09/27/2012 – The Aquinas College Athletic Department inducted former Saints into its Hall of Fame during the Eleventh Annual Hall of Fame Gala this evening. The class consisted of softball standouts Christy (Jaklinski) Paganelli ('93) and Jodi Borowicz ('93), basketball legend Brandon Lowe ('98) and the 1971 Men's Cross Country Team coached by John Flaminio.
Christy (Jaklinski) Paganelli was recruited from Wyoming Rogers High School in 1989 as a hard hitting catcher for a young Aquinas Saints softball team. During her four years in this role, she became the backbone of the program both offensively and defensively. In her freshman year she guided the Saints to their "first ever" appearance in the NAIA National World Series in Florida. The squad earned this trip by winning the NAIA State Championship and the Midwest Regional Title. She had helped put Aquinas College softball on the map. During her four years as a Saint, Christy established herself as the team's "clean up" hitter leading Aquinas in multiple offensive categories, some of which are still near the top in the AQ record books. A two time NAIA All-State player, her leadership, defensive abilities and team commitment made her respected and cherished by her teammates. Christy and fellow 2012 AQ Hall of Fame inductee, Jodi Borowicz were labeled "grace and ace" by their teammates. They competed in over 100 games as AQ teammates forming one of the most celebrated "pitching and catching batteries" in Aquinas history. Christy's professional career allowed her to turn an Aquinas internship with Amway into a 20 year chemist position with the Ada based company. Christy passed away in March of 2011 after a nearly two year courageous battle with melanoma cancer. It was a battle that exceeded the normal length by nearly one and one/half years. She and her husband Dino Paganelli ’90 are the proud parents of three children Brady, Jake, and Katelyn. The Wyoming Rogers High School community and Christy's Aquinas teammates established "Christy's Cause" which raises money for cancer research and the Aquinas College Scholarship named in her honor. Softball games are played at both schools annually to raise funds for these causes.
Jodi Borowicz came to the Aquinas College campus from Cheboygan High School in Cheboygan, Michigan. Four years later Jodi had established herself as one of the most dominant softball pitchers in the Midwest Collegiate circles. During her four years as a Saint, she broke and re-established nearly every pitching record in AQ softball history. Through the 1990 – 1993 softball seasons, Jodi pitched Aquinas into the elite of small college softball teams throughout the Midwest. As a freshman she led the Saints to an NAIA State Championship and into the NAIA Softball National Championship in Pensacola, Florida. For the next three years Aquinas was noted as the team with which to be reckoned. Competing against many of the larger Michigan universities and Michigan NAIA schools, the Saints built not only a reputation but a winning tradition under Coach Mary Takas, also an AQ Hall of Famer. On the three occasions, Jodi was named to the NAIA All-State team for her achievements. Coach Takas states "pitching is the most important facet of the game of softball and in the early 90's pitching for the Saints was Jodi Borowicz." Jodi has spent her entire professional life in education as a teacher and a coach. She currently is an educator in the Delton-Kellogg school system. In reaction to the award Jodi stated: "This Aquinas Hall of Fame honor is special, but even more so because of the co-induction with my catcher, mentor and dear friend Christy Jaklinski-Paganelli.
The basketball career of Brandon Lowe is nearly unparalleled in Aquinas College basketball history. The former East Kentwood High School All-State honoree was the mainstay of the Saints program during his four year career. He attained NAIA All-State Honors on four occasions and Academic All-State honors three times. Brandon was an NAIA All American and earned dual honors in 1998 when he was named 3rd team NAIA All-American (top 30 players in the nation) as well as an Academic All-American. Lowe finished his Aquinas career as the 2nd leading scorer in College history with 2,088 points scored (trailing only Laray Hardy). He remains high on the all-time AQ basketball list in games played, steals, field goal percentage, and scoring average. He possessed outstanding quickness and could score from the outside and with slashing drives to the basket. Brandon was the recipient of the Aquinas College Joseph Baker Memorial Award in 1998. His Aquinas College coach, Rick Albro states, "Brandon was a coach's dream. Not only was he an outstanding basketball player, but a better teammate and individual." Brandon currently resides in the Grand Rapids area and is a regional sales manager for Leon Plastics of Grand Rapids.
As Aquinas College celebrates its 50th year of varsity cross country competition, it is only fitting that the 1971 cross country team is honored with induction in the Aquinas College Athletic Hall of Fame. The 1971 team made history by winning the College's first ever NAIA State Cross Country Championship. This accomplishment allowed the squad to make the College's first ever appearance in the NAIA National Championship held in Missouri where the squad finished 23rd in the nation. The team was coached by John Flaminio who arrived at the Grand Rapids campus in 1969 and immediately began establishing a highly competitive program. Flaminio, who was a member of two NCAA National Championship squads at Western Michigan, brought his expertise to the "Tommies" and raised the program to national prominence. The 1971 squad went undefeated in five dual matches and also won six of the seven championships in invitational meet. The lone defeat was when the squad finished 17th out of 43 teams at the prestigious Notre Dame National Catholic College Invitational. Aquinas went on to win the NAIA State Cross Country Championship before finishing 23rd at the national meet. The squad was captained by senior Wayne Stefanich. Other team members were John Carr, John Cassani, Daryl Delabbio, Jerry Gumbleton, Steve Hatton, Phil Hinck, Randy Laga, Pete Lentini, Brian Mckenzie, Ryan Sexton and Tom Sherburn. Hinck garnered NAIA All American honors for his effort. The 1972 squad went on to duplicate the efforts of the 1971 squad before Coach Flaminio left to take the head coaching position at the University of Toledo. The books were then closed on the "Flaminio era" but a level of excellence had been established which is still present today at Aquinas College.