Incredible, amazing, legendary, life-changing. Those are all words that can be used to describe the six former Stony Brook University greats who were inducted into the Stony Brook Athletics Rita and Kurt Eppenstein Hall of Fame. The ceremony, which took place on the night of Friday, Oct. 4 inside the Island Federal Credit Union Arena, was filled with numerous school and athletic officials, family and friends.
The Class of 2019 includes Dr. Stuart Cherney, Leo Fernandes, Miguel Maysonet, Harry Prince, Marisa Viola and Sandy Weeden.
Cherney has been the head team physician at Stony Brook for 36 years. During his time at Stony Brook, Cherney led the charge in creating the Sports Medicine Program and created the All-Sport Orthopedic Surgery clinic in 2004.
Following the acceptance of the award and a photo with Athletic Director (AD) Shawn Heilbron, Cherney gave a short thank you speech with a theme similar to that of David Letterman’s top ten list: “Top ten reasons why you would want to be the team [Stony Brook] doctor.” Of the ten reasons listed, one received the biggest applause and laughter from the crowd: field turf. “It’s not just in your shoes, it’s what’s for breakfast,” Cherney said.
After Cherney came former Men’s Soccer three-time America East Midfielder of the Year awardee, Fernandes. Fernandes tied Stony Brook’s Division I record for goals by a rookie — seven, and at the conclusion of his junior year, he was the program’s all-time Division I leader in points scored. Fernandes left the program with a career total of 74 points and numerous awards.
After being selected in the fourth round of the 2013 Major League Soccer (MLS) Supplemental Draft, Fernandes bounced around between the MLS, North American Soccer League (NASL) — where he was awarded the NASL Young Player of the Year Award — and his current team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the United Soccer League.
Next came one of the greatest football players to ever step foot on campus, running back Maysonet. In each of his three years, Maysonet ran for over 1,000 yards, including a monstrous senior year in which he ran for 1,964-yards, 11th most in FCS history while becoming the conference’s all-time leader in touchdowns — 53 in all — with 48 of them via rushing.
During his acceptance speech, Maysonet admitted he made the wrong choice of which college to attend the first time around, while also acknowledging former teammates and their role in his success. “I went to Hofstra first, I know, I should’ve come here first,” Maysonet said. “My name shouldn’t be alone; it should be with the other 90 guys who helped get me here.”
Three-time Men’s Soccer team MVP, Prince, was the next person honored. Prince was one of the most consistent goalkeepers in program history, evident from his career goals against average, 0.85. Prior to his arrival on campus, Stony Brook had only won 11 games in the previous four seasons. While Prince was on campus, back when the athletic teams were known as the Patriots, the soccer team only lost 10 times. Prince, who passed away in 2005, was represented by Greg Spear.
Normally when a person graduates college with two degrees, people assume that person did not have much free time on their hands, but that was not the case for Viola. Viola holds the school record for shutouts in a season — 10 in 2007 — while also recording the lowest career goals against average in school history, 0.72. She was named to the America East All-Conference First Team in 2008 while picking up the Goalkeeper of the Year award that same season.
Like the previous honorees, Viola gave an under ten minute speech thanking numerous individuals and giving many shoutouts. Unlike everyone else though, Viola singled out the grounds crew and maintenance staff as well as the school marching band. “The maintenance staff and grounds crew deserve a shout out. They still recognize me,” Viola said. “How could I not mention the marching band. Back then there were 40, now, over 150? They make the atmosphere.”
The last honoree to speak, Weeden, was arguably one of the biggest leaders of Stony Brook athletics from her arrival on campus in 1969, until her departure in 2003. When she first stepped up to the podium, Weeden did not shy away from the stage. “Instead of alphabetical, go by height or age. I would’ve been done by now.”
Originally hired as a physical education teacher, Weeden quickly moved up the ranks and was named Women’s Athletics Director (AD) in 1973. As the Women’s AD, Weeden wore numerous other hats, coaching women’s basketball for 13 seasons, tennis and softball for two seasons each, as well as volleyball and swimming.
Accolades and awards are nothing new for Weeden, who was inducted into SUNY Cortland’s C-Club Hall of Fame back in 1987. Aside from the Cortland Hall of Fame nod, Weeden received the Stony Brook V.I.P. Booster Club Service Award in 1982, and the New York State Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (NYSAIAW) Service Award in 1985, as well as two-time coach of the year for women’s basketball. If the awards and honors Weeden has garnered over the years do not show how much success and an impact she had, know that 11 of her former players came to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, from across the country. At the end of the night, Weeden received a standing ovation.
So what does it mean to be inducted in the Stony Brook Athletics Rita and Kurt Eppenstein Hall of Fame? “I’m really proud of what we’ve built but I’m also appreciative and grateful for those who have allowed us to do this,” Heilbron said at the start of the ceremony. “The blood sweat and tears, the mud, honestly, literally paved the way for us, our student athletes, to be successful… None of it would be possible without those who came before us… We’re on the precipice of something special here. It’s only possible because of the people in this room and those who came before.”