On October 29 the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants prepared to battle it out in the seventh game of the World Series. Sports fans gathered at Northampton Community College, but not for the purpose of watching the game. Instead they came together to do what college president Mark Erickson described as "to lift up luminaries" who had an impact on the NCC athletic program and on the whole college.
At a ceremony presided over by Director of Athletics Troy Tucker, five new members were inducted into Northampton's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Nicole Jenson Morton '06 excelled in softball and volleyball, garnering all-conference, all-tournament, and all-state honors in both sports. The player whom former coach Sam Carrodo described as "the Mohammed Ali of pitchers" and "Snow White in cleats" struck out 235 batters, was a key hitter, and pitched 48 games without a loss between 2004 and 2006 as she led the softball team on a 78 game winning streak. Although she didn't think she wanted to go to college after high school, she graduated from NCC with honors and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
Ashley Capozzolo '08 made her mark on the basketball court. Some of those marks still stand. Although "vertically challenged" for a basketball player, she ranks 2nd in scoring with a two-year total of 877 points, and 2nd in career 3-pointers with a 139. "Every time [Coach] Art Wolfe would yell, I would make a 3-pointer," she chuckles. The demure-looking young woman was once described by a sportswriter as "the dangerous Ashley Capozzolo." During her years at NCC the women's basketball team captured two conference and one state title with Capozzolo earning both all-conference and all-state honors.
Mari Mulitsch '91 was a three-sport athlete, excelling in basketball, volleyball and softball. In addition to receiving all-conference, all-tournament, and all-state recognition in basketball, she also was an all-conference selection twice in softball. She still ranks third all-time in scoring in basketball at Northampton with 866 points and holds the college record for highest number of points scored in a game - 43. Her back-to-back free throws in a post-season game in basketball brought Northampton from behind to earn a trip to the state championships. In addition to working in business and teaching yoga, she now coaches basketball in the Nazareth Community League.
Joey Bamford '11 dreamed of playing baseball for a Division I team in college, but by his own admission he was "not the best of students" in high school. He got no offers. Seeing his potential, Coach Adrian Yaguez, recruited him to play for Northampton where he ranked third in the nation in batting in his first season with a .500 average. Bamford says he also "woke up in the classroom." His hard work paid off. He was offered an athletic scholarship to Monmouth College. When he signed his letter of intent for the D-1 program, the Arthur L. Scott Spartan Center resounded with the cheers of his teammates and fans chanting "Joey Bamford! Joey Bamford!"
According to Mardi McGuire-Closson the only athletic record she ever set was in swimming when she was 8 years old. That did not earn her a place in NCC's Athletic Hall of Fame. Instead she was honored for being an advocate for athletes - and for all students - during her 27-year career at Northampton. As dean of students and then as vice president for student affairs, McGuire-Closson oversaw the athletic program before she retired last spring. Athletic Director Troy Tucker credited her with being instrumental in facilitating NCC's entry into the National Junior College Athletic Association and in making sure the athletic and academic programs are in sync.
Each Hall of Fame inductee was introduced by a person of his or her choice. Capozzolo picked her mother who expressed the following hope for the Spartans of the future: "continue to play the game, always with sportsmanship and pride, setting new records, but, for sure, remembering those players who came before who added their own touch, their own magic and their own achievements, setting the bar higher to make the game even greater."