All the work Julia Antonelli put in on the hardwood to earn Hall of Fame status at Lycoming College was the easiest part of accepting her latest and greatest honor.
Looking out at a sea of former Warriors athletes and coaches, and dozens of fans and family members a little more than a week ago at Lamade Gymnasium, she began with a joke that resonated all the way back to her high school playing days.
The two-time Warriors captain became the 13th member of the Lycoming women’s basketball program to join the Hall during the 33rd annual Hall of Fame Ceremony on Saturday, June 1.
“I was never really great at public speaking. I told them how I wasn’t great at talking with reporters,” she said with a laugh during a telephone interview on Monday. “It was so crazy. I’m not an emotional person, especially about basketball. It’s just been a part of my life. It all hit me in that moment, though. It was awesome.”
Antonelli let her skills do the talking during a four-year Lycoming career that came to a close in the 2013-14 season. The 2010 New Oxford graduate who finished high school with 1,091 points followed up with even more impressive marks with the Warriors.
In a four-year college career, Antonelli played anywhere from guard to forward, picking up all conference honors three times, including first-team nods twice. She was also named Lycoming’s Most Outstanding Female Athlete and the college’s NCAA Woman of the Year nominee in 2014.
Her versatility made her difficult to defend and helped her finish among Lycoming’s top 15 all-time players in nearly every statistical category. Most notably, her 747 career rebounds ranks, and 1,170 career points ranks sixth. She also finished with the top field-goal percentage in school history, knocking down 50.8 percent of her shots from the floor.
“The only time I ever felt comfortable in my own skin was when I was playing basketball,” Antonelli said. “I still miss that feeling every single day. I thanked my college, and my coaches, family and friends for all the memories we got to make. Getting to play basketball, the sport I love, a little while longer was incredible.”
Division 3 Lycoming had moved over to the Middle Atlantic Conference from the Freedom Conference when Antonelli’s career began. The private liberal arts college from Williamsport, Virginia had struggled with the transition, but steadily improved, thanks in part to Antonelli’s contributions. During her time there, her coaches gave her credit for putting the program back on track. In return, Antonelli thanked her coaches for helping her improve her defense and court vision.
In her junior campaign the Warriors made the MAC playoffs, winning all eight of their games in conference play. In her senior season, Lycoming went 13-12 (10-8) to break .500 for the second time in five years. Since then, the Warriors have won no less than 14 games and have been a frequent contender in the conference.
“I loved that feeling of being part of something bigger,” she said. “It was a family feeling that you get with your teammates. Your teammates’ families become extended families as well. They’re still like that to this day. I cherish that so much. You don’t even realize it until you’re away from it and they’re still in your lives.”
Antonelli had loads of support during her induction. Parents Maria and Brian Healy, sister Ali Snyder and brothers Vito and Nick DiPaola made the trip, as did her aunt and uncle, Angela and Mike Hoddinott with their children Nick and Giana Hoddinott. Her fiance, Dan Bennett, and his parents Steve and Tina Bennett also joined the group.
Antonelli now works as a paralegal in Lancaster. She and Dan are to be married in October.
“I’m so thankful for my years playing there,” Antonelli said. “Everything I gained from it, from meeting my fiance and graduating with him, to a great education.”
With a busy work schedule, Antonelli has still made time since graduation to help coach younger kids, including her cousin, Giana Hoddinott, a member of the Delone Catholic girls’ basketball team that won a PIAA Class 3A championship this year.
“I’m so thankful I have her,” Antonelli said. “I’m living vicariously through her. She’s such a good little baller and she’s going to get even better. I can’t wait to see where she ends up.”