By: Dr. Richard Midcap
McHENRY – The Garrett College Athletic Hall of Fame will add five new members, including a former Lakers baseball coach and one of his top players, during its third annual induction dinner at 6 p.m. on October 27th in the Community Aquatic and Recreation Complex (CARC) gymnasium.
Lawrence Nesselrodt, who is now head baseball coach at West Virginia University Institute of Technology, will be inducted for a nine-year GC coaching reign that included a 31-win season that's tied for the second-best single-season win total in team history. Darryl Dupert, a power-hitting infielder who played for Nesselrodt from 1987 to 1989, will be joining his coach in the Hall of Fame.
Nesselrodt, who was the Lakers' shortstop and two-time Team Most Valuable Player at GC before returning to coach, is already in the Davis & Elkins College Athletic Hall of Fame for his coaching success.
"Garrett College had offered me an opportunity to be a student athlete at the college level, and that led me to want to offer that same opportunity to others," said Nesselrodt, who became the Lakers' head coach at age 23 and has gone on to rebuild a trio of college baseball programs.
"I'm honored to be part of a tradition of winning on and off the field," said Nesselrodt, who noted all of the high-caliber baseball coaches GC has had during its almost 50-year program history.
Dupert, who went on to play at the University of South Carolina-Aiken, said Nesselrodt was one of the main reasons he chose to play at GC.
"I just liked the way he [Nesselrodt] coached," said Dupert, now a hitting instructor at Aiken (S.C.) High School. "He approached the game how I approached it – kind of a 'go get 'em, Young Guns' baseball attitude."
Dupert, who played at Central Preston High, went on to play as the University of South Carolina-Aiken.
"A lot of the things we did up there [at GC] transferred well down here," said Dupert, who left both Garrett and USC-Aiken as each program's top home run hitter.
Nesselrodt, meanwhile, went on to become head baseball coach at Davis & Elkins College –where he played two years after leaving GC – and has been head coach at WVU Institute of Technology for the past nine years. He guided WVU Tech to a program-best 40-16 record in 2016 with a team that finished in the national Top 25.
Nesselrodt and Dupert will be joined in the Class of 2018 by Marcia DeBerry Knepp, who led GC to its first-ever women's basketball state tournament final; women's volleyball/basketball dual threat Erica McBride Stewart, and former baseball star Ernie Shotwell.
Knepp was a four-year varsity starter at East Preston (W.Va.) Senior High School, graduating in 1989 after helping East Preston to three state tournaments and one state final appearance. She had a similar impact on the GC program, leading a six-player Lakers squad to a 1991 state tournament final appearance that included upsets of third-seeded Allegany Community College and second-seeded Catonsville Community College.
"We didn't have a lot of players, but we were a good team. We learned to depend on each other," said Knepp. "Tracey Henline and I played together all through junior high, high school and two years at Garrett, so we knew each other's habits and how to play together. Karen Guerrera came to Garrett that second year, and she gave us another dependable guard."
Knepp said she initially came to Garrett College "because of its close proximity to home and my familiarity with the coaches." Knepp, who has worked as executive assistant to Garrett College's presidents since 2004, recalled how Dennis Gibson did double-duty as head men's and women's basketball coach during her playing career and her former high school coach, Roger Bowman, served as Gibson's assistant.
Knepp, who averaged 18 points per game for her GC career while leading the team in scoring both seasons, made the Maryland JuCo all-tournament team in both 1990 and 1991. She was named to the all-conference squad and was first-team all-Region XX in 1991.
Stewart, who attended GC from 1997 to 1999, was second-team all-Region XX as well as a member of the Region XX all-tournament team in women's volleyball. She was equally impressive in women's basketball, earning second-team all-Maryland JuCo honors while participating in the Region XX All-Star Game.
"It was physically demanding, but it also allowed me to stay extremely organized and on task," Stewart said of playing two intercollegiate sports. "It kept me to a regimen that I was very grateful for – and that still carries through to today."
Stewart, who starred at Hampshire High School in Romney, W.Va., said she selected Garrett College in part to allow her to play intercollegiate sports close enough to her home in Romney so that her family could see her play.
"I had a lot of family support – they traveled to every game, home and away," said Stewart, a nurse who went on to play volleyball at the University of New England in Portland, Maine.
"I was the first nursing student to play sports while being in the nursing program," said Stewart.
Shotwell, the baseball team's MVP in both 1974 and 1975, was an all-Region XX selection as a sophomore. He is also a piece of GC baseball history, having been the winning pitcher in the program's first baseball victory in that inaugural 1974 campaign while playing for GC Hall of Fame head coach Dennis Fearnow.
"Coach Fearnow would come and watch my games in high school," recalled Shotwell, who was a pitcher/shortstop as a freshman before moving exclusively to the mound as a sophomore. "He was outstanding – he believed in us."
Shotwell said Fearnow's strategy of combining strong local talent with great out-of-county players was a winning combination during his sophomore season.
"That was the best team I ever played on," Shotwell said of the 1975 squad. "If I was pitching and got behind in the count, I wasn't afraid to thrown it down the middle. We had guys who could go out there and make the plays. We didn't have a bunch of home-run hitters, but we had guys who could hit double after double."
Tickets for the dinner buffet – $20 per person, with children under 12 free – may be reserved by clicking here. The deadline to RSVP is October 19th. Payment will be accepted at the door.