The Sweet Briar College Athletics and Riding Hall of Fame welcomed four new members during a ceremony on Sunday morning. Makanah Dunham Morris ’66, Elizabeth “Keedie” Grones Leonard ’76, Sally Old Kitchin ’76 and Missy Ackerman ’87 are the first to be inducted since 2012.
The brunch ceremony began with words from Director of Athletics and Head Tennis Coach Teresa Boylan and President Phillip C. Stone, who both spoke on the importance of the legacy and heritage these four women have created at Sweet Briar. Following the moving speeches given by each inductee, Director of Riding Mimi Wroten ’93 closed the festivities with a reminder that we must continue to foster the relationships with those around us, whether human or horse, to continue helping Sweet Briar prosper.
Below is more information about each inductee, who will soon have plaques hung in the Fitness and Athletics Center to preserve her legacy.
Makanah Dunham Morriss ’66
A talented rider from a young age, the Rev. Makanah Morriss came to Sweet Briar in 1963 with her twin sister, Sally, and her show mare, Gay Chapeau. Morriss showed and hunted at Sweet Briar and at neighboring colleges and hunt clubs and was a trail guide, taking other students out on the College’s many trails.
She was chair of the Sweet Briar Horse Show her senior year, and prior to that was a member of the Riding Council, the YWCA and the Campus Chest Committee. She also was an editor for the literary magazine and co-chair for Hunter Trials.
Morriss has shown dedication to Sweet Briar and the riding program for many years. She served as a committee member for Reunion gifts and Boxwood Circle, on the Visiting Committee on Riding, and has been a class secretary. Rev. Morriss is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister. For her class’s 50th Reunion in 2016, she officiated as one of four members of clergy for the Service of Remembrance.
Morriss’ love of Sweet Briar has lasted beyond her four years as a student, making significant contributions to the College through her dedication, involvement and support. She has stayed engaged, attending events at the College and joining Friends of Riding.
Sally Old Kitchin ’76
A devoted and active member of the Sweet Briar College community since the day she stepped onto campus, Sally Old Kitchin has demonstrated over the years what it means to be a model alumnae volunteer.
A member of the tennis team during her college years, Kitchin is known best for her dedication to Sweet Briar as an alumna. From alumnae tours in the 1970s to serving as an alumnae club president in the 1980s and even serving on the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors in the 2000s, she has shown continued and consistent dedication to Sweet Briar.
Kitchin has served the College in a variety of volunteer leadership fundraising roles, including serving on committees for the Boxwood Circle, Fitness and Athletics Center gifts, Parents Steering and Reunion gifts. Her generous, long-standing support of Sweet Briar’s fundraising efforts has helped to improve the College for students of all generations.
Kitchin received Sweet Briar’s Outstanding Alumna Award in 2011 for her continued and outstanding volunteer contributions to the College. Over the years, Sally has offered innovative insight and led initiatives that significantly improve the quality of the athletic programs. Sally is the quintessential athletic friend, supporting all varsity athletic programs at every turn and never hesitating to ask what more she can do to further the mission and impact of our programs.
Kitchin is being inducted into the Sweet Briar College Athletics and Riding Hall of Fame for her significant contributions over the decades to the College’s athletics program. Her constant, unwavering support of the athletics department has positively impacted the experience of all student athletes at Sweet Briar College.
Elizabeth “Keedie” Grones Leonard ’76
A talented rider during her time as a student at Sweet Briar and a dedicated member of the College’s riding program staff for approximately 20 years after graduation, Keedie Leonard has demonstrated extraordinary service to Sweet Briar College.
Leonard was a member of the varsity riding team all four years at Sweet Briar and served on the Riding Council and the Athletic Association. She was also a trail guide and qualified teaching assistant for Paul D. Cronin, director of the riding program.
Upon graduation, Leonard became stable manager at the Harriet Howell Rogers Riding Center at Sweet Briar, caring for the horses and organizing and managing riding competitions such as VHSA horse shows, IHSA competitions, National ANRC championships, Regional IHSA championships, annual Hunter Trials, and the annual hunter pace. Throughout her time at Sweet Briar, Leonard was known for her positivity and her leadership as a student and as a vital member of the riding program staff.
After Sweet Briar, Leonard operated and managed top equestrian events at the Virginia Horse Center and the Keswick Annual Horse Show. She is still a highly sought-after horse show manager, known for her warm, professional demeanor.
Leonard is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for her extraordinary service to Sweet Briar, its students and the riding program.
Missy Ackerman ’87
A standout field hockey and lacrosse player during her time at Sweet Briar, Missy Ackerman has gone on to a very successful coaching and athletics administration career.
Ackerman is currently serving as the assistant athletic director for business operations, corporate sponsorships and marketing at Case Western Reserve University. Prior to her current appointment, Ackerman worked for Longwood University and Saint Gertrude High School in Richmond.
In addition to her experience in athletic administration, Ackerman was an accomplished college lacrosse and field hockey coach, including five years at Sweet Briar. She coached 17 Academic All-Americans and 11 National All-Americans over her career. She was named Old Dominion Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in women’s lacrosse three times and in field hockey twice.
During her collegiate playing career, Ackerman was named All-Conference twice in both field hockey and lacrosse. During her senior campaign, she was named ODAC Player of the Year and an All-American for both sports. Her Sweet Briar career concluded with 60 goals during the 1987 lacrosse season.
Ackerman is being inducted into the Sweet Briar College Athletics and Riding Hall of Fame for her athletic achievement and exemplary leadership qualities during her four years as a varsity athlete and for her extraordinary service to the College as the head lacrosse coach.