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Caldwell College to Honor Student-Athletes

The Caldwell College Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2012 includes Monica Snook, Brian Gaccione, Mark McGuirk, Kim Mahoney Meyer, Hasani Whitfield, Oksana Manoukian and Father Bob Stagg.

Caldwell College Athletics, in conjunction with Cougar Pride, will induct six former student-athletes and one contributor into its Hall of Fame this year, the Hall of Fame Committee announced. 

The 2012 class of the Athletics Hall of Fame includes Monica Snook ’94 (women’s basketball), Brian Gaccione ’95 (men’s basketball), Mark McGuirk ’95 (men’s soccer), Kim Mahoney Meyer ’01 (softball), Hasani Whitfield ’05 (baseball), Oksana Manoukian ’07 (women’s tennis) and Father Bob Stagg (contributor).

The Caldwell College Athletics Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to honor student-athletes, coaches and contributors who have played significant roles in the success of the intercollegiate athletic programs at Caldwell College. There are now 21 members in the Hall of Fame, which is located on the first floor of the George R. Newman Center. The Hall of Fame Dinner is the main fundraising event for Cougar Pride, the official booster club of Caldwell College Athletics.

“We are proud and honored once again to induct a class that represents the best of our athletic programs,” stated Executive Director of Athletics Mark A. Corino in a release. “The inductees are all quality individuals that had tremendous success on the playing field, and they have continued to be successful after college as educators and coaches.”

Monica Snook was a high-scoring forward for the women’s basketball team who totaled 1,957 points in her career to rank third all-time at Caldwell. As a freshman, she was selected the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Year in support of fellow Hall of Famer Danielle Ciresi, who led the nation in scoring that year. The following year, Snook took over as the Cougars’ first option on offense, averaging a state-leading 26.1 points to earn all-CACC and New Jersey Collegiate Basketball Coaches Association Woman of the Year honors. She then was chosen the CACC Player of the Year as a junior before leading Caldwell to their first conference championship as a senior in 1994. A two-time honorable mention All-American, Snook also is the Cougars’ fourth leading rebounder all-time. The native of Stillwater, N.J. currently lives in Charlotte, N.C.

Brian Gaccione played an important role in the development of the men’s basketball program. After helping Rutherford High School to multiple championships, which ultimately led to his induction into the RHS Hall of Fame, he became Caldwell’s first recruit from talent-rich Bergen County. Following a subpar freshman season, Gaccione rededicated himself and came back strong as a sophomore. A pass-first point guard, Gaccione led the nation in assists that year and was an integral part of the Cougars’ first CACC championship squad, earning all-conference honors. His leadership skills and unselfish play, combined with the fact that most of his passes were thrown to All-American centers Matt Stuart and Brian Tonkovich, allowed Gaccione to set the school record for assists with 803. Basketball has remained an important part of his life, as he coached at Rutherford for 10 years before becoming the head coach at St. Mary’s High School last year. He has taught at Hackensack Middle School for the past 15 years. Gaccione and his wife Amy and their children Gina and Luke live in Rutherford.

Mark McGuirk was an outstanding defender for the men’s soccer team who came to Caldwell from Malahide, near Dublin, Ireland. The Cougars had a few players from Ireland in the early years of the program, and when McGuirk saw fellow countryman Niall Handley wearing a Caldwell jacket, he was interested in joining him. It certainly paid off for Caldwell, as McGuirk made the all-CACC team three times and was a four-year captain. He also helped the Cougars tie for their first CACC regular-season crown and advance to the finals of the CACC Tournament in 1993. McGuirk teaches physical education at Horace Mann School in Bayonne and lives in Bloomfield with his wife Erica and their children Liam and Ciara.

Kim Mahoney Meyer was the first of five All-American softball players at Caldwell, making the NFCA second team in both 1999 and 2001. An extremely productive player at the plate, Meyer holds the school records for career batting average, hits, runs, triples, stolen bases and total bases. She batted above .400 in each of her four seasons, including a career-best .466 in 1998. As a senior, Meyer hit .463 with 74 hits, 51 runs, 31 runs batted in, and a school-record 28 stolen bases. She is the only softball player and one of only five Caldwell athletes to receive All-American honors twice. A native of Belleville, Meyer teaches language arts at Tinton Falls Middle School. She now lives in Old Bridge with her husband Justin and their children J.T., Brady and Ava.

At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Hasani Whitfield cut an imposing figure at the plate and in the outfield for the Cougar baseball team. Although his 17 career home runs rank third all-time at Caldwell, he was much more than a power hitter, posting a career batting average of .346 while compiling a then-school record 186 hits. His teams also were successful, as the Cougars won their first CACC regular-season title in 2003 and captured the 2004 conference tournament to advance to the NCAA Northeast Region Tournament for the first time. A three-time, all-CACC first team honoree, Whitfield made the all-region team in both 2004 and 2005. His best season was his last, batting .366 with 14 doubles, six homers, 41 RBI and 17 stolen bases as a senior. That production earned him CACC Player of the Year accolades. A native of Briarwood, N.Y., Whitfield is the co-owner of Gamers Baseball Academy in Kenilworth and is a coach with Hobos Baseball Club.

Oksana Manoukian dominated her opponents on the tennis court during her time at Caldwell. After spending a year at Rutgers, she transferred to Caldwell and compiled a singles record of 45-4 in three seasons. Following a runner-up finish at the inaugural CACC Singles Tournament in 2005, Manoukian capped an undefeated season as a senior in 2006 by winning the conference singles championship to earn CACC Player of the Year honors. She is the first Caldwell student-athlete to capture an individual CACC title in any sport. That year, Manoukian also won the NJAIAW singles crown en route to a perfect 21-0 singles record on the season. A native of Old Tappan, Manoukian is a tennis pro at Park Ridge Tennis Academy in Park Ridge.

Father Bob Stagg was the director of Campus Ministry at Caldwell College for 13 years from 1981 to 1994. During those years, Father Bob was an active supporter of the athletic programs, before and after Caldwell became a co-educational institution. He recognized the importance of a strong intercollegiate athletics program to the success of the transition to co-ed, and helped to convince the administration to invest in the college’s athletics teams. As the campus chaplain, Father Bob also played a role in the student-athletes’ personal and spiritual development. He now is the pastor at the Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, one of the largest churches in the state.

“I love Caldwell College,” Fr. Stagg stated. “My years at the college were great years in my life. I truly enjoyed being in student services, it was a great cluster to be a part of.”

The Hall of Fame Dinner will be held on Friday, Oct. 5 at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston. The cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the Hall of Fame ceremony at 7 p.m. Cost is $125 per person. Tickets for alumni, faculty and staff are $100.

All proceeds will go to the Cougar Pride General Fund, which supports the degree completion program and enhancements for the 11 intercollegiate athletic programs. For reservations and more information, contact Caldwell College Athletics at 973-618-3260.

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