Somerset, NJ -- The Northeast Conference (NEC) Hall of Fame was established back in 2010 to honor those individuals considered to be the "best of the best" to have competed in the league. The sixth NEC induction class brings membership in the prestigious circle to 23 former student-athletes, coaches and administrators. The three-member group includes two honorees from Mount St. Mary's whose careers intertwined: Susie Rowlyk, a women's basketball player, and her coach, the late Bill Sheahan. LIU Brooklyn men's soccer player Giovanni Savarese is the third inductee to the 2015-16 class.
"The NEC has yet again produced an extremely impressive Hall of Fame class. Susie Rowlyk and Giovanni Savarese were two NEC pioneers in their sports, and Bill Sheahan was one of the league's all-time coaching legends. Beyond the numerous accolades, these three individuals shared attributes that extended beyond the playing fields and allowed them to impact their programs in such an incredible way – they were all outstanding leaders who valued the importance of education and competed with passion, commitment, respect and an unending loyalty to their teams. Congratulations to Susie, Giovanni and the Sheahan family!"
Susie Rowlyk, Mount St. Mary's
Lincoln University, PA/St. Mark's (DE)
Women's Basketball • 1991-95
Click Here For Susie Rowlyk Video Announcement
Media and fans are often quick to label a program a dynasty, but there is no mistaking the dominance of Mount St. Mary's women's basketball upon its arrival in the Northeast Conference in the late 1980s. Playing on teams loaded with top-tier talent, Susie Rowlyk outshined them all.
Rowlyk is one of four players in league history to twice earn distinction as NEC Player of the Year. She won the award as a junior in 1993-94 and closed out her four-year career with a second honor in 1994-95. Rowlyk was also a three-time All-NEC selection and a member of the NEC All-Newcomer team as a freshman.
On a grander scale, Rowlyk's success on the court earned her a spot on the NEC 20th and 25th Anniversary All-Time teams.
Along with her individual accolades, Rowlyk helped lead the Mount to four NEC regular season titles and three NEC Tournament crowns during her time in Emmitsburg. She was voted the 1994 NEC Tournament Most Valuable Player and earned a spot on three NEC All-Tournament teams.
The Mount's record during her four years was a remarkable 93-21 overall and 64-6 against NEC opposition. She also led the school to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, taking on Iowa in 1994 and Alabama in 1995.
A member of the Mount St. Mary's Sports Hall of Fame, Rowlyk finished her illustrious career as the program's fourth all-time leading scorer (1,502 points) and fifth on the career rebounding (766) list.
Rowlyk's success wasn't just limited to the basketball court. She earned an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship and was a two-time NEC Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
"Mount St. Mary's is very proud that Susie Rowlyk has been selected as a member of the Northeast Conference Hall of Fame," said Lynne Robinson, Mount St. Mary's Director of Athletics. "Susie is one of the most outstanding women's basketball players in Mount St. Mary's and Northeast Conference history. The Mount dominated the league during Susie's four years, winning four NEC regular season titles and three NEC tournament championships. While Susie earned numerous athletic and academic accolades during her distinguished career at the Mount, she was also exemplary in all aspects of her life. Susie's passion for excellence, hard work ethic and contagious positive attitude were inspiring to everyone. She will long be remembered for her legacy as an outstanding scholar-athlete, as well as a wonderful teammate and friend. We congratulate Susie on this tremendous honor and much deserved recognition."
Bill Sheahan, Mount St. Mary's
Women's Basketball Coach • 1981-98
Click Here For Bill Sheahan Video Announcement
Building a successful program that is earmarked for success over the long haul is challenging for any coach at any level of play. That's what made the late Bill Sheahan's 17-year run at the helm of the Mount St. Mary's women's basketball program all the more remarkable.
The Mount's all-time winningest coach, Sheahan posted a career record of 372-104 and his teams were an astounding 124-30 in NEC play. He retired in 1998 as the NEC's all-time leader in conference wins and his .805 winning percentage against league opposition remains the best mark in NEC history among those who have coached 100+ conference games. Sheahan's career .782 winning percentage ranks him 25th on the NCAA's all-time list.
A four-time NEC Coach of the Year, Sheahan led Mount St. Mary's to seven consecutive NEC regular season titles from 1989-96 and three straight NEC Tournament championships from 1993-95. He took the Mount to the NCAA Tournament in both 1994 and 1995, which marked the first two NCAA appearances for the conference in women's basketball.
In 1993-94, the Mountaineers posted the first perfect regular season in NEC history, finishing the year 18-0.
In total, Sheahan coached six NEC Player of the Year award winners, two NEC Rookie of the Year honorees, 17 All-NEC selections, 14 NEC All-Tournament team picks and four NEC Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients.
Prior to the Mount's arrival in the NEC, Sheahan was named the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in both 1983-84 and 1985-86.
"Mount St. Mary's is very proud that Coach Bill Sheahan has been selected as a member of the Northeast Conference Hall of Fame," said Lynne Robinson, Mount St. Mary's Director of Athletics. "For 17 years Coach Sheahan led the Mount's women's basketball program to unprecedented heights. Upon moving to Division I, the Mount women's basketball program made an immediate impact in the Northeast Conference, winning seven consecutive regular season titles. Beyond the victories, championships, numerous team and individual awards for both basketball and academics, Coach Sheahan is remembered for much more. He was a true gentleman of the game, embracing the values of sportsmanship, faith, and family, as well as being a mentor to so many young women throughout the years. We congratulate the Sheahan family on this much deserved honor for Bill."
"Coach Sheahan was a brilliant coach who had the amazing ability to bring out the best in everyone," said fellow NEC Hall of Fame inductee Susie Rowlyk. "He helped us reach beyond ourselves. He created a winning environment based not only on the fundamentals of basketball, but also on the values of Mount St. Mary's. He was driven by his faith in God and his love for his family, including our Mount basketball family. I am very blessed and fortunate to have played for him."
Giovanni Savarese, LIU Brooklyn
Caracas, Venezuela/Los Arcos
Men's Soccer • 1990-93
Click Here For Giovanni Savarese Video Announcement
The Northeast Conference has enjoyed tremendous success in the sport of men's soccer throughout its history, and of all the players who have played a role in that success, LIU Brooklyn's Giovanni Savarese is right at the top of the list.
Savarese's list of accomplishments while at LIU Brooklyn is impressive to say the least. He was tabbed the 1992 NEC Player of the Year and was a three-time All-NEC honoree. As a junior in 1992, he ranked fifth in the nation with 21 goals. One year later Savarese was named a First Team NSCAA All-American. The Venezuelan native also earned All-New York Region first team honors as a junior and senior.
Savarese finished his career with 50 goals and 23 assists in 71 games. He ranks sixth on LIU's career goal scoring list and was elected to the LIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
He was also at the top of his game in the classroom. Savarese was named a Scholar-Athlete All-American as a senior and was a member of the NEC Commissioner's Honor Roll.
Savarese's professional career following graduation was a prosperous one that included stops in the MLS and USISL in the United States, and stints with clubs at the top levels in England, Italy and Venezuela. He was drafted by the NY/NJ MetroStars in the inaugural MLS Draft in 1996 and scored the first eight goals in the franchise's history. Savarese finished with 44 goals in his three years with the MetroStars, which stood as the team record until 2007.
Savarese is currently the head coach of the New York Cosmos, a position he has held since 2013. He has led the Cosmos to the NASL crown in two of his three years at the helm of the club.
Arnold Ramirez coached Savarese during his time at LIU Brooklyn, and was effusive in his praise for his former player.
"Coaching Giovanni was easy," remembered Ramirez. "The most important quality that I looked in my players was to be a good person. If you are going to have a player for four years you must recruit good people. As a person Giovanni was an outstanding leader. He got along well with everybody, he respected his teammates and always encouraged them to do well. He always thought of the team first. At times I used him in the back, in the midfield or as a forward. He never complained. At practice he gave everything. Always in a good mood. He was very strong physically and mentally. Giovanni knew what he wanted when he came to LIU. Getting an education was his goal and he was an excellent student. I was so proud of him when I coached him at LIU and I was so proud of him when he came to the combine in MLS in 1996 to start the league. He is an incredible human being and he is a perfect example that nice guys can finish first."
I want to congratulate Giovanni Savarese on his induction into the Northeast Conference Hall of Fame," said Tony Meola, a former teammate of Savarese on the MetroStars. "Giovanni has been a model for so many and I am honored to call him a teammate, but more importantly a friend. Congrats to Gio and his beautiful family. So well deserved."
The NEC Hall of Fame was established as a means to recognize, honor and perpetuate the memory of those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NEC athletics and have helped to bring recognition, honor, distinction and excellence to both the Conference and its Division I athletic programs. The 2010 inaugural class was headlined by the NEC's first Commissioner, Chris Monasch, and legendary Mount St. Mary's basketball head coach Jim Phelan. Student-athletes honored included Wagner basketball player Terrance Bailey, Robert Morris football lineman Hank Fraley, Mount St. Mary's distance runner Peter Rono, Fairleigh Dickinson sprinter/hurdler Sharlene Milwood-Lee, Monmouth soccer standout Christie Pearce-Rampone and Saint Francis U women's basketball player Jess Zinobile. The 2011 class included Marist men's basketball player Rik Smits, Saint Francis U women's basketball player Beth Swink and former Fairleigh Dickinson men's basketball coach Tom Green. The 2012 class featured Fairleigh Dickinson men's basketball player Desi Wilson, Mount St. Mary's women's basketball player Vanessa Blair and former Sacred Heart Director of Athletics Don Cook. The 2013 class was comprised of Robert Morris men's basketball player Myron Walker, Sacred Heart women's basketball player Amanda Pape and Robert Morris football coach Joe Walton. The 2014 class consisted of CCSU men's basketball player Corsley Edwards, CCSU women's soccer player Kelly Shimmin and Bob Balut, who served as Wagner Sports Information Director and also worked as a Director of Communications at the NEC office.
Nominations for the Hall of Fame are made by current and former member institutions, along with the Conference office. Enshrinees are then selected in a vote by administrators from each member institution and the Conference.
Student-athletes who have competed in an NEC-sponsored sport for at least two full seasons and completed their playing career at a member institution become eligible for induction beginning five years after exhausting their collegiate eligibility. Coaches, administrators and any other persons who have made outstanding contributions or offered extraordinary service to NEC athletics are eligible after three full years of service.
A maximum of five inductees may be selected annually, including at least one male student-athlete, one female student-athlete, and one coach or administrator.
About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 35th year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#23), Baltimore (#27), and Hartford/New Haven (#30). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 22 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Mount St. Mary's, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league's official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google+, all @NECsports.