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Lesser, Urry elected to Chesapeake Hall of Fame

Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Debbie Urry (top) and Mercedes Lesser 

WYE MILLS, April 19 – It’s not only the things you do in life that matter, it’s the company that you keep. That’s what will make this year’s Chesapeake College Athletic Hall of Fame inductions so special to the two inductees.

"It’s an honor just to be selected, but the biggest honor is getting to go into the Hall with Mrs. Lesser," said Debbie Urry, the former Chesapeake College women’s volleyball player who will be inducted next month along with her coach, Mercedes Lesser.

Lesser, a professor emeritus at Chesapeake College who also coached co-ed tennis for the Skipjacks, feels the same way.

"Debbie was my right hand from the very beginning. She was so dedicated and so focused," said Lesser, who coached Chesapeake College to its only women’s volleyball state championship in 1972. Urry, who played for Lesser in the mid-1970s, went on to coach volleyball at both Easton High School and Chesapeake College before becoming an administrator with Talbot County Public Schools.

Lesser and Urry comprise the second class of the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame, joining the 10 inductees from the 2003-2004 academic year. Dr. Stuart Bounds, Chesapeake College’s president, said this year’s inductees "epitomize the type of individuals we look to recognize."

"Mercedes played a dominant role in the development of our women’s athletic program and was an outstanding role model and mentor for our student athletes," said Dr. Bounds. "Debbie was a student athlete in the truest sense of that term – a leader on and off the court who excelled in the classroom and has gone on to be a very positive contributor in our community and in our schools."

Chesapeake College Professor Ed Baker, who was one of the Hall of Fame’s 10 original inductees, also praised this year’s selections.

"Mercedes and Debbie are exactly the type of individuals who belong in this Hall of Fame," said Dr. Baker, who served on this year’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee. "Mercedes made a difference in the lives of the students she touched, and Debbie was a team-oriented competitor who was also an outstanding student."

Lesser used a no-nonsense approach in building Chesapeake’s women’s athletic program at a time when women’s athletics was just getting started at the community college level.

"Whenever I had an opening in my teaching schedule that would allow me to coach, I’d just go to the president (Dr. George Silver) and ask, ’Why don’t we have girls’ volleyball? Why don’t we have girls’ basketball? Why don’t we have tennis?’ " recalled Lesser. "Then I would find all the coaching clinics I could find for that sport and learn how to coach them."

Urry played field hockey, basketball and volleyball at Easton High School at a time when volleyball was a spring sport. It transitioned to a fall sport in 1974, when she arrived at Chesapeake.

"Field hockey had been my favorite sport, but after playing volleyball for Mrs. Lesser that became my favorite sport," said Urry, who played competitive volleyball until about five years ago.

"I think it was the first time ever as a player that I felt my team was like a family," recalled Urry. "Mrs. Lesser always called us her little tigers and that’s what we were. Like any family, we had conflicts and issues and problems, but she helped us work them out. She instilled in us the idea that we may not always win but we had to do our best to represent ourselves and the college."

Urry, a setter, was a two-time Team Most Valuable Player in volleyball and was selected to the all-state second team in both volleyball and basketball as a sophomore. She was also selected the college’s Most Outstanding Women’s Athlete in 1976.

Urry went on to play volleyball at Tarkio College in Missouri, when she was Team MVP as a senior.

The induction ceremony on May 20th will include a formal dinner, presentation of the inductees, and the unveiling of the Lesser and Urry plaques on the Chesapeake College Athletic Hall of Fame.

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