Salem Academy and College Establishes Athletics Hall of Fame

Salem Academy and College Establishes Athletics Hall of Fame

Press Release For Immediate Release
December 18, 2018

Inaugural Class of Recipients to be Honored on February 9, 2019

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (DECEMBER 18, 2018)—Salem Academy and College has established an Athletics Hall of Fame to honor exemplary former student athletes, administrators and others who have been integral to the school’s athletics program. Salem’s inaugural Hall of Fame ceremony will take place in early 2019 and will include the induction of six honorees:  Chuck Blixt, Jane Barkman Brown, Dianne Dailey, Sarah (Sally) Colhoun Engram, Robert Esleeck and Laura Sides Watson.

“Establishing an Athletics Hall of Fame has been a goal of mine since I came to Salem a little more than a year ago,” Salem College Athletics Director Patricia Hughes said. “We believe it’s important to honor and remember forever the legacies and achievements of Salem’s athletes, coaches, teams and supporters to reinforce the wonderful history and tradition of Salem Academy and College Athletics.”

“I’m incredibly excited about our inaugural class of recipients, which includes four former student-athletes and two longtime Salem Academy and College administrators,” Hughes said.  “In conjunction with our induction ceremony on February 9, we will unveil the new Hall of Fame showcase, which is being constructed along a corridor inside the Bryant Hall Athletic Center on Salem’s campus.”

A banquet and ceremony to honor the six members of the 2019 Salem Academy and College Athletics Hall of Fame will take place Saturday February 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Bryant Hall Athletic Center on the campus of Salem Academy and College.  Please contact Chelsey Wilson, Salem College Assistant Director of Athletics and Hall of Fame Coordinator, at 336-721-2815 or to purchase tickets.

The Salem Academy and College Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019 includes:

Jane Barkman Brown (Salem College ’74)

An accomplished Olympic swimmer, Jane Barkman Brown won three National Championships—one in 1965, and two in 1968. She represented the United States as a 17-year-old at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, where she received a gold medal as a member of the winning U.S. team in the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay along with relay teammates Linda Gustavson, Sue Pedersen and Jan Henne.  They set a new Olympic record of 4:02.5 during the Olympic finals.  Individually, Brown also received a bronze medal for a third-place performance in the women’s 200-meter freestyle behind Americans Debbie Meyer and Jan Henne to complete a U.S. sweep of the event.

Brown attended Salem College from 1970 until graduation in the spring of 1974, having taken time off to train for the 1972 Olympics. While at Salem, she trained under Coach Leo Ellison and the men’s swim team at Wake Forest University. She graduated from Salem with a psychology degree and an early elementary teaching certificate. At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, she was again part of the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay, along with teammates Sandy Neilson, Jenny Kemp and Shirley Babashoff.  This team set a new world record of 3:55.19 in the final, narrowly edging the East German team.  Brown served as a tri-captain of the 1972 U.S. Olympics team and later served as a Torchbearer at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.  Outside the Olympics, Brown’s international competitions included swimming in Europe, South America, New Zealand and China.

Brown served as swim team coach at the University of Tennessee and Princeton University and the assistant men’s and women’s coach at Old Dominion University. In addition, she was the assistant men’s swim coach at Penn State University for 10 years beginning in 1984. Brown has been teaching swim lessons at Penn State for more than 30 years, most recently at Centre Hills Country Club. She has two sons, Dan and Chris, and a daughter, Jen. Brown has taught kindergarten and/or first grade in State College and Penns Valley, Pennsylvania, since 1998.

Chuck Blixt

Chuck Blixt has been a friend to Salem Academy and College Athletics since the early 1990s.  He is the father of Allison Blixt (Salem Academy ’96) and Katie Blixt Cody (Salem Academy ’00). Blixt served as Chair of the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees from 2012-2014, after serving on the Board from 2001 to 2014 and the Board of Visitors from 1997 until 2014.

He established the Blixt Family Endowed Fund for Faculty Enhancement at Salem Academy and established the Blixt Athletic Fields, which serve as home to many of Salem Academy and College’s athletic teams.  In addition, Blixt was instrumental in securing several annual grants from the R.J. Reynolds Community Involvement Plan for Salem Academy and College.

Blixt received a BS degree and a JD degree from the University of Illinois.  He retired in 2006 from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, where he was executive vice president and general counsel. He and his wife Dianne live in Winston-Salem and have four grandchildren.

Dianne Dailey (Salem College ’71)

Dianne Dailey served for 30 years as head women’s golf coach at Wake Forest University and retired following the 2017–18 season. During Dailey’s three decades of leading the program, the Demon Deacons won 30 team titles, 39 individual titles, four ACC Championships and qualified for 15 NCAA Championships. She coached 28 All-Americans, 39 All-ACC selections, five ACC Players of the Year, four ACC Freshmen of the Year and 2018 NCAA Champion Jennifer Kupcho. 

A 1971 graduate of Salem College, Dailey took over the Wake Forest program in the summer of 1988. She led the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to victory in the third event of her first season with the title at the Lady Seminole Invitational. Wake Forest went on to win at least one team title in 18 of her 30 seasons at the helm of the program, highlighted by a school-record five victories during the 1994–95 season. 

A four-time ACC Coach of the Year, Dailey led the Demon Deacons to conference championships in 1994, 1995, 2009 and 2010. Her four titles rank second in the history of ACC women’s golf coaches. In 1993, Wake Forest made its first appearance at the NCAA Championships, finishing seventh. It was the first of four top-10 NCAA finishes for the Demon Deacons, highlighted by a third-place finish in 1995. After the NCAA established the current system of regionals to qualify for the NCAA Championships in 1993, Dailey led Wake Forest to a regional berth every year. 

In 2001, Dailey was named the LPGA Coach of the Year and also was inducted into the National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She has served as the president of the National Golf Coaches Association as well as a chairman of the NCAA Golf Committee, heading up the NCAA Championships and setting policies for collegiate golf.

Dailey’s 30-year tenure is the second-longest for a Wake Forest coach, trailing only Jesse Haddock’s 32-year tenure leading the Demon Deacon men’s golf program from 1960 to 1976 and 1978 to 1992. In 2010, she was honored with the naming of the Dianne Dailey Learning Center, a state-of-the-art training center for the men’s and women’s golf programs.

Sarah (Sally) Colhoun Engram (Salem Academy ’75)

Sarah (Sally) Colhoun Engram was a two-sport athlete at Salem Academy during the early years of organized sports at the school. In the mid-1970s, soon after Title IX and before girls’ schools were in a conference, Salem Academy competed against other independent schools on the weekends and in invitational tournaments. Engram lettered three years in varsity tennis and two years in varsity basketball, playing most of the sports that were offered at that time. She was a member of the Salem Academy Athletic Council and the Quill Pen staff, was elected vice president of the senior class and served as a Commencement Marshal during her junior year- a significant honor based on grades and senior class recognition.

After graduation from Salem Academy in 1975, Engram attended Sweet Briar College where she played varsity tennis both her freshman and sophomore years. She was named tennis team captain during her sophomore year at Sweet Briar. In 1977, she transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she competed on the JV tennis team and later received a BA degree in political science. Engram has devoted herself to giving back to the community through volunteering with various organizations, including work with ALTA tennis in Atlanta and the USTA in Winston-Salem by serving as a coach and player.

Engram also has served in other various volunteering capacities including the Salem Academy Alumnae Board, Winston-Salem Tennis Inc./ Young Folks Tennis, Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Advisory Board, Meals on Wheels volunteer, Backpack Program volunteer through St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the Food Bank, Summer Enrichment Board, two term Vestry member at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, serving as both Junior Warden of the Vestry and Senior Warden of the Vestry and an Augustine Tutor (now READWS).

Engram came full circle in 2005 when she returned to her alma mater Salem Academy to coach the junior varsity tennis team. She also teaches a spring tennis clinic for the Salem Academy students, teaches tennis at Salem Sports Camp for Kids and has taught the Salem Community Course as a tennis instructor. She is married to Jonathan Engram, and they have two married sons, Hewitt (Caroline) and Hamilton (Kate), and three grandchildren.

Robert E. Esleeck

Robert E. Esleeck is a former member of the business faculty at Salem College who is credited with securing Salem College Athletics’ admission into the NCAA as a Division III member institution. Esleeck, an accomplished Winston-Salem attorney, now retired, was considered critical in the process of Salem applying for and receiving NCAA membership in 2008. He conducted research and oversaw the institutional application process which has enabled Salem College students to compete on a national level. He also is credited for enhancement of Salem Academy and College’s athletic fields and facilities.

Shortly after coming to Salem as an executive in residence to teach law and finance courses in the business department, Esleeck was enlisted to complete the acquisition of vacant property along Salem Avenue across from the Academy and College athletic fields.  Salem was able to build new athletic fields on the property, including a soccer field and softball field.

As the new facilities at Salem were completed, positive-trending data at the College related to student athlete enrollment, retention, academic achievement, and post-graduation success supported the decision to expand and improve the athletic programs and for Salem to become an NCAA Division III institution.

Esleeck assumed responsibility for coordinating the application process for Salem’s admittance as a Division III NCAA program. He completed the research, initiated contact with the NCAA, spoke with comparable current Division III programs and developed the strategy for Salem’s application. President Thrift authorized his designation as Salem’s first faculty representative at NCAA meetings and training sessions. Esleeck’s tireless work for NCAA acceptance paved the way for what is now a highly successful Salem College Department of Athletics, with programs regularly participating in post-season play and conference tournament championships.

Laura Sides Watson (Salem Academy ’94 and Salem College ’99)

Laura Sides Watson was an accomplished student athlete at both the Academy and College and has channeled her lifelong love of sport into marathon running and raising thousands of dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Watson was a three-year letter winner in field hockey and soccer during her years at Salem Academy. She served as basketball team manager from 1992–1994 and received the Most Improved Player award for soccer in 1992 and the Most Valuable Player award in 1994. In addition, Watson received the Coach’s Award for field hockey in 1993. She was president of the Athletic Council and received the Zanne Meade Memorial Sportsmanship Award during her senior year.

Watson was recruited and played field hockey for Bucknell University but transferred to Salem College for her sophomore year. At Salem College she played three years of field hockey and soccer.  During college, Watson coached JV and varsity field hockey at Salem Academy. She graduated from Salem College in 1999 with a BS degree in Spanish.

At the age of 11, Watson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes.  After moving to Orlando, Florida in 2001, she became involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and organized a team of teachers from the school to participate in local JDRF walks. In 2010, Watson ran her first marathon at North Carolina’s Outer Banks and after finishing was inspired to participate in future marathons with added meaning by fundraising for JDRF.

In 2011, Watson joined Team JDRF, an organization comprised of athletes who fundraise and participate in endurance events such as marathons and triathlons. To date, Watson has completed five marathons: OBX 2010, NYC 2011 and 2013, Space Coast Marathon in Florida in 2014 and Chicago in 2015. She also has completed 11 half marathons. Since 2010, Watson has raised more than $30,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Watson has served on the Salem Academy Alumnae Board, the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees and the Triad JDRF Board of Directors.  She and her husband Mark live in Winston-Salem with their cat, Rui.

For more information about Salem Academy and College Athletics, please visit or  To attend the awards ceremony, register at