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Class of 2018

Phil Higgs

At ORHS – One of the first great multi-sport athletes in ORHS history.  He earned 5 varsity letters in 3 sports - Football, Baseball and Track. In football, he earned All-Metro, All-County honors. As a sophmore he was the number 2 scorer in the metro, while racking up Orlando Sentinel Back of the Week honors and leading ORHS to its first .500 season. In track, he earned All-Metro, All-County honors in the sprints. In his only year in the sport, he left huge marks in the sprints (100y, 200y) winning the 100y Metro title in 1965 - becoming the first Metro track champion in OR's rich history of the sport. He set school records in both sprints, most notably running 10.0 for 100y.  The record would stand until 1970, when it was broken by OR Hall of Famer Les Payton (2013). He lettered in Baseball as a senior. 

Post HS - Went on to the Air Force Academy

Rob Montgomery

He is the only person in ORHS history who qualifies for the Athletic Hall of Fame in all 3 categories – Athlete, Coach, and Contributor.  It should be noted that he has been around Oak Ridge athletics since 1969.  As an athlete, played JV baseball and JV basketball his sophomore year for the Pioneers.  He earned varsity letters in basketball his junior and senior seasons.  He was a part of the team that beat Evans High in 1975, led by future NBA star Daryl Dawkins; as well as a team that went 24-4 and ranked in top 10 in state, and losing to eventual State Champion in triple overtime.  He went on to attend college at Florida Technical University (UCF).  He came back to coach basketball at ORHS, serving as a varsity Assistant Coach from 1978-81.  During that time he served as the JV head coach, and was on the staff of the first Metro Conference Championship basketball team in 1981.  He again served as a Assistant Coach from 1987-96, during the “glory years” of OR basketball.  While on the staff of those teams, ORHS became the first team to go undefeated in Metro Conference in back to back years (1988-90), as well as the State Runner-up in the 1988-89 season.  He went to also serve as Athletic Director from 1991-2003.  During his tenure, Pioneer teams won 17 Metro Championships and a State Title.  He also went on to start the OR Golf Tournament in the spring of 1995, and was responsible for renaming the golf tournament “The Mike Santapoalo Memorial Golf Tournament” in honor of the many years of service as the school vandal watcher.  He also orchestrated the naming of the football field in Santapoalo’s honor, placing a headstone in the corner of the field.  Although he left Oak Ridge for Boone at the start of the 2002-03 school year, Rob remains a most avid Pioneer supporter.

Don Bailey

At ORHS – A 2-year letterman in Track and the starting QB on the 7-1 JV Football Team his sophomore year, Don finished 7th in the Metro Championships that spring.  Don had his Oak Ridge career interrupted as he moved to Georgia for family business reasons.  AS a junior he attended Butler High School in Augusta where he finished 3rd State Championship Pole Vault.  Returning to Oak Ridge for his senior year, Don earned All-American, All-Metro, and All-State honors while setting a new state record of 15’-6”.  Don won all the major meet championships including the Pole Vault Title at the inaugural Golden South Championship held in Orlando.  In addition to being the recipient of the Dr. Robert Parsons Most Improved Performer Award, Don was selected the Orlando Track Officials Club Field Event Performer of the Year.  Along with fellow teammate, Cyril Wyatt, they were the first ever Pioneers to be invited to the Keebler Prep International Championships in Chicago.  Don also qualified and competed in the USA Junior National Championships in Knoxville.  Don’s state meet and school record vault of 15’-6” remains the #1 All-Time school best.  Post HS -  Upon graduation, Don accepted a track scholarship to FSU.  His college career would be best described by one word – frustrating.  A series of injuries hampered him throughout his four years.  In his sophomore year, he finished 3rd in the Conference Indoor Championships and 2nd in the Outdoor Championships.  In his senior year he finished 3rd in the Conference Outdoor Championships.  He was also a consistent point scored in the annual Florida vs. FSU dual meet.  Injuries may have limited Don’s athletic success but academically he soared to the top earning all “A’s” his junior and senior years.

Kevin Smith

At ORHS – 3-year letterman in Track & Field. Won 4 Metro and 3 District titles in the hurdles (120y high hurdles/330y intermediate hurdles) during his career.  All-Time he ranks #1(tied) in the 60y High Hurdles, #5 in the 120y High Hurdles, and #5 in the 330y intermediate hurdles. Competed in the inaugural Golden South Classic (1976) in 120yHH and 4x400 relay.  Finished 5th in the nation for 330y hurdles at the 1977 AAU Junior Olympics.  He was a member of 3 Metro, District and Region Championship teams, as well as back to back State Championship teams (1977-78).  Member of the National Honor Society and recipient of the Class of 1978 “Citizenship Award”.  Post HS -  Went on to the United States Naval Academy.  He was a 4-year letterman in indoor/outdoor track. (1979-1982) with three stars (each star signifies a victory over Army.).  4-time All-Ivy League honors in the high hurdles and 4x400 relays – both indoor/outdoor.  4-time IC4A Championship qualifier.  All-Navy Champion 110m high hurdles (1982), representing the United States Navy in the Armed Forces Track & Field Championships.  He remains the fifth fastest high hurdler in the history of the United States Naval Academy.  Went on to graduate and serve as an officer in the US Navy for 25 years, retiring at the rank of Commander.

Steve Bridges

At ORHS - Discovered as a 10th grader in a Physical Education Track Meet with a school record jump of 20’-3”, Steve Bridges went on to become an All-American track athlete in high school, junior college and college.  A 2-year letterman, Steve was a member of the back-to-back State Championship Teams in 1977 and ’78.  In his junior year, he scored points in the Metro, District and Region Championships while running on various relays.  In his senior year, Steve was the Metro, District and Region Long Jump Champion and placed 3rd in the State Meet.  He also ran the anchor leg on the State Championship 440 yd. Relay.  In 1978, he set the school Long Jump record of 23’-7” which still ranks #4 All-Time in school history.  He was a consistent point scorer in the 100 yd. dash with a personal best of 9.7.  He was a member of the #3 440 yd. Relay, the #3 Mile Medley Relay and #5 880 yd. Relay teams in school history.  Steve ranks #3 All-Time at 60 yds. with a 6.3 clocking and is one of six athletes tied for #2 All-Time for 100 yds. at 9.7.  He closed out his Pioneer career earning All-Metro, All-State and All-American honors.  He was also the recipient of the Dr. Parsons Most Improved Performer Award.  Post HS – He attended Seminole Junior College where he once again earned All-American honors in the Long Jump, 100 Meters and the 4x100 Meter Relay.  In 1979, he was voted the Central Florida Collegiate Track Athlete of the Year.  Moving on to Western Kentucky University, he was Ohio Valley Conference Indoor and Outdoor Long Jump Champion.  In his senior year he was the conference 100 Meter Champion at 10.1 and placed 3rd in the NCAA championships with a school record jump of 26’-8 3/4” which earned him All-American honors.  He also set the American Indoor Long Jump record of 26’-1/4”.  In 1982, in the USA vs. Cuba dual meet, Steve ran on the winning 4x100 Relay and placed second in the Long Jump.  On to Japan to compete in the Eight Nations International Games, he competed in the LJ.  In 1983, Steve’s career ended at the USA Olympic Trials where he ran in the qualifying round of the 100 meters.  In 2003, Steve was inducted into the State of Florida Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Mark Blair

At ORHS – 5 varsity letters in Track & Football.  A two-year starting defensive back on the Football team, Mark transported his athletic skills and speed to the Track oval to earn high school All American honors his senior year as a member of the # 2 nationally ranked and school record setting 480 yd. High Hurdle Shuttle Relay.  During his track career, Mark was a member of the 1980 and ‘81 back-to-back Metro, District, Region and State Championship teams.  In 1981, he ran the leadoff leg on the winning Mile Relay in the Metro – District – Region and State Meets.  He also scored points in the 300 Intermediate Hurdles in those meets.  Thirty plus years later, he is still rank #3 (38.2) all-time in the 300 IM Hurdles and #2 (54.3) all-time in the 400 IM Hurdles.  In his senior year, he was named the recipient of the Dr. Robert Parson Most Improved Performer Award.  In 1980, Mark along with Pioneer Hall of Fame member, James Rolle, was selected to the 30-man roster of Florida high school athletes to travel to the Bahamas for a dual meet against the Bahamian Team.  It was the first time in Florida high school history a team ran internationally in the Caribbean Islands.  Post HS – After two years at Santa Fe Community College, Mark moved to and graduated from UCF.  Today, he is the sole owner of the Bontan Medicinal Corporation locate in Winter Park.

Victoria Chin
The Leonard Family

At ORHS - All-Metro, County, State in Softball at ORHS. Won 2-District titles and State title. She was the MVP of the FACA All-Star game as a senior.  Winner of the OR Coaches Achievement Award.  Also an athletic trainer for 2 years.  Other accolades include president of FBLA and was a member of the Beta Club, the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, the 1993 Homecoming Court and earned Best Marine Biology Student award.  

Post HS -  Division 2 All-American in Softball at Columbus State University. 3-time All-Peach Belt Conference, and 4 times on the All-Tournament team.  CSU Woman Athlete of the Year and Team MVP as a junior.  Was also an Athletic Trainer for 2.5 years.  She was inducted into the CSU Hall of fame in 2009.  Played Women's Professional Fast Pitch Softball for the inaugural Orlando Wahoo’s in 1997.

Willie Benjamin

In 32 years teaching and coaching career, Coach Adams served as the head football coach at Oak Ridge HS for 16 years, 1967 – 83.  He is the all-time win’s leader with a record of 91 – 72 – 2.  He was the first coach in the history of the Metro Conference to produce a regular season undefeated team (1974).  He coached 4 Metro Conference Champions, 3 District Champions and 2 Region Championship teams.  In 1973 he coached Earl Carr, the first high school All American football player at Oak Ridge.  He also coached several all state players along with numerous all conference players.  Twenty- seven of his players earned college scholarships.  He was named Metro Conference Coach of the Year twice and is a member of the Metro Conference Hall of Fame.

The 2017-18 school year marks the 40th Anniversary of the relationship between Oak Ridge High School and the Leonard Family. 

In August, 1977, when Carlos and Lee Leonard stepped off the school bus coming from Richmond Heights for the first time, a journey that would have a lifetime impact on the Leonard Family; past, present and future Pioneer students, teachers, and staff along with the entire Oak Ridge community began.

In the spring of 1978, for the one and only time during their high school careers, Carlos and Lee were teammates on the Metro – District – Region – State Championship Boys Track Team.


During his high school career Carlos was a two-time Metro - District – Region high jump champion.  In his senior year he earned All-American honors as he became the first ever Florida athlete to high jump 7’ in the state meet to win the State HJ Title.  Upon graduation, he accepted a track scholarship to the University of Tennessee.  His personal best of 7’ 1/2'’ remains the school record.  In January, 2017, he was inducted into the state of Florida Track & Field Hall of Fame.


As a 10th grader, Lee, the starting Free Safety on the JV football team, moved onto the track team competing in the hurdles.  Scoring in several meets in the hurdles and on relays, Lee set the stage for an outstanding track career.  In the 1978 fall jamboree, injured when making a tackle, Lee suffered a broken neck resulting in him being a quadriplegic.  During a three month stay in the hospital, Lee’s hard work and determination resulted in his regaining feeling below his neck and upon his release was reclassified as a paraplegic.  Lee was scheduled to graduate with honors in June, 1980, and attend Valencia Community College.


Three days prior to 1980 graduation, Lee, Carlos and Ricardo Brown another former Pioneer athlete lost their lives as a driver lost control on a rain slick road and crossed over the median on Hwy 441 striking Carlos’ vehicle.  In the fall of 1980, the Leonard Scholarship was established and awarded to a qualified Oak Ridge student each year up until the late 1990’s;  at which time it was terminated.  The Oak Ridge High School football stadium was also named in honor of Lee Leonard.   The legacy of the Oak Ridge brothers had survived through the years in part because of the existence of the scholarship, Lee Leonard Stadium and their exploits in athletics.


In 1997, the Leonard Family’s presence once again became part of the Oak Ridge landscape as Tamara Leonard, the daughter of Carlos, arrived as a transfer student.  During her two years she was a member of both the marching and concert bands.  She was also the caption of the Pionettes dance and flag auxiliary.  Upon graduation, she attended Bethune-Cookman University where Coach Leonard received a full four-year football scholarship.  Tamara currently works for Walt Disney Corporation in Human Resources.  Tamara’s presence at “The Ridge” rekindled the interest of the students, faculty and staff regarding the lives of Carlos and Lee.


In the fall of 2003, with over 20 plus years of educational experience in Orange County Public Schools, Marionette Leonard joined the administrative staff as 12th grade Administrative Dean, thus extending the relationship of the Leonard Family and Oak Ridge to a time span covering five decades.  It was her encouragement and willingness to do what coaches do during the school day that convinced Coach Leonard to take over the reins of the Pioneer Boys Track Team.  Hughey also accepted an assistant football coaching position.  Between the two of them, they recruited the athletes, promoted school spirit and rekindled the desire to be a track champion.  During his five years at the helm, Coach Leonard guided the Pioneers to one Region Championship (’09), two District (’08 & ’09) Titles and the ’09 Champs in the 4x100 relay.  The Pioneers’ 4x100 relay team went undefeated in 2009.


A forgotten and/or unknown fact involving Coach Leonard’s tenor at Oak Ridge was that in his first season at the helm, he coached Jamal Whitted, a senior out for track for the first time, to the State High Jump Championship with a personal best of 6’8” to rank #2 All-Time behind Carlos Leonard on the school’s honor roll.


In the Orlando Sentinel’s May 2, 2008 article titled, “The Guardian”, Marionette states, “I cannot help what happened to my boys, but I can make life better for those around me; it’s our calling to help.”

* - Deceased

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