Athletic accolades are remembered for the short term, but four individuals were recognized forever for their outstanding contributions to the Cabrini College family.
Kevin Camp, Jackie Neary, Bridget Orchard and Eric Tidwell were the seventh class inducted to the Cabrini College Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 27.
Camp took a chance attending Cabrini. As a senior in high school most students are looking for established lacrosse programs at colleges. Camp was not one of those students. The thought that he could help start and build a program was his draw to Cabrini.
Camp’s first four years at Cabrini College were the first four years of Cabrini lacrosse. In the program’s first year, the team posted a record of 7-6, including a 6-4 win over defending ECAC champion, Wesley College.
“It was great growing up as a college kid. Now as an adult it’s a little different,” Camp said.
Camp went on to play from 1994-97 and ranks high in NCAA and Cabrini records. He ranks eighth in save percentage 0.733, third in saves per game with 26.23 and fifth in total saves in a season with 341 saves in the NCAA. He still ranks first all-time in Cabrini history in save percentage (0.693), single season saves and single season save percentage. He also ranks fifth in career saves with 465.
“I’ve been here for a long time,” Camp said, “about 19 years total. It’s a great time, and coaching is just as great as playing.”
Camp currently is a volunteer coach for the men’s lacrosse team the past 13 years and has helped coach them to 13 consecutive conference championships. Camp has either played or coached with nearly every player in the program’s history.
“Having Camp come in has really helped motivate me and the team to take us to the next level,” student athlete JoJo Cooper said.
“I would do this job without getting paid,” Jackie Neary said. “That’s how you know you’re on the right track.”
Neary’s husband Joe saw an ad in the Delaware County Daily Times for a small college in Radnor that was looking for a women’s lacrosse coach to start the program.
Neary applied with no head coaching experience, but she had some assistant coaching at Temple University and Ridley High School. Neary also took a year off from coaching to referee but missed the coaching experience.
In her first year the team was 11-4 and made it to the PAC (Pennsylvania Athletic Conference) championship and she received the first of her nine conference Coach of the Year awards.
It wasn’t long before Neary developed a dominating lacrosse team. In just her second season the team went undefeated going 15-0 capturing the first of Jackie’s 12 conference championships.
Prior to her second year as the women’s lacrosse coach, the school’s field hockey head coach position opened up and Athletic Director John Dzik could only think of one person for the job.
Neary went on to lead her programs to 392 career wins and 14 conference championships between her field hockey and lacrosse teams. In addition to her success on the field her reach into the Cabrini community is outstanding. She was awarded the Denise Edwards Award in 2001. This award is given to an individual who best exemplifies the spirit of Cabrini Athletics and was named the Honorary Alumnus award in 2011.
“Cabrini means the world to me,” Neary said. “It was truly a great honor…meeting great kids, and families; that’s what it is all about.”
Jackie Neary has developed a family at Cabrini that extends far past her husband, Joe, and her four children. It is her family that she raises every year on the sidelines.
“We don’t have enough time for me to really share my thoughts about Jackie,” assistant coach Julie Smith said. “Jackie has changed the way I look at life, building relationships with people, and the way I approach coaching sports.”
Coming over to Cabrini after her outstanding career with the Wildcats, Bridget Orchard made the best of her four years of coaching softball.
Orchard took over as Cabrini softball’s head coach in 1998. Over the next four years she led the club to 129 victories including three PAC championships and two NCAA Division III Regional Finals.
The team went from searching for a home field to play and practice at, to a successful well-established program. Orchard hit recruitment hard in 2001 and put together a team that was ranked 10th in the nation and went on the NCAA Division III Final game. That same year she was named Division III East Regional Coach of the Year as Cabrini led the nation in fielding, hitting and pitching.
Even though 2001 was Orchard’s last season at Cabrini she took away more than just the awards and success.
“The biggest thing I can take away is family,” Orchard said. “I feel like players, coaches, administrators at Cabrini create a family atmosphere and everyone looks after each other.”
The last inductee of the night was former PAC Championship MVP, Eric Tidwell. Tidwell played from 1993-97 and has his name all over the Cabrini record books.
Tidwell ranks second in rebounds (797) and steals (197), ninth in blocked shots (65), and 18th in points (967). These weren’t the only numbers that Tidwell was associated with. The forward’s main concern was the win column. The Cavaliers went 88-22 overall during his career and 65-3 in conference games. This led the Blue and White to a four PAC titles.
The highlight of Tidwell’s career is leading the Cavaliers in his final season to an 85-67 win over Allentown College. Tidwell was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, leading the team with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Through all of his success Tidwell took away more than just his athletic experience, a family.
“Family,” Eric Tidwell said, “you come in as an individual and you leave a family member.”
“Coaching is about relationships,” Hall of Fame 11’ John Dzik said. “If you’re able to have a little influence on somebody, give them a little bit of help, and an idea they can use down the road and have a positive impact on somebody’s life, that’s what coaching is all about.”