Bethany to Enshrine Four New Members Into Athletic Hall of Fame
Sept. 24 - BETHANY, W.Va. –As part of its annual Homecoming festivities Oct. 1-2, the Bethany College athletic department will enshrine four new members into its Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Sixth Annual Hugh “Tiger” Joyce Golf Outing will open the big weekend Friday morning at Highland Springs Golf Course in Wellsburg. Later that night at 6 p.m., the Hall of Fame dinner will be held in Commencement Hall on the Bethany campus. Then at halftime of Saturday’s football game against Waynesburg, the newest members of the Bethany Hall of Fame will receive their plaques at Bison Stadium.
The Hall of Fame Class of 2010 features baseball player T.J. Billiard (’95), softball player Shelley Cooper (’95), football player Vince DeStazio (’78) and football player and track and field thrower Richard Villani (’81).
Timothy J. (T.J.) Billiard was a three-year starter and three-time All-PAC selection on the baseball diamond. He earned First Team All-PAC as a junior and senior after helping the Bison to their first 20-win seasons (25-6 in ‘94/24-13 in 1995) and the program’s first postseason bid to the ECAC Tournament in 1995.
At the time of his graduation, Billiard, who led the PAC with a .456 batting average in 1995, was ranked in the top 10 in 11 different career statistical categories at the school and his .366 career batting average still ranks 10th in Bethany history.
Away from the field, Billiard was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. Today, he is a Plant Sales manager for International Paper, where he is responsible for more than $30 million dollars in annual sales. In 2005, he earned the Sales & Marketing Excellence Award, which was given out to only 16 of 60,000 employees globally.
Billiard, who graduated from Brooke High School in Wellsburg, W.Va., resides in Huntersville, N.C., with his wife Erin and their three children Gianna, Angelo and Rocco.
Shelley Lynn Cooper was a four-year starter in the outfield for the Bison softball program. She earned First Team All-PAC three times and received NCAA Third Team All-Region in 1995, while helping turn the Bethany softball program into a power. The Bison won three PAC championships during her career and made the program’s first-ever postseason appearance, receiving a bid to the 1995 ECAC Tournament.
The All-Region award in ’95 for Cooper came after she set the school record for single-season hits with 54, a mark that stood for 15 seasons. Cooper still owns the BC standard for highest batting average in a year when she hit .481 as a junior in 1994 and also continues to own the career record with 15 triples. In addition, she is sixth all-time at the school with a .364 batting average.
Off the softball field, Cooper graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.
Cooper, who graduated from Shadyside High School, still resides in Shadyside, Ohio and is engaged to Brian Schramm.
Vincent DiStazio was a four-year starter for the Bison football program. He earned a starting spot at linebacker as a freshman in the fall of 1974 and later played a key role in Bethany’s 1975 PAC Championship run, the program’s first title in nine years. As a junior in 1976, he was named Honorable Mention All-PAC and followed that with a Second Team All-PAC award in his senior season of 1977 when he also served as a Bison captain.
Outside of his football accomplishments, DiStazio was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. Today, he is a salesman for the McClure Johnson Roofing Company and has earned Salesman of the Year and the PRA “Distributor of the Year” awards.
DiStazio, who graduated from Penn Hills High School near Pittsburgh, currently resides in Oakmont, Pa.
Richard James Villani was a four-year letterman in football and track and field during his Bethany career. On the gridiron, he was a four-year starter and three-time All-PAC selection. An Honorable Mention all-conference selection as a sophomore and junior, he earned First Team laurels as a senior and was also recognized as a two-time All-District honoree. Villani led Bethany in tackles and interceptions in his final two years on the field and came back in 1980 to serve as a student assistant coach for the Bison, who went a perfect 9-0 in the regular season and won the PAC title that season.
As a thrower for the Bethany track and field team, Villani earned third place in the javelin at PAC Championships as a freshman. He later served as captain of the track team and owned the school record in the javelin.
On campus at Bethany, Villani was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and graduated in 1981. He has continued to live an active lifestyle since graduating from Bethany, as he’s been a professional certified trainer for 25 years and owns “Everyday Nutrition & Café”. In addition, Villani has 21 years of playing experience in the United States Flag and Touch Football League (USFTL) and after earning seven All-American awards through the organization, was elected to its Hall of Fame in 2008. He has also competed in the All Natural Body Building Conference.
A graduate of Penn Hills, High School near Pittsburgh, Villani now resides in Pittsburgh and has four children (Richard, Brooke, Olivia, Chase).