While every athlete strives for a championship victory or an MVP season, only a few can have the distinction of making it into their sport’s hall of fame. It is the moment when a person is cemented in history as one of the best to ever play the game.
Although it may not be Canton or Cooperstown, Saturday evening’s induction ceremony for the Manhattan College Athletic Hall of Fame enshrined eight individual athletes and two teams as the newest group of the greatest ever to don the Jasper green and white.
“It is without a doubt a crowning achievement,” Peter Sweeney, Ph.D. said in his opening remarks for the evening as he explained the history of the hall of fame and what it means for those joining its ranks. “We continue to honor the longstanding tradition of athletic excellence at the college while continuing to break new ground.”
Sweeney, class of 1964, finished his term as chair of the athletic hall of fame committee with this year’s induction.
That “new ground” that he mentioned was a reference to some unique members of the 2015 induction class.
For the first time in the hall of fame’s 37 years, a women’s volleyball player, Goefele Luka Van Cauteren, class of 2004, and a wrestler, Stephen Herishen (‘95), were honored.
The other six individual inductees included Karen Chevolleau (‘92 — women’s track and field), Christer Hagberg (‘98 — men’s track and field), Siobhan Kilkenny (‘03 — women’s basketball), Joseph Maguire (‘74 — men’s swimming and diving), Martin Redmond (‘87 — men’s cross country/track and field) and Russ Williams (‘92 — men’s basketball).
During the evening’s celebrations, Athletic Director Noah LeFevre shared each athlete’s individual accomplishments and statistical achievements with the more than 200 alumni, friends, family members and teammates in attendance. In addition, several existing members of the hall of fame were present.
“It truly is a brotherhood and sisterhood of the highest magnitude and exclusivity,” he said.
The honorees then had the chance to offer words of gratitude and thanks for being inducted. Most shared personal stories of coaches or teammates that impacted their lives, all recalling fondly their time as Manhattan College athletes.
The group represented not only various sports but also diverse backgrounds. This year’s honorees included athletes originally hailing from Sweden (Hagberg), Belgium (Van Cauteren), Jamaica (Chevolleau) and Ireland (Kilkenny and Redmond).
Russ Williams, a surprisingly rare New York native among the bunch, was a star men’s basketball player who helped lead the team to its first regular season MAAC championship before graduating in ‘92.
“I’m just a kid from Queens,” he said, “and you made me the happiest man on the planet.”
In addition to highlighting the achievements of each individual athlete inductee, the ceremony honored two notable teams in Jasper athletic history for their collective accomplishments.
Representatives of the ‘82 club football and ‘02 women’s volleyball teams were on hand to help celebrate their respective achievements and accept a silver cup and individual mugs.
The ‘02 women’s volleyball team boasted a historic record of 30-4 and a trip to the NCAA tournament during a season that included a 22-match winning streak.
The ‘82 club football team had similar levels of success. They were 8-2 on the season and reached the National Collegiate Football Association championship game, only falling to then top-ranked Bentley University.
While clearly a hall of fame for commemorating player athletic prowess and success, the hall is also open to notable athletic directors, coaches and athletics staff. Even friends and alumni of the college who have made significant contributions to Manhattan athletics are eligible for nomination.
Selecting the new members of the hall of fame is one of the several tasks undertaken by the college’s Alumni Society.
Any person can submit a nomination for a team or individual to join the hall of fame. This form includes a description of their qualifications, backed up by newspapers articles, letters from former coaches, athletic records and an explanation of achievements. Individual athletes must have graduated over 10 years ago in order to be eligible.
A complete listing of the hall of fame members can be found online on the GoJaspers website. As the years go on and athletic seasons continue, there will be sure to be many more notable athletes worthy of joining them.
However, with fewer than 300 current total members, it is indeed a select group.