Ecstatic, shocked, honored, proud—these are the words the seven former student athletes described when they found out they would be inducted into the Rollins Sports Hall of Fame.
The inductees are from all sports, ranging in graduation years between 1999 and 2011. They include men’s soccer player Chris Cerroni (‘07), women’s golfer Joanna Coe (‘11), women’s soccer player Lindsay Giblin Murrell (‘09), women’s tennis players Roshni Luthra (‘11) and Marnie Mahler Codrey (‘08), water skier Jenna Mielzynski (‘09) and women’s basketball player Nikki Sullivan Jessee (‘99). They will join 220 former student athletes, coaches, and administrators in the highest recognition for those who have contributed to the history of Tars athletics.
“Choosing the enshrinement class for the Sports Hall of Fame is a highly selective process given the caliber of student-athletes Rollins has enjoyed for more than a century,” said Penny Parker, director of Rollins athletics. “The selection committee consists of current coaches, administrators and Hall of Fame members tasked with honoring the best of the best in the history of our programs. We debate accomplishments of those eligible for enshrinement and take in account recommendations from coaches, alumni and fans.”
The ceremony, which takes place Thursday, March 28 at the Alfond Inn, is one of several events to kick off Alumni Weekend. We spoke to Jenna Mielzynski, Lindsay Giblin Murrell, Nikki Sullivan Jessee, and Roshni Luthra to discuss their time at Rollins and how it impacted their past, impacts their present, and will impact their future.
Lindsay Giblin Murrell – Women’s Soccer
Lindsay Giblin Murrell is the fourth all-time top-scorer of Rollins women’s soccer. Additionally, she is fifth all-time in points scored, tied for seventh in assists, and fourth in career games.
The soccer field taught her that life is unpredictable, but, as she puts it, “My response to those unpredictable moments is where I gained my control. I learned to move through those setbacks with my head up and with the motivation and drive to change my circumstances.”
Relying on teammates helped Giblin learn how to listen, understand, and be a part of something bigger than herself, skills she said she still uses today to foster relationships within her community. “The best memories at Rollins were the ones shared with teammates,” she recounted.
Giblin’s greatest challenge came in her final soccer season, when she was working a full-time job, attending practices and games, taking night classes as a first-year graduate student, and planning her wedding: “Maintaining my own self-care was difficult to prioritize in the midst of so many other necessary commitments.”
Nonetheless, Giblin conquered her challenges and was honored in 2009 as a First Team All-American, the Conference Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and NSCAA South Region Player of the Year.
Giblin is married to Scott Murrell, another Rollins soccer alum. “We will on occasion check the progress of both the men’s and women’s teams,” she said. “I am so proud to see the growth that the women’s program has had since my time there. Alicia [Schuck] and the rest of the staff have done a tremendous job recruiting well-rounded student athletes that are making their mark on Rollins’ history.”
Giblin herself led the team to two Sunshine State Conference (SSC) regular season championships, one SSC Tournament title, and two NCAA appearances. Amidst the success, she has one piece of advice for the current generation of Tars: “Take time for yourself, cultivate relationships, be present in your experiences, and breathe. It goes by fast, so enjoy it and stay true to you through the process.”
Nikki Sullivan Jessee –
Jessee has little trouble pinpointing a main takeaway from her time as a member of the women’s basketball team: “Perseverance. I learned to persevere, and that tough times create strength. It’s how you use those tough times that creates growth,” she said, while admitting that learning is a continuous process. “It took me until my senior year to realize that.”
A native of Lakeland, Fla., Jessee transferred to Rollins from the University of Florida and immediately grabbed Second Team All-SSC honors in her sophomore year, followed by an honorable mention as a junior and First Team as a senior. Despite her amazing performance, it was not always easy.
“Dealing with the pressure I put on myself after transferring from the University of Florida was a great challenge. After I just learned to do my best and leave it on the court after each game, I relaxed and enjoyed it.”
Jessee dominated the court, as demonstrated by the fact that she is the ninth all-time top-scorer in Rollins’ women’s basketball history, with 1,249 points, averaging 15.2 points per game.
Nonetheless, when asked about her favorite part of the experience, she said, “My best memories were with my teammates, especially during the Christmas break when school was out but we were still in season. No one was on campus but the women’s and men’s basketball teams. We had a blast!”
After a successful professional stint in England, Jessee returned to Florida, where she built a reputation as a coach. She took the Lynn University Fighting Knights to a new level before joining her husband at University of Tampa. Having enjoyed success throughout, Jessee then took charge of Saint Leo University’s program, but she is now the head coach at Lakeland Christian School.
“Commit entirely to developing yourself as a basketball player, whether it’s the physical aspect, such as healthy eating, strength training or just simply get in the gym and work on your game daily,” advised Jessee to the current generation of Tars. “It’s 4 years of your life. Don’t waste it.”
Jenna Mielzynski – Water Ski
The SSC is the most academically demanding conference in the country and Jenna Mielzynski is a prime example of how excellence inside and outside of classroom go hand in hand. Chosen twice as Rollins’ Female Athlete of the Year, Mielzynski was also the class of 2009 Valedictorian.
“It had always been a dream of mine to, one day, be inducted, so the fact that that dream has become a reality is truly indescribable,” she said.
She came to Winter Park from Ontario, Canada at only 17 years old. “To this day, friends still tease me about the fact that my parents had to sign and send a permission form for me to attend class outings during the first semester,”she said.
That year had a bit of a nightmarish start, as she initially struggled to balance her commitments. “I realized early on that this was not a sustainable or fun way for me to spend my 4 years at Rollins, as I was already experiencing burnout in my first semester,” she said.
After adapting more efficient studying and focusing strategies, Mielzynski was good to go. She also credits her time as a student athlete with teaching her how to treat people fairly and compassionately, set goals, and be accountable.
That same year, she came third at the Water Ski World Games. Mielzynski was the individual national champion at the 2007 NCWSA National Championship, and came second in jumps at the 2009 Games.
However, her success would have been harder to achieve without her support system: “I’ll never forget how my coach, Marc, and his wife, Cindy, took me under their wing when I first started at Rollins and made sure that I had a family away from home.” Being almost 1500 miles away from home encouraged Mielzynski “to form the most meaningful, long-lasting relationships imaginable. For these, I will always be grateful.”
Marnie Mahler Codrey – Women’s Tennis
“Life goes by very quickly after college, and it’s nice to be reminded and recognized for accomplishments that were achieved so many years ago,” said Marnie Mahler Codrey.
As a freshman, Codrey was ITA Rookie of the Year. She paired up with fellow hall-of-famer Tasi Purcell to rank 6th in the nation. They maintained All-American status throughout the three years they were together and ranked 9th in the nation in the two seasons following her freshman year. In her senior year, Codrey paired up with fellow inductee Roshni Luthra, who ranked 11th in the nation.
“Roshni and I were a great team and formed a long lasting friendship at Rollins that has sustained all these years. We will recreate a lot of great memories at this year’s alumni weekend,” said Codrey, who was thrilled when she found out the duo were being inducted together.
Codrey echoed the remarks about time management that a lot of her peers made. She emphasized the importance of this skill in the real world: “Now that I’ve become a mother I feel like my life is one big balancing act.”
Having been homeschooled throughout high school, adjusting to a college setting represented a challenge for Codrey, and that served as a learning experience.
“It’s in my personality to figure things out on my own, but teachers and advisors are there to help; I wish I would have taken advantage of that,” she said.
In many ways, Rollins was a defining chapter in her life, especially since that is where she met her husband. He was in the basketball team, and she spotted him walking by the courts during practices.
“The rest is history,” she said. The couple celebrated their 11-year wedding anniversary earlier this month.
Codrey still keeps in touch with the Tennis Tars; Coach Bev Buckley is still in charge of the program, and Tasi Purcell is now the assistant coach.
“I would say to the student-athletes to enjoy the team setting and camaraderie as much as you can because it will be difficult to replicate in real life,” she concluded.
Roshni Luthra – Women’s Tennis
Roshni Luthra believes that the Hall of Fame induction represents years and years of hard work and sacrifices that her family and coaches made.
“I feel like it’s doubly special to get inducted alongside Marnie [Mahler Codrey]. While we only had one year together (a great one at that, too), I’m very close to her to this day, so I’m really excited to get to share the moment with her,” she said.
She paired up with Mahler to go 22-3, and the duo got First Team All-SSC honors, ranking ninth in the nation her freshman year. That same year, Luthra achieved 21-2 individually, and she led her team through four back-to-back NCAA Division II tournament appearances.
“I think my non-athlete friends would likely say my ‘obsession’ and drive has transferred over to what I do in my career,” she said. “I think tennis taught me to always be passionate about what I do, and if I don’t absolutely love it, it’s not for me.”
Team spirit served as a pillar of success for Luthra as well. “I’ll always have great memories of my teammates pumping me up, particularly in those tough matches,” she said.
Similarly to her partner Mahler, Luthra had to adjust to a classroom setting after focusing on tennis throughout her high school years and attending online classes. Luthra is mindful of the impact her student-athlete status has had in her professional life.
“I can, without a doubt, say that more than my education, work experience or skills, it was the tennis and NCAA stuff on my resume that got me into every door and every opportunity I’ve ever had in my career. I’ve actually had interviews that focused more on my tennis life than the actual job I was applying for, and I walked out with an offer.”
Although she works in capital markets, Luthra emphasizes the value of a liberal arts education in the workforce.
“Definitely don’t take your opportunity at Rollins for granted. Special thanks to Coach Bev Buckley for offering me a scholarship to Rollins and a big thanks to my teammates who really were a part of my journey at Rollins,” she said.
Chris Cerroni – Men’s Soccer
Between the honor of being selected for the Hall of Fame and the excitement of returning to Rollins to catch up with former teammates, there are plenty of reasons why Chris Cerroni is looking forward to Alumni Weekend.
“I think my fondest memory really is the overall time I spent at Rollins and the people that I shared this with,” he said. “Coming from London, England and experiencing a new country, culture, lifestyle and the challenge of being a student-athlete really shaped me on my path to where and who I am today.”
Cerroni is the fourth all-time top-scorer and 12th top-assister of the soccer program. During his career at Rollins, the Tars won two SSC Regular Season Championships and one SSC Tournament. It was also featured in two NCAA Tournaments.
Cerroni now serves as the Director of Soccer Development at British Columbia Soccer, the provincial soccer governing body of British Columbia.
“Experiencing the balancing act of being a student as well as an athlete has enabled me to connect better with players that I now work with who are in the same position,” he said. “I enjoy trying to identify where the player needs the most support, and hopefully I can provide that.”
In 2006, Cerroni was chosen as Second Team All-America, First Team All-South Region, SSC Offensive and Overall Player of the Year, SSC Tournament MVP and three-time SSC Offensive Player of the Week.
Nonetheless, he does not consider awards to be main priorities for a student-athlete. “My advice would be to enjoy the experience and savour the moments,” he said.
Joanna Coe – Women’s golf
Joanna Coe is one of the few golfers to be selected four times as an All-American. She wasted no time introducing herself to the collegiate golf scene, winning the 2008 NCAA Division II National Championship and grabbing the Tars a team title.
“I was the freshman on the team, and I actually played poorly at the regionals,” she recalled. “I had kind of broad expectations of just wanting to help the team and support the upperclassmen, but we ended up having the week of our lives.”
Taking place during the spring festival of the NCAAs, the championship continues to have significance for Coe.
“It was a big deal, winning among all the other sports teams. I will never forget it. I have my NCAA trophy always displayed, and I think back to that moment a lot, especially when I am playing,” she said. Coe plays competitively to this day.
She also cherishes the cultural awareness she developed in the team’s international environment: “I learned about my teammates’ cultures, their families, their language. It was unbelievable to get that first hand experience. Honestly, I learned more from them than from most of my college courses.”
Another important resource she acknowledges are the connections she made through Rollins.
“You never know what person might make an impact on your life,” she said.
Coe vividly remembers the challenges of being a student-athlete: “We travelled the most out of any team and missed the most classes. Our team always had a very high GPA, and the coach wanted it that way.”
Another thing Coach Julie Garner was never lenient about was punctuality.
“Coach Julie always did a great job, making sure she recruited well-rounded individuals, not just academically and athletically, but also with great personalities.” While she is yet not sure whether she will be attending, she knows Coach Garner is.
“The busier you are, the better you do at Rollins,” Coe said, adding that it is easy to get lost in the beauty and distractions of college, calling it a challenge and a blessing.
Coe keeps track of the Tars’ progress, and she is extremely proud of the progress the team has made over the years.
“We stay in touch and check the scores often through the website. Women’s golf is a very small world anyway, so it is a well known program,” she said.