When St. Joseph’s College, Clinton Hill, opened its state-of-the-art multipurpose gymnasium in December, a space was carved out for the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
That space has now been filled as the first-ever class was inducted May 29 at the brand new Hill Center.
The Bears Athletic Hall of Fame honors former athletes, coaches and friends of the college who have contributed significantly to the athletic program and continue to exemplify the principles of sportsmanship and integrity through their contributions and achievements in their respective communities and professions.
“We are thrilled to finally celebrate the rich history and tradition of the Brooklyn athletics program by honoring these worthy inductees,” said Frank P. Carbone, St. Joseph’s College Brooklyn athletic director. “In many instances, their recognition is long overdue, and we feel is it very appropriate to officially open the doors of our Hall of Fame with a wonderful ceremony here in the Hill Center.”
Seven honorees made up the inaugural class, and the ceremony also recognized the women who participated in the athletic program in the decades preceding the 1970s, when the school was known as St. Joseph’s College for Women.
The following inductees were honored:
Ward was the first athletic director of the Brooklyn campus and also taught physical education and coordinated the college’s intramural program.
She also coached the women’s basketball team from 1951 to 1984, and her teams had great success in competing against schools across the metropolitan area, such as St. John’s University, L.I.U., Molloy College, and St. Francis College.
She currently lives in Massachusetts and turned 93 on June 14. Peg Ansbro accepted the honor on her behalf.
Laurie Barth ’72
Barth averaged close to 25.0 pts. per game during here four-year career from 1967 to 1971 as a member of the women’s basketball team.
“It’s just an incredible honor, Barth said. “I’m thrilled beyond belief, especially since I’m being inducted with Margaret Ward who was my teacher and coach for four years. Coach Ward demanded excellence all the time, and I tried to carry that into my life.”
Barth amassed 1,020 pts. in her career, thus making her the first woman in the N.Y.C. metropolitan area to cross the thousand point mark.
Steve Somers ’82
Somers played on the men’s basketball team for two seasons from 1980 to 1982. He is also currently a volunteer assistant coach of the Bears baseball team and serves on the college’s board of trustees.
He is the owner and president Vigon International and has been an extremely contributor to St. Joseph’s, especially in providing many of the amenities in the new Hill Center.
“I took advantage of the great things they (St. Joseph’s) gave me in my life, and I gave back along the way and helped them build this gym,” he said. “They’ve honored me for some of the support I’ve given them. But I feel I owe them so much more then what I’ve given for what they’ve given me.”
Bobby Knapp ’88
In just three seasons on the men’s basketball team, Knapp, nicknamed “The Wizard,” scored 2,004 pts. from 1985 to 1988. That’s an average of 35.7 pts. per game, including five games of 50-plus pts.
“I’m very honored and very humbled,” Knapp said. “It kept me balanced. I played at a few other places, but St. Joe’s kept me grounded.”
Knapp still holds the Bears single-game points record when he scored 59 against Southern Vermont College, Bennington, Vt.
Mary Barry ’03
From 1999 to 2003, Barry tallied 1,895 pts. for the women’s basketball team, making her one of the highest scorers in program history. She recorded four straight seasons with over 100 points, 100 rebounds, 100 steals and 100 assists, making her the only Lady Bear to ever accomplish the feat.
“I’m very honored, and I’m very humbled by the whole ceremony,” Barry said. “Being involved in sports kept me focused and made me do and try my best to establish a career outside of sports.”
She was a consensus United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) All-American and helped lead the Lady Bears to three straight USCAA National Championship tournament appearances.
Luke Caccavo ’04
Caccavo played for the men’s basketball team from 2000 to 2004 and became a member of the 1,500-point scoring club. He received USCAA All-American honors in 2003 when he helped lead the Beats to the USCAA National Championship game, the only national championship appearance to date in any sport in school history.
“St. Joe’s is a real special place to me,” he said. “It helped me deal with countless situations dealing with pressure and just taking everything for what it’s worth and giving 100 percent to everything.”
After graduating, Caccavo joined the men’s basketball coaching staff for four seasons and was on the sidelines when the team captured its first Hudson Valley conference championship.
1971-72 Men’s Basketball Team
This squad was the first-ever men’s varsity basketball team in school history, featuring seven underclassmen led by head coach James Sullivan. The team played 12 games, primarily on the road, against a variety of metropolitan area opponents.
“We were the founding fathers as Frank (Carbone) said,” Sullivan said. “We were the first, and now the program has expanded.”
The team quickly earned respect in the city’s hoops scene throughout the 1970s and beyond.
Contributing to this article was Joe Moran.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.