The great Michael Jordan once said, "Talent wins games but teamwork and intelligence win championships."
That was the sentiment quoted by Natalie Gozzard '90 when accepting her induction into the Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018, on April 13. Gozzard, who played lacrosse for three seasons while at Chestnut Hill College, was one of approximately 150 women spanning over two decades and representing 14 PAIAW Women's Lacrosse championship-winning teams, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.
"It wasn't until I started coaching women's lacrosse that I came to realize the tremendous amount of teamwork it took," Gozzard said.
Inducting full teams was a different approach than the traditional format the Hall of Fame had used in the past when inducting individuals, but as it was mentioned several times during the night, it was the only way to honor such a great dynasty.
"If any group deserves to be honored, it is our women's lacrosse team," said Sister Carol Jean Vale, Ph.D, college president, in her introduction. "Some of you participated when women athletes were something of a rare breed and when the interest in women's athletics could be likened to the college gym, tucked away and with no room for spectators. You all played a vital role in the growth of athletics here and to all of you who have worn the uniform and represented us on the lacrosse field, I say thank you. Thank you for your commitment, dedication and passion."
Close to one-third of the players, including one who traveled from Alaska, returned to campus for a halftime recognition of their accomplishments, during the women's lacrosse game against Georgian Court University. Following the game, the women and their families were invited to St. Joseph Hall where they received plaques and reconnected with old teammates and met new ones. Now all HOF inductees, there was something else the women all had something in common whether they were from the Class of 1979, which won the first championship, or the Class of 1999, which won the last, and that was their head coach, Janice Rensimer Kuklick.
Kuklick, who received a standing ovation and who was inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 2011, was the constant for these new inductees, many of whom had never picked up a lacrosse ball and stick in their lives.
In fact, some of those women, who never would have classified themselves as athletes let alone athletes at an elite level, did not believe themselves worthy of a Hall of Fame induction and were certain that they would not have merited one without their teammates.
"This induction is a measure of what we all could do together," Kuklick said. "It is a well-deserved honor and a testament to the exceptional character and commitment you have for the college. Collectively, as a team, you have made an important contribution and collectively, you managed to mesh beginner players and those with skill, to produce 14 championship-winning teams. THAT is Hall of Fame material."
The members of those championship-winning teams now join their coach, and stand alongside many others who have made irreplaceable contributions to Chestnut Hill College athletics. As teams, they won 14 championships over a 20-year period, and as teams, they will forever be memorialized in the Hall of Fame for their hard work, determination, and groundwork they laid for women's athletics as a whole at CHC.
"You are unforgettable characters in the story of the college," Sister Carol said. "We salute you this evening for your most memorable achievements. Indeed you made history and not everyone can say that."
Marilee Gallagher '14