Which former Captains were honored as the best of the best
~Matthew Morhiser, Sports Editor~
Earlier this semester, CNUsports.com announced the 2021 Class’s five inductees into the Christopher Newport University (CNU) Athletic Hall of Fame. Over the course of five weeks, Captains legends were honored on the site one-by-one. Due to COVID-19, there was not, and will not be, a formal induction ceremony for the former athletes this year, but their ordination to CNU’s hallowed halls is slated to take place alongside The Class of 2022’s sometime next year.
The Class of 2021 marks the 33rd group to formally etch their names in CNU’s history, as the Athletic Hall of Fame has been inducting new members annually since 1989. So, how does one exactly earn a spot in our university’s showcase of immortal athletes? According to CNUsports.com, “The Hall of Fame honors those men and women who have made significant contributions as a member of the Captains, whether as a player, coach, administrator or friend of the program.”
With some particulars and background information established, why don’t we see just who specifically made the cut and were added to the 148 listed members of the CNU Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021.
On Feb. 9, former CNU Men’s Soccer player Jalon Brown became the first individual declared for The Class of 2021. From 2011-2014, Brown dominated the field at the CNU Soccer Stadium. The Yorktown-native won National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American honors three years in a row. This accomplishment has only been done one other time in CNU’s history. Additionally, Brown is a three-time Conference Player of the Year, and the former forward only lost 13 career games during his time at CNU. Brown stacks up well against the best CNU soccer athletes to ever grace the field, as he is the definitive all-time career leader in points with 134, goals with 52 and game-winning goals with 17. Though Brown never made it past the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament’s Elite Eight (or Quarterfinals), the former No. 4 continued to find success post-college as a professional soccer player in Australia.
A week after Brown’s reveal, graduated softball player Sabrina Hill became the second name listed for The Class of 2021. Hill competed at CNU from 2012-2015, and the one-time first basewoman, like Brown, is a former All-American with two distinctions from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) under her belt. Hill was an ironwoman for the Captains, as she competed-in and started 175 of her career 176 games. In all of those games, Hill became the all-time career leader in hits with 223 and runs batted in (RBI) with 191. The next closest individual in career RBI is Jessie Atkinson with 171. Hill outpaces a fellow Hall of Famer by 20. Hill made first team USA South Atlantic and Capital Athletic All-Conference in each of her seasons, and, with the rest of her teams, never won less than 30 games in a season.
The third inductee into The Class of 2021 is CNU Men’s Golf icon, Brian Jaeger. Hitting the greens for the Captains from 2010-2013, Jaeger is a former PING All-American, and he is the first athlete in CNU’s history to qualify for the NCAA’s tournament as a singles competitor. Ultimately, he would finish tied for 12th. Continuing to make firsts for the university, Jaeger was the first male athlete to earn All-American and Academic All-American, which he acquired through Srixon/Cleveland Golf, honors in the same season. Jaeger holds the distinction for the lowest season average per tournament with 73.24 in 2013. He has the third lowest single round in CNU history with 65 (-5) at the Camp Lejeune Invitational during his senior season. The McLean, Va product is the first Men’s Golf inductee since 2019.
Earning the fourth spot in the The Class of 2021 is former football wide receiver and Cheseapeake’s own, Rudy Rudolph. From 2011-2014, Rudolph torched opposing defenses for 3,345 receiving yards and 32 touchdowns on an average of four catches per game. His receiving yard and touchdown totals are good enough for most in program history. In Rudolph’s senior season, he averaged 122.8 receiving yards per game. In 2011, his freshman year, Rudolph recorded the longest reception in CNU history with an 85-yard pitch-and-catch against Methodist University. Rudolph’s teams made the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons, and he earned All USA South Athletic Conference honors every season he competed.
The fifth and final inductee to The Class of 2021 is CNU Field Hockey’s Belle Tunstall. In what seems to be the golden age of Captains Athletics, Tunstall suited-up for the university from 2011-2014. Tunstall’s squads reached the NCAA Tournament three times during her career, and in 2013, she made an appearance in the Final Four (or Semifinals). As far as solo credits go, Tunstall was a two-time National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-American, and she, to this day, is CNU’s all-time leader in career goals with 41, points with 115 and assists with 33.
Which of our current CNU athletes will be the next to stake their claim for induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame? Could it be Men’s Basketball captain Jason Aigner? Or what about Women’s Lacrosse sophomore Kelsey Winters? Only time will tell, but if this article gives you any indication, making it to the Hall of Fame takes years of hard work and in-game success.
CNUsports.com’s quote and background information on the Hall of Fame retrieved from:
Information on the inductees retrieved from: