Hall of Fame dinner celebrates Cabrini legends

By Patrick Gallagher
October 1, 2009

Shannon Keough

On Friday, Sept. 25, the Dixon Center was transformed into a hall of legends, past and present. Cabrini College athletics inducted three players into the Hall of Fame, Billy Carr, Rita Horning and John McQueen.

“An athlete’s greatness is not measured in wins and losses, but is measured in the training and hard work they put forth in order to achieve their finest and a dedication to excellence.” President Marie George said.

She explained how all of these inductees had a great sense of work ethic and how the achievements they won were only because of their dedication to their team.

Each inductee had family members and friends present, as well as their Cabrini family. Flashing back to all of those games they played together, they embraced each other with open arms and open hearts.

John Dzik was once the head men’s basketball coach at Cabrini and is one of the most celebrated Division III coaches of all time. Dzik has an impressive statistic sheet with 25 seasons as head coach at Cabrini, taking 483 wins and a total of nine National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament appearances.

“They played and gave their all for me so I wanted to be here for them on their day,” Dzik said.

Dzik spoke before Carr and McQueen. Dzik, as well as many in the audience, became very emotional because both of these amazing individuals encompassed what a true Cabrini athlete is and strives to become.

Dzik spoke of Carr with a sense of respect and reverence. “Billy Carr played every play in practice as if it was his last.”

Dzik also told a moving story that caused him to stop and catch himself because of the emotion overcoming him.

Carr, during one season, contracted spinal meningitis. When finally able to come back, he was there the first day. It was easy to see that his condition left him in a weakened state. He looked as if the illness deflated his tires. Being the player Carr was, when Coach Dzik told him to take it easy, he decided to just play the same way because there was no halfway for Carr, it was all or nothing.

At the end of practice the team routinely ran suicides. Carr, being the player he was, did not skip out just because of the illness. He finished last and, because of that, had to run another. Still at the point of pure exhaustion and completely frail and feeble, he pressed on, with coaches and teammates standing on the sideline cheering and crying at the genuine example of determination and fortitude.

“We didn’t lose because we had Carr,” Dzik said.

Coach Dzik also spoke on behalf of McQueen because he was the one that nominated McQueen. Dzik and McQueen share a special bond that few will ever be able to comprehend.

Dzik and McQueen first met on the day of his interview. The interview itself was the first of its kind because of its location. When Dzik went to talk with McQueen he was staying in a group home because he was a ward of the state.

Dzik saw in him from that first day that he was a special person that had the will of a champion.

“Commitment is what he is all about. If you ask him to change something he will, and will work his hardest to perfect it,” Dzik said.

McQueen spoke about how he was enthused and grateful for the amazing tradition that Cabrini has and to be a part of it is a major achievement in his life. McQueen made it very clear that at his time here at Cabrini, playing for coach Dzik is where he truly learned to play the game.

McQueen also shared how, when he came to Cabrini, he did not have a family and how he was immediately taken in by the Dzik family. The Thanksgiving break of his freshman year, he had to go back to the YMCA in the city, but once coach Dzik heard that, he never spent another vacation at the YMCA. He would mostly go home with Dzik or, if not, he would be with another coach.

“I didn’t have a family to come to games, but I was quickly wrapped up in the Dzik family where coach helped me become a man. I owe it all to him,” McQueen said.

Besides the stars on the court, there was also possibly the most decorated softball student-athlete Cabrini has ever had.

Horning’s first experiences with Cabrini would have turned away any other person but with dedication like hers it is easy to see how she excelled at Cabrini.

Horning had all of the skill and mind sets to play at a Division I school and still excel, but because of an unfortunate accident, was forced to take a different path. She could have probably rebounded and been at that level, but saw Cabrini as an opportunity to have a better experience.

Her experiences on the field were unmatched, from NCAA tournaments to most valuable player awards. She had it all on the field and that didn’t change off the field.

The team went every where together and brought the excitement from their play to the party or classroom; they even had their own table in the cafeteria.

“I was told that I couldn’t have a social life while playing a sport and studying hard but it was easily accomplished when you have a whole team of friends that go and do everything together,” Horning said.

Cabrini is very involved in their traditions and to add these three athletes to their Hall of Fame is a true honor for all of Cabrini as a family.

“These are three of Cabrini’s finest athletes and it is an honor to be here on such a special day where we can give tribute to such amazing and outstanding people, as athletes and human beings,” Dzik said.

Patrick Gallagher

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