NEWBERRY — The Newberry College Lettermen’s Club has announced its five newest inductees into the Newberry College Athletic Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees will be honored at a luncheon on Sept. 16 and at halftime of Newberry’s home football opener against Virginia University of Lynchburg later that afternoon.
Reed Charpia (Football, Baseball, Football Coach)
Charpia made his mark on the Newberry football program as both a player and a head coach. He lettered three seasons on the gridiron and was named Newberry’s Outstanding Back as a senior in 1964, leading the Indians in rushing, receiving, total offense, kick return yardage, and scoring. He also lettered four times in baseball, was named Who’s Who Among Students in America’s Colleges and Universities, and earned distinction with the Outstanding Young Men of America.
Charpia embarked on his coaching career immediately after graduation, making stops at Hanahan and Summerville High Schools as an assistant coach before landing his first head role at James Island High School. He piloted James Island to the 1974 3A state championship, then took Irmo to the 4A state title game and won a second straight state Coach of the Year award a year later.
In 1978, Charpia returned to his alma mater and was named Coach of the Year in both the SAC-8 and NAIA District 6 in his first year at the helm. Charpia took over a program that had finished 2-7-1 and tied for last place in the league the season before and coached them to a 7-3 finish and third-place finish in the SAC-8. He coached the Indians for four seasons in all, winning 21 games en route to becoming the first Newberry coach since 1916 to finish his career with a winning record.
Charpia went on to four more head coaching roles in South Carolina high schools, winning two additional state Coach of the Year honors and earning head coaching appointments at both the Shrine Bowl and North-South All-Star Game. He retired from head coaching following the 2010 season to work under his son, Rusty, on the Brookland-Cayce High School staff. He is known as one of South Carolina’s most successful coaches, winning 235 games in 34 years in the high school ranks.
Tiffany Johnson (Women’s Basketball)
Tiffany Johnson ended her Newberry career as one of the most dominant post players to ever don the Scarlet and Gray. Her career totals speak for themselves. She still tops the Newberry record book in each of the following categories: total rebounds (1,167 – 3rd in SAC history), rebounds per game (11.00 – 2nd in SAC history), blocks (225 – 3rd in SAC history), and blocks per game (2.12 – 4th in SAC history). Her 1,310 points scored are seventh in Newberry history.
An Abbeville native, Johnson ranks in the top five in eight Newberry single-season and eight single-game categories, including 81 blocks as a senior in 1999-2000 and nine blocked shots in a game vs. Queens in 1999. For her efforts, she was named second team all-South Atlantic Conference during her junior season, when she averaged 14.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, shot 56.4 percent from the field, totaled 72 blocks, and averaged 30.0 minutes per game to lead the team in all categories.
She is the only Newberry player in the last 20 years to average a double-double in multiple seasons. Johnson accomplished the feat three times in her career, including 15.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game as a senior. Her rebounding average ranked 12th nationally while her 2.9 blocked shots per contest ranked seventh.
Alex Kellner (Baseball)
An exemplary student and a standout on the diamond, Kellner played the 2001 and 2002 seasons at Newberry after transferring from Brevard College. He was the SAC Scholar-Athlete for baseball and was named a College Division Academic All-District performer during his senior season in 2002, graduating with a 3.98 GPA in Business.
Kellner is best remembered, however, for his exploits on the baseball field. He ranks in the top 10 in school history 10 different single-season categories, including holding the top spot in home runs with 19 hit in 2001. Kellner’s .724 slugging percentage and 60 RBI’s in 2001 still rank third in Newberry history.
When his career ended, Kellner ranked first in both career slugging percentage (.612, now second) and home runs (26, now third), and had Newberry’s second-highest on-base percentage (.439, now fourth). He started in all 108 games he played, seeing time primarily as a catcher in 2001 before switching to first base for the bulk of the 2002 season.
Bill Murphy (Men’s Basketball)
A left-handed power forward, Murphy dominated the Carolinas Conference in a career that spanned 1963-1967. He scored 1,244 points and pulled down 1,023 rebounds for career averages of 14.6 points and 12.0 rebounds per contest, averaging a double-double in both his junior and senior seasons.
Murphy’s best year came as a junior in 1965-66, when he averaged 18.6 points and 14.7 rebounds per game, the highest rebounding total of any player in South Carolina, the Carolinas Conference, or NAIA’s District 26. It would be the second of three straight seasons in which Murphy led Newberry in scoring. His most impressive feat came during his senior season, when he set a Newberry record that still stands today with 29 rebounds vs. Presbyterian on Nov. 26, 1966.
At the time of his graduation, Murphy held 13 of a possible 22 Newberry men’s basketball records, including most career field goals (439), free throws (336), rebounds (1,023), and games played (85) along with single-season records in field goals (169 in 1965-66) and rebounds (439 in 1966-67).
Harold Wheeler (Football Coach)
Coaching Newberry’s secondary under Hall of Fame head coach Fred Herren from 1968-72, Wheeler was the architect of one of the finest defensive units in college football history. Wheeler’s secondary had its best year in 1971, when the Indians’ 42 interceptions set an all-time NAIA record that still stands today. The mark is believed to be the best single-season total at any level of college football. Newberry followed up that performance with another 29 interceptions in Wheeler’s final year on staff in 1972.
Wheeler’s work with the secondary played a large role in the Indians’ 14-6-2 record in 1971 and 1972, which set a school record for wins in a two-year period that would not be eclipsed until 2006.
Wheeler was preceded in the Hall of Fame by Herren (inducted in 2011) and three players he coached during his tenure: Saylor Fox (1991), David Sanders (1997), and Keith McAlister (2016).
A four-year letterwinner at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State), Wheeler came to Newberry after two years as a graduate assistant at Georgia. After departing Newberry, Wheeler worked as an assistant coach at Furman, Ole Miss, Memphis, Washington State, Appalachian State, Houston, Northwestern State, and finished his career on staff at Newberry High School. He helped Peru State to an NAIA Division II national championship in 1990 and spent three seasons piloting Western New Mexico to a 15-12 stretch that included a 7-3 season in his final year as a head coach.