Viking alumni inducted into Hall of Fame

Skylar Blankenship
Sports Editor

Athletes, coaches and contributors all gathered together on Oct. 7 to praise one another for their phenomenal athletic performance. COURTESY OF VINCENT GIORDANO

Athletes, coaches and contributors all gathered together on Oct. 7 to praise one another for their phenomenal athletic performance.

The accomplishments of former students, coaches and contributors were recognized and celebrated at the Hall of Fame induction for the Class of 2017 on Oct. 7.

The first ceremony in a decade was held in the McDonough Sports Complex, and included a reception and an induction ceremony. Family, friends, coaches, alumni, administration, the athletic department and many others were in attendance. Together, they created an atmosphere of pride, gratitude and accomplishment that embodied the overall spirit of Hudson Valley.

“We have five former student athletes, a former vice president, the all-time winning head football coach and the national championship hockey team being inducted today,” said Justin Hoyt, Hudson Valley’s athletic director, beginning the ceremony.

Before the inductees were acknowledged, Hudson Valley President Drew Matonak, who is retiring after this year, was honored for his contributions and support with the creation of The Dr. Andrew J. Matonak Character award. This honor will be bestowed annually at the end-of-year banquet. He was also presented with his own jersey as a parting gift.

Chris Onorato, a sports photojournalist from NewsChannel 13 and former news reporter for WWNY, acted as master of ceremonies for the event.

Lindsey Bradt, a 2002 graduate, was inducted for accomplishments in basketball and softball. Bradt received numerous awards and recognitions during her career at Hudson Valley, including the Lester Higbee Memorial Award as the Most Outstanding Athlete, on two separate occasions.

“When she was younger, I tried to go to all of her games,” said Mary Dreis of her grand-daughter, Bradt.

Tracey Chesebrough (Sears), a 2007 graduate, was inducted for her accomplishments in softball. While at the Valley, Chesebrough earned the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year, twice, as well as created pitching records for the NJCAA Division III.

Kristina Jenkins, a 2007 graduate, was inducted for her accomplishments in bowling. Honors received by Jenkins as a student at the Valley include a two-time All-American, the Kerm Helmer Award and the Betty Jo Graber Award.

“Kristina Jenkins was an outstanding bowler. I’m very proud and glad that she is being inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Mark Ray, Jenkins’ former Hudson Valley bowling coach.

Emmanuel Marc, a 2005 graduate, was inducted for his accomplishments in football. While a student, Marc received the Offensive Most Valuable Player for the JC Football Network and was the 2003 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year.

Darnell Stapleton, a 2005 graduate, was inducted for his accomplishments in football. After Hudson Valley, Stapleton went on to Rutgers University as a scholarship student-athlete and then signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Stapleton’s family, like most attendees, expressed their excitement to be at the event and pride for those who were honored.

Robert JoJo, Hudson Valley’s football coach from 1997 to 2004, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the football program. He guided the team to four Region Three Championships. He also received the 2004 Paul Bishop Award.

Willie Hammett, a 1966 graduate and former Dean of Students and Vice President of Academic Affairs, was inducted for his contributions as an athlete and administrator. As a student, Hammett was on the basketball and cross country teams. Hammett was unable to attend.

Former head coach Ron Kuhl accepted the award on behalf of the 2001 men’s ice hockey team. The team had a 16-game winning streak and went on to to win Nationals, a first for HVCC’s Program.

“We had a tremendous group of players. [They] all worked super hard. The team they became is the reason we won the championship,” said Kuhl.

Each speech given by the recipients shared a lot of common themes, like recounted memories, gratitude, the importance of hard work and a sense of home they found at Hudson Valley.
The nomination committee consisted of hall of famer Phil Brown, Director of Athletics Justin Hoyt, head football coach Mike Muehling, head cross country coach Sarah Popovics and Ron Mulson, a professor.

Members of the selection committee included Louis Coplin, Alycia Courter, Annette Crawford-Harris, Colleen Ferris, Justin Hoyt, Christina Kelly, Regina LaGatta, Dr. Drew Matonak, Jay Pokines, Dr. Alexander Popovics, Denise Potenza, Joseph Prest, Thomas Rogan, Thomas Rogan, Jayquan Rouse, Nathanael Savasta, Don Schmidt, Adam Sopris and Sandra Wimmer.

Several members of these committees were in attendance, as well as others who worked behind the scenes to make the event possible.

Other notable attendees include Donald Schmidt, the first full time Athletic director, and his wife Nancy, who assisted the advancement of Hudson Valley.

The reception was catered by Mazzone Hospitality, and included beverages and finger foods like steak crostinis, stuffed mushrooms and pretzel-crusted sliders.

The event was also taped by Viking Video Technologies, the full-service video and communications production house that is affiliated with the college. This recording can be found on the athletic department’s website.

The class of 2017 was also recognized at the Homecoming game that evening during half time.

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