Thunderous dunks. Threes that snap the net. Concerts that rattle the bleachers. And one live debate that launched Longwood into the national spotlight.
For 42 years, Willett Hall has been home to some of the most iconic moments in Longwood history from its commanding central campus presence on Brock Commons. After this season—the final one the Lancers will play on Willett hardwood—Willett will continue to be used for academic classes while transitioning to a different role within athletics with its Basketball Performance Center. It will also house space for new initiatives in sport, recreation and wellness.
Iconic players have competed in Willett Hall throughout its history— names that not only adorn the walls but live on in the memories of alumni who sat in the bleachers and cheered them on. Jerome Kersey ’84. Kevin Jefferson ’90. Ana Litton ’94. Colin Ducharme ’01. Carmille Barnette ’91. Antwan Carter ’12. Akila Smith ’22. And, of course, the winningest coach in Longwood history, Shirley Duncan.
Willett Hall, originally Lancer Hall when it was opened in 1980, has gone through many iterations and upgrades over the last four decades. From 2006-08, extensive renovations led to upgraded seating, an addition on the back of the building for rehab and treatment, new lighting and expanded locker rooms that transformed the facility into a modern gym fit for a new Division I program.
The building is named after Longwood’s 20th president, Dr. Henry I. Willett Jr., who served from 1967-81 and oversaw Longwood’s transformation from an all-female school primarily for teachers to a fully coeducational and comprehensive institution. Willett Hall was completed and opened while he was president.
1. NOV. 22, 1980 Freshman Jerome Kersey ’84 pulls down 12 rebounds as Longwood defeats University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in the first game at newly opened Lancer Hall. That same day, sophomore Cindy Eckel ’83 scores 15 points and 7 rebounds to lead the women’s team past William & Mary in their first game.
2. APRIL 30, 1995 At the heartfelt request of Rotunda editor Jennie Fennelle ’95, the Ramones cancel their scheduled show in Charlottesville to rock Lancer Hall instead.
3. SEPT. 9, 2004 Lancer Hall is renamed Willett Hall in honor of former Longwood president Dr. Henry I. Willett (1967-81).
4. NOV. 13, 2007 Longwood posts its first home win as a Division I university, beating Norfolk State 80-67.
5. AUG. 22, 2010 The first G.A.M.E., which starts the scarf tradition, is held as students gather for a pep rally in Willett Hall.
6. JAN. 19, 2013 Tristan Carey ’14 drops 40 points as the Lancers beat in-state rival Liberty 102-101 on Senior Night.
7. OCT. 4, 2016 Millions watch as Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine take the stage for the only U.S. Vice Presidential Debate of the 2016 election.
8. DEC. 6, 2016 Willett Hall’s basketball court is named in memory of Jerome Kersey ’84.
9. MARCH 20, 2019 Longwood men post the university’s first Division I post-season win in a blowout victory vs. Southern Mississippi, 90-68.
10. FEB. 10, 2022 The cameras roll for the first nationally televised basketball game live from Farmville on ESPNU. The Lancers top USC Upstate 85-72.
11. MARCH 13, 2022 “The Moment” as CBS cameras go live inside Willett Hall in front of a thousand fans who came out for the NCAA’s Selection Sunday.
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