The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame announced its eight inductees for the class of 2020, meaning a new class of former Hurricanes will be recognized for their athletic accomplishments.
Spanning across multiple sports, this year’s inductees include Yasmani Grandal (baseball), Johnny Hemsley (men’s basketball), Brittney Steinbruch (soccer), Mike Ward (track and field), Laura Vallverdu (women’s tennis) and three football players: Jay Brophy, Phillip Buchanon and Kevin Williams.
For Vallverdu, who was a member of the women’s tennis team from 2007-2010, being recognized by the Hall of Fame is a testament to all of her hard work during her time as a player.
“It’s definitely a very humbling experience and it just makes you see that all of the hard work and love that I have for the school gets translated into recognition,” Vallverdu said. “It’s nice to be recognized with some of the best people that have come through the school, and I just couldn’t be more thankful.”
The former four-time All-ACC First Team tennis player is now an associate head coach for UM’s women’s tennis team. As a junior in 2009, Vallverdu became the first Cane in history to play in the NCAA singles championship.
“If I’m honest, just as an athlete, I remember not winning the title,” Vallverdu said about playing in the championship that year. “But junior year, it just felt like everything came together. Personally and emotionally as an athlete, individually and as a team, it was a good year.”
Vallverdu went on to play in the NCAA singles semifinals the following year and won the Honda Sports Award, an award given to the nation’s top collegiate female athlete in each sport. She also left Miami as the all-time record holder with 131 singles victories and 236 total victories.
“I wasn’t a big fan of counting records and counting wins,” Vallverdu said. “I never measured what I wanted to do. I really just hated losing so much that every time I went onto the court, I’m like ‘No way. I’m not gonna lose.’”
Following her storied career as a Hurricane, Vallverdu transitioned into coaching, working alongside her former coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews.
Now, Vallverdu is again making history off the court, helping coach senior Estela Perrez-Somarriba to an NCAA Championship title last year.
“I am so excited that she is already better than me,” said Vallverdu.
Since its founding, 334 athletes have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. This year’s class will be introduced in the first quarter of the Miami-Virginia Tech game on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Hard Rock Stadium. The inductees will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame during the 52nd Annual UM Hall of Fame Induction Banquet in the spring of 2020.