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Mercy in Nigeria colours

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (July 27, 2015) – Mercy Akide and Marty Shirley, for their achievements both as soccer players and as coaches, will be inducted into the Milligan College Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 23, as part of the college's annual Homecoming festivities. Akide played for the Buffs in a record-breaking 1999 season and later went on to achieve success at the international level. Shirley played four years for the Buffs in a record-breaking career from 1987 to 1990 and later returned to Milligan as a coach for five successful seasons from 2001 to 2005.

Akide, from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, holds three Milligan soccer records: goals in a single game (7), goals in a single season (42) and points in a single season (99). Her 42 goals in 1999 helped Milligan record its winningest season in the history of the soccer program as the team went 19-2-1 and was undefeated in the Tennessee Valley Athletic Conference at 5-0.

A communications major, Akide came to Milligan with previous experience at the professional soccer level. Akide continued her professional career with appearances in three FIFA Women's World Cups: Sweden in 1995 and USA in 1999 and 2003. Akide also competed in the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004). In all five international appearances, Akide represented her native Nigeria.

After her Milligan career, Akide played one season with the Hampton Roads Piranhas of the W-League then moved to California where she competed for the San Diego Spirit of the Women's United Soccer Association. With the Spirit, she became the first African woman Player of the Year.

In 2003, Akide rejoined Hampton Roads where she spent three seasons adding to her Hall of Fame resume. In her first season back with the Piranhas, Akide won the league's Most Valuable Player award after scoring the winning goal in the National Championship game. She was later named by FIFA as one of its 15 Ambassadors.

Following her playing days, Akide became a coach and youth development director for various U-16 and U-13 teams in the United States. Akide was inducted into the United Soccer Leagues' Hall of Fame in 2013.

Akide, who was on the cover of the 1999 Women's World Cup official program, married Colin Udoh in 2004. They currently reside in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with two children.

Shirley came to Milligan in 1987 from St. Petersburg, Florida, and Gibbs Senior High School ('87) before playing four years for the Buffs. He scored 13 goals and registered five assists in his freshman season on the way to 37 career goals and 16 career assists (90 points). Shirley's career marks for goals and points stood as school records until Dalan Telles broke them in the 2001 season. Shirley's mark for career assists stood until they were broken by Nahom Takle in 2012.

In the Milligan uniform, Shirley played alongside several other previous record holders and prominent goal-scorers such as Eric Unold, Christopher Dotson and Brian Marsh.

Shirley graduated from Milligan in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education and health, including a minor in Bible, and went on to East Tennessee State University, where he received a Master of Arts degree in sports management ('02).

Before coming back to his alma mater, Shirley taught physical education at Central Christian School in St. Petersburg for second, fifth and sixth graders, and he taught health for sixth graders. Additionally, Shirley coached local soccer clubs such as Largo United, the Azalea Eagles, the Northeast Raiders, and the Clearwater Charges.

Shirley returned to Milligan in 2001 as the men's soccer coach from 2001 to 2005 while coaching the women in the 2002 season. During his five-year coaching span with the Milligan men, Shirley led the Buffs to four winning seasons, including a 15-win season in 2001. Among those coached by Shirley are Hall of Fame inductees Donald Onyango (2005) and Bianca Spoto (2013), and he helped recruit fellow class of 2015 inductee Mercy Akide.

Shirley coached the 2002 women's soccer team to an 18-5 (8-1 AAC) record and the program's fourth conference title.

Shirley currently lives with his wife, Heidi Sue Clouse Shirley, who is also a Milligan graduate ('93), and their daughters, Nicole Fu Lin Shirley (11) and Kylie Meng Rose Shirley (7) in Clermont, Florida.

Milligan's Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1993 to honor outstanding athletes, coaches, and other significant participants in the athletics program of Milligan. Akide and Shirley, who follow last year's class of Megan Aldridge Harmon and Ryan Starr, will be the 79th and 80th members to be inducted.
 

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