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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Pitt athletics inducts many Panthers sports greats into its 2024 Hall of Fame class

The+Inaugural+Pitt+Athletics+Hall+of+Fame+Class+waits+to+be+introduced+at+Saturdays+Pitt+vs.+Penn+State+game.+%28Photo+by+Thomas+Yang+%7C+Assistant+Visual+Editor%29
Thomas J. Yang
The Inaugural Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Class waits to be introduced at Saturday’s Pitt vs. Penn State game. (Photo by Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor)

Pitt athletics’ 2024 Hall of Fame class includes several inductees of high status. The 10-person class will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during homecoming weekend on September 13 — the night before the next installment of the Backyard Brawl against West Virginia.

Inductee Bill Hillgrove announced his retirement as the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers a little over two months ago, a role he excelled in for three decades. But Hillgrove continues as the lead voice for both the Pitt men’s basketball team and the Pitt football team. This upcoming season will mark his 55th season with the basketball team and 54th season with the football team. 

“I consider [Pitt] my home,” Hillgrove said. “To finish my retirement just doing Pitt is a very welcome thing.” 

During his career, Hillgrove had the opportunity to broadcast four Super Bowls for the Steelers, but Super Bowl 43, which featured the Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, has a special place in his heart. In his opinion, Super Bowl 43 featured “the two biggest plays in Super Bowl history” and his career.

 “Santonio [Holmes]’s touchdown and … James Harrison’s interception return. I was proud of both calls,” Hillgrave said.

Super Bowl 43 also showcased fellow Pitt athletics Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald on the opposing sideline, who played wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals in the moment — however, there was no love lost. 

“As much as I love Larry, once I’m the voice of the Steelers, he wore that other uniform and was just another Cardinal that I wanted to beat,” Hillgrove said.

This year’s class includes many that are highly touted in their respective fields. Hillgrove and Dick Groat, Hillgrove’s broadcast partner for Pitt men’s basketball for 40 years, are two of those people. The duo are the first non-athletes or coaches inducted into the hall of fame. 

“[Getting inducted alongside Groat] made this really special,” Hillgrove said. “The fact that we go in together, I could write a book on just that period of my career alone because of the experiences with Dick Groat.”

Groat is one of 13 athletes ever to have played in both the MLB and the NBA. He averaged 11.9 points per game for the Fort Wayne Pistons of the NBA and was the 1960 National League MVP in the MLB.

Groat passed in April 2023, and Hillgrove did not hold back in showering the man with praise for his many talents on and off the field. 

“I was just reminded on Facebook that in 1960, around this time, Groat went 6-for-6 at the plate on the way to the National League Batting Title,” Hillgrove said. “It’s quite an honor to be inducted with him. It’s an even bigger honor to have shared the microphone with him for 40 years.”

Even though Hillgrove has stepped back from the Steelers, he’s excited to watch his favorite team play every Sunday. 

“It’s time for me to start smelling the roses,” Hillgrove said. 

Joining Hillgrove in the Hall of Fame is former swimmer Amy Jackson, who is one of the most decorated athletes in Pitt history across all sports. But according to her, she can not take all the credit.

I did not get here alone,” Jackson said. “The team at Pitt during the late 70s and early 80s was chock full of talent. We regularly qualified 10 swimmers for the national championship [and] regularly finished in the top 10 teams in the country.” 

Jackson earned All-American Honors in 20 events and has a pool to pick from when it comes to her favorite. 

“I was good at the 200 Fly and hated every time I swam it. There is no hiding in Butterfly if your muscles are failing,” Jackson said. “[My] favorite event was 100 free. It’s short enough to be an all-out sprint, but ends before it gets too painful.”

Swimming continues to serve as a part of Jackson’s life. With the Summer Olympic Games starting on July 26, Jackson hopes to continue to help Team USA.

“Indianapolis is hosting USA Swimming Olympic Trials in June. I’m going to be on deck as a volunteer,” Jackson said. “I can’t wait to see the next group of Olympians being qualified up close.”

Jamie Pelusi is arguably the greatest goalkeeper in Pitt women’s soccer history, ranking first in saves and second in save percentage, shutouts and wins in Pitt’s all-time history. Despite her success, Pelusi was not confident in her resume for the Hall of Fame. The goalie was grateful regardless. 

“You don’t expect these things, but it felt really nice to get the call,” Pelusi said.

Pelusi is a member of a family that includes several great achievers at Pitt — yet she’s the first Pelusi honored with an induction. Her father, John Pelusi, was the starting center for Pitt’s national champion football team in 1976. Her brother, John Pelusi, was a three-year letterman tight end for the football team.

“There’s a feeling of pride. It was steeped in us growing up,” Pelusi said. “We would go to Pitt events. I think I was even the Pitt Panther for Halloween when I was 2 or 3 [years old]. Going to and listening to Pitt games. It was just a part of childhood. My sister made a joke that Bill Hillgrove was the voice of our childhood, and I don’t know how many people would say that,” said Pelusi.

Pelusi played soccer growing up, but the heights that she reached came as a surprise.

“I just loved being on a team. I loved playing with different people than you’d play on the same travel team together,” said Pelusi. “But I wasn’t expecting to even play in college, to be honest.”

Outside of soccer, Pelusi has accomplished a lot of humanitarian work. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in social work, Pelusi made sure to make use of those skills.

“Sometimes with athletes, folks are seen as just athletes … they don’t realize we have lives outside of our sports. It was important to me to put 110% both on the field and off,” Pelusi said. “That’s looked a couple of different ways. I’ve been able to do a couple of amazing things because of going to Pitt and being a student-athlete.”

Pelusi currently resides in California, running a Pride Center for LGBTQ+ students at a community college

 

About the Contributor
Conor Hutchison, Staff Writer