Evelyne Viens among former student-athletes honored in Hall of Fame ceremony

Former women’s soccer forward and USF Athletics Hall of Famer Evelyn Viens is the first student-athlete ever to receive an Olympic medal. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

When former men’s soccer goalkeeper Jeff Attinella reflected on his time with the university at the Hilton in Downtown Tampa on Friday, it wasn’t just his on-the-field successes that stuck out – it was how supported he felt during his collegiate journey.

“You had a lot of people who were always looking out for you, taking care of you. For me, being a part of USF Athletics made the transition to college a little bit easier,” he said.

Attinella was one of three former Bulls to be inducted into the 2023 USF Athletics Hall of Fame, alongside women’s soccer forward Evelyne Viens and women’s golfer Kelly Lagedrost.

Attendees were able to listen to speeches from the honorees that gave insight into their time as student-athletes with the university. 

Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said the event allows the university to honor its athletic history and heritage.

“I just felt so strongly that it’s important to continue to build our brand and be able to honor so many great people in our history,” Kelly said. “So I’m glad we were able to bring it back.” 

The event was established in 2009 but was put on hiatus from 2014-18. It was re-established in 2019 and has been held annually since then.

Viens did not attend due to scheduling conflicts. She plays soccer for A.S. Roma in Italy’s Serie A

Before her professional career, she dominated the collegiate level with USF. She was a three-time All-America Team selection and a two-time American Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019.

She also holds a majority of the program records including career goals and points scored, with 73 and 169 respectively. This is her first year of eligibility.

Viens recorded a video message for the ceremony. She said her time at USF was more than just “a diploma and playing soccer.”

When she came to USF as an international student from Canada, she said she didn’t know English well and kept to herself. She said her time with the soccer team allowed her to evolve and become the person she wanted to be.

“USF for me is a school of life,” Viens said. “It’s taught me how to push myself, how to believe in my dream and how to become the person I am today.” 

Antonella played for the men’s soccer program from 2007-10. He played a pivotal role in the Bulls winning the Big East Tournament Championship team in 2008. 

He said playing in big matches in college helped prepare him for his 11-year professional career. He was drafted with the 14th overall pick in the MLS Draft by Real Salt Lake.

“It gets you ready for the next stage of your life and it gets you ready to be a pro because you’ve already gone through the experience of playing really meaningful games,” Attinella said.

However, the common thread among all three inductees was the shared pride in being a member of USF Athletics. 

Lagedrost played for the women’s golf program from 1997-2001. She is the only player in school history to have won two NCAA Regional Titles and is the first women’s golfer to be inducted. 

Lagedrost is one of the most decorated athletes in school history, but she said her most fond memories had nothing to do with golf.

She said that she cherished the opportunity to bond with her teammates during road trips.

“I remember the team trips and just the camaraderie. We were such a great team that we meshed so well together and just competed at that level,” Lagedrost said.  

She said that her bond with then-coach Susan Veasley played a huge role in her success. Lagedrost would follow in Veasley’s footsteps to become an interim coach for the women’s golf program from 2006-07.

Kelly said choosing finalists every year is tough. An executive committee of nine people reviews nominations from the athletic department and the public.

“It’s just a matter of when your time comes,” Kelly said. “And in this case, it’s Jeff’s, Kelly’s and Evelyn’s time.”