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September 24, 2023 12:43 am

UMO athletics announces 2022 Hall of Fame class

MOUNT OLIVE – Four former UMO sport standouts, a former vice-president of athletics/athletic director, one team and one supporter will comprise the University of Mount Olive’s 15th annual Hall of Fame class.

The 2022 inductees are Scottie Bryan (supporter), Kendrick Easley, Class of 2010 (men’s basketball), Jeff Eisen (athletic administration), Sara Christie McConnell, Class of 2006 (women’s volleyball), Stephen Nordan, Class of 2008 (baseball), Colby Mangum Rosser, Class of 2006 (women’s volleyball) and the 1981-82 men’s tennis team.

Bryan is known for her significant presence in the community and UMO athletics while serving as an ambassador for the UMO tennis programs. She and her family have made numerous contributions to the John Neal Walker Tennis Center and the two tennis programs over several years. To many, she is referred to as the “Tennis Mom” for her generosity and many freshly baked goods on match day.

“Tennis has been a part of my life since I was a little girl and being able to watch, follow and be a part of the UMO tennis family has brought a new dimension to my tennis life,” said Bryan. “These young men and women and their coaches are such a wonderful group and such great ambassadors of their sport and UMO. It is quite an honor to be a Trojan!”

Easley was a dominant guard at UMO from 2006-10, received All-America status three times, and is the school’s all-time leader with 2,261 points. He also holds multiple school records, including points in a season (684), points in a game (44), three-pointers made in a season (106) and a career (331). The most decorated men’s basketball player in program history, he earned numerous league accolades including being a two-time Conference Player of the Year, three-time First-Team All-Conference recipient, and two-time Conference Tournament MVP.

He assisted UMO to three appearances in the NCAA tournament (2007, 2008, 2010), three regular season championships (08-10), and two conference championships (2008, 2010). “UMO gave me a shot when no one else would. Nothing will ever replace the grind, ups and downs, and celebratory moments I experienced with my teammates and coaches,” Easley said. “I’m thankful and honored to be a part of a great group of student-athletes.”

Eisen was a longtime college athletic administrator and served 10 years at the University of Mount Olive as the director of athletics before being appointed to vice-president of athletics in 2015. He worked in that role at UMO until announcing his retirement in December 2021. Under his leadership, the Mount Olive Department of Athletics featured extraordinary success with 37 regular-season conference titles, 68 conference championships, 71 NCAA Tournament berths and the school’s only national championship with the 2008 baseball program.

Eisen built steady growth at UMO with the creation of numerous positions, the enhancement of facilities and the expansion from 14 to 23 NCAA sports. He also was instrumental in restarting UMO’s fundraising organization, the Trojan Club, and began the Mount Olive Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006. He served on various NCAA committees during his tenure and was involved in bringing the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship to Cary. “As the AD at Mount Olive, the annual hall of fame ceremony was one of my favorite events, and it is a great honor that I have been selected for induction,” Eisen said. “This is an outstanding class of inductees and I’m humbled to be a member of the group.”

McConnell is the program’s best all-time setter with 5,992 career assists and holds the all-time single-season mark with 1,666. She still ranks 22nd overall in NCAA Division II history in career assists. McConnell also holds the team’s record with 74 assists in a match. She was a three-time all-conference selection and was named Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference All-Tournament Team during her four-year career at UMO.

In her time with the program alongside fellow inductee Rosser, the Trojans achieved four straight 20-win seasons, including a record of 30 victories in 2002. The teammates were also part of the only two teams in UMO history to reach the NCAA tournament (2004, 2005). She also served one season as the UMO men’s and women’s volleyball assistant (2007-08).

“It’s been 17 years since I stepped into Kornegay Arena as an athlete, yet it still feels like yesterday. I was blessed with an experience that combined my passion for a game with the gift of making lifelong friends,” McConnell said. “Now, all this time later, I am so thankful for the honor of being inducted into the Mount Olive Hall of Fame. My sincerest thanks to the committee who nominated me, but mostly, my teammates who I’d not be here without.”

Nordan was a standout player for the Trojans from 2003-07, received ABCA All-American honors, and was a two-time all-region selection. He is the program’s all-time leader in career hits (301), RBI (207), and doubles (76). He accumulated multiple records during his career, including the most single-season doubles in 2007, which led the nation. He ranks second in program history with 98 single-season hits and sits third in career home runs (27).

Nordan was a two-time CVAC First-Team All-Conference recipient and aided the team to a regional championship in 2006 and a pair of CVAC Tournament titles. “I can’t remember a time that baseball wasn’t the main focus for me – the game was woven into every fiber of my being. I was very fortunate to do what many dream of and have the opportunity to play baseball at the collegiate level,” Nordan said. “Mount Olive College took a chance on me, and it’s here that I found myself achieving my greatest potential. To be a Hall of Fame inductee is a true honor and privilege, and I’m thankful for the experiences Mount Olive gave me. It was my second home.”

Rosser is one of the most complete players to compete at UMO and remains the all-time blocks leader in program history with 744 in her four-year career. She also holds the top mark with 237 blocks in a single season, which ranks third in NCAA Division II history under the 30-point format.

She was a three-time all-conference selection and also still holds the record for all-time hitting percentage in a single season with a .408 clip. During her time with the program alongside fellow inductee McConnell, the Trojans achieved four straight 20-win seasons, including a record of 30 victories in 2002. The teammates were also part of the only two teams in UMO history to reach the NCAA Tournament (2004, 2005). She also served as the head women’s volleyball coach and assistant men’s volleyball coach for two seasons at Mount Olive (2014-15).

The 1981-82 men’s tennis team compiled a remarkable season more than 40 years ago and earned the school’s first-ever Eastern Tarheel Conference regular season championship. The program would sweep the conference tournament with a perfect 18 points after winning all singles and doubles matches. All-Conference honors were awarded to David McGee, Kermit Nixon, Paul Pagano, Michael Bowen, Tom Coggin and Jean Scaturo, while the head coach Danny Phillips was named the conference Coach of the Year.

During the season, the Trojans posted an 11-6 overall record before the regional tournament. The team also finished second in the Mount Olive Invitational Tennis Tournament that season. “We are thrilled to be inducted into the 2022 UMO Athletics Hall of Fame class,” said members of the team.

— From University of Mount Olive Athletics