From national championships and Gold Glove awards to all-American honors and successful stints with professional teams, Brookdale student-athletes have piled up countless accolades over the past 45 years. On Feb. 9, however, a select few received one of the biggest honors of all.
In front of a capacity crowd of friends, family, staff and past Jersey Blues greats, eight former players, coaches and contributors joined the 1983 men’s soccer team as the newest inductees to the Brookdale Athletics Hall of Fame. The 2018 class, inducted during a formal ceremony at the Radisson Hotel in Freehold, featured some of the most prolific athletes and recognizable names in Brookdale Athletics history.
Inductees included women’s soccer pioneer Jeannie Morris Cotta, who averaged two goals per game in 1981 and 1982 and helped establish the fledging Brookdale women’s soccer program as a true force on the national stage, and men’s basketball star Jay Ham, who led the nation in scoring during the 1991-92 season with an astounding 31.5 points per game.
Other honorees included famed baseball player Tracy Pancoski, who set nine single-season records for the Jersey Blues while leading his team to National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series in 1986. Pancoski, who went on to be drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, was inducted into the hall by former softball coach and Jersey Blues Hall of Famer Thomas “Bo” Scannapieco.
“It was a dream come true,” said Pancoski, remarking on the Brookdale coaches, staff and teammates who helped him realize his dream of playing professional baseball. “I can’t thank you enough.”
Keith Weinkofsky, described by baseball coach Johnny Johnson as “one of the best Brookdale players of all time,” was inducted for his achievements during the 2008-09 seasons, during which he set the all-time college record for home runs in a season, earned a Rawlings Gold Glove Award and was named NJCAA National Player of the Year. He was also named a first-team all-American and led the 2009 squad to the NJCAA World Series, where was selected to the All-World Series Team.
For all his success on the diamond, however, Weinkofsky said his proudest memory came off the field.
“In addition to my own coaches, I want to thank Bo [Scannapieco] as well, for recruiting my wife from Shore Regional,” Weinkofsky said. “If I didn’t go to Brookdale I would have never met my wife and I would have never had my daughter, so thank you for that. Brookdale was a great time in my life, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Scannapieco’s recruiting skills also had a profound impact on inductee Skye Rubel Tiplady, a star dual-sport athlete at Ocean Township High School who was ready to hang up her cleats in 2007 when she received a call from the legendary coach asking her to play softball for the Blues. After becoming an impact player for the squad in 2007, Tiplady was once again recruited by Scannapieco, this time to pick up her old tennis racket and fill an opening on the women’s tennis team as well.
Those moves would prove vital in 2008, as Tiplady helped lead the softball squad to the NJCAA Division III national championship game while simultaneously capturing a national title in fourth-flight singles in tennis.
Over the course of two weeks, Tiplady traveled thousands of miles from the softball team’s regional championship in New Jersey, which the squad won, to the national tennis championships in Arizona, where she claimed one national title and finished as runner-up for another, and finally to the softball national championship game in Minnesota, where Tiplady made college history by hitting two home runs. Inducting her into the Hall of Fame, Scannapieco described Tiplady as one of the most remarkable athletes he had ever coached.
“My time at Brookdale was an unexpected opportunity that I will forever be grateful for,” said Tiplady, who was inducted into the Ocean Township High School Athletics Hall of Fame earlier the same evening. “I always tell people if I could have stayed at Brookdale and played both sports for four years I would have. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far.”
The inductions continued with former men’s soccer and golf coach Doug Welsh, the longest tenured coach in either sport in college history. Throughout his combined 35 years on the field and the links, Welsh coached numerous all-American, all-region and all-conference student athletes, and in 1983 he coached the men’s soccer team to its first ever NJCAA National Championship Tournament and an NJCAA Region XIX title. He finished his soccer coaching career with a 150-45-8 record.
Inducted by his former assistant soccer coach and longtime Brookdale English professor John “Jack” Ryan, Welsh was honored alongside the men’s 1983 team for helping establish the Jersey Blues as a top flight college athletics program.
“I have obviously been a part of the athletics department for many years, but it has been a great experience being part of this and, certainly, to be coming in with the 1983 team,” said Welsh, who has also served as a Brookdale automotive technology professor for the past 40 years. “They were a very special group, and they are very close to my heart. You guys are the best. I love you guys, and the memories that I have from that year I will cherish forever.”
The final inductee was nationally renowned broadcaster Jim Hunter, who has called games for the Baltimore Orioles on the Orioles Radio Network and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network for the past two decades. Throughout his nearly 40-year career as a broadcaster, Hunter has also covered the Olympic Games, the Superbowl and the National League Championship Series.
In 1977, however, Hunter was simply a new Brookdale student. A self-described “magna cum lousy” graduate of St. John Vianney High School, Hunter said he enrolled at Brookdale to build up his academic resume with the hopes of transferring two years later. But he was soon offered an opportunity to work at Brookdale Public Radio, calling games for the Jersey Blues and learning the ins and outs of broadcasting while pursuing a degree in communications.
That opportunity gave way to another, this time at WJLK radio in Asbury Park, which would ultimately help launch Hunter onto the national stage.
“In December, I will have had 40 uninterrupted years in broadcasting because of the opportunity that was afforded to me at Brookdale back in 1977,” said Hunter, who was inducted to the hall by former WJLK colleague and veteran shore broadcaster Matt Ward.
“They gave me a chance. Not only did they give me a chance, but it built a career that is still going strong. Thank you Brookdale for all you do. Thank you for the opportunities you give everybody, and thank you so much for this tremendous honor.”
The inductees, nominated by their peers and local community members, are the fifth class to enter the Athletics Hall of Fame since it was established in 1979. Learn more about the Hall of Fame here.
For a full list of inductees and bios, click here.
Learn more about the Brookdale Athletics program here.
Check out more photos from the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony here.