Fall Winter 2021 Issue

Athletics Honors Five New Members of Hall of Fame

The 53rd Susquehanna University Athletics Hall of Fame class was inducted, with five distinguished alumni honored with a banquet in the Degenstein Campus Center. The quintet was honored the following day at halftime of Susquehanna football’s victory over McDaniel College.

The newest members inducted into the Hall are Rodney Bamford ’84, Marcus L. Cheatham ’13, Chris Persing ’97, Christie Savard ’11 and Alycia Woodruff ’11.

“We’re thrilled to honor this year’s Hall of Fame inductees,” said SU Director of Athletics Sharief Hashim. “Their hard work on the playing surface and successes in their respective careers are great examples for our current student-athletes.”

RODNEY BAMFORD ’84, a native of Northampton, Pennsylvania, was a captain, three-year starter at linebacker and MVP of the undefeated 1983 Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Championship team. He was named to both the Middle Atlantic Conference and Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Division III South All-Star teams in 1983 as well as a Division III Honorable Mention All-American. He was inducted into the Susquehanna Ring of Honor in 2019. He graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in computer science. Bamford remained an active member of the SU Alumni Club, Habitat for Humanity and the Alzheimer’s Association prior to his untimely passing.

MARCUS L. CHEATHAM ’13, a native of Reisterstown, Maryland, was a four-year starter for the SU men’s lacrosse team from 2010 to 2013. As a first-year midfielder, he earned All-Landmark First Team and Landmark Rookie of the Year honors as a specialist. In 2011, Cheatham was named to the All-Landmark Second Team as a defensive midfielder. He garnered All-Landmark First Team honors in 2012 and 2013, while leading the River Hawks to their first Landmark Conference Championship in 2013. As a senior, the three-time captain was selected to the USILA/LAXWorld North vs South All-star game, and was named a USILA Honorable Mention All-American, another first in program history.

CHRIS PERSING ’97, a local product of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, was on the Susquehanna University baseball roster from 1993 to 1997. The four-year letter winner and two-year captain was a right-handed pitcher and infielder for the Susquehanna squad. As a hitter, Persing finished his career 148 hits on 416 at bats, compiling a batting average of .356 over his career. As a pitcher, Persing was 16-8 in his career and had an ERA of 3.09 over his last three years. In 1996, he had an outstanding ERA of 1.98. Over his four-year career, the right hander tallied 112 strikeouts. Persing was a two-time All-Middle Atlantic Conference performer for SU.

CHRISTIE SAVARD ’11, a native of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, was a backstroke and individual medley swimmer from 2007 to 2011. In her first season, Savard won her first conference title in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:10.96, which was a conference record time. In the 2009–10 season, she was named the Female Swimmer of the Year in the Landmark Conference and was SU’s first multi-winner and repeat conference winner. She won three individual events, the 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 backstroke, in which she set records in all three in her second season. In the 2010–11 season, she helped lead the women’s swimming team to their first conference title. Individually, she broke her previously set conference records in the 200 IM and 200 backstroke. Also, she helped the relay teams to conference championships for the second year in a row. She was named a Scholar All-American and the Connie Harnum Award winner in her final year. Savard was also the first-ever swimmer at Susquehanna University to earn a spot in the NCAA Championships.

ALYCIA WOODRUFF ’11, a native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, was a four-year distance runner on the women’s cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field teams from 2008 to 2011. In 2010, she was named the Landmark Female Cross Country Runner of the Year. In 2011, she qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Nationals and was the first woman from Susquehanna to compete in the event. She also won the 3,000-steeplechase title at the 2011 Landmark Conference Outdoor Championships and was named to the 2011 Spring Landmark All-Academic Team. She was a four-time Spring Academic Honor Roll member at Susquehanna and graduated in 2011 with a degree in history–secondary education.

Softball Shows That Success Comes on and off the Field

The Susquehanna University softball team in recent times has been a program that has thrived on the diamond, winning two Landmark Conference titles over the last eight years and posting five 20-win campaigns dating back to 2015. The program has been consistent and steady under the direction of head coach Brad Posner, who took over prior to the 2016 campaign.

Posner has won over 100 games as the head coach at Susquehanna, including a 2017 conference championship, but another and maybe less seen side of the program that takes just as much importance is the success the program has had in the classroom.

Just recently, The Easton/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America Scholar-Athletes and Easton/NFCA Academic Teams were announced, and Susquehanna University posted the fifth-highest grade point average among all 27 Division III teams. Seventeen River Hawk women were also honored for their hard work in the classroom as they were named 2021 Easton/NFCA AllAmerica Scholar Athletes.

The 17 SU student-athletes were among 2,375 Division III softball players who were honored as NFCA All-America Scholar-Athletes. To earn this honor, athletes must achieve a 3.5 or better GPA on a 4.0 scale. Since Posner took over the Susquehanna program, the River Hawks have picked up 53 NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete awards.

As a team, Susquehanna earned its third NFCA Academic Team Award during Posner’s tenure. The River Hawks’ 3.814 team GPA for the 2020–21 academic year was the best out of the Landmark Conference institutions as Moravian University was the only other Landmark team, finishing 98th with a GPA of 3.45.

“I am so unbelievably proud of this team for achieving such a high GPA,” says Posner. “It is even more impressive that they did this with all the obstacles that had to be overcome due to Covid-19. This honor is a great reflection of the hard work and importance our team puts into their academics.

“Not only do they get it done on the field, but they also get it done in the classroom.

Welcome to the Nest

Just like the changing of the seasons, the Susquehanna athletic department welcomes new staff members each year. This year, we had nine new River Hawks join the nest.

Evan Fisher joined the men’s basketball coaching staff after a year of playing professionally in Denmark. Fisher’s primary focus is to develop the post players while being heavily involved with recruiting. He played college ball at Division I Siena College, helping the Saints to achieve appearances in the 2016 College Basketball Invitational and the 2017 MAAC Championship game.

Kirby Szalkowski was hired as an assistant coach for the field hockey program. Szalkowski serves as the recruiting coordinator and works primarily with the midfielders and goalkeepers. She played collegiate field hockey at Division I Lafayette College, leading the Leopards to the Patriot League Championship title and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

Sixth-year head football coach Tom Perkovich added four to his staff with the hiring of Richan Gaskins, Jack Lydic, Jay Terry and Cody Botts.

Gaskins is a veteran coach who serves as the River Hawks special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach. He arrived at Susquehanna following three seasons at Division III Ferrum College as the defensive backs coach and academic coordinator.

A veteran coach, Lydic coaches the quarterbacks. He came to SU following eight seasons at Division II Bloomsburg University, including the last four seasons as the Huskies’ offensive coordinator. This is Lydic’s second stint on the Susquehanna football coaching staff, having served as an assistant coach for three seasons between 2008 and 2011.

Terry oversees the defensive line. He played his collegiate ball at Santa Barbara City College and Division II West Virginia State University. Terry arrived at Susquehanna following three seasons as the head defensive line coach and digital media coordinator at his alma mater, West Virginia State.

Botts serves as the tight ends coach as well as an assistant offensive line coach. He joined the staff after spending the 2020 season as a varsity assistant with the Lewisburg Area High School football program. Botts played at Lycoming College for four years as an offensive lineman playing left tackle.

Schyler Fennimore, the newest member of the women’s basketball staff, arrived at SU following two years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Bethany (W.Va.) College women’s basketball team. Fennimore was a four-year letterwinner at Muskingum University as a guard. She contributed to a +5 win turnaround from sophomore to junior year.

Brianna Burger was added as an assistant coach for the softball program following a solid career at Alderson Broaddus University. The Grand Prairie, Texas, native was a four-year starter and three-year captain for the Battlers as a pitcher and first baseman.

Luke Franklin ’19 returned to the Susquehanna men’s lacrosse sidelines to serve as both the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator for the River Hawks following two years as a graduate assistant with the McDaniel College men’s lacrosse team of the Centennial Conference.

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