In the early 1980s, the only sports offered at St. Joseph’s College were women’s equestrian and men’s basketball. The Golden Eagles have come a long way since then. Of course, the Long Island Campus athletic department has added new teams, and with them, compiled an impressive list of accolades ranging from individual and team championships to national records and scoring titles.
Nineteen total teams, a new gymnasium and sports complex, great coaches and athletic directors have all contributed to the program’s development, but most crucial to its accumulated success are the student-athletes.
At the fifth annual Golden Eagles Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on October 5, SJC honored the accomplishments of five stellar athletes and two extraordinary teams who lifted St. Joseph’s to the top shelf of athletic excellence.
This year’s honorees included Angela Chiarella Campagna ’96, Brian Lynch ’96, Christina King ’01, Michael Reichert ’04, Timothy Trava ’04, the 1993 women’s tennis team and the 1994 baseball team. Game changers both on and off the court, each has achieved so much, leaving a lasting impact on the College while setting a precedent of spirit and sportsmanship for student-athletes to follow.
“I can see how much pride and dedication the teams, coaches, athletes and their families have for the College and the athletics program here,” said Paige Carbone ‘02, director of alumni relations and Hall of Fame co-chair. “Their stories are great and I was so honored to be a part of the induction and to hear the impact SJC athletics has made on their lives.”
Fittingly, the induction ceremony took place under the numerous conference championship banners now donning the rafters of the John A. Danzi Athletic Center gymnasium, a testament to the history that the 2012 inductees helped craft with their stories of persevering triumph.
A common thread shared among the night’s presenters was the enormity of each honoree’s contributions to St. Joseph’s and its athletics department. These athletes brought relevance to a small SJC athletics program and firmly pinned the Golden Eagles on the larger map of NCAA Division III athletics.
Hall of Fame coach Gary Smith recalled his old go-to recruiting hook, “If you come to St. Joseph’s, you will have the chance to be the big fish in a small pond.” This is what Mr. Smith repeatedly told high school standouts in an attempt to corral local talent to a budding sports program in its early stages.
Certainly, with the help of some of SJC’s best athletes, the Golden Eagles continue to soar higher and higher, reaching new peaks each year. What once was a “small pond” is now a sea of tradition and spectacular achievement.
“When we started the Hall of Fame, this is what we hoped would happen,” explained Don Lizak, athletic director and Hall of Fame co-chair. “It is always great to bring alumni back, especially those who achieved such great things while at St. Joseph’s and were so instrumental in the evolution of this program.”
Now, thanks to the contributions of extraordinary athletes like those who were inducted this year, the Hall of Fame stands as a shining beacon of accomplishment, a symbol of the athletic greatness that has been achieved over the years at St. Joseph’s College, each member contributing his or her own distinctive piece.
Frank Mulzoff, a 2008 Hall of Fame inductee, was on hand for the induction ceremony and observed the remarkable progression the department has made since his tenure as the first SJC athletic director. “With help from a key group of people and the addition of new facilities, St. Joseph’s has really built a great sports program and turned it into what it is today. I have seen tremendous expansions in the athletics department at St. Joseph’s College, and I know the program will continue to grow and increase its honors.”
Many things have changed since the athletic department’s inception. Resulting from the success of Hall-of-Fame-caliber athletes, new plaques and awards fill the trophy cases and championship banners line rafters. But despite the growth of the program, several things remain the same. The Golden Eagles persistently maintain a standard of sportsmanship, excellence, dedication and enthusiasm. “And one thing that I don’t think will ever change,” added Mr. Mulzoff, “there will always be geese out on the field.”