May 8 was a great day for Ray Shovlain '79, '82 MBA, and not because that was the day the longtime St. Ambrose basketball coach and athletic director joined a short list of certified Quad Cities sports icons.
Coach Ray would have declared that day "great, as always" even if it hadn't been the day he was inducted into the Quad Cities Sports Hall of Fame.
"This is more about the young men and the dedicated athletes who have put on the St. Ambrose uniform," Shovlain said in deferring credit for any success. "It is also about the coaches who have made our programs successful, and a great university that helps us mold our students into great people."
Few, though, could argue with Shovlain's election by a panel of local sports media and past QC Hall of Fame inductees. The former point guard's passion for basketball has produced an SAU record 567 wins in his three-decade tenure on the Bees bench, including 17 seasons with 20 or more wins and 10 national tournament appearances.
And he isn't a legend just on the St. Ambrose campus.
"Ray's longevity and love for the Bees has made a positive impact not only on St. Ambrose but the entire sporting community in the Quad Cities," said Lisa Bluder, the former SAU and current Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball coach who was inducted into the QC Hall a year ago. "He is entrenched in the university and the community, and the values that he exudes are exactly why I loved being a Bee so much."
Bill Fennelly, the Iowa State women's basketball coach who got his first taste of coaching as a student-assistant at SAU, also is a member of the QC Sports Hall of Fame. Like Bluder, he made a large circle around Shovlain's name on this year's ballot.
"Ray Shovlain is St. Ambrose," Fennelly said. "His passion and commitment to the school have helped so many young people."
Shovlain also follows Leo Kilfoy, his former SAU coach, and the late Jim Fox, the man he succeeded as athletic director, into the QC Sports Hall of Fame. "That part is really humbling," Shovlain said. "I admire both of those men so much."