Eagle Athletics Hall of Fame, Class of 2010
2000-01 Women's Basketball Team
2001 FCCAA/NJCAA Region VIII Champions
In 2001, the Tallahassee Community College Lady Eagles claimed the program’s first FCCAA Championship and brought home a third-place finish in the NJCAA Tournament. At the time, the third-place trophy equaled the best finish in the 16-team tournament for a Panhandle Conference school.
TCC entered the FCCAA Tournament as PC runners-up, but it took a pair of Houdini-like performances to advance to its third straight Championship Game. In the quarterfinal round, the Lady Eagles overcame a 19-point, second half deficit to defeat Miami Dade College, 79-75, in overtime. Two days later, TCC again erased a double-digit deficit and defeated Northwest Florida State College, 74-71, in overtime. On March 10, 2001, the Lady Eagles defeated Daytona State College, 76-67, to win the FCCAA Championship.
At the NJCAA Tournament in Salina, Kan., the sixth-seeded Lady Eagles breezed through the opening round with a 72-52 win over Louisburg (N.C.) College. In the quarterfinals, they knocked off defending champ Tyler (Texas) Junior College, to set up a Final Four showdown against local favorite Cloud County (Kan.) Community College. In front of a partisan Cloud County crowd, TCC fell to the Lady Thunderbirds, 105-96 in overtime, ending the Lady Eagles’ championship aspirations. Cloud County won the NJCAA Championship the next evening while TCC defeated Eastern Oklahoma State University in the Consolation Game.
The Lady Eagles ended the season with a school-record 28 victories. Syreeta Bromfield, Tai Wilson and Dayana Lorza were first-team All-PC selections. Bromfield added an All-FCCAA honor to her resume and was joined by Jennifer Stegall and Tournament MVP Tai Wilson on the FCCAA All-Tournament Team. Wilson was later selected to the NJCAA All-Tournament squad. Coach Teresa Atkinson won her first FCCAA Coach of the Year Award.
Members of the 2000-01 Lady Eagles were: Tenesha Bostick, Syreeta Bromfield, Astra Daniels, Nichole Davis, Katrina Green, Christina Harbin, Dayana Lorza, Orlandrea Moore, Africa Sherrod, Amy Smith, Jennifer Stegall and Tai Wilson.
The coaching staff included head coach Teresa Atkinson and assistant coach Kerry Jenkins.
Jennifer Bega McLemore
Tallahassee Community College’s slow pitch softball era may have lasted only two seasons, but it produced one of the College’s most decorated student-athletes – first baseman Jennifer Bega. A native of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Bega was one of Coach Maria Mendoza’s top recruits when softball debuted at TCC in 1993.
As a freshman, Bega batted .579 with six home runs and 85 RBIs to earn first-team All-America honors from the NJCAA – TCC’s first All-American in any sport – while being named the top infielder in the Panhandle Conference. The following season, she was a repeat first-team All-America selection and helped TCC win the 1994 FCCAA and NJCAA Championships – the College’s first and only national championship.
In addition to her pair of All-America awards, Bega was twice named first-team NJCAA All-Region and first-team All-Panhandle Conference. Her list of career records from TCC’s slow pitch era include batting average (.532), hits (256), doubles (51), triples (21), home runs (11), RBIs (171), total bases (382) and slugging percentage (.810).
A member of Sigma Omega Zeta Honor Society, Bega graduated from TCC in 1994. She then attended Florida International University, where she graduated Cum Laude in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy. In 1999, she received her advanced master’s in rehabilitation, also from Florida International, where she was also a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Bega has been a member of the American Physical Therapy Association since 1998. From 1999-2008, she worked as a physical therapist at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines. During that time, she became a certified strength and conditioning specialist, as well as a certified clinical instructor for physical therapy student interns. She currently works at Baptist Sports Medicine satellite clinic in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where she treats numerous orthopedic and neurologic patients.
Men's Basketball, 1992-94
As a highly-prized recruit out of Queens, N.Y., Jason Cipolla brought instant creditability to Tallahassee Community College’s still young basketball program when he joined the Eagles in 1992.
Two years later, he had earned a pair of first-team All-Panhandle Conference awards and ended his TCC career as the Eagles’ all-time leading scorer. With 1,196 points, Cipolla still ranks third on TCC’s all-time scoring list while sharing the mark for highest career scoring average at 20.2 points per game.
After averaging 17.5 points as a freshman, Cipolla posted 23.1 points per game as a sophomore and was named 1994 Panhandle Conference Player of the Year. During the 1993-94 season, he also connected on 43.0 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (89-of-207) and led the Eagles to their first-ever appearance in the FCCAA Tournament.
But Cipolla’s story is as much about perseverance as it is athletic achievement. With the help and encouragement of TCC’s Division of Academic Support, Cipolla met his academic challenges with the same fervor as any on-the-court opponent and earned his A.A. degree in 1994.
With a degree in hand, Cipolla’s next stop was Syracuse University. He earned third-team All-Big East honors as a senior in 1997, but his signature moment – one of the more memorable shots in Syracuse’s storied basketball history – occurred one year earlier in the 1996 NCAA Tournament. With favored Syracuse trailing its Sweet 16 matchup against Georgia by two in the closing seconds of regulation, Cipolla hit a fadeaway baseline jumper as the buzzer sounded to send the game to overtime. Syracuse pulled out the overtime victory and eventually advanced to the 1996 NCAA Championship Game.
In two seasons with the Orange, Cipolla appeared in 69 games and averaged 10.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Cipolla later played professionally in France and Japan.
Once his basketball career ended, Cipolla returned to New York, where he joined the Teamsters Union and worked on the set on the highly popular HBO series “The Sopranos.”
Homegrown talent has been a staple at Tallahassee Community College since its baseball program was reestablished in 1990. One of the first local standouts to sign with Coach Mike McLeod’s Eagles was Leon High School’s Aaron Gerteisen.
Gerteisen played for the Eagles in 1992 and 1993, TCC’s inaugural seasons as full-fledged members of the NJCAA and the FCCAA’s Panhandle Conference. Using a combination of speed and solid defensive skills, he developed into a top outfield prospect while at TCC and was named to the JUCO North All-Star Team in 1992. Speed also benefited Gerteisen offensively – he batted .320 as a sophomore and tallied eight triples over two seasons – a number that still ranks fourth on the Eagles’ all-time list.
Gerteisen’s baseball talents were not overlooked by major league scouts. The St. Louis Cardinals selected him out of high school in the 1991 Major League Baseball Draft, but he chose instead to enroll at TCC. St. Louis made another run at Gerteisen a year later, but he again spurned the Cardinals, electing to return for his sophomore season with the Eagles. Still under the Cardinals’ control, Gerteisen eventually signed with St. Louis as a “draft and follow” following TCC’s 1993 campaign.
After signing a professional contract, Gerteisen immediately reported to the Cardinals’ farm team in Johnson City, Tenn. He spent three seasons in the St. Louis farm system (1993-95) then played for a pair of independent league teams before retiring from baseball following the 1997 season.
Gerteisen returned to TCC during a pair of off-seasons and completed his A.A. degree in 1994. After his playing days were complete, he enrolled at Florida State University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis in sports management in 1999. At FSU, he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and was one of two nominees for the National Association of Sports and Physical Education award in sports management.
Gerteisen, who was inducted into Leon High School’s Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009, currently resides in Tallahassee and is an award-winning specialty representative with Warner Chilcott Pharmaceuticals.
Veteran educator Sue Hightower has enjoyed many different experiences since joining Tallahassee Community College in 1980 – adjunct instructor, Reading Lab Coordinator, CLAST workshop facilitator and assisting adjuncts just to name in few.
In 1990, however, a series of events presented Hightower with new opportunities. First, she was hired as a full-time reading and English instructor. That year, TCC also announced it was going to reestablish its athletic program. As the College’s only full-time reading instructor at the time, Hightower soon began to work extensively with student-athletes.
In the 20 years since, Hightower has become one of the most respected academic support faculty among TCC’s coaches and staff.
Realizing the demands of a student-athlete both on and off the court, Hightower has always gone above and beyond to promote student success, providing the necessary help, time and motivation for her students. Her efforts have resulted in a strong relationship with all coaches and a number of success stories among the student-athletes.
Many nights, Hightower can be found in the stands supporting the student-athletes and coaches as a member of the TCC Eagle Boosters.
Chris McNally’s history with Tallahassee Community College spans parts of four decades, and all of it, from TCC student to a member of the College’s academic support faculty, has centered on educating and equipping students for success.
As a student at TCC in the early 1980s, McNally was utilized as a tutor in the College’s Math Lab. He began teaching evening courses at the College after graduating from Florida State University in 1985.
McNally’s hiring as a full-time academic support faculty member at TCC occurred in 1990, the same year the College decided to reestablish its athletic program. Since that time, he has been an invaluable resource in mathematics to student-athletes and coaches from each of TCC’s four sports.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, McNally has been appointed to numerous college committees and has also served as Academic Support’s program chair for mathematics.