More than 120 guests gathered at the Community Aquatic and Recreation Complex (CARC) gymnasium as former athletes were inducted into the Garrett College Athletic Hall of Fame on October 28.
The second class of inductees to the Athletic Hall of Fame included Michele Duling, Benny Shreve, Ed Wildesen, and the 1994 men’s basketball team.
Duling, an All-American women’s basketball player, was the first inductee of the evening. A Garrett County native and Southern High School graduate, she was also Garrett College’s first Kodak-All American. A prolific scorer, Duling had a career-high 40 points in a game against Baltimore City Community College, scoring more than 30 points on numerous occasions. In addition to her all-American award, she was both first-team all-Region XX and first-team all-Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference.
Coach Lawrence Nesselrodt, introduced two-time all-Region XX baseball player Benny Shreve. He reflected on the time Nesselrodt and coach Phil Caruso and initially met Shreve in Elkins, West Virginia and recruited him to play at Garrett. “Benny made it real easy to be a recruiter, because he was the guy that had that ‘it’ factor, and every team he played on he led by example, and he got the job done.”
At Garrett, Shreve set personal single-season team records for hits (64), runs (53) and triples (6). Finishing with a .429 career batting average, he received a full-tuition scholarship to play baseball at West Virginia University for two seasons before being drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
Shreve commended both of his coaches, Nesselrodt and Caruso, for his success and ultimately, recruiting him to play at Garrett. “I believe Garrett is one of the finest institutions in the country, both academically and athletically. It was one of the best decisions I made in my life.”
Wildesen, a former Laker baseball player and Southern High graduate, returned to Garrett College as head baseball coach in 1994. Wildesen posted a 216-173 record (.555 winning percentage) while leading the baseball program from 1993 to 2003. He was a two-time Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, winning a conference title in 1997 and the Division I conference crown in 2003.
Wildesen coached eight Lakers who were taken in the Major League Baseball draft, including two who reached the majors. He was instrumental in a major renovation of GC baseball facilities, including adding lights, a press box, bleachers and a scoreboard to the baseball field.
Growing up on a dairy farm, Wildesen always had a dream of playing major league. When he didn’t make the major leagues, Wildesen said the next-best thing for him was coaching.
He began his coaching career at Southern High School, and he found himself pondering what it would be like to coach at the college level. “It takes a village to realize a dream and to make something special. Those people that made my dream back then were Dennis Fearnow, Phil Caruso, Lawrence Nesselrodt, and my family,” said Wildesen. “That village helped me realize my dream, and I’m thankful for that.”
Wildesen acknowledged Fearnow, Caruso, and Nesselrodt for their dedication and support of the success of the GC baseball program.
Both Fearnow and Caruso were inducted into the inaugural class of the Garrett College Athletic Hall of Fame. Fearnow was the first athletic director, basketball coach, baseball coach, and first inductee into the Region XX Hall of Fame. He also was Director of Athletics at GC. Caruso revitalized the GC baseball team after a two-year hiatus, and recruited numerous Region XX selections while coaching baseball at GC.
“Denny Fearnow had a vision that baseball would work at a small school, in a cold climate,” he said. “Phil Caruso changed and probably saved baseball in Garrett County. I learned more from him than I did anyone else. I learned so much from him and Lawrence Nesselrodt.”
Additionally, he recognized the support of past GC administration and staff, as well as the County commissioners for funding of the baseball facilities and improvements, noting once again how thankful he is for the entire village and level of support that came together.
The 1994 men’s basketball team became the first team in the history of Garrett College athletics to win the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference Championship, Region XX DII championship, and play in the NJCAA national tournament. The team’s overall record of 28-7 was also the overall record for most wins in a single season.
Members of the 1994 team include: Jason Brenneman, Brett Coleman, Kenneth Gross, George W. Hilton, III, Oliver Jones, Jermaine Jones, Pat Lee, Andy Scott, Shane Scott, Troy Sexton, and Wesley Tubbs. Oliver Jones was all-MD JUCO and Tubbs was all-Region XX and all-MD JUCO. Leadership for the team was led by Dennis Gibson (head coach), the late David K. Martin (assistant coach), and Jamie Workman (assistant coach).
“As a former player, coach and GC alumni, this event means a lot to me,” stated Dennis Gibson, athletic director and head men’s basketball coach. “Not only the fact that all of our 1994 men’s basketball team responded and tried to make it to the event but the comradery that still exists. To see Michele Duling, one of my former players and arguably one of the top local female basketball players ever to play here get awarded, was very deserving and personally fulfilling for me. What I really admire is that we as an institution of coaches, staff and instructors, were instrumental in helping shape our athletes academic and athletic careers.”
Gibson continued, “playing sports at Garrett is not an easy route sometimes and takes a high level of dedication and perseverance. We cannot thank these athletes enough as a college community, no matter when you became involved here. I cannot say enough thanks to everyone involved in shaping this event.”
Dr. Richard Midcap, attending his first Athletic Hall of Fame induction as Garrett College’s president, said he appreciated the “opportunity to honor truly exceptional athletes and coaches who are also truly exceptional people. I congratulate all of tonight’s honorees, and everyone who played a role in their successes.”