ATLANTA –The Georgia State Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019 was announced on Monday, an elite group of five that dates back to the 1980s. The group will be honored at the homecoming football game on Oct. 5, as the Panthers take on Arkansas State
The class includes two female student-athletes, one male student-athlete, and a pair of coaches who led Georgia State in football and women’s basketball.
After being honored on Oct. 5, the Class of 2019 will be brought back to campus in April for the annual Student-Athlete Banquet to receive their awards as their names will be added to the new Wall of Fame currently in Georgia State Stadium.
The Class of 2019 includes Bill Curry, Dr. Jacob English, Lea Henry, Lora Lischinsky, and Anna Popenko.
The Hall of Fame Election Committee was appointed in the spring of 2015 with the task of creating guidelines for nomination and selection. This same group decided the first four classes over the last four years. There are now 30 members of the Georgia State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Nearly 100 nominees are now on the ballot for inductions into the Georgia State Athletics Hall of Fame. Georgia State started competing at the NCAA Division I level for the 1963-64 season, however, limited teams existed prior to that season.
Among the criteria for inclusion in the Georgia State Athletics Hall of Fame is a five-year window once a student-athlete exhausts their eligibility and a college degree. Coaches and administrators must be removed from their position for a minimum of two years.
More Information on Each Honoree:
Bill Curry (Football) – Bill Curry served as the architect and builder of Georgia State football program as the inaugural head coach who guided the Panthers through their first three seasons of competition. He becomes the first member of the program to be honored in the GSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Curry spent more than two years developing, directing and promoting the football program in preparation for Georgia State's inaugural season in 2010. Curry coached the Panthers for three seasons, announcing his retirement in August 2012, prior to his 20th and final campaign as a collegiate head coach. Curry brought to Georgia State his 17 years of experience as a head coach in the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference--including Coach of the Year awards in both leagues. He also enjoyed an All-Pro playing career in the National Football League, and, most recently, national notoriety as a college football analyst for ESPN. Already a member of the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Curry was inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Dr. Jacob English (Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field) – One of the most decorated competitors in Panther Track and Field History, Jacob English became the first track-only male student-athlete to receive an athletic scholarship. English broke the school record for the first time in the triple jump in his freshman year with a mark of 14.81m and that was just the start of a remarkable career. He became the second Panther in history to earn Atlantic Sun All-Conference honors and also qualified for the USATF Junior Nationals in 2005. He would later earn All-CAA Honors in the triple jump and broke the triple jump and long jump record at CAA Championship in 2008. English was named the CAA Most Outstanding Field Performer in 2008 and became an NCAA Regional Qualifier in the triple jump later that spring. In the classroom, he was Vice President of Golden Key Honor Society at GSU and earned multiple Dean’s List recognitions. He was also the CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Men’s Track and Field in 2008 and became a CoSIDA Academic All-American later that year.
Lea Henry (Women’s Basketball) – Lea Henry finished her Georgia State career with a 245-222 record and the only coach in women’s basketball history to win more than 100 games. She was a three-time conference coach of the year with five regular-season championships, three NCAA tournament appearances and a Postseason NIT appearance. Henry led Georgia State to school-record eight-straight winning seasons from 1997-98 to 2004-05. During that eight-year span, the Panthers put together an overall record of 155-83 (.651), including 102-42 (.703) within Atlantic Sun conference regular season play. Under Henry’s watch, Georgia State advanced to the NCAA Tournament three straight years beginning in 2001. Henry was also inducted into the Tennessee Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame in September 2005 and was enshrined into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in May 2006.
Lora Lischinsky (Softball) – A three-time all-conference honoree who played just after the formation of the Georgia State softball program, Lora Lischinsky set records that still exist today. Former head coach Bob Heck called her arguably the best player he ever coached, and the numbers speak for themselves. Lischinsky set the school-record on the mound with 25 wins in a season in 1990 and posted 61 career victories, second-most in program history. She still holds the single-season record for 31 complete games and 248 innings pitched, along with 36 starts while sitting in second place in school history with 674 career innings pitched in the circle. She played on the two GSU teams that still share the all-time single-season record with 42 wins and in her four years helped the Panthers compile a 146-88 record. The Panthers 42-20 season (.677) of 1988 is still the school record winning percentage for a single season.
Anna Popenko (Volleyball) – A conference tournament MVP on Georgia State’s first conference championship team which later went on to the NCAA Tournament, Anna Popenko is one of the most accomplished volleyball players in program history. Popenko led GSU to its only NCAA Tournament appearance in school history with school-record 28-10 record before losing to No. 3 Southern Cal in Los Angeles. A four-time conference player of the week, Popenko’s career average of 4.46 kills per set are still second-most in school history, while her career attack percentage of .354 is also second-best. She led Georgia State to a school-record 12-game match winning streak in 2001 as in her two years as GSU, the team combined for a 52-19 mark. A native of Moscow, Russia, Popenko was also an All-Academic Region honoree and All-Conference Academic honoree.