2009 Athletic Hall of Famers share memories at Oct. 3 ceremony

Rhode Island College capped a rain-soaked Homecoming 2009 weekend on Oct. 3 by honoring the Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2009 at the annual Athletic Recognition and Hall of Fame Dinner at Donovan Dining Center.

The class included James N. Adams (posthumously), William M. Baird, Robert Berlam ’58, Jesus Berrio ’89, Paul Bourget ’69, Michele Fanelli ’04, Kristine (Nicholas) Greene ’90, James McGlynn ’89 and the 1968-69 Men’s Basketball Team.

The night started off with director of athletics Donald E. Tencher greeting the inductees, their family and friends. “Tonight’s event is one of great celebration as we honor those great men and women who have laid the foundation of our present-day success and for the success we strive for in the future,” Tencher said.

The 1968-69 men’s basketball team was the first to be inducted into the fledgling Team Hall of Fame, joining the 1979 Baseball Team, which was enshrined a year ago. All the players received mini-basketballs signed by the entire team and coaching staff.

Speaking for the inductees was former captain Pete Emond ’69, who said of the team’s then-coach, William Baird: “Without his guidance we would not have the team we had at 24-2. People used to say we didn’t play any defense. Coach Baird’s philosophy came from URI, which was if the other team scored 100 and we scored 101, we won.”

Baird, the longtime athletic director and men’s basketball coach, was then himself inducted into RIC’s Hall of Fame. “You have no idea how proud I am of the 1968-69 team being inducted into the Hall of Fame,” he said. “They were a great group of guys.”

Former track and cross country star Jesus Berrio ’89 gave thanks to his coach, Charlie Sweeney, and thanked his mother for letting him know, “It’s only a race.”

Michele Fanelli ’04, one of the greatest first basemen in Rhode Island College softball history, thanked her mother who, she said, “gave her life up for softball.” Fanelli said. She also thanked her coaches and teammates.

Track star Kristine (Nicholas) Greene ’90 said: “Being a member of track and field teams started when I was nine years old at a recreation program in Cranston … Being a jumper was a part of my identity and provided me with a connection with my school … I never thought doing something that was so enjoyable in my youth could come back to me in 20 years to be inducted in the Rhode Island College Hall of Fame.”

All-New England third basemen James McGlynn ’89 told attendees the story of how his assistant coach drove him up to Boston to play in the New England Collegiate All-Star Game after he had crashed his mother’s car. “That’s the kind of people they were,” he said.

Three-sport star Robert Berlam ’58 competed in men’s soccer, track and field and men’s basketball. “One thing all these people [his fellow inductees] have in common that it was not about their accomplishment, but whom they did it with,” Berlam said. “I could not recall all the wins, but I remember who I shared them with.”

Paul Bourget ’69 is one of the most generous alumni that the college has ever produced, giving selflessly with his time and treasure – not only to athletics, but also to the entire institution.

I am not an athlete.” Bourget said. “The picture [referring to his Hall of Fame plaque] showed me with no uniform on and with no number on my back. When I was here at Rhode Island College I had no teams. I did not have any stories, but I am here right now and you are all my team. Go Anchormen.”

The late James N. Adams, who spent 21 years at RIC, serving as an assistant athletic director in addition to his men’s basketball coaching duties, was recognized posthumously. Adams’ son, James Adams III, accepted the award from RIC President Nancy Carriuolo.

“Dad was a heck of a person, but behind every good man there is a good woman,” Adams III said acknowledging his mother Lola, who was also on stage along with his sister Karen and brother Michael. He then went on to read a moving poem “What Makes a Dad?” The family left the stage to a standing ovation.

On a night when the inductees were so thankful for the honor they received, the reality is, we should be thankful to them for all the great memories they have left for us.