The USC Upstate Athletic Department welcomed five new inductees into its Athletics Hall of Fame at a ceremony Saturday evening. The Class of 2015 consists of all-time greats Ricky Charles from men’s soccer, Shay (Slater) Norris from softball, Anna Novo from Women’s tennis, Luke Payne from men’s basketball and Angie (Gambrell) Russell from volleyball.
The USC Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame was established in 1998-99 to honor individuals for outstanding athletic accomplishments and/or who have made significant contributions to USC Upstate Athletics. All former student-athletes, coaches and athletic administrators and staff are eligible for nomination. With the five new inductees from the Class of 2015, there are now 74 members of the Hall.
Ricky Charles is the 18th person affiliated with the men’s soccer program to be inducted into the USC Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame.
In a program chalked full of excellence, Charles transcended the storied program both in numbers and impact. After transferring to Upstate as a Junior College All-American at Bryant & Stratton, Charles was phenomenal in his two seasons as a Rifle at USC Upstate, then USC Spartanburg, from 2002 to 2003. He led the team to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals and was a two-time All-American selection. He led the team to a stout 34-4-2 record during his time in the program.
Charles led the soccer program to a 19-3-0 record in his first season in Spartanburg in 2002. His squad won the Peach Belt Conference Tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Tournament after beating Queens (N.C.) in the first round. He earned NSCAA All-America, NSCAA All-Region and Peach Belt Conference All-Conference honors along the way. The 2003 season was even better. He led the team to a 15-1-2 record and the regular season Peach Belt title with a perfect 6-0-0 record. He was named the PBC Player of the Year and took home NSCAA All-America and NSCAA All-Region honors while leading the team to another quarterfinal appearance in the NCAA DII Tournament.
Charles finished his two-year career with an amazing 115 points while leading the team in goals, assists and total points both seasons. He finished his career ranked 10th all-time in scoring at Upstate with all nine players above him playing four seasons at the University. In fact, Charles averaged 57.5 points per season and finished just 62 points shy of the all-time program record of 177 points held by Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame member Henrik Ronnevig.
Charles’ career excellence, though, was not just in the college ranks. He went on to play professional soccer in the United States with the New Hampshire Phantoms and Brooklyn Knights and returned to his native Grenada to play for the St. Ann’s Rangers. He was also a star internationally, serving as a member and team captain of Grenada’s National Team. He scored a goal against the United States in a nationally-televised World Cup qualifying match in 2005. He was even featured in the FIFA video game series produced by Electronic Arts in the mid-2000’s.
Charles lives in his native Grenada and has worked as a government employee. He is also a proud father.
Shay (Slater) Norris is the fifth person affiliated with the softball program to be inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame. She is also the first to have played at least a portion of her career on the Division I level.
Norris was a member of the program from 2004-08. She spent the first three seasons of her career leading the Spartans to three-straight appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament before helping lead the team to a share of the 2008 Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Championship as a senior in Upstate’s first year playing on the Division I level and in the A-Sun. In all, she led the program to an astounding 168 wins, averaging 42 per season she played, including a program record 47 in 2007.
Norris hit .353 as a freshman in 2005 and helped lead the team to the championship game of the South Atlantic Regional of the NCAA DII Tournament before falling to eventual national runner-up Kennesaw State. She hit .333 as a sophomore in 2006 and set the program’s all-time single-season record with 44 stolen bases en route to earning NFCA All-Region honors. She had a breakout year as a junior in 2007. She again led the Spartans to an appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament after hitting a team-best .454. She set the all-time single-season records with 89 hits and 70 runs, both of which are records that remain today. She went on to earn NFCA All-America, All-Region and All-Conference honors in Upstate’s final year playing on the Division II level.
As a senior playing on the Division I level, Norris hit .331 in 2008 and helped the Spartans rattle off 11 wins in their final 12 conference games to claim a share of the A-Sun regular season championship in the school’s first year playing on the Division I level.
Norris currently ranks 10th all-time in the history of the storied program with a .370 batting average. She leads the all-time career lists in games played and started, runs scored, stolen bases and at-bats. She is third all-time with 269 hits, 125 RBIs and 16 triples. She also ranks in the Top 10 all-time in total bases and doubles. She was also a standout in the classroom as a Peach Belt Conference Presidential Academic Honor Roll recipient and graduated from Upstate with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2008.
Norris currently lives in Anderson with her husband, Randall, and their three children – Skyla, Kaiden and Callie. She is a Sergeant at the Greenville County Juvenile Detention Facility.
Anna Novo is the third person affiliated with the women’s tennis program to be inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame. She is also the first who played at least a portion of her career on the Division I level.
Novo played at Upstate from 2005-09 with her first two years spent as members of NCAA Division II and the Peach Belt Conference and her final two seasons on the NCAA Division I level and in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Novo burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2005-06 and was named the Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and a First Team All-Conference selection in singles after leading the Spartans to a 7-2 conference record and a third-place finish in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. She also led the team to the second round of the NCAA Division II Regionals. She was again named a PBC First Team All-Conference selection in singles as a sophomore in 2006-07 after leading the Spartans to a 21-6 overall record and a 10-1 mark in the PBC. She helped lead Upstate to the NCAA Division II Mid-Atlantic Regional championship and the program’s second-ever appearance in the DII Nationals. She earned back-to-back NCAA Division II All-America honors from the ITA.
When Upstate transitioned its athletic program to NCAA Division I membership to start the 2007-08 season, Novo and the women’s tennis team flourished just as it had on the Division II level. Novo was named the A-Sun Player of the Year after leading the Spartans to a 17-3 overall record, a perfect 11-0 conference mark and the regular season conference championship. She earned A-Sun First Team All-Conference honors along the way. She again earned First Team All-Conference honors from the A-Sun as a senior in leading the Spartans to a 13-4 overall record and an 8-2 mark in the conference.
Novo is well-represented in the Upstate record books and ranks first all-time with 161 career combined wins, 90 career singles victories, 71 career doubles wins, 52 combined wins in a season (2007-08) and 47 singles wins in a season (2008-09). She is third all-time with a career .796 winning percentage in singles play. She was also a standout in the classroom and received four conference academic awards as well as earning ITA Scholar Athlete honors.
Novo graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Information Management Systems and went on to receive a research master’s degree in Business Administration from Complutense University in Madrid, Spain. She currently lives in the Netherlands with her husband, Daniel, and is an IT Internal Auditor for the AkzoNobel Corporation.
Luke Payne is the 14th person affiliated with the men’s basketball program to be inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame. He is also the first to have played at least a portion of his career on the Division I level.
Payne was a member of the program from 2004-08, playing his first three seasons on the NCAA Division II level and his senior season in the NCAA Division I ranks. A selfless player throughout his career, Payne helped the Spartans reach the national stage in NCAA Division II and helped the program usher in the new era in Division I.
Payne averaged 8.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists as a freshman to help lead the team to the 2004-05 Peach Belt Conference regular season championship, marking the first league title for the program since the 1991-92 season. The year also gave the program its first appearance in the NCAA Division II Regionals in seven years as the then-Rifles picked up a win in the first round. He averaged 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a sophomore to help lead the Spartans to the Peach Belt Conference Tournament title and a second straight appearance in the NCAA DII Regionals in 2005-06. It marked the first time in school history that the Spartans won a PBC Tournament title. He finished his junior campaign with 11.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Payne then helped lead the transition to Division I when he was the go-to player on the 2007-08 squad during the school’s first year playing on the Division I level and in the Atlantic Sun Conference. He was named to the all-tournament teams at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the State Farm Insurance Sun Bowl Tournament in El Paso, Texas. He also helped lead the team to its first-ever win over a major Division I program when it defeated SMU in Dallas. He finished the year averaging a career-best 14.9 points to go along with 2.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
Payne ranks 10th all-time with 1,381 points, is in the Top 5 all-time in free throws made, three-pointers made and attempted and games started and in the Top 10 in assists, field goals attempted and games played. He was also a standout in the classroom and graduated from Upstate in 2009 with a 3.80 GPA as a Business Administration major. He was a first team academic all-district selection as a senior. He went on to play professional basketball in Australia and led the Lakeside Lightning to the Grand Final Championship in the Western Australia State Basketball League in 2009. He averaged a team-best 25 points per game.
Payne has returned to Upstate and is currently a member of the men’s basketball coaching staff under the guidance of his father, Eddie Payne, for whom he played during his playing career.
Angie Gambrell Russell is the 10th person affiliated with the volleyball program to be inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame.
Russell played both volleyball and softball at then-USC Spartanburg from 1986-90. She is being inducted for her efforts on the volleyball court where she was a two-time All-District Six selection and remains among the all-time greats in the record books.
Russell played for three different coaches during her time at the University, including Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame member Joe Bowman. Her teams topped the 30-win mark all four years she wore a Lady Rifle uniform and she led the team to 134 victories in her career (134-47). She was a part of three-straight NAIA District Six championship teams from 1987-89 and helped lead those teams into the NAIA Nationals.
Russell’s prowess on the court still resonates today. Despite finishing play 25 years ago, she still owns the all-time single game school record with 31 kills against High Point as a senior in 1989. She was also a tremendous defensive player at the net and still owns the program’s all-time records with 516 total blocks and 266 solo blocks in her four-year career. She is second all-time with 250 assisted blocks as well. She is fourth all-time with 1,639 points, fifth with 1,148 kills and seventh with 1,095 digs.
Russell graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 1990. She began her career working at the Thoms Rehabilitation Hospital as a Cognitive Retraining Therapist in Asheville, N.C., before relocating to Columbus, Ga., after getting married. She coached middle school volleyball and was a teacher for eight years before the family moved to Rock Hill. She taught physical education classes at Winthrop for six years and was the Club Director for the Rock Hill Volleyball Club for one season. She now lives in Asheville, N.C., and is the proud mother of three children – Katy, who is a sophomore at Furman, Emily and Ian.