Focus on Graduates
Chesapeake College adds to HOF ’family’

Dr. Kotula, Connolly, Todd, 2009 softball champs inducted as sixth class

Monday, October 26, 2009

WYE MILLS – Chesapeake College President Barbara Viniar remarked to those assembled at Thursday night’s Athletic Hall of Fame induction that she saw Skipjack athletics taking place in a "family atmosphere . . . where student athletes are really student athletes." The Hall of Fame family expanded Thursday night by inducting an Academic All-American, another regular Dean’s List student, a former college president and the entire 2009 Region XX championship women’s softball team.

The inductions started with a genuine family affair as Clint and Nancy Connolly – themselves Chesapeake graduates – presented their daughter, 2006 women’s softball team captain Katie Connolly, for induction. "Chesapeake is a big part of our family’s history and success," said Clint Connolly. He said Professor Ed Baker – who taught Clint, Nancy and Katie at Chesapeake – "taught me the importance of six words: ’Be the best you can be.’ Katie is living proof of that."

Katie Connolly, an auditor for the Bethesda-based accounting and advising firm of Bond Beebe, said it was exciting to return to Chesapeake.

"Every time I step on this campus, I feel like I’m home," said Connolly, who as a sophomore hit .526, led the team to its first 20-win season, and was an NJCAA Distinguished Academic All-American. "I attribute my success to my time here at Chesapeake."

After Connolly, former national men’s basketball rebounding champion Jim Todd and Chesapeake College’s third president, Dr. John R. Kotula, were welcomed into the Hall of Fame. Todd was presented for induction by former Skipjacks head coach Norm Amorose, who recruited and then coached Todd from 1997 to 1999.

"Jim was a natural leader. He was able to cross all barriers and connect with all people. He’s putting those natural leadership qualities to good use today," said Amorose, noting Todd was recently appointed assistant principal at his alma mater, Arundel High, after four years as Annapolis High’s assistant principal.

Todd said he was an indifferent high school student and didn’t expect that to change until after meeting Dr. Baker.

"I came to Chesapeake to play and had no real plans for the future," said Todd. "Dr. Baker saw potential in me beyond athletics. He encouraged me to do well off the court and as a man. I’m grateful he invested the time and energy in me."

That investment certainly paid enormous dividends – Todd turned into a Dean’s List student who was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.

Dr. Baker, so closely connected to the first two inductees, then presented the third for induction. He said Dr. Kotula – who brought women’s sports back to Chesapeake and started its highly successful athletic scholarship golf tournament 18 years ago – "laid the foundation for everyone to continue his good work."

Dr. Kotula, who was Chesapeake’s president from 1992 to 1997 after 15 years of service as president of Delaware Tech, flew in for a quick one-day trip from his Florida home to take part in the induction ceremonies.

"There will always be a place in my heart for Chesapeake – it is a gem," said Dr. Kotula. "Chesapeake’s athletic program, like the rest of the campus, is growing."

The 2009 women’s softball team then became only the second team inducted in the six-year history of the Hall of Fame, joining the 2005 baseball squad. Both teams won Region XX championships and reached their respective World Series.

Eleven of the 12 players from the softball team made it back to Wye Mills to attend Thursday’s event. The team consists of Melanie Buck, Julia Carr, Diana Dieter, Jordan Glessner, Kyra Gould, Lauren Howell, Antionette Hughes, Amber Johnson, Erica Kinney, Anna Morris, Jill Piasecki, Jordan Wright, assistant coach Mike Hawkins, and head coach Durrie Hayes.

"Every single player contributed to our run to get to the World Series," said Hayes, who noted the team came from behind in all four region playoff games to take home the title.

"In addition, every single girl on the team is still studying at Chesapeake or has transferred to another college. They really are student athletes," Hayes said of his team, which finished the 2008-09 academic year with five players carrying a 3.0 ("B") grade-point average over better, and 11 of the 12 at 2.0 or higher.

Notes: Each inductee received an additional award – Senator Richard Colburn, a Chesapeake College graduate, attended the dinner and presented each inductee with a Senate resolution congratulating them on their achievements. . . .

Dr. Kotula recognized Bill Seth, a vice president emeritus who supervised athletics several times during his 30 years at the college. "When I arrived at Chesapeake I quickly realized Bill was ’Mr. Chesapeake’ – he could tell you about everyone and everything that was happening at the college. He was an invaluable resource." Seth attended the induction dinner with his wife, Susan.

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