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Springfield College inducts six former athletes in the Hall of Fame

Darin MacEacheron

Friends, family, teammates, and coaches gathered Saturday night upstairs in the Dodge room of the Campus Union to celebrate the illustrious careers of six former Springfield College athletes who made a lasting impact in their respected sports.

The 2018 class consisted of members of championships teams, undefeated seasons, record breaking moments and unforgettable moments.

Before each inductee was announced, a 90-second video was played commemorating each of their achievements and the new members of the hall of fame were given a large plaque with pictures and a description of their time here and accomplishments.

Like most hall of fame induction ceremonies, the members showed their gratitude to their friends, family and teammates, but each member stayed unique in their own way.

Robert C. Felt ’94

Robert Felt was one of the most outstanding lacrosse players Springfield has ever had.  A two-time captain, Felt led the Pride to the 1994 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse National Championship.  That year, he was a USILA All-American, the USILA midfielder of the year, and the USILA player of the year.  His 136 goals rank fifth all time in program history. His remarkable career earned him the rights to play in the North/South Lacrosse All-Star game at John-Hopkins University.  His lacrosse career ended when he was drafted by the Boston Blazers in the 1994 Major Indoor Lacrosse League Draft where he played three seasons.

“There is a reason why it is called the athletic hall of fame,” said Felt.  “So to the members of this hall of fame class, I apologize for bringing the average GPA to a historic all-time low.”

The audience laughed and it wasn’t the only time as Felt constantly poked fun at himself and at his teammates.

Felt’s personality was bright and although he said he might not have gotten the best grades, he was clearly a great character who could sure play the game of lacrosse better than most.

Ramses Kelly ‘91

Like Felt, Kelly was a two-time captain, but he lead the Pride men’s basketball team.  Kelly was an all-around player and is in the top of the ranks for numerous major categories.  He was third in career points, second in assists, third in rebounds, fifth in field goals made, and first in attempted and made free throws.  He was male athlete of the year on three occasions (1988,1989, 1991) and was Northeast-10 All-Freshman , NE-10 All-star, and NE-10 All-Academic team.

“I could not imagine growing up in Harlem, New York and be in the Springfield College athletic hall of fame,” stated Kelly.  “I could not imagine being in the hall of fame after being told I needed to be held back or go to summer school in third grade because I was not a good reader.”

Kelly’s  journey getting to Springfield College was a rough one but he overcame it.

In third grade, he struggled to read and write but now he is an educator and teaches English Language Arts.

Brandon Mueller ‘05

Mueller was a standout member of the volleyball team at Springfield.  He lead the Pride to two Division III National Championships and was named the most valuable player in both tournaments.  Not only does he hold program records for most career kills, but he set an NCAA record for most kills in a five set match (37) and most attempts in a five set match (80).  He was named to EIVA Division I All-Conference team three times and was one of Springfield’s greatest volleyball player.

“When I played volleyball here, there weren’t as many DIII teams so we ended up playing DI teams like Penn State and Ball State,” said Mueller.  “Going to Columbus, Ohio and beating Ohio State was such a great moment being a DIII team. Our team was tough and never gave up and without the support and great play of my teammates, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Mueller was quieter than the other inductees and kept to himself.  He was humble and truly appreciated the people around him.

Barbara Piromalli ‘01

Piromalli was considered the finest athlete to run at Springfield College.  She was a nine-time NCAA Division III All-America honoree and was the 2000 USTCA Women’s New England Region Cross Country Athlete of the year.  One of her biggest accomplishments was when she won the DIII National Championship in the outdoor 10,000 meters in 2000. In the classroom, Piromalli was a great student as she was a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-America recipient and received the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Currently, Piromalli currently practices as a Family Medicine Physician all the way in Anchorage, Alaska.  Because of this, she was unable to attend the event but her father attended and read her speech.

“When I knew I wouldn’t be able to come, I knew my father would be the perfect person to received the award for me,” quotes Piromalli’s father.  “My parents have always been my biggest supported. They came to every meet and wouldn’t miss a second of me competing.”

Piromalli took nothing around her for granted and loved everyone who helped get her to where she is today.

Michael Viola ‘80

Viola succeeded in gymnastics and specialized in the still rings.  He was a three time NCAA All-America honoree and was thought to be one of the best gymnasts on the still rings in the country.  He captured the 1981 DII National championship one year after finishing runner-up in 1980. Throughout his amazing career, Viola was undefeated against Eastern Intercollegiate Gymnasts Leagues and was the 1981 Springfield College Male Athlete of the Year.

Viola recalled that when he first came to the college in 1976, the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams along with the dance team had to practice in Judd Gymnasium.  “On a large wall outside the gym was the photos and certificates of all the All-American athletes who came before me,” said Viola. “It was the first Wall of Fame that I recall and it provided me with endless motivation to earn a spot on that wall.”

He continued to talk about the profound tradition this school carries and that he is proud to see so many young athletes today succeeding at Springfield.

Sharon Wheeler ‘84

The final inductee of the 2018 class to be recognized was Sharon Wheeler who was one of the more remarkable female basketball players the school has had.

She started all four years at Springfield and became the first junior to surpass 1,000 points.  She was another all-around player as she finished with 1,313 points and 947 rebounds in her career.  Winning was in her blood. Playing 100 games for the Pride, Wheeler won 75 of them and lead the team her senior year to the Northeast 8 regular-season title.

Wheeler unfortunately was unable to attend Saturday’s program, but her memories were captured by her coach, Harvey Shapiro.

Shapiro kept his thoughts short and simple.  He described Wheeler’s game saying she was one of the best players he had ever coached.  Shapiro praised her ability to score, rebound, and play terrific defense.

“She was a great team player, a joy to coach, and brought Springfield College basketball many shining moments.”

This event was great because we didn’t just find out why each inductee was selected.  We heard their stories, their struggles, their motivations.

The speeches provided different insights and perspectives into their lives and the emotions in the room was constantly changing.  We got to laugh but at the same time realize that some people have it harder than others. Like a rollercoaster, these people had their ups and downs, went over bumps, and turned their lives completely around, but just like a rollercoaster, there comes an end.  For these six successful individuals, they might be cemented in Springfield College’s athletic Hall of Fame, but their end is nowhere near.

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