Hopewell Inducts New HOF Members
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
May 19, 2014, 11:51
Lee Bujakowski and David Hearington, Jr. pose for pictures after entering Hopewell's Athletic Hall of Fame as members of the 2003 State Champion football team
HOPEWELL — Lee Bujakowski and Thomas Hearington, Jr. remembered a time well before high school was a thought in each other's head when they would just go outside and just a football around. Bujakowski was always the quarterback and Hearington the wide receiver.
The duo made the perfect match together and it was only fitting they would be the two stars of Hopewell's state championship winning football team in 2003 — the last time the Blue Devils won a state title. Yet, even while on the field through some of the most successful times in the Hopewell program since the 1950s, neither could have imagined what would come just 10 years later.
In their first year eligible to be on Hopewell's Athletic Wall of Fame ballot, athletes are not eligible until 10 years after their graduation, Bujakowksi and Hearington were among the six new inductees into the Blue Devils' Wall of Fame.
The 11th annual Wall of Fame Induction Banquet featured a talented class of inductees, ranging from two key players from the 1950 and 1951 state champion football teams, a former field hockey and soccer coach who was a first-team All-District player for two years and a two-time cross country Coach of the Year honoree.
Raymond England, Clarence Tooley, Rae Parker Harvey and Frank Whipp joined Bujakowski and Hearington in being part of the Class of 2014 Induction ceremony. With the sheer talent and history littered on either side of the them at the table, Bujakowski and Hearington couldn't put into words what it meant to be among those on the Wall of Fame.
"It means so much," Bujakowski said after the ceremony. "It's a huge honor and it's something that is a big deal to me to come in on the first ballot. It means alot.
Added Hearington, "To be able to come in together, it's great. So much of our success depended on each other. I don't live in the city anymore, so it's always nice to come home and see Lee ... it's nice to come home and especially this time because it highlighted our time together."
And there was a lot to highlight on this evening and it starts with Whipp.
Under Whipp, Hopewell's cross country program has reached new heights, winning 150 races, three Central District Championship and one Conference Championship. Additionally, Whipp had earned Coach of the Year honors two times in the Central District and received his third honor this past season in Hopewell's first year in Conference 26.
Whipp's tenure spans 41 years of coaching and teaching while also being a member of the very first cross country team in Hopewell history. His impact on students in the classroom where he has been named the high school's Teacher of the Year and his athletes made it an emotional experience for him as he took the stand.
Frank Whipp, Clarence Tooley, Rae Parker Harvey, Lee Bujakowski, David Hearington, Jr. and Raymond England were the six inductees during Sunday's ceremony.
"I'm going to have to steal a Yankees' line here. I stand before you as 'the luckiest man on the face of the earth,'" Whipp said while choking back tears. "I never thought this day would come, but I'm honored and privileged to be here. This is home to me."
It's also been a home for Harvey whose family has a history of success at Hopewell High School, including her father Marshall Parker who was the head coach of the last state champion football team and is currently the athletic director.
It should have been no surprise to anyone that Harvey excelled on the field, showcasing a selfless demeanor to put her team in the best position to win. She made the sacrifice to move to goalie of her soccer team and earned District honors before later returning to Hopewell to lead both the field hockey and soccer programs to playoff appearances.
"My dad called me to tell me I was in the Wall of Fame and he said, 'congratulations, I didn't vote for you,'" she said to a chorus of laughter. "So I'd like to thank my mom for all the athletic ability she passed down to me."
But no one has passed or received more than the duo of Bujakowski and Hearington.
Bujakowski holds all Hopewell program passing records, including 70 passing touchdowns while being named Quarterback of the Decade and a Rivals.com All American in the class of 2004. Meanwhile, Hearington is the Blue Devils' record holder for receiving yards (2,719), receptions (157) and touchdowns (18) with the yardage total the best in the Central Region and the 8th Best in the State of Virginia.
And while the duo would overcome a state championship loss with a championship their final season together, both pointed to a game in the beginning of 2003 which highlighted their experience. With Hopewell down to just three seconds left in the game against Varina, Bujakowski went into the huddle to bark out the orders for a hail mary attempt. Yet, it was Hearington's words to Bujakowski which he still remembers today.
"He looked at me and said, 'You better throw me this ball,'" Bujakowski remembered Hearington saying. "I knew I had to throw it him regardless of what the coverage looked like ... I threw him the ball, he caught it and it was an iconic moment for us that season."
With the duo's induction to the Wall of Fame, along with the four other inductees, it ensures all of the iconic moments the six compiled at Hopewell High School will forever live on.