Upstate Athletics Inducts Three to Athletics Hall of Fame

Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate Athletic Department inducted three new members to its Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday, adding Brandon Cantrell, Deedra Howard and Victor Pace to the shrine.

The three former student-athletes at Upstate were inducted at a cermonial banquet Saturday around lunchtime and introduced to the crowd at halftime of the men's basketball game Saturday evening.

Brandon Cantrell is the fourth member of the men’s cross country program to be inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame.

Cantrell was one of several local runners who comprised the then-USC Spartanburg men’s cross country team from 1998-2001. The leader of the group, he was a mainstay at the top of the results in nearly every race he ran. When he finished his career in 2001, he cemented his place in program history by being the first runner, and one of only two currently, to earn all-conference honors all four years in the program.  He also had the privilege of running alongside his twin brother, Bradley.

Competing against nationally-ranked teams in the Peach Belt Conference, which featured older international runners, he helped lead the team to back-to-back third-place finishes in the Peach Belt Conference Championships his final two years in the program, finishing a career-best sixth as a senior in 2001. In all, he led the then-Rifles to four straight appearances in the NCAA Division II Regionals. The team finished fifth, three positions out of a trip to the NCAA Division II Nationals, in 2000 and fourth, two spots out of a trip to the NCAA Division II Nationals, in 2001.

Cantrell owns one of the top 8k times in the history of the program, turning in a career-best time of 26:05.49 at the 2001 Peach Belt Conference Championships. His 10k time of 33:49.16 also ranks among the all-time best in program history. He helped lead his teams to 11 team meet championships in his four years, while claiming four individual championships along the way.

In addition to his efforts and leadership in the program, Cantrell was a strong student in the classroom. He was a three-time member of the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Academic Honor Roll. He received the athletic department’s highest honor when he was named the Student-Athlete of the Year in 2001, an award that combines excellence in athletics, academics and community service.

Cantrell graduated from Upstate in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in History. He is currently working toward an associate’s degree in Radiographic Technology (medical imaging) at Spartanburg Community College. He earned the Dr. John S. Featherston Award for academic excellence last fall. In addition to his academic pursuits at SCC, he serves as an associate with FATZ Cafe.

Cantrell has stayed active in athletics, using his running background in his recreational life today. He runs and rides bikes for fitness, competing in organized trail runs and bike races throughout the year. He is also an avid fisherman and makes occasional trips to Wilmington, N.C., to fish with former head coach and longtime friend Kevin Bowden.

A native of nearby Boiling Springs, S.C., Cantrell was a standout runner at Boiling Springs High School. He was a two-time Spartanburg County champion in the 1600-meter race in track and was an all-area selection by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

Deedra Howard is the fifth individual from the women’s basketball program to be inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame.

Howard is one of the top players in the history of the program and was a leader on the team throughout her time on campus. By the time she finished her eligibility in 1993, she helped lead the then-Rifles to  a 75-39 record and the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Division II Regional.

Howard was simply dominant in the post. She burst onto the scene as a freshman, averaging 14.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in helping lead the team to a 17-10 record as a starter in 26 games for head coach Tammy Holder in 1989-90. She had a solid sophomore season as well, helping the team to an 18-10 record in 1990-91. She averaged 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game en route to being named first team all-conference in the Peach Belt Conference in the program’s first season playing on the NCAA Division II level. She continued to turn in strong performances as a junior, averaging 14.5 points and 9.4 rebounds as a junior.

Howard’s breakout year came during her senior season in 1992-93 under the direction of first-year head coach Peggy Sells. Howard led the team to a 28-3 overall record and a perfect 16-0 mark in the Peach Belt, the first team in league history and one of two overall to finish with an undefeated record in league play. She and her then-Lady Rifle teammates set the PBC record with a 21.4 scoring margin in a season. The team went on to secure the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament and the first of three consecutive trips to the NCAA DII Regional. It also established the program record with a 26-game winning streak.

The 1992-93 season also saw many personal accolades come Howard’s way. She finished the year averaging 18.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game en route to being named the PBC Player of the Year and a first team all-conference selection. She also became one of just four players in the history of the program to earn All-America honors. Her name adorns the Upstate record books as her numbers alone speak volumes of her career. She ranks second all-time in scoring with 1,701 points and third all-time with 920 rebounds. She tops the all-time record list with 777 made field goals and 1,502 field goal attempts. She also ranks in the Top 10 in 11 other statistical categories. She owns four single-season school records (field goals, field goal attempts, games played and games started) and ranks in the Top 5 in eight single-season categories.

Howard spent the 1993-94 season as an assistant coach with the program and helped the team win the Peach Belt regular season and tournament championships, while securing a second appearance in the NCAA DII Regional and a No. 13 ranking in the NCAA DII National Top 20 poll. She continued her playing career after she graduated from Upstate with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1994. She played semi-professional ball with the Charlotte Stars and the Smoky Mountain Swarm.

Howard has worked for one company since earning her degree from Upstate, remaining in the Spartanburg community while working at adidas. She began as an entry level summer student assistant in TFE logistics and progressed to being named a lead person in the department in 2006. She was promoted to supervisor in 2007 and has managed several special projects, including closing the original facility. She received the Bravo Zulu Award in 2000 for excelling in her daily job performance.

A native of Belton, S.C., she was an all-state and all-star performer at Belton-Honea Path High School. She was named the 3A Player of the Year as a senior.

Victor Pace, or Vic as known to his family and friends, is the 17th individual affiliated with the men’s soccer program to be inducted into the Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame.

Pace was a member of the men’s soccer team from 1988-91. He began his career as a forward before switching to a defensive role as the team’s sweeper as a senior. By the time he finished his career, Pace helped lead the then-Rifles to a 56-22-4 overall record. He helped lead the team to the program’s final NAIA Tournament appearance as a freshman in 1988 and the program’s first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance in 1991, the first year as members of NCAA Division II.

Pace’s move to the sweeper position was a major move for not only himself, but for the team. In his first three years as an offensive player, he scored 25 goals and added 11 assists for 61 points. His natural skill, though, made it easy for him to move to a new position to bolster the defensive unit. He scored two more goals as a senior to finish his career with 65 points. That figure ranks 21st all-time at Upstate, but was the sixth-highest career point total when he graduated.

Pace scored 11 goals and added five assists for 27 points in ranking second on the team in scoring as a freshman in 1988. He helped lead the team to an 18-4-2 overall record and an appearance in the NAIA National Tournament, the last for the program as it made the transition to NCAA Division II and the last under legendary head coach Frank Kohlenstein. He was third on the team with 15 points on six goals and three assists as a sophomore in 1989, leading the squad to a 12-7-0 record under first year head coach David Linenberger. He ranked second on the team in scoring as a junior in 1990, finishing the year with 19 points on eight goals and three assists for the 9-8-0 squad.

As a senior under first-year head coach Rob Russo, Pace switched to defender and led the unit to 12 shutouts and an appearance in the NCAA Division II National Tournament in 1991. Individually, Pace was an all-conference and all-tournament selection in the Peach Belt Conference. His move to sweeper was made more impressive when he earned NSCAA First Team All-America and All-Region honors.

Pace graduated from Upstate with a bachelor’s degree in Education in 1992. He served as an assistant coach under Russo for the next three seasons before moving to Spartanburg Methodist College as the head women’s soccer coach and assistant men’s soccer coach from 1994-96. He was a player and assistant coach with the South Carolina Shamrocks professional team from 1995-96 before making the move to Texas in 1996.

Pace moved to Houston in 1996 to serve as the Assistant Director of Coaching with the Classics Soccer Club. He remained in that position until 2002 when he joined the Lonestar Soccer Club in Austin. He currently serves as the South Program Director of Player Development and is the South co-Director of Coaching. He and the club have helped place several young soccer players into the college and pro ranks, including current Spartans Dani Alvarado, Derek Dearmond and Akin Adediji. He holds the U.S. Soccer Federation’s A License, the highest coaching certification in the nation.

Pace is a native of Brampton, Ontario, and was an All-Ontario soccer team member prior to coming to school in Spartanburg. He was a member of the Toronto Jets club team that won the Ontario Provincial championship and won the bronze medal in the Canadian Nationals. He and his wife, Darlene, are the proud parents of two daughters, Megan and Keagan.