USADSF Announces 2022 Hall of Fame Class

28 MARCH 2023

USA Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF) is proud to welcome five new members to the USADSF Hall of Fame. The five inductees include Deaflympic gold medalists, world record holders, a leading figure in the Deaf sports movement, and an Olympic gold medalist.

“The USADSF Hall of Fame serves as a constant source of inspiration, demonstrating to our sporting community and the world that excellence knows no boundaries. Our Hall of Famers inspire us every day to strive to give our best, to show up as we are, and to celebrate each other,” reflected USADSF President, Jeffrey Mansfield. “On behalf of the USADSF and our community, we are beyond proud of this year’s Hall of Fame class, their accomplishments, and who they are as members of our sports community.”

The Hall of Fame Committee, chaired by USADSF Board Member, Kevin Smith, and composed of members of the USADSF Board of Directors and four members of the USADSF Hall of Fame, reviewed a total of twenty-five nominees. The following individuals have been inducted into the USADSF Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022: Jeffrey Float, Jennifer Body, Heather Lightfoot Withrow, Willard Moers, and Nancy Benton.

Jeffrey James “Jeff” Float, OLY is the first athlete to win a gold medal in both the Deaflympics and the Olympics. At the 1977 World Games for the Deaf in Bucharest, Romania, Float won a gold medal and set a Deaf World Record in every event he entered en route to an American record ten gold medals. Following this performance, Float qualified for the 1980 USA Olympic Swimming Team, but didn't get a chance to compete due to the United States' boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Float captained the US Olympic Swimming team to a gold medal in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay, beating the West Germany quartet (who had held the World Record) in one of the greatest Olympic races of all time, setting a new World Record in the process.

At the 1984 Olympics, Float also finished fourth in the men’s 4x200m freestyle. In addition to the 1984 Games, Float also collected gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay at the 1982 World Aquatics Championships and silver in the men’s 400m freestyle at the 1978 World Aquatics Championships.

Float’s illustrious career also includes a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor and a 26-year stint on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports that spanned from 1985 to 2011. In 2000, the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf named Float Deaflympian of the Century. In 2014, Float was inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame.

Float is a graduate of the University of Southern California and currently resides in California, where he coaches swimming at the Arden Hills Athletic & Social Club, which has produced 33 Olympic medals, including 22 gold medals, and more than 200 World and American Records.

Hailing from Mississippi, four-time Deaflympian Jennifer Body excelled in track and field, running the women’s 100m hurdles and the 4x100m relay. At the 1981 Deaflympic games in Köln (Cologne), Germany, Body claimed silver in the women’s 100m hurdles, and won gold as a member of the USA women’s 4x100m relay team that set a new Deaf World Record.

Four years later, at the 1985 Los Angeles Deaflympics, Body would improve on her performance with two gold medals, including setting new Deaf World Records in the women’s 100m hurdles and the women’s 4x100m relay. At the 1989 Christchurch Deaflympics, Body added to her career her Deaflympic tally with dual golds in women’s 100m and 100m hurdles.

Body concluded her career at the 1993 Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria. Over a span of twelve years and four Deaflympics, Body’s final medal count totaled five gold medals and one silver medal.

Heather “Hex” Lightfoot Withrow, a graduate of the Washington School for the Deaf and Gallaudet University, is a three-time Deaflympian who competed in every type of throw (javelin, hammer, discus, and shot put), as well as women’s volleyball. Altogether, Hex won a total of five medals, including one gold, one silver, and three bronze.

At the 1997 Deaflympics in Copenhagen, Withrow helped the US Women’s Volleyball team to bronze and collected another bronze in the discus throw. Her dominance would continue throughout her collegiate career at Gallaudet, where she won three titles and set a school record in javelin. During her collegiate career, Withrow constantly pushed the international standard for Deaf athletes in the hammer throw, breaking the Deaf World Record four times.

In 2000, USADSF honored Withrow as the Female Athlete of the Year. Withrow would peak four years later at the 2001 Deaflympics in Rome a gold medal and new Deaf World Record in the hammer throw. Withrow also added a silver in the discus throw in Rome.

In 2005, two and half months after giving birth to her son, Skyler, Withrow went on to win bronze in the hammer throw.

A six-time Deaflympian, Willard “Willy” Lee Moers dominated the men's hammer throw for two decades, winning gold in the event at the 1981, 1985, 1989, 1997, and 2001 Deaflympics and a bronze at the 1993 Deaflympics—despite not picking up the discipline until after his collegiate career at Gallaudet.

Moers also excelled in the shot put, adding silver at the 1985 Los Angeles Deaflympics and a bronze at the 1993 Deaflympics in the event. In the discus throw, Moers claimed bronze medals at each of his six appearances at the Deaflympics. Moers retired from Deaflympic competition after the 2001 Deaflympics, having amassed fourteen medals (five gold, one silver, and eight bronze) over the course of his career.

“What Wendell Gaskin [2020 USADSF Hall of Fame inductee] did to track, Willy did to the field events,” remarked Thomas Withrow, the long-time former president of USA Deaf Track and Field. “It is really difficult to maintain this level of competition in throws over a 20-year period.”

At the 1981, 1985, and even the 1997 Deaflympics—when he was competing at 39 years old—Moers established new Deaflympic records.

In addition, long-time track and field coach, the late Nancy Benton, has been inducted into the USADSF Hall of Fame as a leader. Starting her coaching career in the fall of 1982, Benton would go on to become an internationally recognized coach in girls’ and women’s cross country and track and field. Throughout her career, Benton coached the USA Women’s Track and Field teams at four editions of the Deaflympics, including 1989 (Christchurch), 1993 (Sofia), 1997 (Copenhagen), and 2001 (Rome), as well as the 1999 and 2000 Pan American Games held in Cuba and Mexico, respectively.

In addition to serving as coach, Benton was also a dedicated educator. The Frederick County Chamber of Commerce selected Benton as the county’s Career and Technology Education Teacher of the Year in 1994. Maryland School for the Deaf Athletic Director, Andy Bonheyo remarked, “Nancy was a well respected teacher and coach among her colleagues, students, and athletes.” 1985 Deaflympian Tiffany Williams added, “Nancy was always the first person on the track, getting it prepared for her team. She was always available to talk to anyone who needed to talk or be comforted.” With this level of support, many of Benton’s proteges would go on to become “accomplished athletes and leaders.”

Benton retired from coaching in July 2003, shortly before her life was taken by cancer. In 2010, the Maryland School for the Deaf dedicated its track as the Nancy L. Benton Track.

Kevin Smith, a member of USADSF’s Board of Directors and Chair of the Hall of Fame Committee remarked, “I would like to thank the four Hall of Fame electors who have graciously volunteered their time and wisdom to help us elect this year’s Hall of Fame class. On behalf of the Hall of Fame Committee, I would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to our newest Hall of Famers.”

This week, USADSF will be releasing a series of video interviews across our social media platforms featuring the newest members of the USADSF Hall of Fame.

For all inquiries related to this news or general inquiries, please contact us at

USADSF Mission: Empower USA Deaflympic and Deaf National Teams to continuously reach their highest competitive potential and promote accessible and inclusive sports environments and experiences for Deaf and Hard of Hearing athletes.

USADSF Vision: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans shall thrive in all aspects of sport and society with the full provision of equal access and barrier-free participation.The United States Deaflympics and National Teams shall serve as an exemplary model of equity, inclusion, and excellence.

The USADSF does not discriminate based on race, religion, national origin, gender, age, orientation, handicap, or veteran status.

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