The hall of fame is something held in high esteem for all athletes. No matter the league, sport or position you play, being inducted into such a place is a sign of honor, respect and, of course, a recognition of just the pure skill possessed by the inductee.
At Brandeis, that’s no different. The university’s 2021 hall of fame class consists of four storied coaches: baseball coach Pete Varney, men’s soccer coach Mike Coven, women’s soccer coach Denise Dallamora and fencing coach Bill Shipman. Having all started their Brandeis coaching careers between the years of 1973 and 1982, they have since become staples of the Brandeis athletic community, having collected a staggering number of 2330 wins between them, as well as 62 NCAA title births throughout their time with the judges.
They have placed their names in all kinds of NCAA Division III record books. From individual wins to NCAA final four appearances to coaching players that went on to play professionally, they truly did it all.
Perhaps even more importantly than all these incredible feats they accomplished are the people they were. Both on and off the field, they were more than colleagues, referred to as mentors and friends by the many who had the opportunity to play for them or were fortunate enough to coach alongside them. Many of their fellow coaches and former players spoke out about the impact they had on their careers.
As Derek Carlson ’91, who was an assistant under Coach Varney for a number of years and took over as his replacement when he retired, told “Brandeis Alumni & Friends,” “I learned so much under Coach Varney, both on and off the field. I’ve seen the kind of players that he has brought in from the opposing dugout, and I am looking forward to working with them myself.”
As newly appointed head coach of the men’s soccer team Gabe Margolis told Brandeis Judges in 2016, “In particular I want to say a very special thank you to coach Coven. I came to Brandeis 11 years ago to work for Coach and very quickly he became much more than just a boss, he became a great friend.”
Dennis Dallamora and Bill Shipman were no different in the amount of praise attributed to each of them as well. Three-time team captain of the women’s soccer team Alec Spivack ’16, said in a video about her long-time coach: “Your hard work and dedication pushed me past my limits. It helped me become not only a better athlete, or a better soccer player, but the person that I am today.”
Similarly, Julian Cardillo ’14 expressed what his fencing coach had meant to him: “Coach Shipman is a skilled fencing instructor who truly loves the sport. But not as much as [he cares about] those he teaches.” He went on to say, “[he] helped me to reach the peak of my national and international fencing career, and taught me valuable life lessons on and off the strip.”
It is evident from fellow coaches, Brandeis athletic directors, the players themselves and all who interacted with these legendary coaches, that they were pioneers of their respective sports at Brandeis. Each one dedicated well over 30 years to their teams, and were a big part of putting their sport on the map. Of course they were successful, no doubt, however they were also passionate, driven and deeply cared to cultivate a greater culture of team success within Brandeis atheltics.