- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
While in Ocean City for a slow-pitch softball tournament in the summer of 2012, Jen Bruno saw George Dix, her former college softball coach at McDaniel College, as he took in the action.
The reunion took a slight detour, though, as the coach ranted about some folks at the college for having snubbed Bruno when he nominated her for the school’s athletic Hall of Fame two years prior. In fact, he had since boycotted the induction ceremonies to protest the perceived injustice.
Hearing her old coach vent, Bruno cringed, knowing she may have played a role in keeping herself out of the hall.
“[Dix] said he nominated me, and all I had to do was fill out a few forms and send in info and pics,” Bruno said, recounting the events of a couple years back. “Well, when I started filling out the stuff, I found out it was all about me. I am a social person but don’t necessarily like talking about my accomplishments, I guess, so I never turned it in because I had to write why I deserved to get inducted and the awards I received while I was there.”
The mystery finally solved, Dix went back to the college to ask that his former catcher again be considered for enshrinement. And, with his former player, aided by her husband, Lou, this time completing her tasks, Bruno finally was inducted in the college’s Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the school Oct. 18.
“It’s an incredible honor to inducted,” said Bruno, who played for McDaniel as Jen Prowinski from 1993-96 and currently is the head softball and girls basketball coach at Patuxent, while also working as an assistant on the school’s field hockey staff. “Reading the bios of the rest of the [inductees] at the same time brought it in to perspective. They accomplished so much athletically while they were there and continue to contribute professionally to society. It put things in perspective for me, and it was very humbling that I was honored with them.”
Bruno’s accomplishments were not too shabby, either, and many of her statistical marks have stood the test of time well. On top of being named the catcher on the Centennial Conference’s all-conference team all four years, her 93 career RBI rank fourth in Green Terror program history, while her .425 career batting average still ranks fifth. She still ranks in the top 10 in six offensive categories, and within the top 18 of 11 different categories. Her .983 career fielding percentage also ranks seventh all-time in Green Terror history.
“When I was going through the induction process, it was then that I saw I still was in the top 10 in several categories,” Bruno said, while noting that it was a surprise given the changes in bats and how the ball explodes off today’s bats in comparison to years past. “The ball comes off harder and goes farther simply because of the type of bat. Pitchers are more competitive now so maybe that keeps hitters off, but to be able to hold on those records swinging single-wall aluminum bats is pretty nice.”
The Green Terror produced some of the best years in program history during Bruno’s time with the program, logging a 77-24-1 record through the four years and claiming the program’s first two conference championships in 1994 and 1995. Bruno capped her career by being named the conference’s Player of the Year in 1996.
Looking back, Bruno had a couple of clear highlights that have stuck with her through the years.
“We won the conference championship for the first time in school history. It was a great moment not only to win, but I played high school softball with Carolyn Kelsey, and she was the one who ended up hitting me home in the final game for the win,” Bruno said. “I also remember my last game. I was a never an over-the-fence home run hitter. I can remember hitting my first-ever the weekend before at Salisbury. Then we played our last doubleheader at home. I made it safely on base my last five plate appearances, and I hit my second-ever home run over the fence. It was crazy because it never went higher then six feet and seemed as if the fence sagged in the spot is crossed over.”
Bruno also enjoyed some tremendous years in high school, playing three sports at Calvert. She was an integral part in the Cavaliers’ first state championship softball team in 1992, won a state championship as part of the field hockey team in 1990 and reached the state semifinals with the girls basketball team in 1992. She was also selected to the All-SMAC softball first team at catcher in each of her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
“High school sports were incredible for me,” Bruno said. “I played for great coaches that were in the process of taking each program to the next level. In field hockey, we were middle of the pack and by my junior year, coach [Mary] Finley coached us to a state title. In basketball, coach [Frank] Moore took us to a state semi appearance my senior year. In softball, we won states my senior year under coach Moore and coach [Kim] Roof.
“I think a lot of a program’s success involves getting athletes to feel what it’s like to win and believe the next level is possible. It’s always nice to be a part of history and to be able to be a part of it as much as I have when it comes to sports, it makes for a lot of reminiscent stories.”