Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame Class Adds Six Inductees at Ceremony Held at The Dollar Loan Center
Hall welcomes five individuals and Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame officially enshrined the Class of 2023 tonight at The Dollar Loan Center in Henderson. This class included Connor Fields, Kenny Guinn, Kevin Higgins, Lon Kruger, Karen Weitz and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Including this induction class, the Hall of Fame now consists of 122 members.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are so excited to welcome a very deserving Class of 2023,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Jim Lambright. “This class includes the first American to win a gold medal in BMX in Connor Fields, three outstanding coaches and mentors that have put their stamp on their respective sports in Kevin Higgins, Lon Kruger and Karen Weitz, an educator and leader who changed the face of Nevada government in Kenny Guinn and the state’s largest sports facility in Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We’re honored to bestow upon them the state’s highest sports recognition by welcoming them to the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame.”
Fields is a long-time Las Vegan, graduate of Green Valley High School and one of the world’s most accomplished BMX racers. His impressive career includes a gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the first American to ever win Olympic gold in BMX racing. Fields turned pro in 2011 and began his quest to medal in the Olympics. In 2012, Fields qualified as part of the U.S. team for Olympics in London. Fields placed seventh, which fueled his fire to go for gold in 2016 in Rio. In 2020, Fields again qualified for the Olympics as part of the U.S. team in Tokyo, but a crash in the semifinals ended his hopes of a repeat. Fields retired from competitive cycling in 2022. In addition to his many charitable endeavors, he coaches aspiring BMX racers and conducts motivational speaking tours.
A former athlete at USC and Fresno State, Guinn proved time and again during his lifetime that he was one of Nevada’s finest educators, leaders and visionaries. When he arrived in Southern Nevada, Guinn coached a variety of youth sports, including football, basketball, baseball and track among others. Later, as superintendent of the Clark County School District, he led the department and was a huge proponent of expanding athletic programs. UNLV sought his assistance in righting the university in 1994, and as UNLV president he instituted administrative and policy changes that helped the university regain its momentum as an ever-expanding urban college. First elected governor in 1998 and re-elected in 2002, he changed the face of Nevada government. Among the dynamic and innovative programs he initiated was the Millennium Scholarship. Guinn passed away on July 22, 2010 at the age of 73.
Higgins is one of most influential baseball coaches and mentors in Las Vegas’ proud heritage on the diamond. Since 2010, he has guided the UNLV Baseball program, first as an assistant coach to oversee the team’s hitters, infielders and catchers and currently as the associate head coach. An outstanding player in his own right, Higgins was a two-time All-Pac 10 First Team selection at second base, tri-captain and recipient of the Mr. Sun Devil Award for Leadership at Arizona State University. In 1989 he was drafted in the 12th round by the San Diego Padres and spent five seasons in the organization, earning several notable honors in that span. Higgins continues to bring his expertise to the Rebels, with 28 Major League Baseball draftees from the roster over the past ten seasons.
Without question, Kruger is one of finest coaches to ever lead a team in Las Vegas, compiling a 161-71 (.694) record in his seven years at UNLV. During that stint, he coached the Runnin’ Rebels to the NCAA Tournament four of his last five seasons after the program appeared in only two of the previous 15 tournaments. Over his final five seasons in Las Vegas, Kruger’s teams posted a .743 winning percentage (127-44) and averaged 25.4 victories. His 2006-07 squad won 30 games and advanced to the Sweet 16. When Kruger retired he had amassed 674 career wins. Just as impressively, he is the only coach to win NCAA Tournament games with five different programs (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma). Throughout his career, his teams made the NCAA Tournament 20 times and he led four teams to the Sweet 16. Kruger’s teams reached the Final Four in 1994 with Florida and in 2016 with Oklahoma
An accomplished athlete at both the high school and collegiate level, Weitz never set out to be coach, much less one of the most successful girls’ high school basketball coaches in the country. After a successful collegiate athletic career that concluded at UNLV, she began her teaching and coaching career. In 1999, Weitz went to the newly opened Centennial High School to teach physical education and run the girls’ basketball program. The first Centennial team won the division title, city championship and posted a 30-1 record before losing in the state playoffs. In 2002, Weitz’s team won the Nevada large-school state basketball championship and completed a perfect 34-0 season. She has continued to win throughout her career. With 691 wins as the girls’ coach at Cheyenne and Centennial, she built a dynasty with 13 state championships, including seven straight titles.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway has become the most diverse motorsports facility in the world and the largest sports venue in Las Vegas. Hosting more than 2,000 event days per year, LVMS is also one of the busiest sports facilities as well. The speedway opened in 1996 as the brain child of 2004 Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame inductee Richie Clyne. In 1998, the NASCAR Cup Series made its first stop ever in Las Vegas with the inaugural Las Vegas 400. That event has been run annually since and has become one of the crown jewels on the NASCAR schedule. LVMS has also branched far beyond the racing world. Since 2011, the speedway has hosted the Electric Daisy Carnival – the largest electronic music festival in North America that draws almost a half million people over three days.
Over the past 25 years, the SNSHF has awarded more than 80 scholarships to Clark County students. This year, seven graduating seniors are recipients. They are Marcus Young (David Humm Scholarship Award for Courage); Daphne Egelhoff, Logan Frazier-Smith, Joanne Lee, Georgia Vigo and Marley Spielberg (Rich Abajian Leadership Scholarships) and Cassandra Whitman (Simon Keith Heart of a Champion Award).
The Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization committed to recognizing the outstanding achievements by Southern Nevada athletes, both in the world of sports and the local community. Proceeds from the event will be donated to organizations committed to the support and enhancement of Southern Nevada youth through active participation in programs designed to promote leadership, values and character through sports.