(This story appeared in the February 19th issue of The Stall, the student run newspaper of Brookdale Community College.)
Feb. 6, 2015 will forever go down as a historic night in Brookdale athletics history. The athletics department officially inducted seven players, a coach, an athletic director, and a team into their athletic Hall-of-Fame. This was the first induction since the inaugural one in 1979, which consisted of former Major League Baseball players John “The Count” Montefusco and Denny Walling as well as Leon Zuckerman, who was the founding trustee of the college and was also key in the development of the athletics program at Brookdale.
The selection committee for the Class of 2015 consisted of Shawn Noel, Director of Athletics, Tim Zeiss, executive director, Foundation & Alumni Affairs, Lauren Watson, President of the Alumni Association, Tony Graham, who is a former Asbury Park Press sports writer, Jim Palumbo, former Dean of enrollment development and Student Affairs, Doug Welsh, a current professor and former men’s soccer and golf coach, and Shannon Ventre, associate director of athletics.
To be eligible for consideration, a nominee “must have been disassociated with the college by virtue of graduation, advancement in career, or transfer to another institution of higher education for at least five years or have been disassociated with his/her coaching or administrative responsibilities for a period of five years,” according to the event program.
The event was located at the Sheraton Hotel in Eatontown. The ceremony itself started at 7:00 p.m. which was preceded by a cocktail hour, where everyone was able to chat and catch up.
Noel and BCC President Dr. Maureen Murphy kicked off the event with a few words. They were then followed by Jim Hunter, the night’s emcee, Brookdale alum and current Baltimore Orioles broadcaster, who got the ball rolling.
Mike Grimsley – Men’s Soccer – 1986-87
“Mike Grimsley was an NSCAA All-American during his sophomore campaign at Brookdale in 1987. After Brookdale, Grimsley went onto become a two-time All-American (1989-90) at Greensboro College, where he was also twice named the Dixie Conference Player of the Year. In 1991, Grimsley was inducted into the Greensboro Athletics Hall-of-Fame.”
Bill Hill – Baseball – 1978-79
“Bill Hill earned honorable mention All-American honors as an outfielder at Brookdale Community College in 1979 and was drafted by the New York Mets as an outfielder in the 16th round that same spring. After Brookdale, Hill went on to play football at Rutgers University under head coach Frank Burns. Hill played five years of professional football, enjoying stints with the Ottawa Rough Riders (CFL—1981), Cleveland Browns (1982-83), New Jersey Generals (USFL—1985) and the Dallas Cowboys (1987).”
Hill came to Brookdale after attending the University of Virginia on a football scholarship. He left Charlottesville in 1977 and enrolled at Brookdale in January 1978. He was inducted into the Hall-of-Fame by his former head baseball coach, Paul MacLaughlin.
“He was the epitome of a student-athlete,” MacLaughin said. “He was ahead of Mookie Wilson on the Mets’ depth chart but walked away to play football.”
Hill has more than 20 years of coaching experience and is currently the head football coach at Asbury Park High School.
Ron and Abel Lampa – Men’s Tennis – 2001-03
“Ron and Abel Lampa jointly helped the Brookdale men’s tennis program make its mark in the early 2000’s. In 2002, the duo took the Region XIX and the National Championship titles at number one doubles for the first time in Brookdale history. Each was a power on his own as Abel earned first-singles National runner up in 2003 and second-singles National runner up in 2002; while Ron was crowned second-singles National champion in 2001.”
Lisa Fiorillo Lanza – Women’s Soccer – 1998-99
“Lisa Fiorillo was Brookale’s first ever two-time All-American in women’s soccer, earning second-team honors in 1998 and first-team honors in 1999. As tournament MVP, Fiorillo led the program to its first ever Region XIX Championship, advancing to its first ever NJCAA National tournament appearance in 1998. Leading the squad with 33 goals (third best in the Nation and a then team record), the squad recorded a program-best 18-1-1 record. A scholar athlete, Fiorillo earned Academic All-American honors and was selected as Brookdale’s NAGWS (National Association for Girls and Women in Sport) Woman of the year.”
Lisa was inducted into the Hall-of-Fame by her father, Joseph Fiorillo, who was born and raised in Italy. He wanted to teach the game of soccer to his kids after his family moved to the United States. Lisa started playing soccer at the age of five. When Lisa was 14, she was a starting forward for her varsity Manalapan High School team as a freshman.
Jen Rosant – Softball and Women’s Basketball – 1996-97
“Jen Rosant was a dual threat for the Jersey Blues; succeeding on the basketball court and the softball diamond. Brookdale’s first-ever two-sport All-American, Rosant earned the honors in softball (1996 & 1997) and women’s basketball (1997-98). Rosant was an integral part of Brookdale’s inaugural women’s basketball team—a squad that has since made a splash on the National level. After Brookdale, Rosant played softball at Seton Hall University where she was named to the All-Big East and All Northeast Teams. In addition to her success as a student-athlete, Rosant won two National championships as assistant softball coach in 2002 and 2005.”
Rosant was one of many athletes on the night inducted by Bo Scannapieco, who was her coach in softball and remains the softball coach today.
“I got a call one night from one of my assistants who told me ‘I have one more player you have to look at.’ I told him no, our team is set,” Scannapieco said. “He told me ‘I promise you one thing, you won’t be sorry.’ I told him that I would let her come practice with us. It turns out that Jen was one of the best athletes who ever came to Brookdale.”
Maryann Soares Ribeiro – Softball – 1998-99
“Maryann Soares was Brookdale softball’s first-ever two-time first-team NJCAA All-American in 1998 and 1999. A well-rounded shortstop with a powerful bat, Soares held the NJCAA National record for homeruns scored in National championship—the same year she held the then-program record of 73 RBIs in a season. Soares was also a two-time first-team All-Region and All-GSAC honoree, in addition to being named the NAGWS Woman of the Year in 1998. Soares then went on to complete her playing career—and degree—at Monmouth University.”
Soares was inducted by Coach Bo Scannapieco, who shared his story on how he recruited her to play for him at Brookdale.
“I heard about this player that was supposed to be the best player in the state,” Scannapieco said. “Well it took me five minutes of watching her play to realize that she was the best player in the state. I figured I had no chance of getter her; she was being recruited by 20 D1 schools.”
Scannapieco knew that it would not be easy to get Soares to play at Brookdale with all of that competition, but he always knew that he was “number two.”
“She told me ‘I’m looking at 15 schools.’ Where am I number 15? She said yup. I told her I’m number two, you just don’t know me yet.”
“I had to recruit her through her guidance counselor. They would keep me updated when certain schools would drop out. Then one day she told me ‘I’m looking at eight schools.’ Where am I number eight? She said yup. Again I told her I’m number two, you just don’t know me yet. Eventually it came down to Brookdale and Rider and she decided on Rider. I told her ‘I told you that I was always number two!’ One day I got a phone call from one of the professors telling me ‘there’s a young lady who wants to play for you.’ I asked who it was and he said Maryann Soares – I cut him off and I said ‘Hold her right there I’m coming!’ She is the best to ever play at Brookdale.”
Coach Paul MacLaughlin – Baseball – 1971-98
“Legendary and NJCAA Hall-of-Fame Coach Paul MacLaughlin started the baseball program at Brookdale. In his 28 years, MacLaughlin held an all-time record of 877-248-2 and took the team to eight NJCAA World Series eight times. MacLaughlin won 24 GSAC championships – including 13 straight— and seven Region XIX Championships. MacLaughlin’s illustrious career is highlighted by the individual accolades his players produced: 17 All-Americans; 85 All-Region honorees and 71 All-GSAC award winners; and 59 players drafted by MLB teams.”
Coach MacLaughlin was also inducted by Bo Scannapieco, who referred to MacLaughlin as one of the most influential people in his career.
“I owe Paul my career,” Scannapieco said. “I went to get a grade changed and I decided to stop by to see Paul. I was going to become a teacher and he asked me what I was doing next year since my student teaching was done. I said I wasn’t sure. He said why don’t you try coaching? It never crossed my mind before but I gave it a shot, and 39 years later, I’m still coaching.”
For all of the players that MacLaughlin has coached over the years, including numerous Major League Baseball draftees, winning is what is most important.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is my winning percentage which, when I retired, was the highest percentage of any junior college in the country (78%),” MacLaughlin said.”
The baseball field on campus is named in his honor.
Bob Walsack – Athletic Director/Men’s Basketball Coach – 1971-97
“Bob Walsack was charged with starting the first-ever athletics program at Brookdale Community College in 1971. In its inception, the program housed four programs: men’s soccer, men’s basketball, golf and cross-country. Then, in 1974 wrestling was added, as was the first opportunity for women with women’s tennis. Women’s soccer was the second opportunity for female student-athletes as Walsack started that program in 1981. Not just an administrator, Walsack enjoyed 155-103 career record as head men’s basketball coach. Always concerned with the goodwill of the student-athlete population and the community at-large, Walsack took his generosity off the court and helped build homes for Habitat for Humanity for 12 years.”
Walsack was inducted by current athletic director Shawn Noel.
“When I started the athletics program, we did not have athletic facilities,” Walsack said. “We played our home games at CBA and we had practice in the parking lot at Brookdale. For baseball, we played at a little league field and high schools.”
Walsack could not be happier with what he did in his career, and says that at the end of the day, it is not work if you are having fun.”
“If you find something you enjoy, you won’t work a day in your life,” Walsack said. “I enjoyed my work at Brookdale and being here tonight is the icing on the cake for me.”
2002 Softball Team
The 2002 softball team that won the program’s first National Championship was inducted by their coach, Bo Scannapieco. The 2002 National Tournament took place at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois on May 17-18. Brookdale’s first two games were against Delta College (Michigan) and Rochester Community and Technical College (Minnesota).
“We won the first game 1-0 and the second game we threw a no-hitter and won 9-0,” Scannapieco said. “The next game we played against a team that had won 10 straight national championship games (College of DuPage – Illinois). We were down 2-0 early and then we got one back. We scored three runs in the fifth and we won that game 5-2.”
After winning three games in a row on day one, the Jersey Blues were off to the Championship round of the double-elimination tournament. They lost the first game against Hudson Valley Community College (New York) in a close game. This set up a winner-take-all final game against the same Hudson Valley team. Coach Bo turned to Marissa Busch in this decisive game, and she was more than motivated for the task at hand.
“Marissa’s sister pitched on the team in ‘97 and lost the National Championship game that year. She was waiting for that opportunity since then when she was 13. She allowed one hit and retired the last 19 batters. We won that game 2-0.”
This sealed the National Championship for Brookdale, their first softball title in program history. The team started that season 15-8, which was their worst start in eight years. Then they won 31 games in a row all the way through that 1-0 loss in the championship round. Members from the team came from various parts of the country to be at the ceremony.
“These girls came back here from all over to be here tonight. Some came from California, some from Florida. I could not be prouder of them.”
This was truly a fantastic event put together by the athletics’ department as well as a great night in Brookdale history. Congratulations to everyone who was inducted, all are well deserved.