UNION, NJ - Kean University recently inducted seven new members into the Benisch Athletic Hall of Fame. The Class of 2015 is comprised of: former women’s soccer standout Heather Anzivino ‘08, of Middletown; baseball All-American Mike Battista ‘08, of North Plainfield; men’s lacrosse star Gerard Benaquista ‘93, of Union; women’s basketball All-American Shervon James ‘04, of Clifton; two-sport standout Deanna Thomas ‘05, of Salem; two-time baseball All-American Dan Zeffiro ‘08, of Old Bridge; and former coach and current associate professor at Kean, Patrick Ippolito ’62, M.A. ’65, of Livingston.
“The Hall of Fame was created to honor those who have brought academic and athletic distinction both to themselves and the University and the 2015 inductees are no exception,” Jack McKiernan, interim Athletic Director, who served as emcee of the event said.
Anzivino is one of the most decorated players in women’s soccer history at Kean, was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Player of the Year and recieved Kean’s D’Angola Award in 2006-07. During her senior campaign, she led the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years. A four-time All-NJAC award winner, she was also named a D3kicks.com All-American.
Battista became the ninth person in program history to earn All-American honors while helping the Cougars to a then-record 34 wins in the 2005 season. The first-team All-NJAC, All-State and All-Region award winner also received Kean’s D’Angola Award after compiling a 9-1 record with eight complete games during his senior year.
Benaquista anchored the midfield for the Cougars during the early 90s, which turned out to be a very prosperous time in program history. During his tenure, the team compiled a 52-11 record, capturing two Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) titles. To date, he owns the University’s record for groundballs in a season and career and was named the Conference Player of the Year in 2003.
James became just the second player in University history to record more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. She helped lead the Cougars to a 68-39 record during her four-year career, and was named a two-time NJAC Defensive Player of the Year. The All-American was a part of the 2002 NJAC Championship team and helped Kean to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Thomas was a two-sport standout for the Cougars on both the field hockey and softball teams during her four-year career. Her class became the first in University history to record four-straight 10-plus win seasons, including a then 15-5 record during her senior year. For her efforts, she was named a third-team All-American in field hockey and she is still tied for a career best 21 assists. On the softball diamond, she was tabbed with first-team All-NJAC honors in 2004.
Zeffiro holds the distinction as a two-time All-American, and earned the prestigious Rawlings Gold Glove for his defense during the run to the 2007 Division III National Championship. In the championship run, he tossed a 12-inning complete game gem during the World Series. His sophomore season, he posted a 0.90 ERA, the lowest in the nation in all of Division III.
Ippolito was inducted for his “Special Contribution to the University.” He has provided years of dedicated service in his many roles including: Men’s Soccer Coach, Professor, Assistant to the President, and Vice President for Student Affairs. While overseeing Student Affairs for 20 years, the Department of Athletics grew in scope and size. Under his tutelage women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s track and cross country programs were added to the roster.