life," she said. "VSU has made me richer as a person and holds a special place in my heart."

Parks was on VSU's first Gulf South Conference championship softball team. Her teams went 161-49 from 1992-95. She was VSU's first softball all-America and a two-time all-conference pick. She still holds three season and three career records for the Lady Blazers.

Parks credited her former coach, the late Ron Durante, for giving her a chance.

"This is why I stand before you, so honored and grateful to receive this award," Parks said.



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