Haddonfield Memorial High School has always been big on celebrating its students’ accomplishments, including its alumni.
This time, it is the HMHS athletic alumni’s time to shine as HMHS recently announced its Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2016 inductees. This year, there are 11 alumni being inducted.
“I think what makes our Hall of Fame so special is the long standing tradition of athletics at HMHS from both an individual and team perspective. I want people to take away that you can be an all-star in high school, gain fame in college and even perform in the Olympics, and you are always welcome back to the little town of Haddonfield where it all started,” Jack O’Malley, HMHS Athletic Hall of Fame Committee president, said.
O’Malley said this year there was an incredible pool of nominees, and it was not easy to chose, as every candidate was worthy of consideration. However, a decision had to be made, and the candidates were narrowed down to the 11 inductees.
“At the end of the day, we feel confident that this class of inductees would stack up favorably with any in our HMHS Athletic Hall of Fame’s history, and for that matter against any high school in South Jersey,” O’Malley said.
Those chosen for the HMHS Hall of Fame this year were Jeff Cusack (Class of 1979), Rob Kirk (Class of 1980), Tonia Kemps Conover (Class of 1992), Abby George Carey (Class of 1995), Brie Cokos (Class of 1997), Susie Cook (Class of 1998), Katherine Conroy Nicastro (Class of 1998), Michael Miller (Class of 1998), Sean Kemps (Class of 1998), Jessica Nixon (posthumously Class of 1999) and Erin Donohue (Class of 2001).
“My first reaction was that it was a great honor to be chosen and inducted into (the HMHS Athletic Hall of Fame. Haddonfield is known to have a tradition of successful athletes and to be recognized as one of them is an honor,” Donohue said. “My second reaction was that it hasn’t been that long since I graduated high school, but I guess it has been… it is definitely a great honor.”
“It’s a great honor (to be inducted). My sister was inducted before so I have been to the ceremony. It’s impressive to see the athletes that come out of this town and who come back…,” Nicastro said.
Donohue is one of the most decorated all-around athletes in HMHS history, excelling in cross-country, track and field, and basketball. She established herself to be one of the top female athletes for cross-country in New Jersey high school history. She was a 33-time state champion, earning nine Meet of Champions, and was named New Jersey Female Athlete of the Year in 2001.
“Some of my best (HMHS athletics) memories are probably with the cross country and track teams, as well as working with my coaches… (and) celebrating a lot of the team (accomplishments),” Donohue said.
After graduating college in 2005, Donohue accepted an internship with Nike’s In-Store Communications department and continued to train around the Nike campus in Beaverton, Ore. By the beginning of 2006, she was training full-time and competing as a professional. She qualified for the Olympics in 2008 and for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Miller was a three-sport athlete at HMHS, excelling in football, wrestling and baseball. On the mat, Miller earned four varsity letters and recorded more than 50 wins. He went on to earn three letters in football at the College of Holy Cross. Miller returned to his alma mater where he currently teaches history, is the head coach of the wrestling program and is an assistant coach for both football and baseball and has been a key contributor to multiple Colonial Conference, sectional and state championship teams.
Nicastro was a four-year standout in swimming at HMHS. She won numerous New Jersey All-Group State and South Jersey Sectional Championships, set 13 Sectional records in 16 events over four years, and her record for both the 200 Individual Medley and 100 Backstroke still stand today. Nicastro was named the Most Valuable Swimmer at Princeton and was a 10-time First Team All-Ivy selection, breaking numerous Princeton and Ivy League records along the way. She is one of only five swimmers to win the same event all four years at the Ivy League Championship meet, and she qualified to participate in the 2000 Olympic trials.
Nixon was known for field hockey skills, Kirk for soccer and Conover for cross-country. Carey was an amazing achiever in soccer and basketball, Cokos too, both scoring more than 1,000 points in basketball. In soccer, Cook holds the school records for career goals, goals in a season, and goals in a single game. Kemps was the recipient of nine varsity letters at HMHS, four in soccer, two in winter track, and three in baseball, and helped his teams win multiple championships.
These are just a few of the accomplishments these athletes have made in their high school careers and beyond. For a full list of bios and pictures of these athletes, see below.
“I think the history and success of HMHS athletics in our town gives our children a standard associated with not just success, but also the basic concept of competing and inclusion. We make a very concerted effort to connect our town’s youth programs to the high school teams; not everyone is going to be a champion or a superstar…but everyone can experience the feeling of being part of a team and working together toward a common goal,” O’Malley said.
“Haddonfield is a small town and because of that it first teaches you about teamwork… Usually you join the swim team when you’re around 6 and you stick with it up until 18. Through that you get a sense of town, family and teammates through Haddonfield. You learn not only what it means to be an individual but you learn to be a teammate and that carries all the way through (life),” Nicastro said.
The HMHS Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony will be held on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at Tavistock County Club, located at 100 Tavistock Lane and include a cash bar, dinner and ceremony. The cost is $50 per person. RSVPs are asked by Nov. 8. To RSVP or for program ad forms, deadline Nov. 3, visit haddonfieldathletics.org/main/adnews/ID/41971697.
Full biographies (the following are unedited and provided by the HMHS Athletic Hall of Fame Committee) :
Jeff wrestled for the varsity team for two years at HMHS but where he truly left his mark was on the gridiron as a three year varsity starter, captain and two time team MVP. He was twice named First Team All Colonial Conference and First Team All Group II as a hard hitting linebacker and also earned Third Team All South Jersey honors during his junior year in 1977. Jeff capped off a spectacular senior year by being named First Team All-South Jersey by the Brooks-Irvine Club and every news publication in the area while also earning Second Team All-Area (South Jersey & Southeastern Pa.) honors on defense. Jeff continued his football career at West Chester University where he earned four varsity letters, was a three year starter and two time team captain. He was the first third year player in the history of the school to be selected captain by his peers and set numerous interception and return record from his strong safety and inside linebacker positions. Jeff took his love of sports into his professional life in both coaching and administrative capacities. He spent several years coaching football at the college level, assisted on three State Championship teams at Mainland High School and has overseen a very successful athletic program at Glassboro High School in his current role as the Assistant Principal for Athletics & Activities while residing in Beesly’s Point, NJ.
Rob was a three year varsity player on the baseball team as a pitcher and an infielder but it was on the soccer field that he excelled both individually and as a team leader. Rob was selected 1st Team All Jersey Soccer Association (pre — Colonial Conference) in his sophomore year, 1st Team All Colonial Conference junior and senior year and was All South Jersey Group II in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Rob was selected 2nd Team All South Jersey in his sophomore year and was selected 1st Team All South Jersey and 1st Team All State Group II and 2nd Team All State All Groups following his senior season. Rob was also a Captain on one of the strongest teams in HMHS history, highlighted by being chosen the #1 Team in South Jersey and the #9 Team in the State of New Jersey in 1979. The team finished 19–1–3 and also won the Colonial Conference Championship, the South Jersey Group II Championship as well as the prestigious South Jersey Coaches’ Tournament for the first time in the school’s history. Rob played both baseball and soccer at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., until the recurrence of a high school ankle injury forced him to call it a career. Additionally, Rob has been involved in the Information Technology field as a Sales Executive for over 30 years. He currently resides in Gibbsboro, NJ.
Tonia Kemps Conover
Tonia was the winner of 12 varsity letters at HMHS in cross country, winter track, and spring track. She was named All Group I 1st Team for cross country and won HMHS’s first ever girls’ cross country state championship. Tonia was a Camden County Champ and placed in top 3 at sectionals. She received the Sportsmanship Recognition Award by Coach Keisling at Bishop Eustace for going out of her way during a race to prevent runners from other teams from taking the wrong path at Van Cortland Park in NYC. In track, Tonia’s 4×1600 relay team set the Camden County record and she placed in both the 1600 and 3200 races at States. She also ran the anchor leg on the state winning 4×800 relay team in winter track her senior year. Tonia received the coach’s award in spring track in her junior and senior years and was named 1st team all Colonial Conference in all three sports for all four years. Tonia accepted a scholarship at Northeastern University where the distance program was being developed and helped her new team achieve the Northern Atlantic Conference title. Since college, she has turned her sights to marathon running and has qualified for and raced the past 18 Boston Marathons. Tonia currently lives in Haddon Township with her husband, Matt, and three children and manages Novacare Physical Therapy in Haddon Heights.
Abby George Carey
Abby was a 12 Varsity Letter winner in soccer, basketball and softball. A goalie in soccer, Abby was named 1st Team All Colonial Conference all four years of her high school career, was twice named 3rd Team All South Jersey and was selected 1st Team All-South Jersey and 2nd Team All-State as a senior. She was the second player in South Jersey history to attain 50 career shutouts and helped lead HMHS to two Colonial Conference Championships. In basketball Abby was a two time 1st Team All Colonial Conference selection and played on two State Championship teams and was selected the game MVP in her junior year. Abby scored over 1,000 points and was the second highest scorer in school history at the time of her graduation. She was also a four year starter in softball garnering 1st Team All Colonial Conference twice. Abby took her soccer talents to Georgetown where she was a two-time captain and four-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team selection. As a freshman in 1995, Abby registered a Georgetown single season record 115 saves. Despite missing large parts of two seasons due to injury, her 175 career saves were the most in school history and she also held GU records for most saves in a game (17), most shutouts in a season (5), and was tied for most career shutouts (6). Abby is currently a Senior Vice President at TIGER 21 Programs and resides in New York City.
Brie earned 11 Varsity Letters in soccer basketball and track. In soccer, Brie played on two Colonial Conference Championship teams and was captain of the 1996 Conference and South Jersey Group II Champions. Individually Brie earned 2nd Team All Colonial Conference her junior year and 1st Team All-Conference and 2nd Team All Group II her senior season. In basketball, Brie was a four year starter and two time captain. She started on two State Champions (1994 Group I and 1997 Group II) and scored 1,133 career points. She was selected All South Jersey Group II Honorable Mention and 2nd team All Colonial Conference in her sophomore year, 1st Team All Colonial Conference and 1st team All South Jersey Group II twice, as well as 1st Team All South Jersey, 1st Team All State Group II and 2nd All State all groups following her senior season. Brie was also the captain of the 1997 team that was recognized as the Courier Post Basketball Team of the Century. In track, Brie was a four year varsity performer and senior captain on teams that won four Colonial Conference Championships. She was twice selected 1st Team All Colonial Conference and all South Jersey Group II in the shot put. Brie went on to play four years of varsity basketball at Columbia University She graduated Cum Laude, made the All-Ivy Honor Roll twice and was an, Academic All American her senior year in 2001. Brie is currently a Marine Biologist and resides in Coral Gables Florida.
Susie was a 4-year standout varsity performer in soccer (1994–1997), spring track (1995–1998) and 3 years in winter track (1996–1998). In soccer, Susie holds the school records for career goals (88), goals in a season (38), and goals in a single game (4). Her soccer teams won the Colonial Conference Championship all 4 years, and in 1997 she captained HMHS’ state championship team. Individually, in her senior year, Susie was named the South Jersey Girls Soccer Player of the Year in both the Inquirer and the Courier-Post, and First Team All-State by the Newark Star Ledger. In both winter and spring track, Susie was captain and just as sensational. In winter track, she was a state champion in the 3200m. In spring track, among other achievements, Susie captained the 1998 state championship team, was South Jersey’s top miler (1997), named All-South Jersey and was the most valuable performer at multiple invitational meets. Outside of athletics at HMHS, Susie was outstanding as well, winning numerous awards including the Childrey Award and Susan Blume Award. Susie went on to the University of Pennsylvania where she ran cross country and track. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English, and also earned her M.Ed. from Penn. Since 2005, Susie has been an English Teacher at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, where she has also served for six years as department chair.
Sean was the recipient of nine varsity letters at HMHS; four in soccer, two in winter track, and three in baseball. In baseball Sean led the team in batting average his junior and senior years and helped his team win the Colonial Conference Championship his junior year for the first time in many years. Sean was a four year varsity starter in soccer and one of a handful of players to score more than 20 goals in a season. He helped his team win the State Group I title his senior year by scoring 2 goals and sealing the victory. Sean was named 1st Team All Colonial Conference his junior and senior years; 1st team All South Jersey Group I junior and senior years; 1st Team All South Jersey his senior year; and 1st Team All State Group I his senior year. He was recruited by Rowan for baseball (and also made the soccer team) but a recurring meniscus injury prevented him from ever playing either sport at the collegiate level. Sean currently works with a construction crew in California and has an eye toward entering the restaurant business.
Michael was a three sport athlete at HMHS, excelling in football, wrestling, and baseball. On the gridiron, Michael was a four year varsity letterman. As a linebacker, he earned First Team All-South Jersey Group I and All-State Group I honors in his senior year. He was also a two time 1st Team All Colonial Conference selection. On the mat, Michael earned four varsity letters and recorded more than 50 wins. He was the team captain in his junior and senior years. On the baseball diamond, Michael earned two varsity letters and started at left field on a Colonial Conference Championship team. Michael went on to earn 3 letters in football at the College of Holy Cross. Michael returned to his alma mater where he currently teaches history, is the head coach of the wrestling program and is an assistant coach for both football and baseball and has been a key contributor to multiple Colonial Conference, Sectional and State Championship teams.
Katherine Conroy Nicastro
Kate was a four-year standout in swimming at HMHS. She was second team All-South Jersey for two years, first team All-South Jersey for two years, All-Colonial conference for four years, 1998 Swimmer of the Year by both the Courier-Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and ultimately selected to the Courier-Post All-Century Swim Team. Kate was a first team New Jersey All-State swimmer and a National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association High School All-American in both her junior and senior years (1997 and 1998). She set HMHS records in the 100 Freestyle, 100 Backstroke, 200 Individual Medley, 200 Medley Relay, 200 Freestyle Relay and the 400 Freestyle Relay. She won numerous New Jersey All-Group State and South Jersey Sectional Championships, set 13 Sectional records in 16 events over 4 years, and her record for both the 200 Individual Medley and 100 Backstroke still stand today. Kate went on to an extremely successful four-year career at Princeton University on a team that won three Ivy League Championships and their final 32 dual meets in a row — a University record for all sports. Individually Kate was named the Most Valuable Swimmer at Princeton and was a 10-time First Team All-Ivy selection, breaking numerous Princeton and Ivy League records along the way. She is one of only five swimmers to win the same event all four years at the Ivy League Championship meet, and qualified to participate in the 2000 Olympic trials. Kate is a local real-estate agent and resides in Haddonfield.
(posthumously, Class of 1999)
Jessica earned nine (9) Varsity letters during her HMHS athletics career (3 in Field Hockey, 3 in Winter Track, 3 in Spring Track) and she was recognized with the HMHS Athletics Prestigious 1800 Points Award as a senior in 1999. Jessica was a member of the Haddonfield 1999 Colonial Conference Spring Track Relay Championship Team and she was named to the All-Colonial Conference Spring Track First Team in 1999, but it was in the sport of field hockey where she left her mark. Jessica was a three year varsity starter for Head Coach Judy Morgan from 1996–1998 and she was honored to be the HMHS Field Hockey Team Captain as a senior in 1998. Jessica scored 11 goals and tallied 9 assists as a senior (from defensive midfield position). She was a member of the US Field Hockey Futures Olympic Developmental Program in 1997 and 1998, and she was presented the 1998 Philadelphia Inquirer “John Madden” Award 1998 for being an unsung hero and for her toughness. Jessica was a vital player for the Haddonfield Field Hockey Group 1 South Jersey Sectional Championship Team as a Junior and Senior in 1997 and 1998. The Haddonfield Field Hockey team was State Group 1 Runner-Up in 1997 with a 19–4 record. Jessica was named to the First Team All-Colonial Conference as a Midfielder her Senior year, to the Courier-Post 2nd Team All-State, to the Courier-Post First Team All-South Jersey, to the Courier-Post First Team All-Group 1, and a participant at the Field Hockey Club of South Jersey Senior All-Star Game. During her Senior year, Jessica was also the recipient of the Field Hockey Club of South Jersey Dr. Ronald Goldberg Memorial Award, and a Courier-Post Scholar Athlete (one of ten South Jersey high school athletes chosen across all sports during the 1998–1999 school year, as well as a NJSIAA Scholar Athlete Award Recipient. Jessica went on to study and play field hockey at the College of William and Mary (1999–2003). She was a Four year varsity letter winner for W&M Tribe Field Hockey under Head Coach Peel Hawthorne. As a junior, Jessica was ranked second on the team with 5 assists and as a senior she led the team in assists with 7. She was a Senior Co-Captain in 2002. Jessica was honored as the Field Hockey Club of South Jersey College Player of the Year in 2002.
Erin Donohue LiVecchi
Erin is one of the most-decorated all-around athletes in HMHS history, excelling in cross country, track and field, winter track and basketball. During her time in high school, Erin helped the girls’ basketball team win a Group 2 State Championship and scored over 1000 points in her career as a point guard — despite running winter track and not even playing basketball her senior year! But it was cross country and track where she established herself to be one of the greatest female athletes in New Jersey high school history. Erin was a 33-time NJ State Champion, earning 9 Meet of Champions titles — 6 in outdoor track, 1 in indoor track, and 2 in cross country. She won championships in the 800, 1600m and 3200m, and a state championship title in the javelin. Erin won the National Scholastic High School Championship in the mile twice, setting the meet record her senior year. At the same time she finished third in the nation in the javelin. Not surprisingly, Erin was named New Jersey Female Athlete of the Year in 2001.
At the University of North Carolina, Erin was a seven-time NCAA All-American. Her highest finishes include a pair of fourth-place finishes in the NCAA Indoor mile and NCAA Outdoor 1500m in her final year. She was a member of several Penn Relays Championship teams and one of her fondest memories was at the 2003 Penn Relays where her relay teams won three races. After graduating in 2005, Erin accepted an internship with Nike’s In-Store Communications department and continued to train around the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon. By the beginning of 2006, she was training full-time and competing as a professional, and continued to run personal bests and won many international events in 2007. She qualified for the Olympics in 2008, but surgery prevented her from the 2012 games. She resolved to rehab her injury and return to competition stronger than before. She struggled through numerous setbacks, but finally returned to competition in 2014 and qualified to complete in the 2016 US Olympic Trials in the 800m and 1500m. She’s now retired from the track, but she still runs, resides in Haddon Heights and works at a public accounting firm in Philadelphia