Janet Hourihan Brooks among first HC women's basketball stars to have jersey retired

Janet Hourihan in action at Holy Cross against Boston College during the 1980s.
Janet Hourihan in action at Holy Cross against Boston College during the 1980s.

Janet Hourihan Brooks was a wonderful woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and coach, and one of the greatest players in Holy Cross basketball history.

For the last six years, she fought cancer with ferocity, courage and positivity. She never let the horrid disease define or deter her.

“You don’t curl up in a ball when you have cancer; that’s not how it works,” she said in an interview earlier this year. “You live.”

MORE: Shepherd Hill's Ryan Brooks gets lessons on life, basketball from Holy Cross Hall of Fame mom Janet Hourihan Brooks

Hourihan Brooks’ vivacity inspired everyone who had the privilege to know her.

Following her valiant battle, she passed away Sept. 19.

Six days before Hourihan Brooks’ death, Holy Cross director of athletics Kit Hughes called to tell her that the college is retiring her uniform jersey and those of four other HC basketball legends, Kathleen Courtney, Sherry Levin, Lauren Maney George and Amy O’Brien Davagian.

The recognition is part of the 50th anniversaries of Title IX and coeducation at Holy Cross, and a celebration of excellence within the women’s basketball program.

Holy Cross will honor the five alumnae and display their jerseys in a ceremony during HC’s game against Army at the Hart Center on Jan. 28, 2023.

During Hughes’ phone chat with Hourihan Brooks, she, to no one’s surprise, immediately turned the conversation to the other members of the illustrious group and all they have done for the HC women’s program.

“It was so consistent with everything I had heard about Janet,” Hughes, HC’s director of athletics since December 2021, said, “that she just shines her light on other people, and that’s exactly what she did.”

From left, Ryan Brooks, Janet Hourihan Brooks, Dan Brooks and Bill Brooks pose together after Dan graduated from Shepherd Hill.
From left, Ryan Brooks, Janet Hourihan Brooks, Dan Brooks and Bill Brooks pose together after Dan graduated from Shepherd Hill.

Hourihan Brooks, a 1986 Holy Cross graduate, held the Crusaders’ all-time rebounding record for 34 years until Lauren Manis broke it in 2020. In the classiest of gestures, Hourihan Brooks was at the Hart Center the night Manis bested her mark and congratulated her in person after the game. Hourihan Brooks was a three-time All-MAAC selection and the 1984-85 MAAC Player of the Year, and she led HC to the 1985 NCAA Tournament. She entered the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1991.

“Over the course of our conversation,” Hughes said, “I could tell the lift she got from the news. I knew she had been struggling for a long time. She told me she would be there in January. ‘I’ll be there,’ she said, and she believed it in the moment. I’m so grateful we had a chance to talk so she could hear it from us that this was happening.”

Hourihan Brooks spent 20 years at Wyman Gordon as a divisional manager of workers’ compensation. She coached girls’ basketball at Needham High, her alma mater, and Oxford High, and was an integral part of the youth sports community in Dudley, where she and her husband Bill raised their sons, Dan and Ryan.

Hughes said discussions about retiring the women’s jerseys began this spring. HC retired the jerseys of men’s legends George Kaftan, Bob Cousy, Togo Palazzi and Tom Heinsohn in 2008, and those of Ronnie Perry and Jack “The Shot” Foley in 2011.

HC selected a very deserving women’s starting five.

“The accomplishments of these Crusaders are truly remarkable, and I am thrilled for the opportunity to honor their legacy and impact on Holy Cross women’s basketball,” Hughes said.

Courtney, a 1997 Holy Cross graduate, is the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots and she recorded two of the three triple-doubles in program history. She was a three-time All-Patriot League selection and the 1996-97 PL Player of the Year. She led HC to a pair of league championships and NCAA appearances and entered the HC Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 2004.

Levin, the first women’s basketball player to be inducted to the HC Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1989, five years after her graduation, is the program’s all-time leader in points (2,253), scoring average (21.8 ppg) and field goals made (842). She led the Crusaders to an EAIAW championship in 1983 and the MAAC regular-season title in 1984.

As a senior in 1996, Maney George was a United Press honorable mention All-American. She ranks fifth all-time at Holy Cross in scoring, and she led the Crusaders to three Patriot League championship and NCAA appearances. She was a two-time PL Player of the Year. She was inducted to the HC Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 2002.

O’Brien Davagian, who starred at Holy Name High in Worcester, was a 1998 Associated Press honorable mention All-American. As a senior, she was the 1999 New England Player of the Year, and she was a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year. She led HC to three league titles and NCAA berths, and she ranks second on the program’s all-time scoring list. She was inducted to the HC Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 2005.

“Their accomplishments are just incredible,” Hughes said. “They’ve done so much on the court and have been tremendous representatives of the college and just wonderful members of the extended Holy Cross community for a long period of time.”

Hughes said the plan is to hang the women’s and men’s banners from the Hart Center rafters on opposite sides of the court.

AmCats honor Mortell with 5K

For the second straight year, the Anna Maria women’s basketball team will host a 5K Fun Run/Walk in memory of Paxton Police Chief Robert Mortell.

The event, which is part of AMC’s Homecoming weekend activities, starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in front of Miriam Hall.

Mortell, who earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria, died Feb. 1, 1994, following a shootout in Holden with three burglary suspects.

Anna Maria women’s basketball coach Melissa Paulhus was a freshman at AMC when the tragedy occurred, and she remembered the profound impact it had on the town and college community.

In 2019, Anna Maria held a 5K in Mortell’s memory and posthumously awarded him its Presidential Service Award. There was no event in 2020, but Paulhus thought it was important to bring the 5K back last year.

Dave Armstrong, retired Holden Police Chief and senior advisor for criminal justice operations at AMC, was a good friend of Mortell. Armstrong will run alongside Paulhus and her players Saturday.

“Bob was an avid runner on the streets of Paxton,” Armstrong said, “which makes (the 5K) special. It’s nice to have a subtle reminder that Bob gave to Anna Maria and the town of Paxton and that he ran on these streets. It’s very nice the kids on the basketball team understand that. It’s a nice remembrance for him.”

Preregistration is available through Wednesday for $25. After Wednesday, or on the day of the 5K, registration is $30. Registration includes a T-shirt. Kids under 10 are free.

For more information, contact Paulhus at (508) 849-3608, or mpaulhus@annamaria.edu.

Groundbreaking Saturday for new field at Anna Maria

Anna Maria will be holding a groundbreaking for its synthetic turf baseball venue and multipurpose field at noon Saturday, behind Madonna Residence Hall.

Officials from the college, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Murray, a college trustee, and representatives from the Worcester Bravehearts and Worcester Red Sox are expected to be on hand. Anna Maria is planning for athletes to compete on the new field in 2023.

The ceremony will be followed by a brief reception. Homecoming, Reunion, Family Weekend and home football and soccer games are all on tap at Anna Maria this weekend. For more information, visit https://annamaria.edu/alumni/#homecoming.

Clark field hockey celebrates belated reunion

Members of Clark’s 1991 field hockey team, arguable the best squad in program history, had to wait a year to return to campus for their 30-year reunion, but their recent celebration included recognition at halftime of the Cougars’ 3-2 win over Salve Regina.

The ’91 team, Clark’s only selection to the NCAA Division 3 field hockey tournament, finished the regular season 12-1-3, and posted a school-record 14 shutouts. The Cougars allowed three goals all season, an NCAA Division 3 record.

Clark ranked as high as No. 15 in the country.

Among those attending the 30-year reunion were Linda Wage, the 1991 College Field Hockey Coaches Association Northeast Division 3 Coach of the Year, who won more than 300 games in her 31 seasons with the Cougars, assistant coach Kathryn Smith, former Clark athletic director Linda Moulton, and players Kristen Kazokas, Becky Proakis Mitchell, Marcy Vincent Coviello and Karen Patterson Greene.

Patterson was Clark’ first field hockey All-American. She and Vincent, both 1992 Clark graduates, have the winningest four-year record, 50-10-11 (.782 winning percentage), of any Clark field hockey players.

Head of the Class

• Western Connecticut State graduate student Madison McColl of Rutland made two defensive saves in her field hockey team’s 1-0 double-overtime loss to Keene State. She leads the Little East Conference with five defensive saves.

• AIC junior field hockey back Morgan Martellio of Uxbridge made a key defensive save to keep AIC’s game against Southern Connecticut tied, 1-1, in the third, and she scored the winning goal to lift AIC past Molloy, 2-1.

• St. Anselm senior forward Jackson Bukunt of Upton opening the scoring in a 4-3 win over St. Rose, and netted his team-leading fourth goal of the season in a loss to Assumption.

• Western New England sophomore Sarah Johnston of Uxbridge scored three goals and added an assist to lead the Golden Bears to a 2-0 week.

—Contact Jennifer Toland at jennifer.toland@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenTolandTG.

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Janet Hourihan Brooks among 5 to have Holy Cross jerseys retired