Originally published in The Fordham Ram on April 26, 2017.
Fordham Athletics ramped up its biannual Hall of Fame induction this year, upgrading from a small brunch before a men’s basketball game to a black-tie event at 538 Park Avenue in Manhattan for around 550 people. This was part of folding into the induction into the new Fordham Athletics Gala, where former captains were honored and the first Victory Bell Award was given out.
“It was terrific, and it was the way it should be,” said Fordham Director of Intercollegiate Athletics David Roach. “If you’re going to be inducted into the Fordham Hall of Fame or any college hall of fame it should be a real meaningful event. It should be real special.”
Seven former Fordham athletes were a part of the 2017 class. They are men’s basketball players Bart Woytowicz, FCRH ’73 and Ed Bona, FCRH ’83, Fordham Baseball’s Javier Martinez, FCRH ’07, Fordham Track’s Kerri Gallagher, FCRH ’11, Fordham Softball’s Krystle Henry, FCRH ’07, women’s basketball player Suzanne Maguire, FCRH ’97 and a slew of Fordham football players: Bill Burke, Fordham Law, ’65, David Langdon and Donald Ross, both FCRH ’65, John Skelton, GSB ’10, and Joe Moorhead, FCRH ’96 ( he was also inducted as a coach).
Each inductee was introduced with a short video clip and then a speech from someone of their choosing. The “voice of the New York Giants” and Fordham Class of ’86 member Bob Papa narrated the video of Moorhead’s college career. Gallagher’s former head coach – and still the head coach of Fordham Cross Country and Track and Field in his 36th year – Tom Dewey introduced her.
The event was hosted by comedian Meghan Hanley and Fordham class of ’03 member Michael Yam.
After being introduced, the inductee received their award from Roach and Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university.
A 16-person panel, made up of Roach and alumni – some of whom are Hall of Famers themselves – choose the class every other year.
“They’re all people who have knowledge of at least one sport or two, and in most cases, they played that sport,” said Roach. “And then they’re all assigned a sport or two and they’re supposed to do some research and know about the various nominees and they themselves can nominate people.”
Athletes are eligible five years their graduation and can either nominate themselves or be nominated by others. After three rounds of voting, the pool is narrowed down to anywhere between seven to nine inductees.
Also awarded at the Gala was the newly created Victory Bell award.
“It goes to somebody who wasn’t an athlete, wasn’t a coach, wasn’t an administrator who has been a friend and a supporter who has brought great recognition to Fordham and Fordham Athletics,” said Roach.
The inaugural Victory Bell award was presented to Wellington and Ann Mara. Wellington, FCRH ’37, was the long-time co-owner of the New York Giants, who were founded by his father, Tim, in 1925. His wife Ann was known as the “First Lady of the NFL.” Wellington passed away in 2003, and Ann in 2015. The award was accepted on their behalf by their son John, the current president of the Giants.
“[Wellington] was great friends with Coach Lombardi,” said Roach. “And both as an undergraduate and as an adult, he would come to numerous Fordham athletic events and he also was a great supporter financially to Fordham Athletics.”
The final event of the night was honoring the around 130 former team captains that were in attendance. Each captain was given a medallion to wear. A video was played featuring current Fordham captains and then former football captain Garrick Mayweather, Jr., FCRH ’16, gave a speech before the captains were collectively recognized.