Jim Foster had a grand slam of a women's basketball coaching career, with multiple NCAA tournament appearances at each of his four bases along the way, and the home-run trot ended with 120 wins in five years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Foster will receive the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame's highest annual honor, the Fred Gregg Jr. Award, at its March 4 induction banquet at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Six other award recipients and the 20 inductees previously were announced.
Tickets for the 6 p.m. event cost $40 and are available by calling hall president Catherine Neely at 423-842-7274. Tables of eight are available, but the deadline for all sales is March 1.
The Gregg award memorializes a former hall president and goes to someone with years of exceptional achievement, exemplary leadership or behind-the-scenes contributions related to sports. A common thread is helping build the community's pride, and that is true with Foster.
"I can't think of anybody more deserving for our top award," Neely said Saturday. "The way he coached, the way he handled his players — they were champions. He's a great motivator and a great representative for our city."
In 40 years as a college coach Foster compiled a 903-347 record, and in the last 34 of those he took Saint Joseph's, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and UTC teams to 30 NCAA tourneys and a Women's NIT. His Vanderbilt teams made five Elite Eights and a Final Four (1993), and he was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Foster served a year as president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, and the Vietnam veteran further served his country as a member of the coaching staffs for five gold-medal USA teams, including two as head coach. He also has nurtured a redwood-type coaching tree, the most notable branches being Connecticut's Geno Auriemma and Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw.
The other award winners being honored on March 4 are Luke List, Dakota Hudson and Summer Lanter as athletes of the year, Susan Thurman and John Boynton for lifetime achievement and Sierrah Lemons for dealing successfully with adversity.
The 2019 Hall of Fame inductees are Marvin Burke, Bill Burnside, Austin Clark, Terry Cordell, Mike Cross, Jim Hennen, Warren Hill, Donnie Holbrook, Jim Jackson, Malcolm Mackey, Scott McMahen, Andy Morgan, Chip O'Dell, Terrell Owens, Audra Brannon Pumpelly, Janet Tate, Charlie Taylor, Danny Williams, Connie Young and Tom Younger.