Flashback Friday is looking back at the top moments from the 2018-19 athletic year each Friday over the summer at the College of Staten Island. We continue into our Top Five with our No. 4 moment, a night that honored eight legendary players and coaches of the program as part of the CSI Athletics Class of 2018 Hall of Fame ceremony at the Nicotra Ballroom in Staten Island.
#4 – CSI celebrates their fourth Hall of Fame class with Class of 2018 ceremony
Date: November 1, 2018
Who: Class of 2018 Hall of Famers
Where: Nicotra Ballroom @ the Hilton Garden Inn – Staten Island, NY
What Happened: CSI honored their biggest class of honorees as eight individuals were inaugurated into the College’s Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018 Induction Ceremony. The night featured a new format with intro videos preceding the inauguration of the individuals. Nearly 200 guests were on hand to celebrate the night at the Nicotra Ballroom. The night honored former student-athletes Nedgy Nazon (Men’s Soccer), Demi-Jean Martorano (Women’s Soccer), Michelle DeBella (Softball), Michael Stewart (Men’s Basketball), April Owen (Women’s Basketball), Frank Sansonetti (Baseball), Arthur King (Men’s Basketball), and former head coach Bill Cali (Baseball).
Q&A…with Michelle DeBella
Michelle, what was it like for you to get the call that you were in the Hall of Fame?
I can honestly say I was speechless. I never expected it. When I hung up the phone after the call it took a little time for it to sink in. I mean I played so long ago and there have been so many amazing players over the years that it wasn’t expected. Once the shock wore off, I felt extremely grateful and It was truly an honor to be considered.
You came to CSI during a unique time. The team was going through a lot of growth and changing with new coach Gina Batista. Did you think that you were being looked at as the centerpiece to that movement at the time?
I never thought of it that way. I never thought I was a centerpiece of the team. I was lucky enough to join the team with great group of talented girls who made me better. I was always taught that softball was a team sport and one player couldn’t win a game. I think that philosophy really helped make me a better player because I was willing to work with the team and do whatever it took to win as a whole.
You’ve had so many great games and memories during your career. Is there one that stands out most?
I can honestly say that I really enjoyed every moment and every game at CSI. Our team really came together as one and we genuinely all got along which is why I think we were so successful. It’s hard to pick one or two moments but if I had to choose it would probably be winning two championships.
People look at your hitting numbers and they were tremendous, but you were also a great defensive player as well. What part of your game do you think was the most important?
I definitely think balance and consistency were the most important part of my game. I knew that if I didn’t have a great game at the plate I still could help defensively by making a unexpected catch or scooping a ball out of the dirt. Don’t get me wrong, home runs are fun to hit but my Dad always taught me consistency was key, he always said he would take four singles over one homer any day.
You mentioned that your late-father and your mom and brother were instrumental for your development as a softball player. What can you say about the importance of family when being a student-athlete?
Being a student-athlete is a lot of work between practice, games and school. My parents always told my brother and I that working hard leads to success. They helped show me how to balance school and softball without having to sacrifice one for the other. They were and still are my support system and my biggest fans. My mom always encouraged me to do my best and reminded me to have fun. My dad was my biggest supporter. He really taught me most of what I know about the game and I think it gave me a little extra edge on the field and made me a better player overall.
Let’s talk about the Hall of Night itself. Were you nervous having to make a speech, and what sentiments did you want to convey that night?
I was terrified about making a speech. I’m generally a shy person and don’t like to be the center of attention. I wanted to convey how grateful I was to all my friends, family and teammates and how thankful I was because without them I would not have been standing at that podium. I do miss playing and it was nice to look back on all the fun memories.
Many of your former teammates came out to support you that night. What did that mean to you, and how many friendships do you have from your playing days?
It meant a lot to have so much support. Everybody is so busy with their jobs and families that we don’t get to see each often but it was a great feeling that they could take time out of their busy lives to support me. I have been lucky to have met some real life long friends playing softball. A lot of us have known each other since little league or high school and we’re still friends to this day. Whether it’s a week or month or a year, when we get together it’s like old time and always a great time.
What were your overall impressions of that night? What stood out to you, what will be your lasting memories or takeaways from that evening?
It was a really great night and CSI did a wonderful job putting everything together. It was great seeing people I haven’t seen since college. But what really stood out for me was the intro videos. CSI did a fantastic job putting those together and It was nice getting to know a little about my fellow Hall of Famers. I enjoyed the whole feel of the event. Everyone was there to celebrate each other and the sports they loved to play. It was a very nostalgic and brought back a lot of fun memories.
You are part of such an exclusive club now. Your name and your bio will be on that wall forever at CSI. When you look back at your career and what you have done and knowing that you’re a Hall of Famer, what does that mean to you?
It’s an amazing honor and it’s nice to be honored for something I really enjoyed. It’s something I will be able to share with the future generation. It’s also bittersweet because I would have love to have shared this with my dad. He enjoyed teaching me the game and watching me play. He would have been so happy to experience this with me.
Inauguration Video – Michelle DeBella
Inauguration Video – Nedgy Nazon
Inauguration Video – Demi-Jean Martorano
Inauguration Video – Michael Stewart
Inauguration Video – Arthur King
Inauguration Video – Frank Sansonetti
Inauguration Video – April Owen
Inauguration Video – Bill Cali