Former Blue Hens Standouts Highlight 2011 University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame
September 15, 2011
NEWARK, Del. -- Standout coaches and athletes representing every decade since the 1950’s highlight the 2011 class of the University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame announced Thursday.
The eight-person Class of 2011 includes long-time wrestling head coach and football assistant Paul Billy, three-time NCAA Tournament qualifying golfer Mike Bourne, two-sport field hockey and lacrosse all-conference performer Melissa Hefner, pioneering high-scoring women’s basketball player Annie Igo, high-scoring basketball guard and conference champion track sprinter Mark Murray, and dominating softball pitcher Kristi O’Connell. All-American football running back Nate Beasley and 1950’s baseball and basketball standout Jim Smith will be inducted posthumously.
The 15th induction class will be honored in a private ceremony and reception at the Bob Carpenter Center Auditorium next Friday, Sept. 23, and will be introduced on the field at halftime of the Delaware vs. Old Dominion football game at Delaware Stadium the following afternoon, Sept. 24.
The eight inductees in this year’s class, which features five men and three women representing 11 different Blue Hen sports programs, will bring the UD Athletics Hall of Fame membership to 127 former UD greats.
Below are biographies of the Class of 2011:
A hard-charging running back, Beasley starred for some of the top Blue Hen teams in school history in the early 1970’s under Tubby Raymond. A native of Dover, Del., he transferred from Delaware State and made an instant impact at UD, leading Blue Hen offenses that literally ran over opponents. His punishing running helped him rank No. 2 all-time at Delaware with 2,697 career yards and his 73.9 yards per game, 13 100-yard rushing games, and 20 touchdowns all ranked among the best marks in school annals.
He led Delaware to a three-year mark of 28-9 in 1973-75 that included an NCAA national runner-up finish in 1974 when the team went 12-2, two Lambert Cup Trophies, and an ECAC Team of the Year Award. Beasley was a two-time All-East selection, earned third team All-American honors in 1974 when he rushed for a school-record 1,397 yards, and was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the 1976 National Football League Draft. A 1976 Delaware graduate, he was inducted into the Delaware Afro-American Hall of Fame in 2009.
Beasley went on to coach 13-15 year olds in the Capitol Trail Football League in New Caste County for five years, sending many on to successful college careers, and later was instrumental in establishing a girls basketball recreation league in Wilmington. For 10 years, he was a member of IAABO Board 11 of basketball officials and officiated high school and recreation league basketball games in Delaware and Maryland. He had worked as a program manager at Independent Living Center before stepping down for health reasons. He passed away in March, 2010 at the age of 56. His wife, Romaine, will accept the award for him.
One of the most successful and multi-faceted coaches in Delaware athletics history, Billy led the Blue Hen wrestling squad for 28 years, assisted with the nationally-ranked UD football program for 23 seasons, and also served as men’s lacrosse head coach in 1964. A 1957 graduate of Muhlenberg (Pa.) College, the “Bear” joined Delaware as head wrestling coach in 1963 and posted a 28-year dual mark of 206-180-7 in 1963-91, a record that included 15 winning seasons. He also coached 10 conference champions and 17 NCAA Tournament qualifiers, including 1986 All-American and UD Athletics Hall of Fame member Dave DeWalt.
In 23 football seasons, he served as freshman head coach, chief scout, and defensive line assistant and helped lead teams that captured four national championships (1963, 1971, 1972, 1979) and advanced to post-season play 12 times. He held the rank of Associate Professor in the College of Physical Education, Athletics, and Recreation at UD and was part-time coordinator for the UD Lifetime Sports Program before retiring in 2000.
Billy resides in Newark, Del. with his wife, Sandra. They have three daughters and three grandchildren.
One of the most accomplished golfers in Delaware history, Bourne was a four-year standout for head coach Scotty Duncan in 1974-78 and is the only UD golfer to compete in three NCAA Tournaments. A native of Wilmington, Del., he led the Hens to some of the greatest seasons in school history, including East Coast Conference team titles in 1976 and 1977, an Eastern Intercollegiate Golf Association championship in 1977, a team berth in the 1977 NCAA Tournament, and a four-year dual record of 69-13.
Bourne served as captain in 1978 when the team went 23-2 and placed second at the ECC Tournament. He was named team MVP as a senior in 1978 when he won medalist honors in 14 matches and led the team with a 76.42 stroke average. He won ECC medalist honors in 1976, was runner-up in 1978, and placed third in 1977. A 1979 Delaware graduate with a degree in business, Bourne established a school record for lowest stroke average in a season (76.19 in 1975-76) and his career average of 77.14 ranked No. 2 all-time upon his graduation.
He resides in Newark, Del. with his wife, Patti, and daughter Gabrielle. After running a family business, Bourne taught golf in 2001-07 and helped found the Golf Academy of Delaware. He currently works as general manager of the internet distribution division of Eastern Marine.
One of the top two-sport standouts in Delaware women’s athletics history, Hefner was a four-year starter in both field hockey and lacrosse in 1993-97 and earned team Most Valuable Player honors and all-conference laurels for both squads. A native of Sellersville, Pa., she was a two-time All-America East conference and All-Mid-Atlantic Region forward in field hockey, leading the team to four straight winning seasons under coach Carol Miller. She also was a member of the US Women’s Lacrosse squad.
She scored 43 goals to rank No. 5 all-time at Delaware and set a school record by scoring a goal in 11 straight games at one point. In lacrosse, Hefner was a standout midfielder who scored 59 career goals for coach Denise Wescott, including 30 as a senior in 1997 when she led the team to the America East team title. A 1997 honors graduate of Delaware, she served as captain in 1997 when she also was selected as both the America East Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She earned all-conference and All-American honors twice in lacrosse.
After a graduation, she served as a graduate assistant coach in soccer and lacrosse at Maris College. She began her professional career in pharmaceutical sales, marketing, and medical education and currently is employed with BioPharm Communications in New Hope, Pa. She resides in Lambertville, N.J. with her husband, Glenn Kapuscienski.
A pioneer of the successful women’s basketball program at Delaware, Igo was a high-scoring standout on the first three varsity teams in 1971-74 under UD Athletics Hall of Fame head coach Mary Ann Hitchens. A speedy guard with outstanding skills, she led Blue Hen teams to three straight winning seasons and consecutive berths in the EAIAW Regionals. She led the team in scoring each of her three seasons, pouring in 13.0 points per game as a sophomore in 1971-72, 13.3 ppg as a junior in 1972-73, and 18.6 ppg as a senior in 1973-74.
Upon graduation she held school records for points in a game (29 vs. Ursinus), season (260), and career (602), and highest scoring average in a season (18.6 ppg) and a career (15.0). She also served as a team co-captain as a senior when she scored 20 or more points eight times in just 15 games. Since graduation, she has been active in USTA tennis, has won multiple gold medals at the Senior Olympics, and was elected to the Delaware Legends Basketball Hall of Fame.
One of 14 children, she majored in physical education at Delaware in 1970-74 and eventually earned her degree from Wilmington (Del.) University in 1994. She works in the import/export distribution field and has traveled throughout the world. She and her husband, Wayne Rizzo, reside in Newark with their children, Monica and Nicholas.
Murray led the resurgence of Delaware basketball under Hall of Fame coach Steve Steinwedel, leading the Hens to their first NCAA Tournament in 1992 while putting up big numbers as an all-around player in 1988-92. A native of Asbury Park, N.J. and a 1992 UD graduate, Murray was a four-year starting swingman who led the team in scoring twice and was the No. 2 scorer on the 1991-92 squad that went 27-4, was unbeaten in North Atlantic Conference play, and became UD’s first NCAA Tournament qualifying squad.
He was the first player in school history to record over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 250 assists in a career and graduated as Delaware’s No. 2 all-time scorer with 1,559 points. He earned first team All-NAC honors twice and was a NAC All-Rookie selection. A standout sprinter in track, he won two conference 100 meter titles, was part of three conference 400 meters relay champion teams, and set school records in the 400 meter relay (41.23) and 800 meter relay (1:27.44). His career-best time of 10.4 in the 100 meter dash ranks No. 2 all-time at Delaware. He was selected to the Colonial Athletic Association’s Legends Team in 2009.
An educator for the last 18 years, including 10 years as a teacher, Murray currently serves as Assistant Principal at Lake Elkhorn Middle School in Columbia, Md. He previously taught physical education, served as an alternative education coordinator, served as a head coach for both boys and girls basketball, and coached track & field. He taught a state champion high-jumper at Hammond High School. He earned his master’s degree from McDaniel College in 2002. He and his wife, Kristin, reside in Columbia, Md. with their four children, Brianna, Micaela, Aliya, and Gabriel.
One of the most dominating pitchers in Delaware softball history, O’Connell enjoyed a record-setting career in the circle for the Hens in 1997-2000 for coach B.J. Ferguson. A native of Elmsford, N.Y., she set virtually every pitching record in a career that saw her earn All-Mid-Atlantic Region honors twice and all-conference laurels three times. She led the team to four conference tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish in 1998, was a two-time conference All-Tournament selection, and was honored as the UD Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year in 2000.
Among the school records she established were career marks for games pitched (118), innings pitched (669), wins (58-33), shutouts (27), complete games (78), strikeouts (555), and saves (8). A 2000 honors graduate of Delaware, she fired a school-record six no-hitters, including back-to-back blankings in 1998, and her career-high 14 strikeouts vs. Boston University in 1999 tied a school mark. Her career 1.39 earned run average ranked No. 2 all-time at Delaware.
After graduation, she worked as a labor and delivery nurse and later became a travel nurse, working throughout the country, including Hawaii, California, and the East Coast, and in London, England. She and her husband, Alan Prior, have two daughters and reside in Northern California.
One of Delaware’s top multi-sport athletes during the decade of the 1950’s, Smith starred in both baseball and basketball for the Blue Hens between 1954-58. A native of Wilmington, Del., Smith was a three-year standout as a guard in basketball, earning All-Middle Atlantic Conference honors twice in 1956 and 1957 and finishing second in the league in scoring both seasons. He became just the second player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career (1,053).
An intense competitor, he set a school record in 1955-56 when he averaged 20.6 points per game and his 43-point effort vs. Swarthmore that year stands as the third highest single game output in school history. On the diamond, Smith was a three-year regular as an infielder and earned All-District honors as a junior in 1957 when he batted .354 with 15 RBI and an NCAA-record seven triples. He also batted .323 with 16 RBI as a senior. The 1958 Delaware graduate was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and played briefly in the minor leagues. He later played 18 years in the Wilmington semi-pro league and batted .344 for his career. He was inducted into the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 and into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame in 2008.
Smith spent 35 years as a teacher in the Red Clay School District and coached football and girls basketball, serving as head coach of the girls basketball team at Dickinson High School that won the 1978 state title. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 64. He and his wife, Nancy, have four children. His son, Kevin Smith, will accept the award for him.