RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Felician College will establish an Athletics Hall of Fame in September, director of athletics Ben DiNallo Jr. announced today. The project, a joint venture between the department of athletics and the office of alumni relations, will honor its inaugural class of inductees on Friday, September 20, as part of Felician’s rejuvenated Homecoming Weekend.
Felician, which completed its 17th season of varsity intercollegiate athletics in May, will open its Hall of Fame by inducting two men who were integral in the creation of the department – administrator/coach Robert D. “Bob” Symons of Verona and the late Dr. Russel Wiebe, formerly of Fair Lawn, who served as a coach and contributor.
“A Hall of Fame is an important way to establish tradition and honor alumni and other important figures,” said Mark Mentone, Felician’s sports information director and the chair of its Athletics Hall of Fame Committee. “We are thrilled to have ours become a reality. Bob and Russ were instrumental in creating our department and there are no two better people to open our Hall to.”
Symons was Felician’s first director of athletics. He began work in the summer of 1993, more than three years before the Golden Falcons’ initial intercollegiate event. Symons designed the College’s first fitness center, was primarily responsible for naming its athletics the Golden Falcons, and helped the new program gain national affiliation into the National Association for intercollegiate athletics.
When Felician expanded its intercollegiate offerings to include men’s and women’s cross-country in fall 2000, Symons became the programs’ first head coach. He guided the men’s squad to Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference championships in 2000 and 2001, and was named CACC men’s Coach of the Year each season.
Symons resigned from Felician in the spring of 2002, and for the last 11 years has taught health, physical education and driver education at The Bergen Academies.
Wiebe served 12 years over two stints as a Felician assistant men’s basketball coach before his untimely death in summer 2009. He worked under five head coaches. At the time of his passing he was also the academic advisor for the athletics department.
However, Wiebe was involved in Golden Falcon athletics from their inception. As a professor of English at Felician, he served on the initial athletics exploratory committee before becoming the school’s first Faculty Athletics Representative.
Wiebe was also active on campus outside the athletic realm. He authored the College’s first honor code in 1997, and chaired the Student Ethics Task Force. He wrote several scholarly publications and conference papers as well. In between coaching stints at Felician, he was the head girls’ basketball coach at Gill St. Bernard’s School for two seasons.
The inaugural Felician College Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony will be held at The Graycliff in Moonachie at 6:30 p.m. on September 20. Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased online at http://alumni.felician.edu/halloffame (click on Registration), or by contacting Mentone at MentoneM@felician.edu. Program book advertisements and other sponsorship opportunities are also available.
The Hall of Fame Banquet will kick off Felician’s first Homecoming Weekend in a decade. Several activities are scheduled on the Rutherford Campus on Saturday, September 21 to celebrate the Classes of 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008. The day will be capped with a women’s and men’s soccer doubleheader against Chestnut Hill College at 5:30 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex.
Questions about Homecoming Weekend should be directed to Lori Walker, Director of Alumni Relations, WalkerL@felician.edu.