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The Meccaverse: A Highlight of Howard’s Past and Present Athletic Talent

Photo courtesy of Howard University Athletics Department.

This year’s Homecoming theme, “The Meccaverse,” was made to honor the many generations who have contributed to creating the unique environment known as Howard University. Therefore, it is essential to highlight the history of athletic talent that has left a lasting impression at Howard.

David Oliver was on the Howard track and field team from 2000 to 2004, winning four consecutive outdoor Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) 110-meter hurdles titles. In 2003, he won the 55-meter hurdles MEAC indoor title and placed fourth in the NCAA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Oliver earned his first All-American recognition, continuing a long line of Howard University Track and Field NCAA Division I-A All-Americans.

Oliver went on to win the 110-meter hurdles bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics and the world title in the same competition in 2013. He won the gold medal in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2008 USA Indoor Championships and the bronze at the 2010 World Championship on the indoor track and field circuit. Oliver was ranked in the top 10 worldwide for 11 consecutive years. He has won numerous awards, including the 2010 Jesse Owens Award, given to the country’s best track athlete. Oliver was inducted into the 2014 Howard University Athletics Hall of Fame and now serves as the director of the Track and Field program at Howard.

Antoine Bethea played safety for the Howard football team before graduating in 2006. Bethea had a career-best 109 total tackles in his sophomore season, recording 13 tackles in three different games and adding 14 in a game against Bethune Cookman. Bethea would be named to the Sheridan Black College All-American Team and receive All-Mid-Eastern Conference recognition. Bethea was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He continued his collegiate success in the NFL, earning a Super Bowl championship and three Pro Bowl selections during his 14-year career. Bethea retired in 2021 but is still active in local communities, upholding truth and service.

Rya McKinnon, a freshman outside hitter on the women’s volleyball team, recently received the MEAC Rookie of the Week award. On Sept. 16, the Alabama native generated a .526 hitting percentage, notching 11 kills and six digs in a sweep over the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. McKinnon followed this up by getting the first double-double of her collegiate career, hitting .300 in a dominant victory over the University of Albany. McKinnon has earned the league’s top rookie award twice this season.

Gregory Odom Jr., a senior finance major from Memphis, Tennessee, is a trailblazer for the men’s golf team. Before transferring to Howard in 2020, Odom was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team. Since joining the Howard men’s golf team, Odom has showcased his talent and consistency. He ended the 2021-22 season tied for 19th place overall among players. Odom led Howard to win their first MEAC championship in 2022 and was named the Outstanding Performer. Odom most recently led the Bison at the River Run Collegiate with a final-round score of eight under par (-8, 208) and his first top finish of the year. His success at Howard led him to participate in the 2022 PGA Tour at the Wells Fargo Championship.

These athletes, whether past or present, are leaving an impact on the Howard University campus. Tiera Wilmot, a junior international business major, talked about what these achievements meant to her as a student.

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“The Homecoming theme past meets present, to me, means that we are incorporating past traditions into the practices of the new generation of Howard students,” Wilmot said. “Howard has such a deep and rich culture, and being able to continue the practices of those before us, but with a modern twist, is amazing!”

Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee

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