Former Hilton Head Island High and Hilton Head Prep girls soccer coach Larry Tavino is one of eight former student-athletes and one coach selected for induction into the 2014 class of the Winthrop University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Tavino, named the Island Packet girls soccer coach of the year in 2008 when he led the Seahawks to the Class 3-A state championship, was an 1984 NAIA and NSCAA soccer All-American. He is second on Winthrop's all-time list for most goals scored in a game with four and is eighth on the list for assists in a single season with 12 in 1983.
Tavino learned of his selection roughly a week ago from a friend at The Citadel who sent him a congratulated him by text message about his "HOF" honor. Not knowing what his friend was talking about, Tavino checked his email to find the notification from the university.
"It's been very emotional because a lot of my teammates have sent some wonderful comments," Tavino said.
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Tavino played just two seasons at Winthrop, transferring into the then-NAIA school from Southern Connecticut. He was surprised at how good the Eagles were.
"When I was looking to transfer, Winthrop wasn't even on the radar," Tavino said. "But when I looked into Winthrop, it seemed to have a respectable program. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of play there."
Tavino was a two-time NSCAA All-Region selection in 1983 and 1984, and was a NAIA All-Area selection during those two years. He was chosen NAIA All-District 6 in 1983 and was the 1984 Winthrop team MVP.
Despite playing defense, a couple of offensive feats landed Tavino in the Eagles' record book.
"The four-goal game was kind of a fluke," Tavino said. "It was just being in the right place at the right time. I had good size and I was dangerous in the air, but I was a defensive player, not a goal scorer.
"But I was surrounded by good players, and that gave me the opportunity to move forward. I had the kind of guys behind me where I could just move ahead."
Those teammates are what Tavino says he treasures the most from his time in Rock Hill.
"It was a great bunch of guys," Tavino said. "They were all business, really good players. Everybody got along great, and they're still my friends today, 30 years later.
And there's a mutual admiration between Tavino and former coach Jim Casada, who will join the hall of fame on the same night.
"He was an exceptional soccer player and an even more outstanding individual," Casada said of Tavino. "He excelled in the classroom and as an individual, and I'm particularly pleased we will be entering Winthrop's Athletic Hall of Fame at the same time."
"He started the program, just a good guy and a solid coach," Tavino said. "What I remember most was that he was a history professor, as well, and we talked all the time about academics and education. He's a real interesting guy and did a lot of things for the program.
As Casada pointed out, Tavino, now a teacher at Hilton Head Middle School, excelled in the classroom, as well. He was Winthrop's first Rhodes Scholar nominee.
The induction dinner and ceremony are at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Richardson Ballroom of the DiGiorgio Campus Center. Tickets are $25.
Details: Sharen DuBard, 803-323-2129, ext. 6218.