Thursday, February 02, 2017

Lynn Petruzzelli Honored By Temple University

On a normal Wednesday, you can find Lynn Petruzzelli teaching math at Mullica Township Middle School.
But this is not a normal Wednesday, because Petruzzelli will be inducted into Temple University’s Basketball Ring of Honor.

She and Aggie Stegmuller, a 1945 graduate who died in 2010, will be the first women to have their names permanently displayed in a ring around the school’s basketball arena, the Liacouras Center. They will be inducted at 7 p.m. when the Owls host No. 1 Connecticut.

Petruzzelli, 55, played for the Owls from 1979 through 1983 as Lynn Blaszczyk. She helped lead Temple to its first Women’s National Invitation Tournament appearances, where they finished fifth and seventh in the nation in her final two years as an Owl.
She was also the first woman to score 1,000 career points at Temple and still holds second-place records in all-time scoring (1,329 points) and career rebounds (949).

Ring of Honor recipients are chosen by a select committee of administrators, staff, former players and alumni close to the Temple basketball program.
“It definitely didn’t really hit me at first,” Petruzzelli said. “When I had gotten the call, I wasn’t even sure what the Ring of Honor was. Then I had lunch with some of my younger co-workers, and they were so excited when they heard about it.
“That’s when it started to sink in how big of an honor this really is.”

Petruzzelli, a Washington Township resident, is no stranger to hall of fame inductions. Since her time at Temple, she has become a member of the Eastern Regional High School Hall of Fame, the Camden County Hall of Fame, the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame.

After graduating from college and playing a season of professional basketball in Frankfurt, Germany, Petruzzelli returned to South Jersey, where she has taught at Mullica Township Middle School for 31 years.
But until 1996, the middle school didn’t have a basketball program. Petruzzelli, along with a fellow teacher, decided to build one themselves. She coached the team for seven years before leaving to coach her own kids — Jaclyn, Brooke and Garrett.

“She’s so modest, she’d never tell you all of this herself,” said Lynn’s husband, Dan, “but she helped start that entire program. She would pull girls and just teach them the game. Their first season, they had zero wins. Two years later, they were undefeated.”
Though he never saw her actually play, Dan said he is Lynn’s No. 1 fan.

 “I’ll never stop bragging about her,” he said. “I work in Drexel Hill at Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, and you can bet that anyone that comes in wearing Temple shirts will get the full story of my wife’s accomplishments.”

Petruzzelli started officiating girls high school basketball games in 1987. After a foot injury and couple of surgeries, she switched to middle school and the township’s recreational games, which she still officiates today.
She may be a referee now, but she never stops coaching.
“I just want to help the kids, especially the younger ones,” Petruzzelli said. “I’ll stop during the game and help them and give them tips. They’re just learning, and I love being able to help.”
That mentality carries over into the classroom for Petruzzelli, who will retire from teaching at the end of the year.
“I teach like a coach. Math can be the best or the worst subject for some kids,” she said. “I’m constantly looking for ways to motivate the kids to have fun while they learn. That’s what a coach does.

 “It’s about getting the job done while enjoying doing it. That’s my philosophy.”

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