Hunter honored for national titles
Published 10:12 pm Wednesday, January 22, 2014
In a ceremony celebrating The Apprentice School’s national championships, Ben Hunter of Suffolk was afforded a special honor on Friday. He received a ring, customized to commemorate the two United States Collegiate Athletic Association individual national golf championships that bookended his four-year college career.
The ring represented a tradition the Apprentice School started with its national championship teams in various sports, but athletic director Keisha Pexton said, “This was the first time we’ve given one to an individual.”
She said Hunter “transformed the competitiveness of our golf program.” It dates back as early as the 1970s, and he is its first national champion.
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“He has just really put our golf program in a position of being known and being respected against our peers,” Pexton said.
When Hunter received the award, he said, his reaction was “just a loss for words. All I could do was just thank God, because I’ve been wanting a ring for so long.”
And he had no idea he would be getting it. He had been summoned to participate in the National Championship Banner Ceremony between the first two basketball games played in the new Apprentice School Gymnasium.
“I just knew that I needed to be there,” he said. He unfurled the banner celebrating his titles, while the representatives for the school’s national championship teams in other sports did the same with theirs.
Hunter was walking away at the end of the ceremony when he was called to center court. He said his first thought was that “they were going to make me say something. I was just trying to get my thoughts together.”
Hunter’s only significant previous recognition came last fall when he was granted a five-minute meet-and-greet with the director of the school and upper management for Newport News Shipbuilding.
Even then, Pexton told Hunter that something more would be done to recognize him later on.
Hunter said when he reached center court on Friday, Pexton said to him, “I told you we were going to take care of you, didn’t I?”
Apprentice School assistant coach B.J. Maben said, “It was something well-deserved for Ben.”
Maben and his father, head golf coach Joey Maben also received rings to commemorate their roles in helping Hunter develop and earn the national titles.
Pexton hopes Hunter will be the first of many individual student-athletes at the Apprentice School to be awarded for winning national championships.
“He kind of laid the groundwork for us to kind of establish this tradition for individuals moving forward just because he had won two,” she said.
Hunter’s career as a Builder is not finished yet. Among the team’s upcoming events is the invitational Camp Lejeune Intercollegiate.
“We’re really excited about that, and I really feel strongly that Ben playing so well has given us the recognition to be able to be invited to that tournament,” Joey Maben said.