Women-In-Sports Wednesday: Former CCSU Hurler Adds to Fordham’s Winning Tradition

When it comes to winning conference championships, Laura Messina and Fordham softball are a perfect fit.

Messina, a two-time NEC softball champion (2013, 2015) during her days as the ace of Central Connecticut’s pitching staff, has received an opportunity to continue her career in Division I softball as an assistant coach for the five-time defending Atlantic 10 champion Fordham Rams.

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Women-In-Sports Wednesday: Two-time #NECWBB Champion Chasing Another Title in Portugal


Callan Taylor (above in the red jersey) handles the ball during a 2009 NCAA Tournament game at Ohio State. The former Sacred Heart star has continued her playing career overseas.


Callan Taylor earned her fair share of accolades during her days in the Northeast Conference.

Nearly four years removed from graduation, the former Sacred Heart star continues to collect honors while competing in the professional ranks.

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Women-In-Sports Wednesday: Former Blackbird Still Active In The Game


Angelika (Stec) Szumilo was a key piece to LIU Brooklyn’s NEC championship puzzle in 2001.

It’s the story of a foreign-born junior college point guard who found her way to the Big Dance, twice.

Angelika Szumilo’s collegiate basketball career began at Mercer County College in New Jersey where she led the Vikings to back-to-back Region XIX titles.

After earning the NJCAA Region XIX Player of the Year award in 2000, Szumilo, who was then known as Angelika Stec, found her way to Downtown Brooklyn where first-year head coach Tony Bozzella was attempting to turn a scrappy, talented bunch into winners.

Bozzella inherited a LIU Brooklyn team that had building blocks in place with Tamika Dudley, an imposing post player, and Kim MacMillan, a dynamic scorer, set for their sophomore seasons. It is difficult to mold a championship team without a reliable point guard, though, and fortunately for Bozzella, he found one in Szumilo.

With the Polish-born junior college transfer running the point, the Blackbirds took off come NEC Tournament time and captured the program’s first-ever trip to the Big Dance.

Szumilo averaged 8.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists during the 2000-01 season and her 136 helpers ranked second-most in LIU single-season history at the time. Szumilo averaged 13.7 points per game over three contests during the 2001 NEC Tournament and was named to the all-tournament team. She almost single-handedly took over the final against Mount St. Mary’s, scoring a then career-high 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting with eight rebounds, playing all 40 minutes in Long Island’s 70-61 victory

Szumilo earned NEC All-Tournament honors again in 2002, but the Blackbirds finished one win shy of a championship repeat.

Although her playing eligibility was expended, Szumilo’s career at LIU was far from over.

When Stephanie Gaitley took over the head coaching position for the 2002-03 season, Szumilo was named to the staff as an assistant. She remained at LIU for five seasons, assisting Gaitley during back-to-back 20-win campaigns (2006-07; 2007-08) and a Postseason WNIT appearance (2006-07), the first in program history.

She moved onto Monmouth with Gaitley, helping the Hawks to their first-ever Postseason WNIT berth in 2011.

For the past four-plus seasons, Szumilo has served as the associate head coach alongside Gaitley at Atlantic 10 member Fordham.

Angelika Szumilo, a former two-time NEC All-Tournament selection, is in her fifth season as the associate head for Fordham.

Angelika Szumilo, a former two-time NEC All-Tournament selection, is in her fifth season as the associate head for Fordham.

The Rams have enjoyed unprecedented success, including three consecutive 20-win campaigns, under their current leadership.

In 2014, thirteen years after Szumilo and the Blackbirds captured the NEC crown, Fordham secured its first-ever A-10 Tournament title.

She did it in Brooklyn as a player and in the Bronx as a coach.

Angelika (Stec) Szumilo has carved out quite a career for herself in the New York City college  hoops scene.

Women-In-Sports Wednesday: Decorated Colonial Crosses Delaware for New Opportunity

Jaci Tinko (above), the 2012 NEC Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, has landed a Division I head coaching gig.

Jaci Tinko (above), the 2012 NEC Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, has landed a Division I head coaching gig.

Don Harnum became known in Northeast Conference circles more than two decades ago for his role as a men’s basketball assistant coach.

Now an athletic director at Rider University in New Jersey, it appears that Harnum has just hit a home run.

Earlier this month, Harnum announced the hiring of Jaclyn Timko as the University’s new softball head coach.

In Timko, Rider welcomes a leader who embodied the true meaning of student-athlete during her days as an outfielder for NEC member Robert Morris.

The three-time all-NEC outfielder set the RMU career records for batting average (.359) and runs scored (130). She is one of only two Colonials ever to accumulate at least 200 hits during her collegiate playing days.

Timko’s accomplishments go far beyond on-field performance. In 2012, her combination of athletic and academic prowess landed her the NEC Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Timko majored in Applied Psychology and graduated RMU with a 3.69 grade point average.