CHATHAM, N.J. – The Seton Hall University Department of Athletics welcomed five new members to the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame at the 2013 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Dinner and Pirate Blue Golf Outing held at the Fairmount Country Club on Monday, June 10, in Chatham, N.J.
The 25th induction class featured a collection of some of the most decorated student-athletes in school history including former men’s basketball star Andre Barrett ’04, baseball’s Rico Bellini ’74, and a trio from the same star-studded class; four-time BIG EAST Champion swimmer Jennifer Heider-Berenyi ’94, two-time All-American wrestler Joe Burke ’94, and current SHU men’s soccer head coach Gerson Echeverry ’94, who established himself as one of the most potent offensive forces in the nation as a forward for the Pirates in the early nineties.
z“We are excited to welcome such a distinguished group to the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame,” said Director of Athletics Pat Lyons. “This class was special in that each one of these individuals excelled at a level that helped elevate Seton Hall into the national spotlight. Last year, we made the decision to make the Hall of Fame Golf Outing and Enshrinement Dinner an annual occurrence and we are thrilled that through this event and the tremendous support of Pirate Blue members, we are able to honor and recognize the contributions of some of the most impactful individuals in our storied athletics history while also continuing to support a new generation of Pirates.”
In his four years on campus, Andre Barrett started all 122 games for Seton Hall. With the ball in his hands from day one, the Bronx native wasted no time in carving out his own legacy in a long line of exceptional point guards at The Hall. As a freshman, he was named a Third Team All-Metropolitan performer and led SHU to a bid in the National Invitation Tournament. The following season, he increased his scoring output by over six points per contest, posting team-best averages of 16.9 points and 5.1 assists per game.
At the conclusion of his sophomore campaign, Barrett was named an All-District selection by both the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), and picked up All-Metropolitan honors for the second consecutive season.
The Pirates’ point man earned All-BIG EAST Second Team recognition after a junior season in which he surpassed the 1,000 career point mark and again averaged more than 16 points and five assists each time out, helping Seton Hall win 17 games and make its second NIT berth in three years.
As a senior, Barrett added to the lore of the #12 Seton Hall jersey; one which was graciously un-retired for his use by Pirates legend Richie Regan prior to his freshman year. Seton Hall won 20 games for the seventh time in the BIG EAST era and earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in school history behind a career year from its veteran captain. In a first round matchup with Arizona, Barrett played all 40 minutes and spurred a memorable second half comeback, finishing the night with a game-high 19 points in an 80-76 victory.
He closed his career by taking home the 2004 Haggerty Award as the top men’s basketball player in the metropolitan area and was also named a First Team All-BIG EAST performer following his stellar final season.
Unquestionably one of the best all-around players ever to represent SHU, Barrett currently ranks eighth in program history in points (1,861), second all-time in assists (662) and remains one of only two players in school history to amass over 1,000 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists. With his induction, he joins a heralded group of hoops players that represents the storied tradition of Seton Hall basketball. He follows the most recent inductee from the program, another outstanding point guard and current associate head coach Shaheen Holloway who was enshrined in 2012, just as he did when he signed on to join the Pirates 13 years ago.
A captain and key member of Pirates teams that made back-to-back appearances in the College World Series, shortstop Rico Bellini helped Seton Hall make a name for itself on the baseball diamond. In 1973, he led the team in at-bats, runs scored and triples as SHU finished the year with a 22-8 record. The following season, he again led the team in triples as the Pirates won 33 games and powered their way through the NCAA District II playoffs en route to the third CWS appearance in school history.
In his final collegiate season, Bellini was selected to the AACBC All-District Team after helping The Hall win 28 games and book a return trip to Omaha. On the biggest stage college baseball had to offer, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI in an opening round game against South Carolina. Facing elimination in a subsequent matchup with #1 Florida State, Bellini scored a run and drove in another as the Pirates bounced the top-ranked Seminoles from the tournament with a convincing 11-0 victory.
The 1975 season remains the last time the Pirates advanced all the way to Omaha and the ’74 and ’75 teams, squads which Bellini served as co-captain of, account for two of the four College World Series appearances in program history.
By any measure, Jennifer Heider-Berenyi is one of the best ever to step on the block for Seton Hall. In an era that featured some of the greatest student-athletes ever to represent Seton Hall, the then Jen Heider was perhaps the most dominant in her respective sport.
As a freshman, she became the first Pirate female to break the one-minute mark in the 100-yard backstroke by clocking in at 59.55 at the 1990 National Catholic Championships. Months later at the 1991 BIG EAST Championships, the Nutley native announced her arrival in a huge way at the conference meet, sweeping the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events and becoming the first Seton Hall swimmer of any gender to win a conference championship.
In a return trip to the National Catholic Championships the following year, Heider emerged victorious in the 100-yard backstroke. Her sophomore season would eventually stand as the only season in which she did not capture a BIG EAST crown, but only by the slightest of margins as she placed second in the 200-yard individual medley. She would go on to repeat as the conference’s 100-yard butterfly champion in 1993 and 1994, setting a new BIG EAST record with her time of 56.28 in the event as a senior.
Nearly 20 years later her 100-fly time holds the distinction of the longest standing school record in the pool for Seton Hall. A reflection of her brilliance, her four individual conference titles matches the totals of men’s soccer and men’s track & field, the two programs that sit alongside each other as the leaders in school history in terms of BIG EAST championships.
She is the first female swimmer and just the third swimmer overall ever inducted into the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame.
Prior to its final season in 2000-01, the Seton Hall wrestling program produced a number of notable performers but none stand more accomplished than Joe Burke. After being named a Freshman All-American at Wagner College, the Milmay, N.J. product returned to the Garden State and proceeded to star on the mat for the Pirates throughout the remainder of his college career. As a 150-pounder he finished his first season for SHU with a 27-3 mark, a mere precursor to the devastation he would inflict on his opponents as a junior and senior.
Leading up to the 1993 NCAA Tournament, Burke came out on top in all but one of his 17 dual meet matches and was tabbed as the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the New England Conference Championship meet. He went on to place fourth at nationals as the Pirates finished 19th in the nation as a team. With an imposing 36-5 record to his credit, Burke became the first wrestler in program history to be named an All-American.
Following a red-shirt year, Burke spent much of his senior season as the #1 ranked 158-pound wrestler in the country and ended his career with a third-place finish in the national tournament and a second consecutive All-American selection. With final records of 112-12 at Seton Hall and 148-20-1 as a collegian, Burke is undoubtedly one of the most successful student-athletes ever to step in the circle.
One of the most gifted goal scorers ever to represent Seton Hall; current SHU men’s soccer head coach Gerson Echeverry joins the school’s athletics Hall of Fame in recognition of his exploits as a player.
As a freshman in 1990, he finished as the top-scoring newcomer in the BIG EAST and became the first Pirate ever to earn the league’s Rookie of the Year Award. For an encore, the dynamic forward turned in a sophomore season that was arguably the greatest individual offensive display in program history. He completed the year with 52 points, the third-highest total by any player in the nation, after scoring 19 goals and dishing out 14 assists.
In the 1991 BIG EAST Tournament, he totaled three goals in two contests including both game-winning strikes as SHU rolled to its fourth conference title with shutout wins over Villanova and St. John’s. Echeverry was named Tournament Most Valuable Player and also took home BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year honors. As one of the best offensive players in the country, he was named a Third Team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
In his final two years in South Orange, Echeverry continued to find the back of the net at an elite level. In all, he finished his career as a three-time All-Conference performer and aside from the championship winning side in 1991, was part of Pirate squads that captured back-to-back BIG EAST regular season titles and made three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Almost 20 years after his final college game, he is still one of three players who rank among the top-six in program history in both goals (sixth, 41) and assists (third, 32).
Though the weather was less than ideal, even the rain could not dampen the shine of this group of all-time great Pirates.
The evening’s enshrinement program began with a cocktail hour and silent auction where the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 was able to meet with attendees before the formal induction dinner.
Associate Athletics Director for Development & External Affairs Bryan Felt emceed the evening and opened dinner before yielding the microphone to Director of Athletics Patrick Lyons, who recognized each of the five inductees. Introductory videos were played prior to each Hall of Famer's acceptance speech, as selected figures in each of their lives shared personal reflections about each member of the Class of 2013.
The annual Hall of Fame event also serves as a fund-raiser for the Pirate Blue Athletic Fund which directly supports the Seton Hall Department of Athletics and our 200+ student-athletes. Several sponsors provided critical funding for the evenings event, including: Torcon, Inc., IVL Group, LLC and Ian Lagowitz, The Walsh Family, Life Fitness, The Lucciola Family and The Leegis Group.