The Georgia Tech Hall of Fame Induction Dinner will be held October 19 at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased from Barb Dockweiler in the Alexander-Tharpe Fund. Call 404-894-6124.
By Jon Cooper
For Becky Megesi, honors like being selected to the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame, have always been for other people, not for her.
Megesi, a 2001 graduate and an assistant track and cross country coach since 2005, remembers always getting a kick out of trying to pry the nominees out of Georgia Tech Men’s Track and Field Head Coach Grover Hinsdale, who is on the selection committee.
“We talk about it sometimes at lunch. Who’s up for induction? Who’s going in every year? Grover is really good about keeping it a secret,” she said, with a laugh.
Hinsdale was at his secret-keeping best when it came to the 2012 inductees, which made finding out extra rewarding for Megesi, as she was one of them.
She will be inducted on Oct. 19 at the annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner, being held at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Convention Center, joining George Godsey and Jon Carman (football), Tomas Motiejunas (track and field), Carlton Forrester (golf), Maja Pachale (volleyball) and Cory Vance (baseball).
“It’s so exciting because I know a lot of the people who have gone in before me. I know what they’ve done to get to that level,” she said. “It wasn’t something during my career that I was thinking, ‘Oh, I hope I get here.’ But now that I’m older and I know who all these people are and I know what they’ve done through their careers, it really is an honor.”
It’s a deserved one.
“I think it’s truly a deserved honor,” said Women’s Track and Field/Cross Country Head Coach Alan Drosky. “She’s very unassuming. She just stays in the background, works hard, does her work. It wasn’t really something she was thinking about. She was very touched and honored by it.”
It’s about time Megesi was pleasantly surprised by something of such stature. She has been pleasantly surprising people since age seven, when she started running.
She remembered finishing second in her first competitive race, a fun run held at Clayton State University, and had an even bigger surprise in store the following year, when, for an encore, she won a mile race as a barely-turned-eight-year-old running in the 8-to-9 group.
“I remember my dad talking to me and he was like, ‘You got second last time but you’re in the higher age group. So just go out there and have fun. Don’t worry about winning,'” Megesi said. “I ended up winning and I still have my trophy and stuff. It was such an excitement. My elementary school P.E. teacher knew who I was. She had moved to middle school and she was the track coach. As soon as I got to middle school she was like, ‘You’re running track.’ I’ve been running ever since.”
Success — and usually a field of runners — followed at every ensuing level, but it was the passion with which she ran that impressed Drosky. After getting a tip from his high school coach, Richard Westbrook, who also coached Megesi, Drosky saw her run once and was sold.
“Not only was I impressed with what I saw, I had the inside scoop, so to speak,” he said. “Making it through her high school career with Coach Westbrook and knowing that she did everything that he asked her to do from a training standpoint demonstrated the kind of commitment, the kind of passion that she had for the sport and it only continued during her time at Tech.”
In her four years, Megesi was one of the finest 800- and 1,500-meter runners ever to run on the Flats. She was a two-time All-American, earning the honor in 1999 in the 1,500, when she finished eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and in 2000 as part of Tech’s distance medley relay. That year she also qualified for the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 800. She was a two-time ACC Champion in the outdoor 1,500 and was All-ACC six times in the 1,500 (three times each indoor and outdoor), once in the indoor 800 and once in the indoor mile.
Among all his moments, Drosky’s lasting memory of Megesi had nothing to do with beating a field.
He recalled the final home meet of her final year. It had been a difficult year for Megesi time-wise, as she’d battled abdominal issues the entire season. At that final meet, determined to give one last shot at making it to nationals, she ran an 800 that probably would have been good enough to qualify. But due a time malfunction, times were not official. So Megesi and teammate Sara Pardue would have to re-run the race after the meet. With another teammate, who was not eligible to qualify, serving as a rabbit over the first 600 meters, Megesi and Pardue re-ran the race with everything on the line in front of basically an empty stadium — a few teammates stuck around for support — and both qualified!
“It was a big demonstration of the kind of heart, the kind of resolve that she had,” Drosky said. “Her season hadn’t gone the way she wanted it to but her last goal was to make it to the Nationals. She runs a time that would have gotten there but the time malfunctioned, she had a chance to come back and do it, in not a very exciting setting, and she just steps on the track and runs a Nationals-qualifying performance. We knew that she had heart and desire but that kind of put an exclamation point on it.”
Megesi still holds school records in the outdoor 800, the outdoor 4×800 and the indoor distance medley. She admits that seeing her name in the record books is simultaneously a blessing and a curse.
“It’s fantastic, even though I’m like, ‘Man I need to recruit somebody to BREAK this,'” she said, with a laugh. “But it is nice because I get to look through that stuff all the time because I’m still here. To still see my name on there, every time I see it I can remember back to the career I had, the people who helped me get there and all the friends that I met along the way. Every time you see that you remember all of that. You don’t just see yourself. You see the good times that you had getting there and the people that supported you along the way.”
She’s looking forward to the seeing several teammates and friends at the dinner, including Motiejunas, and Drosky, who will introduce her.
“She’s asked me to be her presenter and I was thrilled that she asked me,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to have some outstanding track and field and cross country athletes who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame over the years. Often [the induction dinner] conflicts with our cross country schedule and we’re out of town. This one just happens to not conflict. So it’s great that not only she can be there but I can be there.”
“I’m excited about the honor and the opportunity to be there,” Megesi said. “It’s kind of cool that Tomas Motiejunas is going in, too. We were teammates. You feel like you kind of have more than just your family there, you have a second family there, too. It’s exciting.”