Former UNLV basketball coach Lon Kruger headlines the six-member 2023 Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame class announced Saturday.
The class, which will be inducted June 16, comprises five individuals and Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a venue.
BMX star Connor Fields, UNLV associate head baseball coach and former pro player Kevin Higgins, longtime high school basketball coach Karen Weitz and former Gov. Kenny Guinn join Kruger in the class.
Kruger’s lengthy list of accomplishments extend from his recent induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame to enshrinement in the Shawnee County (Kansas) Baseball Association Hall of Fame.
“This is special because we’re aware of the classes that have gone in before and how amazing those groups are as well as the group we’re going in with,” Kruger said. “It’s a great honor, and anytime a coach goes in, it’s a result of having really good players and a really good staff around them, so this is a tribute to all of them.”
Kruger retired from Oklahoma in 2021 and moved back to Southern Nevada, where he coached UNLV from 2004 to 2011. His son, Kevin, is now the Rebels’ coach.
Fields, who attended Green Valley High School, is going into his first Hall of Fame at age 30.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Fields, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist. “I just think about that first time riding the BMX track when I was 7 and what it led to today, which is pretty crazy.
“The fun part now is allowing myself to look back. When you’re competing, it’s always what’s next. Now I can finally look back at it all and think about the kid that started racing because he found a flyer at a bike shop and where that ended up.”
Weitz is the winningest high school basketball coach in Nevada history, having won 13 state championships, including seven straight. She is the coach of the boys and girls teams at Centennial.
“I never think of any of this stuff about me,” she said. “Obviously, it’s awesome and humbling. But I always just think of the people around me. I think you have a dream and maybe an idea, but you need great people around you to make that grow and become as successful as we’ve been.”
Higgins is a stalwart of the local baseball community, having coached 28 MLB draftees at UNLV after concluding his playing career with the then-Las Vegas Stars. He once played all nine positions in a Triple-A game for the Stars.
Guinn, who died in 2010, was an athlete at Southern California and Fresno State. He worked to expand athletic and educational programs at the youth level, the high school level as superintendent of the Clark County School District and the collegiate level as the UNLV president.
The class increases the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame to 122 inductees. LVMS is the first venue to be inducted.
“To be the first sports venue is just so exciting,” LVMS president Chris Powell said. “It just shows what teamwork can do. I know we take a lot of pride in the fact that when the speedway opened 26 years ago, so many people said it wouldn’t work. The economic impact we’ve had on this community is immeasurable, and this honor is such a tribute to the staff and everyone who has been a part of this over the years.”
Contact Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.