Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York  


Swim Team Sophomore Takes Survival to Heart

Fordham Inducts New Athletic Hall of Fame Class

Swim Team Sophomore Takes Survival to Heart

Sophomore Danny Thrall looks forward to competing next season.
Photo by Ken Levinson

By Janet Sassi

“U Complete Me.”

One would expect that such a line on a male student’s cell phone wallpaper would be accompanied by a photo of someone near and dear; but on Danny Thrall’s phone, the line is superimposed on a photo of an artificial valve that completes his heart.

How’s that for literal translation?
It has to be daunting to have open heart surgery at age 19, but Thrall, a sophomore at Fordham College at Rose Hill, has not only survived the procedure, but is thriving, and is back in training with Fordham’s swim team.

The lean, six-foot-eight athlete came to Fordham last September, drawn by the excellent academics and the chance to compete on a Division I swim team. Before he had a chance to get his feet wet, doctors noticed that Thrall’s blood pressure was unusually high.

Tests revealed an enlarged aorta caused by a malfunctioning bicuspid valve, and verging on aneurism. Surgeons operated within weeks of the discovery.

“I always saw physical exams as kind of a pain, but obviously they do catch things,” said Thrall, who sat out last semester to recuperate. “I am definitely lucky.”

On Jan. 14, doctors cleared Thrall to join the swim team once more. Although it is nearing the end of the season, he said he is concentrating on gradually building up his strength, and looks forward to competing next season. His events are the 50 and 100-yard freestyle.

As a high school student at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Thrall was a competitive swimmer who was named to an All-America team. He finds the sport of swimming exciting and challenging, and practices every day. “It’s a me vs. me kind of thing,” he says. “I like to see how far I can take it.”

Not to miss the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see his own heart, Thrall recorded the operation on videotape, as surgeons replaced his ascending aorta with a titanium mesh, and replaced the bicuspid valve with a mechanical one.

But there are other reminders, too. Gradually, Thrall’s strength is returning to him, and his distances are improving. And at night when all is quiet, he can hear the steady tick tick tick.

The beat is stronger, and more reassuring, than ever.

Back to top

Fordham Inducts New Athletic Hall of Fame Class

By Joseph DiBari

The ranks of Fordham University’s Athletic Hall of Fame grew by eight on Jan. 25, as the Rams inducted their newest class at the annual Hall of Fame Awards Brunch at the McGinley Center on the Rose Hill campus.

The day started with a special Mass at the University Church. Hall of Famers and their guests then assembled in the McGinley Center Ballroom for the formal induction ceremony. Master of Ceremonies Michael Kay (FCRH ’82) introduced each inductee as he or she was given a Hall of Fame plaque by Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, and Executive Director of Athletics Frank McLaughlin.

Joining the likes of such Fordham notables as baseball Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch and football coaching legend Vince Lombardi were:

Joe Bernal (swimming coach)

Matt Fordyce, FCRH ’03 (football)

Charlie Gulotta, FCRH ’68 (water polo and swimming)

Daniel Iannuzzi, CBA ’81 (swimming and water polo)

Greg McClure, FCRH ’01 (rowing)

Andy Nacrelli, CBA ’55 (football)

Joe Pantginis, FCRH ’81 (track and field)

Amanda Vogel, FCRH ’99 (rowing)

“As I spoke to each of the candidates, it became apparent how special a place Fordham is to all of us, and how the Jesuit way of thinking has shaped all of our lives for the better,” said McClure, who spoke on behalf of the incoming class.

McClure went on to relay the gratitude of each of the new members to their parents, teammates, coaches and administrators.

“I would like to thank the University for its great support of club sports as well as varsity programs,” he said. “Like the others being inducted today, Fordham helped me to develop academically, athletically and spiritually.”

Father McShane then spoke to the more than 200 people in attendance, noting that the Hall ofFame induction was being held on Jan. 25, a feast day for St. Paul.

“It is fitting that we recognize the Hall of Famers on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul,” he said. “St. Paul used athletic terms in his preaching. We are all are aware of him saying, ‘I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.’”

Father McShane went on to address the newest Hall of Famers. “You are men and women who St. Paul would recognize as colleagues; men and women whose lives have been distinguished on the field; men and women who made the most of their time here; and ever since, have been great ambassadors for Fordham.”

Later that day, the new Hall of Famers were introduced to the crowd at halftime of the Fordham men’s basketball game vs. Duquesne in the Rose Hill Gym.

Members of the Fordham Athletic Hall of Fame gather at center court for a group photo after the 2009 induction ceremony.
Photo courtesy of Fordham Athletics

Back to top

Catch up on all the sports news:

Season and individual ticket information is available by calling the Fordham Ticket Office at (718) 817-4300. A complete men’s and women’s schedule can be found online at:

Back to Inside Fordham Home page

Copyright © 2009, Fordham University.

Site  | Directories
Submit Search Request