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Featured Alumni

Kim Keene Christensen, C’04

Kim Keene Christiansen

Inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2015 for Women's Lacrosse

Kim Keene Christensen was part of one of the biggest turnarounds in Mount St. Mary’s women’s lacrosse history, culminating with the Mountaineers first Northeast Conference Championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament as a senior in 2004. After a 5-13 record during her freshman season in 2001, the Mount increased its win total over the next three seasons, building up to a school record 15 wins in 2004.

A two-time First Team All-Northeast Conference selection as a midfielder, Keene Christensen put together one of the best statistical careers in Mount history on the offensive and defensive ends. As a sophomore in 2002, she caused 46 turnovers, good for third in single-season history. The Baltimore native followed up in 2003 with 72 ground balls, which placed her second in program history for a single season.

During the course of her four years in Emmitsburg, Keene Christensen re-wrote the record books, setting a new school record with 226 career ground balls. She finished with a then-school record 125 career caused turnovers, still good for second in program history. With 55 career goals, Keene Christensen ranks 25th on the Mount’s all-time scoring list.

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Stephan Ricker, C’00

Stephan Ricker

Inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2015 for Men's Lacrosse

Stephan Ricker will go down as one of the most  prolific scorers to ever don a Mount St. Mary’s men’s lacrosse jersey. Under the guidance of head coach Tom Gravante, his 137 career goals were a school record upon graduation in 2000 and still rank second in the Mount’s Division I record book. Ricker burst on the scene as a freshman in 1997, scoring 44 goals to lead the team and rank second in the conference for the season. The mark still places him in a tie for sixth in single-season history for the Mount.

Ricker again led the Mountaineers in scoring with 36 goals in 1998 before tallying another 36 goals during his junior season in 1999. In the regular season finale in 1999, Ricker notched two goals and two assists in a 6-5 win over Fairfield to secure the MAAC regular season championship for the Mount.

A versatile attackman who also spent time in the midfield, Ricker appeared in 66 games with 60 starts in four seasons—breaking program records in assists, ground balls and shots attempted. His teams compiled a 35-31 overall record, including a 29-3 mark in MAAC regular season games.

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Mayor Don Briggs, S’05

Don Briggs

Awarded Fr. John “Spike” Cogan Award in 2015

As Mayor of the Town of Emmitsburg, Mount St. Mary’s University Grotto Council member, entrepreneur, business owner, neighbor, and friend, Don Briggs has dedicated his life to serving others, particularly throughout this historic community. His most profound impact, however, has been on the Mount St. Mary’s Men’s Rugby program, for which he was the head coach for 12 years.

Don has been coaching men on and off the pitch for more than 30 years. Long before arriving at the Mount, he had already well established himself athletically, playing football at the University of Kentucky and going on to coach football at Georgetown University in the 1960s. The transition from football to rugby was seamless, as Don excelled as a prop forward. In 1976, he was selected to the United States Rugby Football Union – now known as USA Rugby – from the East division to play against the French National Team.

Locally, Don would go on to become a Hall of Fame Member of the Washington Rugby Football Club, and in 1990, would found the Frederick Rugby Football Club, winning numerous championships, first as a player and later as a coach. He also returned to football, coaching the Frederick Falcons semi-professional team to three straight championships.

He came to the Mount in the fall of 1997 and rebooted a floundering Men’s Rugby program that was coming off of a winless spring season. His tenure included 156 domestic matches, posting a record of 141-15, including a Potomac Rugby Union Division II Championship in 2000. He led the club to three international tours: first to Ireland in 1999 and 2004; and to Argentina and Uruguay in 2006.

On the pitch, Don’s tangible success was overwhelming; however, it was off the pitch where his legacy truly and infinitely flourished.

Don firmly believed athletics helped build men of character and that one’s actions were a direct reflection of it. He was in the unique position of mentoring groups of young men at their most formidable ages, capturing that youthful spirit and putting it to good use. Whether through 6:00 a.m. runs around the loop, team Mass at St. Joseph’s before home matches, or working the litany of community service projects—painting yellow “No Parking” strips up and down Main Street, volunteering for the “Pennies for the Poor” student mentorship program, washing dishes at The Carriage House, hanging Christmas ornaments for the Daughters of Charity, etc.—Don instilled a commitment to excellence as young men that went far beyond the final score of any rugby match.

This ethos has laid the foundation for the success of today’s program. The team is coming off back-to-back Regional Championships in the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO), a fourth place finish in the 2014 NSCRO National Championship, and a returning trip to the 2015 National Tournament this spring. Holding true to that legacy of character, the team still sets aside time for specially planned service trips during each of their journeys on the road, most recently visiting a local children’s hospital in Denver during last spring’s tournament.

It cannot be overstated the impact Don Briggs has had on every young man who has called himself a Mount Rugger. Don’s legacy as a coach, mentor, and friend can be summarized by the way his players refer to the program he built: “The greatest brotherhood anyone could ever be a part of, both on and off the pitch.”

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Agnus McGlade Berenato, C’80

Agnus Berenato

Awarded Fr. John “Spike” Cogan Award in 2015

Basketball and success. Those two words have been associated with Agnus Berenato since her high school days, when she helped lead the Gloucester Catholic High School women’s team to three New Jersey state championship titles. Those words described her career at the Mount, and her career after the Mount as one of the NCAA’s premiere coaches.

While Berenato played for the Mount, and became captain of the team, basketball was a small part of her experience here. “Being involved in Campus Ministry, student government, retreats, and being an R.A., taught me to multitask,” she said. It turned out to be an invaluable skill in her coaching career. She also thrived in the Mount’s closely-knit community.

After the Mount, Berenato began her coaching career. She served at Rider University from 1982-85 where she finished with winning record of 66-51, and was elected to the Camden County and Rider University Sports Hall of Fames. After Rider, she took her coaching talents to Georgia Tech, serving as head women’s basketball coach from 1989-2003. There, she obtained a winning record of 223-209, with appearances in the 1993 and 2003 NCAA Tournament. Berenato then went to the University of Pittsburgh, where she led the women’s team to its greatest success. The team made its first ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2006, and was ranked number 16 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. In 2012, she broke the women’s basketball team all-time wins record for the university. She was also a two-time Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year.

Although she has many successes on the court, Berenato also has many accomplishments in the community and the classroom. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1980 and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the Mount. The Mount has also awarded her with the Bicentennial Medal, Young Alumni Award, and Trustee Emeritus. She is honored to be inducted into the Mount’s Hall of Fame. “There is no greater community than Mount St. Mary’s and I am humbled by this award. The true spirit I have for the Mount cannot be defined; I just try to have the Mount philosophy each and every day,” Berenato said.

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Heather Wable DeWees, C’95

Heather Wable DeWees

Inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014 for Women's Basketball

For all the ways to describe Heather Wable DeWees during her time on the Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball team, perhaps the most fitting is “winner.” Her career numbers and numerous accolades during her time on campus speak for themselves, but above all, Heather Wable DeWees won basketball games.

Under the guidance of Mount St. Mary’s Hall of Fame coach Bill Sheahan, she helped lead the Mountaineers to some of the most successful seasons in the program’s Division I history. Missing her sophomore year with an injury, the Mount put together a 72-15 overall record including a 50-2 mark in Northeast Conference regular season games during her three seasons on the court.

Success in the regular season positioned the Mount to win when it mattered most, the postseason. In her final two seasons, Wable DeWees helped push the Mount to a 6-0 record in NEC tournament games, winning two conference championships and securing the NEC’s first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in 1994. She started in both of the Mount’s NCAA tournament games at the D-1 level versus Iowa in 1994 and Alabama in 1995.

Wable DeWees brought a unique skill set to the Mount, finishing as one of only 15 players in program history to accumulate 1,000 points, 400 rebounds, 100 steals and 95 assists for a career. Her 1,045 points are the 25th most in Mount history, while her three double-doubles are the 19th most in school history.

She burst onto the scene during her freshman season, helping her team go 15-1 in league play en route to a Northeast Conference regular season crown. After averaging 12.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 1991-92, she was honored with a spot on the NEC All-Newcomer Team as well as the All-Tournament Team.

Returning from an injury in 1993-94, after sitting out the previous season, Wable DeWees put up 10.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as the Mount took the NEC by storm with an 18-0 regular season conference record. The team finished 25-4, highlighted by a 78-67 win over Saint Francis University in the NEC Championship game. Her performance earned her a spot on the NEC All-Tournament Team, as well as a Second Team All-Conference selection.

Wable DeWees capped her collegiate career in style with a second-consecutive NEC Championship and another trip to the NCAA tournament in 1994-95. With a 24-6 overall record, the Mount had a 17-1 mark in conference play. With 13.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, Wable DeWees was named First Team All-NEC and All-NEC Tournament team as a senior.

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Sean P. Elder, C’00

Sean P Elder

Inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014 for Men's Lacrosse

Arriving at Mount St. Mary’s as a freshman in Head Coach Tom Gravante’s third season in 1997, Sean Elder would go on to rewrite the men’s lacrosse record book, proving to be a dominant force as the Mountaineers’ goalkeeper for four seasons.

Despite being 14 years removed from donning the Blue and White, Elder’s legacy lives on through records standing among the best in Mount St. Mary’s history. His name appears in top 10 lists for Mount history on 13 occasions, including the program’s single-season saves record of 270 he set as a junior in 1999. His record-setting junior campaign with the Mount came four years after
setting the single-season saves mark of 194 at Skaneateles High School in New York.

When he graduated from the Mount in 2000, Elder held school records for the Division I era for career saves (655), wins (25) and goals against average (9.73). With the 2014 season on the horizon, he still ranks second in saves, second in wins and fourth in goals against average. While adjusting to the college game, Elder started 14 games during his first two seasons. He picked up seven wins while making 147 saves and compiling a 9.94 goals against average and a .614 save percentage in 1997 and 1998.

Elder turned up his performance during his junior and senior campaigns, earning First Team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 1999 and 2000—proving to be not only the best goalkeeper in the conference, but among the nation’s elite, Elder’s .626 save percentage in 1999 ranked seventh in Division I.

It was also during his junior season that Elder was recognized as MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year after setting a then-school record with 10 individual wins and guiding the Mount to a conference championship. Elder’s consistency helped the Mount record a seven-game winning streak in 1999 and pick up a victory over Boston College in the ECAC Championships.

His senior season was also one of best statistical years in Mount lacrosse history. Eight of the Mount’s victories were credited to Elder in 2000, a number that stands as the sixth-most wins in a season for a goalkeeper. His play between the pipes helped the Mount achieve an 8-8 mark, including a record of 8-1 in conference play en route to being name MAAC Player of the Year. Elder turned away 151 shots as a senior, good for 15th on the Mount’s all-time list, while his career-best 8.93 goals against average is number three among the best seasons for a goalkeeper in Mount history.

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Frank J. (Jay) Kalis, C’69

Frank J. Kalis

Inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014 for Baseball

A story we hear often at the Mount, Baltimore native Jay Kalis blossomed during his four years as he achieved excellence in every area of his life. Along with his outstanding academic performance, earning placement on the dean’s list, Jay found incredible success as a member of the baseball team.

As a varsity pitcher for the Mountaineers, Jay finished his career with 11 wins, ranking him as one of the top five winningest pitchers in Mount history. This statistic holds even when comparing the 19 game season of 1969 to the current schedule of 45 regular season games. On the mound Jay complied a 2.647 winning percentage during his career, and batted over .300 as a senior playing first base and pitching. His all-around strengths on the field earned him a place on the 1969 roster of outstanding college athletes in America.

Jay’s leadership skills rivaled his athletic abilities as he was named co-captain during his senior year—taking his team to seven wins in 1969. His dedication shined on a Saturday afternoon as the Mountaineers headed into a double-header vs. rival Loyola, following five losses on the road. Coming off another loss to Loyola in the first game, Jay quickly stepped into action staking the Mount to a 4-0 lead. His strong pitching and timely base hits gave the Mountaineers momentum to top Loyola and pick up their fifth win that season. In the final game of his senior year, Jay lead the team with a tremendous effort defeating Shepard College 7-4. With a record of 7-12, Jay proved to be a valuable player as he led the Mountaineers in four of their seven wins that season.

Jay was scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1969 and was offered a try-out with the team. Jay turned down the honor and accepted a position at the accounting firm Peat Marwick. It is worth noting that the Pirates finished third in the National League that year, only 12 games behind the World Series champion New York Mets.

Aside from his outstanding baseball career, it is not surprising that Jay was also a stand out athlete inintramural basketball and football, earning “All Echo” for football his senior year. He was the Junior Class Treasurer and a student government representative. Jay has been a long-time friend and ambassador for Mount athletics and truly epitomizes “Mount Spirit” through his service and unwavering commitment to the Mount.

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John M. Moore, C’88

John M. Moore

Inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014 for Men's Basketball

Every great scorer needs a great point guard to facilitate the offense and create open shots. For the numerous players who suited up alongside John Moore for the Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball team, including seven who are members of the 1,000 point club, he was the ultimate facilitator.

Moore was exposed to winning from the moment he stepped on campus to play for legendary coach Jim Phelan. The Mountaineers won 17 of their first 18 games in Moore’s freshman season in 1984-85 and made it all the way to the Division II Final Four. As a reserve guard who helped the Mount tie a school record with 28 wins, Moore averaged 2.1 points in 19 games. It turned out to be the beginning of one of the most prolific point guard careers in the program’s 105-year history.

At the time of his graduation in 1988, Moore had dished out 471 career assists, at the time a school record. He also finished his career with 4.4 assists per game and a three-point field goal percentage of .383, both of which ranked second in program history at the time.

After an increased role during his sophomore season with 3.8 points per game and a 26-4 record for the Mountaineers, Moore took over the reins as the starting point guard as a junior in 1986-87. As the Mount put together another 26-win campaign in the program’s final season at Memorial Gymnasium, Moore’s career took off.

He led the Mason-Dixon Conference with 204 assists and 6.6 assists per game as a junior. The totals are the second-best in both categories for a single season in Mount history, while his 171 steals in 1986-87 are good for fifth in school history. In addition to setting up his teammates for open shots, Moore posted a career season for himself on the offensive end with 364 points and an average of 11.7 points per game.

Moore put the finishing touches on his standout career with his senior season in 1987-88, which coincided with the Mount’s final season at the Division II level. The Mountaineers picked up their fifth-consecutive season with 20 or more victories, helping Moore depart from the Mount as one of two graduating classes in program history with four 20-win seasons to their credit. In his final season, Moore had his best rebounding year with 3.5 boards per game to go with 11.1 points. His career numbers included 830 points, 471 assists and 202 steals.

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Erv Straw, C'52 and Ella Straw

Erv and Ella Straw

Awarded Fr. John “Spike” Cogan Award in 2014

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Mr. Straw was a member of Northeast Catholic High School’s Class of 1946. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a radio
operator on a minesweeper into 1948. He graduated with honors in 1952 from Mount St. Mary’s and was elected as President of the Honor Society. He later graduated from Stonier Graduate School of Banking, Rutgers University.

Erv and Ella Straw say they provided the financial support to build a new baseball stadium at the Mount because of Erv’s love of the game and their love of the Mount. “Fine facilities attract fine athletes and help enlarge the competitive sphere,” says Erv. “We hope to spread the reach and reputation of the Mount for the fine institution that it is.”

The couple began their married life at the Mount, where Erv studied accounting, economics and social sciences. “The Mount was the rock that helped form the foundation for our marriage,” he asserts. In their campus housing, “Ella learned to cook on a hot plate and stocked our provisions in a small refrigerator kept cold with a block of ice delivered by the ice man.” And Erv earned money “washing dishes and painting the seminary building.” The couple’s daughter, Sandy, was born two weeks after his graduation.

In addition to being a devoted husband and father and a successful businessman, Erv is also a faithful baseball fan. “I started playing sandlot baseball as a five year old in my Philadelphia neighborhood and played throughout my childhood, college and into adulthood,” he says. In fact, “Ella’s 65th birthday gift to me was a berth on the Phillies Dream Team.” Now, the couple is helping young players realize their own dreams on a field at a school they hold dear. “The need for a new stadium was paramount,” says Erv of the E. T. Straw Family Stadium. “It was obviously a high priority for the Mount.” And for the Straws.

The Straw’s funded:

  • E.T. Straw Family Stadium: Home of Mount baseball

  • Our Lady of the Meadows Field: Home of Mount softball

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