Seven former student-athletes and the only Northeast Conference women's soccer team to post a victory in the NCAA Tournament were inducted into the Central Connecticut State University Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night, Jan. 29, 2016.
The Hall of Fame class included Everton Barrington '97 (men's soccer), Kenneth Blasser '71 (football), Edward Fernandes '93 (men's golf), Tammie Repass '03 (women's swimming), Tajuana Sands '88 (women's basketball), Julie Twaddle '99 (women's soccer), Ken Vallone '86 (baseball) and the 2003 women's soccer team.
"We are very excited to induct this class to the 2016 CCSU Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame," Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann said. "They are all most deserving of this special honor. It was a memorable evening of celebration to hear from Blue Devils who represented seven different sports and from the members of one of the most successful teams in our history. They have obviously been selected as a result of their exceptional athletics accomplishments, but we are equally proud of them as alumni and for what they have accomplished in their respective professional careers."
Additionally, this year's Kaiser Award was awarded to former football student-athlete and current NFL executive Scott Pioli. Scott is a 1988 graduate of the University and a member of the Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame. The Kaiser Award is presented to a former student-athlete who has, since graduation, distinguished himself/herself and their alma mater by the accomplishments and service. Scott is currently the Assistant General Manager with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, and has also held executive positions with the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. He has been named NFL Executive of the Year by various media outlets five times during his career. During his time in New Britain Scott was a three-time All-New England selection.
The 2003 women's soccer team becomes just the second team to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Blue Devils posted the first Division I NCAA Tournament win in school history when they defeated Boston College 1-0 before falling in dramatic fashion to UConn (3-2) in double overtime in the second round. The team finished the season 15-3-4 overall and won their second straight, and fourth overall, NEC title. It would be the second of four straight titles for the Blue Devils from 2002-05. At the time their 15 wins matched the school-record set the previous season, and their three losses are the fewest in a single season in program history. Their winning percentage of .773 on the year is still a program record.
Barrington holds the single season goals scored record (24) for the Blue Devils set as a senior in 1994. His 52 total points during that year still stand second all-time behind only Hall of Famer Ken Pearson. He helped lead the Blue Devils to a 15-6-2 record that season and the Mid-Continent Tournament Championship, as well as an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Play-In game. The Blue Devils matched the school-record for wins in a season and were undefeated at home (8-0) on the year. In four seasons with the Blue Devils Barrington played in 85 games, scored 50 goals and had 113 career points. The Blue Devils won 41 games including 15 in each of his final two seasons. He was a three-time All-Conference selection during his tenure in New Britain.
Blasser was a co-captain of the 1970 football team and was a three-time All-Eastern Football Conference pick and three time All-New England selection at linebacker during his time with the Blue Devils. The 1968 team led the NCAA's College Division in points allowed per game, giving up just 4.4 points in nine games played, including four shutouts. The Blue Devils allowed more than one touchdown in a game just once, a 14-14 tie with A.I.C., on their way to a 6-2-1 record. Blasser posted 28 tackles in a win over Montclair State in his senior season, and former head coach and Hall of Famer Bill Loika constantly told the press that Blasser was 'the best I've ever had.' He led the team in tackles as a senior. Following his graduation from CCSU, Blasser signed professionally with the Montreal Alouttes of the Canadian Football League.
Fernandes was a four-year member of the men's golf team for the Blue Devils, playing for Hall of Famer Lowell Lukas. He was a four-time All-Conference selection and a four-time All-New England selection during his time with the Blue Devils, putting together one of the most successful careers in school history. The Blue Devils won the New England Championship in the Spring and Fall of 1989, as well as again in the fall of 1990 while Fernandes was on the team. He posted individual wins in the West Point Invitational (1989), ECAC Championships (1989), Black Knights Invitational (1991), ECC Conference Championships (1991, 1992) and was twice named the ECC Conference Golfer of the Year. Since leaving CCSU he has enjoyed a tremendously successful professional career and currently competes as a long drive professional.
Repass came to CCSU after a decorated career at Enrico Fermi High School and did not disappoint. During her time with the Blue Devils she set seven school records including two that still stand 13 seasons after her final swim. She still holds the school record in the 200 Butterfly (1:59.82) and the 400 Individual Medley (4:24.02). She won three individual races at the 2003 NEC Championships, setting a meet record in the 400 IM with a time of 4:24.12. She would go on to become the first female swimmer in the school's Division I history to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Her performance in 2001 helped lead the Blue Devils to their first-ever NEC Championship and earned her the league's Outstanding Female Swimmer of the Meet Award. She also won that award in 2003. She left CCSU as the second-most decorated swimmer in NEC history with 11 individual titles and seven more as a member of relay teams. Repass would compete in the NCAA Championships in 2002, and would also qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2004.
Sands played four seasons for legendary head coach and Hall of Famer Dr. Brenda Reilly and was one of the top rebounders in school history. At the end of her four seasons with the Blue Devils she was second in school history with 746 career rebounds. She is currently fourth on the same list. She averaged 9.3 rebounds in 1986-87, still the eighth-highest single season rebound total in school history. On March 1, 1987, she posted 21 rebounds again Assumption which is one of only two 20+ rebound games in CCSU's Division I history. It was the highest total for 23 seasons before it was broken in 2010. She also had a 19 rebound game to her credit, giving her two of the top three single game rebounding performances on the list.
Twaddle becomes the third women's soccer player to enter the Hall of Fame, and was part of a group of young women who helped put the program on the map. Part of the program's first team in 1995, Twaddle and her teammates quickly established themselves as a force winning back-to-back NEC Championships in 1997 and 1998 in just their third and fourth year of play. They won 25 games in those two seasons, and Twaddle was a captain in 1998, along with fellow Hall of Famer Jackie Hadden. Twaddle was an All-Conference selection in each of her final three seasons in New Britain, and scored the program's first hat trick during the 1996 season. She played in 75 career games, making 70 starts, and posted 18 career goals and 14 career assists, good for 50 career points.
Vallone still ranks eighth all-time in career batting average for the Blue Devils with his impressive mark of .353 during his career from 1983-86. He is also second all-time in triples with 15 and seventh in stolen bases with 35 (in 41 attempts). He is eighth all-time in slugging percentage at .551 and was a two-time captain for CCSU in both 1985 and 1986. Vallone was one of the leading hitters in New England in his junior season when he hit .397 and also ranked in the top-15 in the country that year. He was an All-New England selection. He led the team in hits (50), doubles (8) and triples (5) that season.
The CCSU Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame recognizes and honors former outstanding CCSU student-athletes for their contributions and achievements in athletics. Nominees, in general, must be of good character and worthy of the award, and individuals, who, through their actions, have shown support for the ideals of the University. Nominees shall have represented CCSU in a positive manner both on and off the playing arena. Including the Class of 2016, there are 144 members of the CCSU Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame, and two teams.