Today, Cass Technical High School Alumni Association’s (CTAA) Centennial Celebration Hall of Fame Committee recently announced that Cass Technical High School alumni and athletes, Wendy Hilliard and Lynnette Love, would be awarded Top Athletes of the Century and inducted into its Athlete Hall of Fame. CTAA is celebrating its 100th year anniversary in 2016 and hosting a multitude of events and celebrations throughout the year. During the 100-Year Centennial Celebration, the Centennial Committee will recognize coaches, teams, and individual athletes along, with their accomplishments over the past 100 years, in an effort to inspire Cass Technical High School graduates and current students to become future leaders.
Class of 1978 graduate, Wendy Hilliard, has long been a major force in Women’s, Olympic and community sports. Wendy Hilliard was the first African-American to represent the U.S. in international competition and also to serve as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Hilliard is also the founder of Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation (WHGF), a not-for-profit organization that provides free and low-cost quality gymnastics for inner-city youth based in Harlem, New York. Wendy also recently announced that after 20 years of successful programming, the WHGF will be expanding and providing gymnastics programs in Detroit, in fall 2016.
“Inspiring local youth to empower themselves through the sport of gymnastics is such a rewarding experience and being named Top Athlete of the Century is the icing on the cake on an extraordinary year,” said WHGF Founder, Wendy Hilliard. “As we gear up to bring our successful and affordable programming home to the Motor City, I am honored to receive this award and to provide my hometown with new opportunities in gymnastics.”
Hilliard remained on the Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team for a record-setting nine times; serving twice as National Team Captain,but early in her career she had to fight for her spot on the team. In 1983, Hilliard was denied a spot on the World Championship Group Routine. The coach said that she stood out too much for the synchronized routine. She challenged the decision and U.S.A. Gymnastics then selected the team based on the ranking from the National Championships, which allowed Hilliard to participate in her third World Championship. It was the pivotal incident that set the stage for her long career as an advocate for an athlete’s right to compete.
Hilliard went on to compete in the 1984 Olympic trials and traveled to more than 15 foreign countries. She is a four-time U.S. National Team Coach, who also coached 1996 Olympian, Aliane Baquerot Wilson. She was the first African-American President of the Women’s Sports Foundation, an Olympic Sportscaster and Broadway performer. She was also was the Director of Sports for the New York City 2012 Olympic Bid. In 2008, Hilliard was inducted into the U.S.A. Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Lynnette Love, Class of 1975 graduate, is also being submitted for enshrinement to the circle of honor. Love is a Wayne State University Graduate and a former U.S.A. Olympian in Taekwondo. Today, Love operates Love’s Tae Kwon Do Academy where she teaches upcoming martial arts practitioners.
Lynnette received a Gold Medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and a Bronze Medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Love honed her skills at Howard University. Love’s outstanding career spans over 24 years, making her the most decorated woman athlete in Tae Kwon Do history. Love’s tremendous accomplishments have landed her a spot in The Guinness Book of World Records and extraordinary titles including: Three World Championships, Two Olympic Medals, 10 National Championships and 5 Pan American Titles. Upon retirement, Love went on to coach the US National Team at the World Championships, World Cup and Pan Am Games earning the “USOC Developmental Coach of the Year” title.
In addition to being awarded Top Athletes of the Century and inducted into the CTHS Athlete Hall of Fame, the CTAA Centennial Hall of Fame Committee is planning to nominate Lynnette Love and Wendy Hilliard for the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, October 1, 2016.