All-Around Game Leads Bruno to Hall of Fame
Jan. 20, 2011
(Fifth in a series of stories running Sunday through Friday portraying the six inductees going into the DePaul Hall of Fame)
The mark of greatness in women's softball isn't stamped just on players who hit home runs or strike out the side.
Certainly, the personal accolades are rewarding. But it is the overall performance that is the most valuable contribution to a winning program.
For the DePaul University softball team in the early 1990s, Jenny Bruno encompassed what all-around performance means to a team---and she started as soon as her spikes dug into the field.
As a freshman, Bruno led the Blue Demons with 129 assists while maintaining a .316 batting average -- third highest on the team. She would finish her career at shortstop with 385 career assists, which was among the top marks all-time in DePaul softball history.
Growing up in Glenwood, Ill., Bruno knew she wanted to continue playing softball after starring at Bloom and selected DePaul as her field of dreams.
"I chose DePaul because it was close to my family," Bruno said. "Not to mention it was a great family atmosphere [on campus], and especially for the academics."
By the time Jenny was a senior, she helped lead her team to a 42-17 record which earned the Blue Demons their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament.
A constant threat on offense while compiling assists on defense, Bruno was also known for her toughness on the field.
"I will never forget when Jen dove for a ball and injured her arm," said 2010 Hall of Fame inductee Missy Nowak of her former teammate and roommate. "Her next at-bat, she hit a home run. After a night of agonizing pain, she went in to see the doctor only to find out she had actually broken her arm."
In another display of toughness, Bruno once broke her jaw while sliding into third base. She returned after a week wearing a homemade helmet to protect her face.
"We had lots of fun with her and her helmet," Nowak said. "She was unstoppable and is very deserving of the Hall."
Bruno won't forget her funniest moment on the Lincoln Park campus.
"Having my wrists and ankles wrapped in athletic tape and an Eddie Munster widow's peak applied to my forehead with eye black---courtesy of the juniors and seniors on the team," she said.
Bruno earned All-Mideast Region First Team honors as a senior in 1994 and was named
to the Mid-Continent Conference All-Tournament Team. She is tied for fifth in RBIs for a season (50 in 1994), and her .404 batting average as a senior helped the Blue Demons qualify for that first NCAA tournament.
When she graduated, Bruno was second all-time in runs, RBIs and assists, third in triples, fourth in hits and doubles.
She continued to play softball after graduation and also competed in triathlons---finishing in the top 10 of her age bracket between 1999 and 2002 while also qualifying for the International Championship in Europe.
When asked to define what the word "team" meant to her, Bruno, replied: "Accountability in the need to do your part, but also to help others realize their strengths and accountabilities."
She has lived up to that definition in her work life. Bruno is a certified personal trainer at her business, JB Fitness, and an aspiring fitness model. She is also a Director of Operations for ABSI, a systems integrator focusing on internet and intranet applications.
"It's a tremendous honor," Bruno said of her induction into the DePaul Hall of Fame Jan. 23 at McGrath Arena. "It will always feel important to me, and I'm glad to still be a part of this DePaul family and legacy.
"Live in the moment and enjoy all that you can. Nurture friendships so that you can count on them many years after you leave DePaul. The connections you make are priceless."
So long as there is softball being played at Cacciatore Stadium, there will undoubtedly be future Hall of Fame inductees from coach Eugene Lenti's elite program.
And if those athletes have the heart and determination of Jenny Bruno, the Blue Demons will maintain their status among the top softball programs in the country.
Friday: Joni Phillips, Dr. Robert Hamilton Special Service Award