The Mount Rushmore of Rider Sports
By Shaun Chornobroff
I’m a bit of a history nerd, I’ll confess that. Am I in the top 1% of history people and someone who would wow you on Jeopardy? No. I’d be a joke on that show, but I do know a lot about Rider Athletics and its underappreciated history. In the United States there are very few landmarks that describe the nation’s glorious history like Mount Rushmore, so to put my spin on it, here is a Mount Rushmore of Rider Athletics.
Clair Bee (Multiple Sports)
Bee is the George Washington of Rider athletics, and that’s not a term I use lightly. Bee was the founder of varsity athletics at Rider and was a coach of numerous teams. The landscape of this university – and even what I am tasked with covering – may be different if it wasn’t for Bee. He is most notable for his efforts as a basketball coach and even coached the first-ever collegiate team to score more than 1,000 points in a season during his time at the school. Bee’s offensive expertise also translated into a 52-8 record during his three-year coaching career at the school. Bee is considered one of basketball’s great minds and is even a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame, but when it comes to Rider sports, there should never be a conversation where Bee isn’t mentioned.
Stella Johnson (Women’s Basketball)
You can hate on me for recency bias, but on this campus, Johnson was a legitimate star, and it showed on and off the court. Conversations about her scoring exploits could be heard anywhere on campus. From Daly Dining Hall to The Pub, the name Stella Johnson was well-known. The two-time MAAC Player of The Year led the entire country in scoring and was even selected in the WNBA Draft. Most importantly, she led the Broncs to a MAAC Championship in the 2020 season, and if it wasn’t for a global pandemic, there was a strong chance that she would have taken the Broncs to a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Jesse Dellavechia (Wrestling)
There are very few programs at Rider University as successful as the wrestling program. For a mid-major, Rider’s wrestling success is incredibly impressive, with the school regularly knocking off elite programs and finding themselves nationally ranked. With this success comes plenty of All-Americans, but in March of 2021, the program reached a new milestone, with Jesse Dellavechia making a Cinderella run through the tournament and becoming its first-ever finalist in the NCAA Tournament. Dellavechia started his career at Binghamton, transferring to Rider after his freshman year. Ever since his first time touching the mat at Alumni Gym, Dellavechia has been Rider’s most dangerous wrestler, and he left the school as its greatest.
Robert Koehler (Baseball)
When Robert Koehler was starring for the Rider University baseball team, Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States, The Beatles were at their peak and Gilligan’s Island was saying its goodbyes to a rabid audience. What a time it was to be alive, especially if you were a member of Rider’s baseball team with much thanks to Koehler. The All-American pitcher had a masterclass in 1967, going 10-1 and leading Rider to a College World Series appearance, where Rider finished fifth. Koehler was inducted into the Rider Athletics Hall of fame in 2003, a much deserved honor for someone who was one of the country’s most dominant pitchers during his collegiate career. Koehler finished his career with a record of 17-4 and a legend at Rider. A fun story about Koehler to finish this off, he didn’t struggle in the minor leagues, but his career was short lived after being a 10th round draft pick in the 1967 draft. Koehler dominated the “A” level of minor league baseball and was promoted to “AA” after only two weeks. I’m unsure of why Koehler’s career ended, but his stint in “AA” was off to a good start before abruptly ending.