San Antonio – From All-Americans to national champions to school-record holders, the St. Mary’s University Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2012 encompasses a little bit of everything that makes the Rattlers’ program what it is today.
And this weekend, St. Mary’s will officially welcome these newest members into the Hall at the 24th Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, beginning at 12 p.m. Saturday at Bill Greehey Arena.
The event will celebrate five individuals who have brought prestige and glory to the Rattler uniform while upholding the Marianist characteristics and the mission of the University: softball player Natalie Hill (B.B.A. ’02), soccer player Kyle Thornton (B.B.A. ’95), basketball player C. Tyrell Whisenton (CL ’98), baseball player Rodney Williams (B.A. ’97) and St. Mary’s University President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D. (B.A. ’62, M.A. ’64), who is being enshrined as an associate.
Hill was an NCAA Division II All-American for the 2002 softball squad that won the national championship her senior year – a fitting conclusion to a stellar career that saw her named All-Conference three times and All-Region twice. Over her four years, she maintained a career batting average of .369 to go along with a .513 slugging percentage, and crossed home plate 168 times, which still stands second in the St. Mary’s record books. A native of Del Rio, Texas, she also totaled 241 hits, 127 RBIs, 44 doubles, 13 triples and 44 stolen bases.
A dynamic goal scorer, Thornton helped rebuild the St. Mary’s soccer program. The Garland, Texas native graduated as the school’s all-time leader in goals (39), assists (26) and points (104) – marks that still stand strong today. No Rattler soccer player has ever started or played in as many games as Thornton, a forward/midfielder who started 79 of the 80 games he played over four years. In all, he recorded eight multi-goal games, including three straight hat tricks as a junior in 1992, and was twice named All-Conference.
Whisenton was, and still is, the King of 3’s at St. Mary’s, where he set the all-time 3-point mark with 176 3’s over four seasons. A member of the 1,000-pound club, Whisenton twice led the Rattlers in scoring, doing so as a sophomore in 1995-1996 and again as a junior the very next season. A two-time NAIA All-American and a three-time All-Heart of Texas Conference honoree, the Houston native averaged 10.1 points and 1.4 assists per game during his career.
Williams was a winner through and through with the Rattlers, leading the baseball team to three NAIA World Series appearances in his four years with the team. A standout outfielder, the Flatonia, Texas native played in more games than nearly anyone else who has donned a Rattlers baseball jersey, having suited up 221 times. He hit .350 for his career with 153 RBIs and 201 runs scored. He was an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention in 1995 and a four-time All-Heart of Texas Conference selection.
Dr. Cotrell has seen, and often been directly involved in, the rise of Rattler athletics over the past decades. A Rattler fan and advocate like few others, he worked diligently at St. Mary’s to ensure the program has first-rate facilities, including the addition of the Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center and the impending construction of a new outdoor sports complex, for which Cotrell, a San Antonio native, led the initiative to seek funding. As President, he has presided for four of the Rattlers’ six national championships, and also oversaw St. Mary’s move to NCAA Division II while increasing the number of varsity athletics teams to 12.