Pray, Hennelly, Brunelli receive ultimate honor

CHESTNUT HILL, MA – Pine Manor Athletics on Friday night inducted softball and soccer legend Sara Pray, of Norton, three-time All-Great Northeast Athletic Conference basketball honoree Jill Hennelly, of Whitman, and the late assistant women’s basketball coach Donald E. Brunelli, Jr., of Malden, into its Athletics Hall of Fame.

Over 150 people, including friends, family members, former teammates and coaches, fellow Athletics Hall of Famers and a strong contingent of today’s student-athletes, attended the induction ceremony, which was held on the floor named in Brunelli's honor inside the College’s gymnasium.

Former Gators head softball coach Amy Wilichoski presented Pray. Bill Boffi, Pine Manor dean for recruitment and retention and former head basketball coach, and Sue Bavineau ‘91, a 2006 Athletics Hall of Fame inductee and former assistant basketball coach, spoke of Hennelly’s accomplishments, and family friend Polina Haseottes spoke on Brunelli’s behalf.

Pray was a four-time All-GNAC Softball selection and a two-time all-conference soccer honoree. A catcher and feared slugger, Pray led NCAA Division III in RBI, with 66, and slugging percentage, at a robust 1.215 clip, in 2000. As captain of the 2001 GNAC Champion Gators, she led Pine Manor to its first NCAA Tournament birth. A three-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association all-region selection, she was named NFCA First Team All-Region in 2000.

Twice a First Team All-GNAC soccer goalkeeper and a three-time PMC Athlete of the Year, Pray departed Chestnut Hill as the softball program’s all-time leader in home runs (35), RBI (165), runs (156), doubles (48) and slugging (.888).

Jill Hennelly is a three-time All-GNAC performer and one of the most prolific guards in Pine Manor history. The leading three-point shooter (285) in Gators history, Hennelly (right) is the only player to eclipse 1,000 points, 400 rebounds and 300 assists. She ranks third in career assists (339), fifth in points (1,295) and seventh in points per game (14.1).

The 1996 recipient of the Peter G. Ellis Award for Outstanding First Year Student-Athletes, Hennelly also was a two-year letter winner on the Gators softball team.

A beloved and revered figured throughout campus, Brunelli passed away suddenly minutes before a game in February 1993. On February 12, 1994, Pine Manor renamed its basketball floor Donald E. Brunelli, Jr. Court “in loving memory of our coach and friend.” Long-revered as a supportive, loyal coach and friend, Brunelli coached Pine Manor from 1988 to 1993.

Pray, Hennelly and Brunelli were inducted as a part of Reunion Weekend 2009. The Pine Manor Athletics Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding alumnae, coaches, and contributors to the sports tradition at Pine Manor.

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