News & Events

Memories, Milestones Shared at Hall of Fame Induction

June 15, 2009

Surrounded by family, friends, teammates, and coaches, eight of the finest competitors in the history of Hartwick College joined the Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 13.

Sponsored by the Wick Athletic Association, the induction ceremony in Stack Lounge, Dewar Union, marked the inclusion of basketball and softball star Stephanie Winn Maxwell '99; 1987-88 basketball Final Four stalwart David Versocki '90; outstanding field hockey sweeper Nicole Rushton '97; all-time basketball assists leader Marybeth Rath Pin '83; single-season football rushing record holder A.J. Pittorino '97; soccer standout Matt Lawrence '96; lacrosse scoring machine Steven Evans '92; and Martin Engstrom-Heg '96, one of the most decorated Hartwick swimmers in the history of the program. Their induction raised the total population of the Hall of Fame to 112, and was greeted with raucous celebration by all those in attendance. Visit this webpage for their biographies.

A gallery of photos from the event is available here.

The Hartwick College Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1995 to honor those who made outstanding contributions to the Hartwick Intercollegiate Athletic Department. Its purpose is to perpetuate the memory of those who have brought distinction, honor, and excellence to Hartwick through their athletic achievements.

"Tonight," said Master of Ceremonies Neil Miller '72, "we honor not only the special achievements of our Hartwick graduates, but also the student-athletes we have here today."

Miller ceded the podium to Hartwick President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich, who noted she was "extremely pleased" to be in attendance.

"Your accomplishments create a bridge between what has been and what can be," she told the inductees. "You remind us of the transformational moment when possibility becomes accomplishment. You have created a bridge of courage to your success, and now others will be able to use your bridge as an inspiration to reach their own destination. We are proud of all your accomplishments; congratulations."

After a welcome from Board of Trustees Chair Dr. James Elting, Athletic Director Debbie Warren took the stage to welcome all in attendance, particularly the 10-year anniversary induction class, to whom she presented rings to mark the occasion.

"This event is sponsored by the Wick Athletic Association," she noted. "Thank you members so much. Events like this are possible because you believe in the future of Hartwick and the value of Hartwick Athletics."

With that, Miller introduced former women's basketball head coach Daphne Thompson, who took the stage to induct Winn Maxwell.

"She was an exceptional player and a lot of fun to watch," Thompson said. "She was a tireless worker on and off the court, and it was a pleasure to work with her."

"It is humbling and gratifying to think of myself as a member of such an inspiring group of athletes," Winn Maxwell said. "Some of my teammates are here, and I know they would agree that participating in athletics made our Hartwick experience even richer. Thank you for this honor."

Notoriously garrulous former men's basketball head coach Nick Lambros was next to the podium to induct Versocki.

"[Versocki] was instrumental in the success of this basketball program," Lambros said. "His stats as a basketball player are a result of his leadership, competitiveness, and hard work. I'm very proud of Dave. He's a real team player, and a wonderful man with a wonderful family."

"I enjoyed my time here being part of this program, and part of this environment," Versocki said, "and I try to still support the College. I love when people ask 'where did you play?' because I get to say 'Hartwick.' I'm so proud to say I went here, that we accomplished the things we did, and to have met the people I did while I was here."

Recalling her efforts to recruit Rushton, field hockey head coach Anna Meyer noted it was fortunate that she chose to come to Hartwick, as she "became one of the greatest players we ever had."

"I'm telling you," Meyer continued, "she was an amazing player. She saved our butts time after time, and she was a great field general."

Rushton returned the adulation, saying "our coaches here at Hartwick were such a huge influence. Anna Meyer was one of the toughest coaches I ever had, and that's a big reason why my four years at Hartwick were so incredibly special."

Former women's basketball head coach Sue Lauder returned to campus to induct one of her key players, Rath Pin.

"This honor is long overdue, considering the contribution [Rath Pin] made to developing a quality women's basketball program at Hartwick College," she said. "She just never thought there was much she couldn't accomplish on the basketball court."

"I'm only up here because of all the teams I played on," Rath Pin demurred. "They were fantastic. Hartwick was a great place then, and it still is today. I meet students when I come back, and it's still like family here."

Former football coach Steve Stetson also came back to Oyaron Hill for the ceremony, and to induct Pittorino.

"A.J. played as hard as he could ever single day," he recalled, "and he hated-hated-to be tackled. His will to achieve is unparalleled, and Pitty is the steady, quiet, determined person you want on your side in any endeavor. If there was an All-time Nice Guy Award, I'm sure he'd win that too."

"I'm totally humbled and very honored to have so many great friends and family here tonight," Pittorino said. "I owe this to the coaches and teammates who helped me get where I am and be successful."

Continuing the theme of legendary coaches returning to honor their players, retired men's soccer head coach Jim Lennox took the podium to induct Lawrence.

"His playing style was similar to Attila the Hun," Lennox noted, to the amusement of the crowd. "There's an old soccer adage: 'if it moves, kick it. If it doesn't move, kick it until it does.' That's how Matty played. You can't say enough about the athletic achievements Matty has accomplished, but I'm not here to induct him into the Hall of Fame as a soccer player. I'm here to induct him as a man. If I had a son, I would want him to be like Matt Lawrence."

"Standing here surrounded by Hartwick people brings back so many great memories," said Lawrence. "Fourteen years into my professional football career, by far the largest amount of advice I've retained came from Jim Lennox and what I learned here at Hartwick. Thank you for being a guiding light."

In one of the evening's most light-hearted turns, Joe Evans took the stage to induct his brother, Steve.

"We played a lot of lacrosse as kids, but it wasn't long before lacrosse turned into a wrestling match, and then a boxing match," Joe recalled. "With 11 brothers and sisters, it really was survival of the fittest, but no matter how badly little brother Steve got beaten up, he would never give up. Our family is very proud of him."

"Right after Joe was finished beating me up after school, we'd grab the lacrosse sticks," Steve recalled. "My goal was always to be good enough to be able to keep playing with my older brothers."

Former Oneonta High School swimming coach Doug Macomber represented Hartwick swimming and diving coach Dale Rothenberger and himself in inducting Engstrom-Heg.

"Martin was just four years old the first time I coached him at the YMCA," he recalled. "He was one tough kid then, and he still is now. Dale and I are both proud to have coached him, and I know I'm a better coach because of it."

"What sticks in my mind about the Hartwick athletics experience is this," Engstrom-Heg said. "It's the boundless energy of youth, and putting that energy to good use."

Like all those before him, Engstrom-Heg offered his heartfelt thanks to his teammates, coaches, friends, and family, before graciously accepting the plaque bearing his biography and likeness.

At the conclusion of the evening, Warren noted that the annual ceremony "continues to be one of the most special nights of my life."

"To meet you and know you and know your love for Hartwick makes my own love for Hartwick even greater," she said.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
E-mail: lottc@hartwick.edu
Phone: 607-431-4030