October 03, 2012
The sixth annual Northampton Community College Athletic Hall of Fame induction was a classy affair. Current and former athletes, coaches and guests mingled over finger food before the ceremony in the College Center on October 2 and celebrated with chocolate fondue afterwards. Men sported orange and black ties. President Erickson spoke. Troy Hein of Channel 69 sports introduced the presenters with warmth and professionalism.
In their acceptance speeches, all of the inductees focused more on their gratitude to coaches, family and colleagues than on their own impressive accomplishments.
First up was Amy Yeager Morgan '03, presented by tennis coach Jack Master, who described her selection as a "no brainer." Amy excelled both in tennis and basketball at NCC, playing on championship teams in both, earning all-tournament honors in basketball, all-state honors in tennis and capturing a state doubles title. But "facts don't always tell the whole story," Master said. "As coaches, every now and then you light up when you find a player who will bring to your team something no one else can bring - qualities like heart and desire." Amy was that kind of player, Master said.
Colleen Irelan '83 was also a two sport athlete, competing in softball and volleyball. Volleyball was her passion. She led the 1979 team to a conference championship, was twice named to all-conference and all-tournament teams, and became NCC's female athlete of the year. After graduating from Northampton, she went on to play at Juniata, leading the Hawks to the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament and becoming Juniata's first-ever NCAA volleyball All-American. Speaking of "NAKKAK," Amy said, "I had many great times here. Volleyball was a big part of it, but so was education. I learned a lot. I will continue to support 'NAKKAK' in any way I can."
In fact, Colleen and her friend and former coach Sherwood Hirschwood had been in Spartan Center the week before to see Northampton's volleyball team trounce Delaware County Community College to lengthen their winning streak to 12-0. She was impressed. "Keep it up," Colleen told the players who were seated together in the audience. "I'll be with you each step of the way."
The other three inductees into the Hall of Fame were staff members credited with creating quality opportunities for NCC student athletes by supporting the athletic program in a variety of ways. Sue Kubik who retired in June as vice president of institutional advancement helped to set up an athletic endowment which annually provides funding to the Athletic Department for equipment and other purposes. In her 37 years at Northampton, she also raised thousands of dollars for student scholarships and for the construction of the Spartan Center. "She had a special place in her heart for the athletic program," said her friend and golfing partner Mardi McGuire Closson, vice president of student affairs, noting that Sue was a talented athlete herself.
The man for whom the Spartan Center is now named was also honored. Back on campus for the first time since he retired last spring, Dr. Arthur Scott was lauded for his support for during his 36 years at Northampton, especially for overseeing the opening of the Spartan Center and for playing a critical role in the transition from the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference to the National Junior College Athletic Association during his 9-year presidency. In introducing Art, his friend and former colleague Jim Dunleavy, vice president for finance, revealed that Art had been a star athlete at Ramapo High and Gettysburg College and that he had been invited to try out for the Phillies and the Braves. He continues to enjoy tennis and golf, but Art quipped, "At my age, all athletic stories get embellished." He said he often runs into graduates who played sports at Northampton. He loves hearing about how much their experiences at Northampton meant to them.
Another long-time employee of NCC, Roseann Palsi, was introduced by Jocelyn Beck, the athletic director at Lehigh Carbon Community College. Joking that she felt like she was in "enemy territory" speaking at NCC, Jocelyn explained that she had gotten to know Roseann during the during the 23 years Roseann served as secretary/treasurer for the Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference on top of her other duties at NCC. In her work for the conference, Jocelyn said Roseann had to "keep track of 33 college and 33 athletic directors - not the easiest people to keep on track." Palsi described herself as "a very non-athletic person" when NCC's former athletic director, Bill Bearse, offered her a position in NCC's Athletic Department, but she said she grew through the experience.
Palsi encouraged student athletes to "look for your opportunities on the field, in your education, in your careers and your life. Opportunities are not always clearly marked. In fact, they may be disguised as unimportant or social or even wrapped in terror, but do look, appreciate the professionals around you who create your opportunities, and do not turn positive opportunities away. You will learn and grow in ways beyond your imagination."
At the conclusion of the ceremony, NCC's athletic director Troy Tucker asked Reneé Vannicola to come forward. Prior to being "drafted" to work in the President's Office this fall, Renee had served as the administrative assistant in athletics. "She meant so much to this program," Troy said. "After 21 years of doing this work at 7 institutions, I can tell you that nobody is better at what she does than Reneé."
Enjoy pictures from the Hall of Fame in this gallery.
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