Hall of Fame inducts three as Chapman celebrates 150th anniversary
ORANGE, Calif. – Celebrating Chapman University’s 150th anniversary, the Donald P. Kennedy Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will host its 32nd annual Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony and banquet on Saturday, October 8. Three of Chapman’s all-time greats will be inducted into the Hall, headlined by legendary men’s basketball and baseball coach Don Perkins who is being inducted posthumously. In addition, women’s soccer Academic All-American Lehua (Simmons) Werdel ’00 and women’s basketball star Melody Bongiorno Frank ’04. The latter two are the first Chapman Hall of Famers to have graduated after the turn of the century.
The banquet, which begins at 5 p.m., will follow a welcome reception and precede Chapman’s home football game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges at 7 p.m. at Ernie Chapman Stadium.
As part of Chapman’s year-long 150th birthday celebration, every All-American award winner in the school’s history will be recognized during the banquet. A large contingent of Panther ‘greats’ – young and not-so-young – are expected to be in attendance in what will be the largest collection of Chapman All-Americans ever assembled.
Don Perkins: The beloved Coach Perkins helped Chapman Athletics achieve new heights during his mid-century tenure. Perkins led the Panthers’ basketball team to 213 victories over 16 seasons from 1947-63, including a school-record six NCAA regional tournament berths in a seven-year span between 1957 and ’63. He guided Chapman to back-to-back regional titles in 1959 and ’60, as well as the NCAA College Division championship game in ’60 where the Panthers lost to Evansville (Ind.) in the title game. Overall he had a .541 winning percentage and his 213 head coaching wins still rank third in school history.
Perkins also coached the Chapman baseball team for 12 seasons and served as the school’s Athletic Director and a member of the Chapman faculty. In 1960, he was chosen as an assistant coach to the U.S. men’s basketball team at the Olympic Trials. Following his early retirement from coaching in 1963 (due to health reasons), he served as selection chairman of the Pacific Coast Region and on the NCAA College Division Basketball Tournament Committee. He was also a member of the NCAA Executive Committee. He passed away in 1967 from a heart attack at the age of 46.
Lehua (Simmons) Werdel ’00: One of the most respected and tenacious defenders in Chapman women’s soccer history, Simmons was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Far West Region team all four years of her career. Also a star in the classroom as a movement/exercise science major, she earned Academic All-District honors three times and was named an Academic All-American in 1998 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Simmons was a team captain on Chapman’s first women’s soccer team to make the NCAA playoffs in 1999, but was limited to just one game that season due to a knee injury – the second of her career. She came back from the injury in 2000 to lead the Panthers to their first-ever “Sweet 16” postseason appearance and was again selected All-Region.
She has been teaching biology at Fountain Valley High School since 2002 and is currently in her fifth year as the FVHS Science Department Coordinator. Lehua married Chapman basketball star Tim Werdel ’01 in and they have two children, Dylan and Hannah.
Melody Bongiorno Frank ’04: Chapman’s all-time leading scorer, Bongiorno becomes the youngest member of the Chapman Athletics Hall of Fame. The shooting guard from Vermont became the Panthers’ career leader in points as a senior, surpassing another Chapman Hall of Famer Leone Patterson during the 2003-04 season. Bongiorno averaged 21.5 points that year and led Chapman to the second round of the NCAA tournament. She also earned a rare double-double as she was named to the D3Hoops.com All-America team and the CoSIDA Academic All-America team in 2004 as a psychology major. Three times she was an Academic All-District selection and twice she was named All-West Region, including the 2002-03 season when she tied a Chapman record with 22.3 points per game. The Panthers reached the NCAA playoffs in all four years Bongiorno played, beginning a string of nine consecutive tournament appearances.
She received her MA in Research Psychology from CSULB in 2007 and is currently pursuing a PsyD in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England. She works as a pre-doctoral clinician at the University of Vermont Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy Center. Melody and her husband Michael have 10½ month old twins named Rebecca and Sheldon.
Chapman’s three newest Hall of Fame inductees, as well as all current Hall of Fame members in attendance, will be recognized on the field during halftime of the Panthers’ football game. An unveiling of their names on Chapman’s Hall of Fame wall is scheduled to take place immediately following the halftime ceremony. The Hall of Fame is located on Gray Victory Way as part of the Lastinger Athletics Complex. Tickets for the banquet are available for $75 per person or $700 per table and can be purchased online: https://secure.touchnet.com/C20539_ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=108
For more information, contact Hilda Douvas: 714-744-2191 or email@example.com.