The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ)
Inverso set to headline Mercer CC’s inaugural Hall of Fame Class
Over the years in Mercer County there have been so many great athletes and teams at the youth, high school and the college level, but Mercer County Community College just might be at the top of the list.
Well, MCCC will induct its inaugural Hall of Fame Class on Saturday. The event will be held at the Trenton Country Club and begins at 6 p.m.
Those having the honor to be among the players in the first class are Heath Fillmyer (Baseball), Mickey Forker (Soccer), Dave Gallagher (Baseball), Randy Garber (Soccer), Mel Weldon (Basketball), Connie White (Basketball), Elyse Diamond (Soccer), Terry Dorner (Basketball) and JoAnne ZolaHarrison (Soccer, Basketball & Softball).
There is an equally as strong list of coaches and administrators including Lisa Camillone (Athletic Trainer/ Asst. Athletic Director), Stan Dlugosz (Men’s Soccer and Men’s Tennis Coach), Charles Inverso (Men’s Soccer Coach), Al Leister (Athletic Director) and Butch Miller (Baseball Coach).
The Vikings have earned numerous National Championships in several sports and those being inducted at the 1963 Men’s Soccer, 1973 Men’s Basketball and the 1999 Women’s Tennis team.
There will also be a special recognition of the career of Howie Landa, the legendary Vikings basketball coach. Sadly, Landa passed away in 2020.
“Mercer’s sports history spans six decades,” said Dan Klim, MAC chair and Foundation board member. “Our men’s and women’s teams have represented the college around the nation and competed in — and brought home — several national championships. An MCCC Athletics Hall of Fame is a fitting tribute to honor some of these individuals.”
Possibly the one person best suited to describe Mercer Athletics and its rich tradition and history is Charlie Inverso, a member of this inaugural class and a true Hall of Fame soccer coach.
“Guys like Mel Weldon and Connie White were idols to guys who were in high school at the time,” said Inverso, who is now the Rider soccer coach. “I
have to pinch myself when I think I am being inducted into the Hall of Fame with these guys The facilities were as good as any college in the state. There were three teams, Baseball Basketball and Soccer. All three teams were nationally ranked. The three coaches, Butch, Howie and Stan had longevity and were bigger than life.”
The three men’s sports coaches had records that also were bigger than life as well.
“When I first walked in there I was so intimidated by these guys but they were great mentors,” added Inverso. “Al Leister was the most underrated AD (Athletic Director) in the history of college sports. Al wasn’t some flashy, slick talking administrator but he got things done. It was big-time athletics at a two-year school.”
One of the main reasons Inverso is among those being inducted isn’t just his amazing record, it’s also because of the impact he had on the lives of his players.
“Coach Inverso was truly one of the greatest coaches to ever set foot on the West Windsor campus leading the Men’s Soccer team to five national championships in three decades and amassing a 434-46-14 record,” said Mike Stasiulaitis. “His winning percentage remains the highest of any Men’s Soccer coach in NJCAA history. Coach Inverso brought international attention to our little area of Central Jersey and generated hundreds of players who went on to make significant contributions not only in the soccer arena, but in life.”