WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Julia D. Neilson ’02, a two-sport Rookie-of-the-Year in the Little East Conference during a career spanning 1998 to 2002, will become the seventh representative of Eastern Connecticut State University to be inducted into the Little East Conference Athletic Hall of Fame, it has been announced by LEC Commissioner Pamela S. Samuelson.
Neilson’s LEC induction will be recognized as part of the Eastern Athletics Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony October 19 at the Eastern Student Center. Neilson gained induction into the Eastern Hall of Fame in 2016 and will become only the fourth Eastern student-athlete to gain Little East Hall of Fame induction honors.
The Salisbury native and 1998 Housatonic Valley Regional High School graduate attained All-Little East Conference honors three times in each sport – winning conference Rookie-of-the-Year honors as a freshman in each -- and was recognized with regional honors seven times.
Neilson is one of only two individuals in conference history to be named Rookie-of-the-Year in both women’s soccer and softball and one of only four individuals in any sport (outside of the cross country and track & field) to be earn the honor in two sports.
Neilson started 218 of the 219 games in which she appeared in her two-sport career, missing only six total games in two sports.
Fourteen years after graduation, she still is the Eastern softball career record-holder with 93 stolen bases and ranks in the Top 20 with 157 career hits, and in soccer still ranks fifth all-time in both goals (32) and points (82).
On the soccer pitch, Neilson was named a first-team All-LEC in 1998, in addition to being named Rookie of the Year, after totaling ten goals and 24 points. She matched those scoring totals and was again named first-team all-conference s a senior, helping lead the Warriors to a 13-5-1 overall record and into the ECAC tournament.
At right: Three years after being inducted into the Eastern Hall of Fame, Julia Neilson will return to the Betty Tipton Room podium to accept her induction into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame.
Neilson played in 71 of a possible 72 games during her soccer career, and remains among Eastern's career leaders in goals, game-winning goals, assists and total points, ranking second in goals, game-winners and points at the conclusion of her playing career. As a senior, she was voted second-team All-New England Region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the New England Women's Intercollegiate Soccer Association, and she was selected to play in the NEWISA Senior All-Star Classic.
In softball, Neilson earned the first of three All-LEC honors during her freshman campaign. She was named a first-team outfielder after batting .393 with 48 hits, 24 runs scored and 28 total bases, leading the team in each of those categories while starting in all 41 games. She repeated as a first-team selection as a sophomore, posting team-best totals of 40 hits, 33 runs and 35 stolen bases, before being named to the second team as a junior.
Neilson earned first-team All-New England Region honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association in 1999 and 2000, and was additionally named All-New England by the New England Intercollegiate Softball Coaches' Association following her rookie season. Her 35 stolen bases as a sophomore remain the program's single-season record, as do her 93 career thefts and four stolen bases against Plymouth State April 1, 2000.
In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Neilson was an Eastern Scholar-Athlete recipient as a senior, and as a junior, became the tenth recipient of the Holly E. Zimmerman Memorial Award, which is presented to a student-athlete majoring in physical education major who exhibits the qualities of academic determination, sincerity, thoughtfulness, and industriousness.
Neilson becomes only the fourth LEC inductee representing the sport of women’s soccer and the ninth representing the sport of softball. Women’s soccer began sponsoring round-robin conference play in 1990 and added a championship tournament in 1999. Softball became an official LEC sport for round-robin competition in 1996, with a post-season tournament added in 1998.
Neilson is among the 12-member Class of 2019. In a departure from the past, each inductee will be recognized on their respective campuses during the 2019-20 academic year.
Through 2018, a total of 57 former student-athletes, coaches and administrators have gained LEC Hall of Fame induction in the first five years of the LEC Hall of Fame induction program, which began with inaugural ceremonies in 2012.
Eastern Representatives in the Little East Conference Hall of Fame
2019: Julia Neilson ’02 / Women’s Soccer-Softball
2018: Dr. C. Robert Miller / Former Head Women’s Basketball Coach
2016: Michelle Cunningham ’08 / Women’s Volleyball-Softball
2016: Bill Holowaty / Former Head Baseball Coach
2014: Robin (Gaby) Leclerc ’90/ Women’s Basketball
2013: Bob Molta / Sports Information Director
2012: *Allison Coleman ’04 / Women’s Basketball