RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Four former Felician College student-athletes will be inducted in the Felician Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, September 18. The Hall of Fame, a joint venture of the department of athletics and the office of alumni relations, will honor its third class of inductees as part of the College's Homecoming Weekend.
Five sports will be represented by this year's class, including two-sport standout Valerie Esposito '03 of Clifton, a four-year starter in both soccer and softball. Record-setting basketball guard Tysell Bozeman of Tucson, Ariz., joins Esposito as a female recipient. This year's male guests of honor are among the best to ever wear the Felician uniform in their sport, baseball player Mike Rooth '07 of Bayville and cross-country runner Paul Chegwidden '08 of Millville.
"Our third class of inductees includes four of the greatest student-athletes that Golden Falcon fans have ever seen," said Felician College President Dr. Anne M. Prisco. "These individuals continue a tradition of which our alumni and staff can be proud."
After a standout career at St. Mary High School of Rutherford, Esposito decided to stay local and attend Felician. In a career lasting from 1999-2000 to 2002-03, she earned all-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) honors in both sports. A midfielder in soccer, she sits third on the Golden Falcons' career scoring list with 71 points (26 goals, 19 assists). While patrolling the outfield in softball, Esposito was a .307 career hitter, batting .377 as a senior. After graduation, she served as an assistant coach for the Golden Falcons in both sports for three years.
Bozeman, a native of Riverside, Calif., transferred to Felician after two years at the University of Arizona. She only played 49 games as a Golden Falcon, but most of them were memorable. She scored more than 40 points in a game on 13 occasions, including a school-record 61 against Dominican (N.Y.) College on December 20, 2002. She led the country in scoring in both of her seasons at Felician, topping NAIA Division II with 27.3 points per game in 2001-02, then leading the Golden Falcons' transition into NCAA Division II with 37.3 points per game in 2002-03. She is one of only a handful of NCAA players in any division to score more than 1,000 points in a season.
Bozeman is still Felician's all-time leading scorer with 1,614 points, and also holds the career steals record of 130. She ranks seventh in school annals in rebounds and sixth in assists. She tied an NCAA record in 2002-03 with four triple-doubles. Bozeman was an NAIA honorable-mention all-American as a junior. The following season, she was named CACC Player of the Year and second-team NCAA All-Region.
Chegwidden was raised in Hamburg and came to Felician from Wallkill Valley High. All four of his Golden Falcon teams won the CACC championship, and he was an all-conference performer three times. He capped his career by earning CACC Runner of the Year honors as a senior in 2007, completing the 8,000-meter conference championship race in a meet record time of 26 minutes, 34 seconds. He still holds five Felician course records.
Rooth was the first, and so far still only, Felician student-athlete in any sport to have his number retired. He played a large role in the re-building of the Golden Falcon baseball program into a perennial NCAA regional contender. In his senior campaign of 2006, Felician improved 13 victories to a then-school record of 29, and finished as the runner-up in the CACC Tournament.
Primarily a catcher, the Central Regional graduate also played third base and designated hitter for the Golden Falcons. Rooth was a .388 career hitter, third at Felician, and was the first player in program history to reach 200 career hits. He was the first Golden Falcon baseball player to be named all-CACC four times, earning all-region honors as a sophomore in 2004. He struck out just 34 times in 541 career at-bats.
The Third Annual Felician College Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony will be held at The Fiesta in Wood-Ridge at 6 p.m. on September 18. Tickets are $70 each and can be purchased contacting Mark Mentone, sports information director, at MentoneM@felician.edu or 201-559-3257. Program book advertisements and other sponsorship opportunities are also available.
The Hall of Fame Banquet will kick off Felician's Homecoming Weekend. Several activities are scheduled on the Rutherford Campus on Saturday, September 19, to celebrate all alumni classes and current students. Included in the festivities will be a varsity women's volleyball tri-match against Chestnut Hill College and Lock Haven University at Job Gymnasium beginning at 1 p.m.
Questions about Homecoming Weekend should be directed to Patricia Malizia, Director of Alumni Relations and The Fund For Felician, MaliziaP@felician.edu.