By John Boccacino/Sports Information
While the athletics careers of Nicole Bondellio and Lucas Hopkins overlapped by only one year at Keuka College, there were many similarities between Bondellio’s and Hopkins’ playing days for the Green and Gold.
Both Bondellio and Hopkins came to Keuka College from high schools in New York (Bondellio from Corning West High School, Hopkins from South Jefferson).
Both were outstanding student-athletes who excelled at both scoring goals and setting up their teammates for clutch goals.
Both donned the number 11 whenever they suited up for the Green and Gold, and come Saturday, October 18, the duo will have one more trait in common: Bondellio and Hopkins will become just the 19th and 20th student-athletes to receive induction into the Keuka College Athletics Hall of Fame.
Bondellio (class of 2008) graduated as the all-time goals (50), assists (39) and points (139) leader for the women’s soccer team and currently ranks first in points and assists, and is second in goals scored.
Hopkins (class of 2004) graduated as the all-time leader in goals (115), assists (83) and points (198) for the men’s lacrosse program, and 10 years after his graduation, Hopkins remains the program’s most prolific scorer.
Both will be enshrined in the Keuka College Athletics Hall of Fame during a 3 p.m. ceremony on the same Jephson Community Athletic Complex field where the dynamic duo enjoyed the bulk of their success at Keuka.
“I feel pretty honored by this Hall of Fame induction. I figured maybe eventually I’d get in, but this soon? It is such an honor,” said Bondellio, who starred for the women’s soccer team from 2003 to 2006 and who graduated with a degree in English and minors in both psychology and creative writing.
“When I look back at all of the goals I scored and the assists I had, it was a great career, but I was surrounded by so many good players, which is why I was successful.”
“I was pretty surprised to get the word that I was going into the Hall of Fame. Coach Jason Paige called and told me I was going in, and I was just surprised and honored,” added Hopkins, who starred for the men’s lacrosse team from 2001-04 and who graduated with a degree in business management.
“This is a big accomplishment, and I give credit to the guys around me for making me as successful as I was. We had a lot of fun on those teams, and this honor belongs to my teammates.”
Bondellio, who hails from Watkins Glen, N.Y., enjoyed a decorated career for the Green and Gold. During her four-year career playing under head coaches Tim Moody and Jamie Burke, Bondellio was named the North Eastern Athletic Conference’s (NEAC) Player of the Year in both 2004 and 2007.
She was named to the first-team All-NEAC team all four years on campus, and helped Keuka win the 2007 NEAC regular season title before the team lost in the championship game.
During her tenure, the women’s soccer team posted a 41-23-1 overall record (29-7 in NEAC play).
A talented playmaker, Bondellio set a school-record with 17 assists during her freshman season as Keuka went 11-4-1 overall. Bondellio also scored seven goals and finished with 31 points, the first of four straight seasons with 31 or more points.
After scoring 12 goals with seven assists (31 points) during her sophomore campaign, Bondellio recorded 13 goals with seven assists (33 points) during her junior year. But the best was still to come for Bondellio.
During her senior season, Bondellio scored 18 goals (third-highest single-season total in school history) and added eight assists for 44 points (also third-most in school history) as the Green and Gold went 12-5 overall, including a perfect 9-0 in conference play.
Thanks to Bondellio’s deft scoring touch, the women’s soccer team earned a spot in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Upstate tournament. Bondellio concluded her senior season ranked 19th in the country in both goals and points per game as she earned a spot on the D3 Kicks All-New York Region second team.
Bondellio was also honored by ESPN/CoSIDA with a spot on the Academic All-American third team.
While Nicole Sharick (2009-12) eventually broke Bondellio’s career goals scored record and equaled her career points record, Bondellio’s 39 career assists remain the standard-bearer in the women’s soccer record books, 12 more than the runner-up.
“The fact that I have the assist record, that means the most to me and it really had everything to do with my teammates,” said Bondellio, who lives in Newton, Mass., and works as an office manager/executive assistant with Creative Wealth Advisors.
“I was able to feed the ball to a bunch of fantastic players who could put the ball in the back of the net. I am so thankful for the experiences I had at Keuka. It was a small school, but I got to play collegiate soccer and got to play in pretty much every single game. The teammates I had and the experiences I had at Keuka mean everything to me, and they have shaped who I am today.”
Bondellio credits all of her teammates, especially Kerry Callahan (’08), Alyssa Hermenet (’11), Shana Jordan (’09), Becca Rozek (’10) and Jessica VanScoter (’10), with helping her achieve such tremendous heights on the soccer field.
Bondellio also credits Drs. Anita Chirco and Anne Weed with helping her reach her academic goals. During the Hall of Fame ceremony, Bondellio will be enshrined alongside her mother, Mary DeBolt, and her girlfriend, Emily Tobin.
Hopkins, who came to Keuka from Adams, N.Y., entered Keuka Park as a 5-foot-7 attacker, and graduated as the program’s most-decorated scorer.
From the first day of his Keuka career, Hopkins was a source of instant offense for Paige’s men’s lacrosse team.
During his freshman season, Hopkins scored 49 points (26 goals, 23 assists) as the Green and Gold posted a 5-7 record. After scoring 55 points (34 goals, 21 assists) during the 2002 season, Keuka went 6-8, the second-most wins ever in a season in school history.
Hopkins said he and his teammates could see their hard work paying off, as the team’s win total increased while the losses got fewer and farther between.
In 2003, under longtime head coach Jason Paige, the Green and Gold posted a 6-5 record, the program’s first winning season since 1994, as Hopkins recorded 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists), but the team was just beginning to tap into its potential.
Before his senior season, Hopkins said he and his teammates realized they had a chance to accomplish something special, and they came out determined to have their best season ever.
Keuka came out red-hot and won its first 10 games for the first-ever double-digit win total in school history. Hopkins, who often served as the quarterback of the offense, running the show from behind the net, registered 53 points on 31 goals with 22 assists as the Green and Gold finished the year with a 10-1 record.
That season set the stage for a men’s lacrosse resurgence on campus, as Paige’s squads have recorded a 92-43 record (.681 winning percentage) since Hopkins’ senior season.
“My records are all because of the great teammates I had. We had some good teams during my time at Keuka, and I was as successful as I was because of them, because my play was consistent, and because I managed to not get hurt,” said Hopkins, who lives in Chaumont, N.Y., with his wife, Amanda, and their 13-year-old step-son, Austin.
“I definitely wasn’t the biggest guy on the field, but I was real quick and had a good ability to score. But I wouldn’t have been able to score all of those goals or get all of those assists without having good player around me.”
During that storybook senior season, when Keuka won its first 10 games, Hopkins said the guys on the team knew they were building something special. While they lost their season-finale (and with it, a chance to potentially make the NCAA Division III tournament) to Utica College, Hopkins said the graduating seniors were most proud of the strides the program had made in their four-year careers.
“Coach Paige was a tremendous influence in my life. He did a good job of getting more talent in each year, and just seeing how much we improved from year to year was definitely the highlight of my career,” said Hopkins, who currently owns his own landscaping/lawn mowing/snow plow business, Lake Ontario Property Services.
Hopkins had the privilege of playing with some talented student-athletes during his time in Keuka Park. Among his teammates, he credits Aaron Quku (’04) and Adam Quku (’06), Ryan Booth (’03), Ryan Burton (’07), Lloyd Friedah (’05), Darrin Harzewski (’04) and Jeff Nikiel (’06) for helping him enjoy as much success on the field as he did.
He also had the opportunity to play alongside his brother, Wes Hopkins (’05), who scored 114 points (57 goals, 57 assists) during his Keuka career.
“Coming out of South Jefferson High School, I was recruited mostly by state schools and LeMoyne, but when I visited Keuka, I really liked the small-school atmosphere and it was a natural fit for me,” Lucas Hopkins said.
“I met some of the nicest people during my time at Keuka, and we had a lot of fun playing lacrosse. We had a great senior season and it was nice knowing once I graduated, coach Paige had the program going in the right direction.”
The Hall of Fame ceremonies are part of Keuka’s inaugural Green & Gold weekend — which celebrates reunions, family weekend, and homecoming activities — Oct. 17-19.