BY COURTNEY DIBIASIO // DEC. 5, 2011 //
Three alumni were inducted into Curry’s Athletic Hall of Fame last month. But it was the fourth member of this year’s class, former New England Patriots linebacker Steve Nelson, who stood above all others—quite literally.
The 6-foot-2 Patriots Hall of Famer joined Curry in 1998 as the college’s head football coach, a position he held until 2006. In 1998, he led the Colonels to their first winning season in eight years with a record of 6-4. The football team would go on to compete in two ECAC tournaments and three NCAA tournaments; it also won three NEFC championships under Nelson. He earned NEFC Coach of the Year honors three times.
Nelson would also serve as the college’s athletic director. In addition to adding women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport, he worked to improve the appearance of the college’s outdoor athletic facilities.
“It was a great honor and I was very humbled by it,” Nelson said of his induction into Curry’s Hall of Fame. “The other three recipients were student-athletes of mine while I was athletic director, which made it a much more special night.”
The other inductees were:
Erica Veenendaal, a tennis star in the early 2000s, who was First Team All-Conference in 2003 and 2004
Brian Doherty, a three-time captain for the hockey team who won the Joe Cancannon Award his senior year, also in the early 2000s, as the best American-born defenseman in Division II/III. Doherty was named MVP of the Curry Classic tournament his first year on the team, in 2001-02, and would finish his career at the college with 82 goals (third on the school’s all-time list) and 113 assists.
Lisa Bello, a three-time captain of the softball team who hit .376 for her career at Curry and was a First Team All-Conference selection in 2004.
Softball coach Bruce Weckworth said Bello was the type of person anyone would want as a teammate. As a freshman, she won conference Rookie of the Year and All-Conference honorable mention. She scored 110 runs in 151 games played, and her .376 career batting average puts her in the top-five best hitters in Curry softball history.
Today a special education teacher and a singer/songwriter, Bello said she was pleasantly surprised when she learned that she would be inducted into the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Receiving the award was such a shock and an honor at the same time,” said Bello. “I worked extremely hard as a student-athlete at Curry, but I never imagined being inducted into school history.”