On Saturday night as part of St. John’s University’s homecoming weekend, seven individuals were inducted to the Athletics Hall of Fame. The HOF includes former student-athletes and coaches who achieved excellence while representing the Red Storm on the national and international levels. This year’s honorees were baseball coach Ed Blankmeyer, Olympians Priscilla Frederick Loomis and Daryl Homer, lacrosse All-American Kieran McArdle, and basketball stand-outs Jerry Houston, Jayson Williams and Nadirah McKenith.
“It was surreal,” said McKenith, an All-Big East First Team selection and part of the women’s basketball team that in 2012 ended University of Connecticut’s 99-game home court winning streak. “It was a huge honor for me and my family. I couldn’t guess in a million years that I would be in a hall of fame, coming from where I grew up. It felt so good that all my accomplishments and my hard work and dedication paid off for the university and the basketball team.”
To date, McKenith is the only St. John’s player to play in the WNBA (2013 Washington Mystics, 2014 Minnesota Lynx). She currently works as a teacher’s aide at an elementary school, where she coaches as well, and she’s a high school assistant basketball coach at her former high school.
“It was my dream to play in the WNBA,” said McKenith, a point guard, who also played overseas for several years. “To be able to accomplish that, it means a lot. I was trying to do it so St. John’s could get some recognition for its women’s basketball program. Hopefully, we’ll have some more draft picks.”
McKenith bought a new red suit for the HOF event. “I figured red was the only color to wear,” she said. She was joined at the Hall of Fame event by her parents and siblings, whom she thanked in her speech along with her high school and AAU coaches as well as St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella, who was an assistant coach when McKenith was in high school and played a huge role her in recruiting her. “It was easy for me to choose there,” she said.
The Red Storm went to the NCAA Tournament during each of McKenith’s four years, including a trip to the Sweet 16 her junior year. Feeling she was an underdog, she brought dedication, work ethic and determination. “I made the right choice going to St. John’s,” she said. “It was the perfect fit for me.”