Lewke, O’Connell, Podrasky To Be Inducted Into Athletic Hall of Fame

Lewke, O’Connell, Podrasky To Be Inducted Into Athletic Hall of Fame

BRADFORD, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will induct three new members into its Athletic Hall of Fame during Alumni and Family Weekend next month.

The inductees will be volleyball players Jennifer Lewke-Tortora '05 and Jackie Podrasky-McFadden '11 and bowler Darlene Walker O'Connell '80.

"All three of these women left their mark at Pitt-Bradford as members of their respective teams," Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bret Butler said. "They exemplified excellence in the athletic arena, as well as in the classroom, and they continue to succeed professionally in their chosen vocations. Jennifer, Jackie and Darlene demonstrated what it meant to be a complete student athlete. We are very proud of them, and look forward to celebrating their induction." 

A native of Central Square, N.Y., Lewke-Tortora was a member of the volleyball team from 2001-04. As a Panther, she finished top five in the AMCC in blocks for three straight seasons (2002-04) and was named to the AMCC All-Conference Third Team her senior year. She made a lasting impression on the program as she ranks second in Pitt-Bradford history in blocks, third in sets played, fifth in service aces and sixth in kills. 

Lewke-Tortora graduated from Pitt-Bradford with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and Public Relations and now works as an investigative reporter for WHEC news in Rochester, N.Y. She has received many accolades for her success in the field of journalism, including the National Edward R. Murrow Award in recognition for her work as an investigative reporter.

A native of Medina, Ohio, Podrasky-McFadden became the UPB volleyball program's first All-American in 2010. That same year, she was named the AMCC Player of the Year and the Pitt-Bradford Athlete of the Year, while leading the Panthers to the program's first AMCC title. She hit the ground running in her career, earning the 2007 AMCC Newcomer of the Year and 2007-08 Pitt-Bradford Rookie of the Year honors her freshman year. For her career, she logged over 1,000 career kills and digs, just the fourth player in program history to reach that milestone. 

She graduated from UPB with a Bachelor's Degree in Sports Medicine and later earned a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Gannon University in 2014. She currently works as a physical therapist for local school districts in Pinehurst, N.C.

"I am so happy for Jackie and Jen," former Head Volleyball Coach Tina Phillips said. "They were both a pleasure to coach, and I am so thrilled to have had a front-row seat to watch them in their careers. They were both pivotal parts of their teams during their playing days, and I am so thrilled to see them going into the Hall of Fame."

O'Connell helped put the Pitt-Bradford bowling program on the national stage during its first year competing in the NJCAA in 1980. The Bradford, Pa., native placed fourth at Nationals to earn a spot on the All-American team out of 100 bowlers, becoming the first Pitt-Bradford female NJCAA All-American. She scored 2,097 (514, 501, 560 and 522 series totals) in 12 games for an average score of 174.7.

In addition to her groundbreaking success athletically, she shined just as bright in the classroom, as she carried a 3.9 GPA as a computer science major.

"Dar was the leader of our group," said teammate Janice Borowski Himes. "Everything we did was as a team, whether it was practicing, competing or fund raising. She was always humble and smiling. Dar was both the best person and bowler. Her words of encouragement meant a lot coming from such an incredible person and athlete." 

For more information regarding the ceremony, visit www.upbalumni.org/afw.