The induction of the 32nd Drew University Athletics Hall of Fame class took place on Oct. 13, welcoming four individuals who demonstrated the highest level of excellence both on and off the field.
The Dorothy Young Center for the Arts was filled with inductees’ families, friends, past teammates and coaches, and current student-athletes and faculty to honor Daniel Bonder (C’09) of men’s soccer, George Discher (C’87) of cross country, Alex Previdi (C’94) of men’s lacrosse and Michael Bodden (C’13) of baseball for their achievements as student-athletes.
Bodden and the rest of this year’s inductees embody the dedication and excellence synonymous with the Drew University Athletic Hall of Fame, both before and after graduation. The terms “legacy” and “impact” were mentioned countless times over the course of the event, with Athletic Director and coach of Bodden’s 2012 Landmark Championship team Brian Hirschberg citing his former star as a defining example.
“Mike was our team leader on and off the field,” said Hirschberg. “He was a great student and a great athlete…his legacy is that he was at his best when the team needed him the most.”
The inductees’ dependability was the trait that caused their coaches to push for their acceptance into Drew’s Athletic Hall of Fame. These players etched their names into school record books while on the field, but it was their behavior off the field that made them worthy candidates of what Hirschberg referred to as “the most prestigious individual award one can attain.”
Above all individual and team success, the characters of the inducted individuals proved time and time again to be their defining quality. The longevity of their legacies is due to their remarkable ability to balance sports and academics and all while achieving excellence as athletes, students and teammates.
When speaking about the inductees, the Drew Rangers baseball player Kenny Yonker (‘25) cited Bodden’s work as an inspiration to the team today.
“Bodden was a great teammate and player, and a big reason why our team is where we are today,” said Yonker. “Him and that team as a whole are the gold standard for what we strive to be as individuals and as a team.”
The appreciation and recognition from the university to its former stars was reflected by the inductees’ speeches as they showed their high regard for their alma mater.
“Drew University and especially the baseball program are so important to me; to be honored by them really does mean a lot,” Bodden said.
Bodden and the rest of the 2023 Hall of Fame class personified good-heartedness, relentless optimism and a team-first mindset.
The inductees spoke with passion as they reflected on their time at Drew. Whether it be stories of improbable championship runs, memorable teammate interactions or unforgettable messages from their coaches, the theme all inductees’ speeches touched on was this: for as much as these star athletes gave to Drew on the field, the university gave back even more in return in the form of relationships and life lessons.
With standing ovations and emotional speeches, the night proved to all in attendance that induction into Drew’s Athletic Hall of Fame is not merely a plaque on a wall, but a pillar of recognition for the longstanding benefits these athletes and teams brought to their university.
In sharing their stories, the inductees helped inspire the current student-athlete body, leaving behind powerful messages for current Rangers to carry with them as they strive to reach the same heights.
“If baseball is your passion, don’t be afraid to be passionate about it,” Bodden said. “But, remember that it doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, lacrosse, acapella, the theater, science research… spend the extra time on it while you can. Drew is a special place, full of extraordinary people. Be sure to take full advantage of the University and all it has to offer [because] four years goes by fast.”
Hirschberg echoed this sentiment in his remarks during the ceremony:
“I hope that our current student-athletes realize how big of an impact they can have on their teammates,” said Hirschberg. “It doesn’t matter if they are the star player or role player; everyone has the opportunity to positively influence someone else.”
Devan Sutaria is a sophomore majoring in biochemistry and minoring in public health.