Benisch Athletic Hall of Fame Ceremony
By Craig Epstein | Published May 8, 2017
On what was a very ceremonious night, seven new members were inducted into the 20th edition of the Benisch Athletic Hall of Fame.
Melissa Beyruti, Pascal Clergio, Johanna Hedler, Ebony Jackson, Melissa Nunez, Perry Schatzow, and Jay Sgaramella made up the Class of 2017. Each member showed extreme humility and grace towards their induction and it really showed in their speeches.
Kicking off the ceremony was none other than Director of Athletics, Jack McKiernan and President of the Kean University Alumni Association, Ed Esposito. In their speeches, they each thanked all of the friends and family of the recipients for coming and supporting them in their time of triumph. Th ey also both congratulated all of the members for receiving the prestigious honor of being called a Hall of Famer.
The first person to receive their honor was the man who played such a key role in the 1992 Kean men’s soccer national-title-winning team, Pascal Clergio. Unfortunately, Clergio was not present due to the fact that he lives all the way in Brazil. Instead, a former teammate and current friend accepted the honor on his behalf. But, in an e-mail read by said friend, Clergio made it very clear that his time playing soccer at Kean were some of the best days of his entire life.
The next person to bask in their moment was two-sport standout, Melissa Nunez. Nunez was very grateful for what she had accomplished and thanked not only her family, but her teammates and coaches as well. She stated that without them, none of her accomplishments would have been possible.
In what was a very heartfelt and emotional part of the night, both Melissa Beyruti and Ebony Jackson were inducted by their former basketball coach. Their coach reminisced about the times that they used to share together and how thankful she was to have gotten to know them not only on an athletic level, but on a personal level as well. In one of the more memorable stories of the night, the coach told a story of how at one point in time, Beyruti outshot a young collegiate point guard at Davidson College that went by the name of Steph Curry.
Beyruti thanked her family, friends, teammates and coaches for always believing in her and sticking by her side. Beyruti, who is now a mom, finished her speech by stating that “raising children is harder than any game I’ve ever played.”
Jackson also made sure to thank her mom, coaches, friends and family in her speech. Jackson, who now serves as a Drill Sergeant for the U.S. Army, gave what was truly a memorable and tremendous speech.
Transitioning from the basketball court to the football field, the next person to receive their honor was former starting quarterback and current Assistant Director of Recreation, Intramurals, Facilities & Event Management, Jay Sgaramella. In an act of true humility, Sgaramella accepted his award on behalf of his teammates. He also thanked his coaches and family for everything that they did in order to make him into the man that he is today.
In an interview with Sgaramella, he stated that it was “truly an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, especially with this group of athletes that I know very well.” He went on to say that his source of inspiration was his entire family.
As not only being a Hall of Fame shortstop for the Kean softball team, but a two-time scholar athlete of the year as well, Johanna Hedler proved to be a superstar both on and off the field. Hedler made sure to thank her coach, parents, step-parents and Athletic Department as well. She stated that due to their efforts, she “learned how to be a leader, passionate, and never give up.” And, she ended her speech by thanking softball for all of the memories.
And last but certainly not least, the final recipient of the Class of 2017 was former shortstop for the Kean baseball team, Perry Schatzow. The love and admiration that was shown to Schatzow was truly inspirational. He was described as being calm, understanding and never one to complain.
He was also said to be a very cerebral baseball player because he seemed to know everything that was going on all of the time. Schatzow thanked Kean University and the Athletic Department for everything that they did for him. And in a truly unselfish act, he congratulated all of the members of the Class of 2017. Finishing off his speech, Schatzow stated that, “while the walkoff hit to win the national title was icing on the cake, tonight is the cherry on top.”
As Athletic Director Jack McKiernan put it, “the theme of the night was teamwork and family.” Each member of the Class of 2017 has a very loving and reliable group of people that they could turn to in their times of need. Whether it was their teammates, friends or family, each member had someone that they could give credit to for their success. In what what was a very ceremonious night for this group of phenomenal athletes, they showed what it truly meant to be a Hall of Famer.