Category Archives: Athletic Hall of Fame

Heartwarming Memories Mark Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

By Matt Liebowitz

Emotions ran high, and tears mixed with levity and laughter as the entire campus community, alumni included, gathered under the tent to pay homage to competitors of the past and induct a select group into Williston’s Athletic Hall of Fame on May 12, 2017.

Athletics Director Mark Conroy summarizes a successful Wildcat year.

Athletic Director Mark Conroy, in a brief introduction, shined a spotlight on a handful of current student athletes, including Gabby Mercier (diving), Nick Hill (cross-country), Devin DeVerry (skiing), David Fitch (swimming), and Hunter Adams (wrestling), whose accomplishments have set them apart in their Williston careers.

The first inductee in this year’s Hall of Fame group, given an introduction by Nick Hill, ’17 was Coach Alan Shaler. Shaler founded the cross-country program in 1963, and coached through 1999. Similarly, he had a 40-year track-coaching career. The Annual Shaler Invitational cross-country race is named in his honor.

Cross-country legend Al Shaler delivers a witty acceptance speech as he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“I feel very humbled and a little strange,” Shaler said in his acceptance speech. “When I was the age of the students I coached and taught, I wasn’t like them. I was regarded as a good student and a musician, but not much else. But I always thought that anyone who went out for interscholastic sports got even tired or hurt.”

Shaler praised the grit and determination necessary to excel in cross-country, a sport, unlike football or basketball, nobody “plays.”

His lighthearted speech was an endearing, often hilarious representation of the humor and ease he said he always tried to bring to practices and meets.

“The word games and play suggest big grins, a million laughs,” Shaler said. “If someone is running a cross-country race and is grinning and waving his arms around like Big Papi on a homerun trot, something is very wrong.”

Shaler told the audience he “learned early that the good cross-country coach is who can inject a little levity amidst the pain.”

To that end, he recalled his habit of making “all kind of inane comments and witty remarks” as his runners warmed up.

“I think they kids liked this,” he said. “They did this often, often at my expense.”

Following the induction of renowned football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, Saul Blain ’17 inducted David “Whitey” Felsen ’62.

In his senior year, Felsen, a soccer, basketball, and baseball player at Williston, shared the Denman award, given to the best all-around athlete. After Williston, Felsen went on to attend Haverford College, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1966, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he got his Master’s degree in 1971.

Felsen taught, coached varsity basketball, and worked as an administrator at Germantown Friends School for 16 years, and recently was involved in creating a youth basketball center near his home in North Philadelphia.

“Returning to Williston Northampton and my hometown evokes a flood of memories,” Felsen told the crowd.

He then recounted the story, at times both heartbreaking and humorous, of his childhood. His father died unexpectedly when Felsen was 10; the headmaster of Williston at the time, Phillips Stevens, visited Felsen’s mother – the family lived on Park Street – and offered him a full scholarship.

He remembered dribbling a basketball in his Park Street basement, and another incident during which he was practicing his baseball swing in the living room and accidentally smashed his mother’s favorite flower vase.

“My passion for sport was boundless, and, I have to tell you, a little bit crazy, a little bit nuts,” he said.

Felsen praised the teacher-coaches who guided him through his time at school.

As a boy growing up without a father,” he said, “their care and encouragement meant more than I can express.”

Read Felsen’s full remarks here.

The 1981 varsity football team was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame

Also inducted in the Hall of Fame were Stephen White ’77, Abigal Ouimet Katuska ’99, Colleen Hession Thom ’02, and the undefeated 1981 Varsity Football team.

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015: Katie Coffey ’04

 

Arguably one of the greatest female athletes to attend Williston Northampton, Katie Coffey excelled in three sports during her six years at the school.

Katie Coffee 2 (1)A four-time letter winner in track, Katie was the New England Champion in the 200m and a bronze medalist in the 100m in her freshman year, earning team MVP honors. At the time of her graduation, she held school records in the 100m, 200m, and 4×100 relay.

Katie earned six varsity letters in basketball and was co-captain in 2003 and 2004, earning all-League honors in 2004 and a Team MVP award.

But it was in soccer that Katie experienced the most success. A five-time MVP, Katie also earned five All-league selections, four all-State honors, and three All-New England selections. This culminated in Katie being named the first girls’ soccer All-American as well as the 2003 Massachusetts Player of the Year and All-East Region selection.

Following graduation, Katie played at Boston College (earning All-Freshman Northeast Region honors) and at Amherst College. She also played for the New England Mutiny of the Women’s Professional Soccer League.

The Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, dinner, and reception were held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Katie Coffey’s award was presented to her by Michael ’02 and Kelly ’07 Coffey.

Nominate your favorite athlete, team, or coach for the 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame here.

 

 

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015: Sue Curry Barnett

All through her long coaching career, Sue Barnett seemed to be one of those people with the amazing ability to be in multiple places at the same time. As a coach, this superpower served her well. Over her 43 years at both Northampton School for Girls and Williston Northampton (from 1967-2011), Sue coached soccer, field hockey, basketball, and softball, to name a few. At NSFG, she often coached two sports at the same time: soccer on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, and field hockey on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Screenshot 2015-05-29 16.25.00In an interview for The Bulletin in 2012, Sue said that what she had loved best about NSFG had been “the kids.”

“I coached, I ran a dorm, I had PE classes,” she said. “I’m still in touch with hundreds [of students]. I’ve seen them grow up, fail, pick themselves up again, succeed, raise families. That’s what I loved from start to finish.”

Sue currently holds the Williston Northampton record for career wins in softball with 85 (54 losses). Even after she stepped down as the head coach, Sue continued to work with the team as an assistant. Even now, she can be spotted cheering the team on from the sidelines.

The Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, dinner, and reception was held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Sue Barnett’s award was presented to her by the Rev. Mary Conant ’74.

Read Sue’s full acceptance remarks here. 

Nominate your favorite athlete, team, or coach for the 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame here.

 

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015: 1986 Girls Basketball Team

Led by Coach Ray Brown ’55 (who was inducted into the 2013 Athletic Hall of Fame) and assistant coach Chris Edler, the 1986 girls basketball team posted an 18-3 record. That was en route to capturing the school’s first New England Championship in girls basketball.

The team was led by co-captains Connie Wilson and Mindy McLain Karakula. Missy Babyak was named New England Tournament MVP and Wilson was named all-tournament team.

image003Among the players were three of the top 12 scorers in Williston Northampton girls basketball history: Holly McBurnie Kissane (#6), Babyak (#8), and Wilson (#12). The team’s average margin of victory was almost 18 points.  

In the 1986 yearbook, the team is described as an “experienced and well balanced group of athletes.”

“High scores Missy Babyak and Holly McBurnie teamed with Anne Woomer to form a strong rebounding nucleus. Chris Trinceri, Devra Weisman, and Jen Hatch anchored a bench that was useful in giving the team quality minutes throughout the season.”

The 1986 team consisted of seniors Wilson, McLain Karakula, Trinceri, Weisman Kingman and Lisa Watroba DeVoie; juniors Woomer Bartoszuk, Babyak, McBurnie Kissane, and Penny Duda; and sophomores Jennifer Hatch Gubbins and Sue Colina.

The girls basketball team award will be accepted by Connie Wilson ’86.

The Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, dinner, and reception will be held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Register to attend here.

Nominate your favorite athlete or team for the 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame here.

 

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015: Roger Walaszek ’65

 

Roger Walaszek was such a strong athlete, that when varsity basketball and baseball were not enough of a challenge, he added varsity soccer to the mix. That was while earning academic marks high enough to put him in the Cum Laude Society, too.

Although he only spent two years at Williston Academy, Roger was elected both captain and MVP of the basketball team as a senior, earning All-New England honors. At graduation, Roger was awarded the Denman Cup.

He would continue his basketball career at Columbia University, where he played first on the freshman team, and then for three years at the varsity level. Roger earned All-Ivy League status in his sophomore and junior years and Honorable Mention All-American status as a senior.

Featuring such future NBA stars as Jim McMillan, Dave Newmark, and Heyward Dotson, Roger’s Columbia team was ranked as high as seventh in the nation. Roger was drafted by the NY Knicks of the NBA and the New York Nets of the ABA in 1969, but opted to attend law school instead, and earned his JD from Columbia School of Law in 1973.

Roger Walaszek 6 (1)In 2006, Roger was voted into the New England Hall of Fame, along with another Williston Academy alumnus (Ray Brown ’55). Both of Roger’s daughters, Emily and Rebecca, also attended Williston Northampton School.

The Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, dinner, and reception was held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Roger Walaszek’s award was presented to him by Rick Francis.

Nominate your favorite athlete, team, or coach for the 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame here.

 

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015: Jim Edwards ’65

During his two years at Williston Academy, Jim Edwards was a 12x All-American swimmer in six different events (50, 100, 200, 400 free, 200 relay and 400 relay) while setting 10 national records.

Screenshot 2015-06-03 10.51.20“Without a doubt, the most outstanding member of the team was Jim Edwards,” the yearbook noted at the end of his senior year. “During the season, he bettered his own national mark of 1964 in the 200-yard free-style by one second, turning in a 1:47.3.”

The yearbook went on to describe how Jim had “smashed” the national mark in the 100 free by .5 second, and took on Olympian Don Schollander during a competition between Williston and the Yale freshman.

“Schollander, who later said it would take ‘two months to recover from that one,’ swam a 0:47.5 to Jim’s 0.47.6,” The Log noted.

IMG_0557 (2)Twice voted New Hampshire Male Athletic of the Year, Jim appeared in Sports Illustrated, competed in the 1964 US Olympic Trials (missing the squad by 0.1 sec), and was a member of the AAU squad that competed in Germany in 1966, an event in which he finished third in the 100 Free and second in the 400 Medley Relay.

While at the University of North Carolina, Jim set American records in the 110 free and the 4×220 relay, and a world record as the anchor of the 440-yard free relay.

The Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, dinner, and reception were held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Jim Edward’s award was presented to him by Kevin Hoben ’65.

Nominate your favorite athlete, team, or coach for the 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame here.

 

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015: Harlow “Chip” Ide, Jr. ’55

 

A three-sport athlete at Williston Academy, Harlow “Chip” Ide used his speed and competitive nature to excel on the gridiron, in the pool, and on the track.

Chip Ide 2 (1)An All-American swimmer in the 50 Free, Chip helped set national prep school records in the medley relay, 200 free relay and 400 free relay. In 1954, he was a member of the 400 free relay team that placed fourth at the AAU National Championships.

The depth and extent of his accomplishments can perhaps be best summed up by a newspaper’s breathless account of Mr. Ide. The Williston Academy team had just win their third-straight title at the 18th annual Trinity College preparatory schools meet and the news was describing the team as the “Bay State Powerhouse.”

“Ide, who already gained considerable fame on the football field and is a fine track performer in addition to his swimming brilliance,” the story noted, “won the 50-yard sprint and did a sizzling anchor lap as Williston took the 200-yeard freestyle in 1:36.9 which was both a meet and Trinity pool record.”

After his senior year at Williams College, he was presented with the Richardson Medal for the best swimmer. On the Williams football team, he averaged over 8.1 yards per carry, played in the 1959 All-America Bowl, and was honored with the Brooks Memorial Medal, given to the best small college halfback in the East.Chip Ide 1 (1)

The Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, dinner, and reception was held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Chip Ide’s award was presented to him by Joel Schiavone ’54.

Nominate your favorite athlete, team, or coach for the 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame here.

 

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015: 1992 Boys Golf Team

The 1992 boys golf team started a mini-dynasty at Williston Northampton by going 15-1 under the leadership of longtime faculty member Bob Blanchette.

That year, the team had wins over Loomis Chaffee, Northfield Mount Hermon, the Williams College junior varsity team, Deerfield, Choate, and Suffield.

image004With captains Jeff Brunelle ’92 and John Swierzewski ‘92, the team won the prestigious Kingswood Invitational Tournament (the New England championship) with an impressive score of 407. Jeff Brunelle led the way by medaling with a 74.

“The Golf Team enjoyed its most successful season ever,” proclaimed the 1992 yearbook. “John fixed a 72 at the Loomis course, while Jeff sparkled at Williams College with a 2 under par 69.”

Following graduation, the team travelled south to take on top prep schools in the Eastern Seaboard Championships, where they took home the title in the 3-Man Division with a final score of 475.

Team members included seniors Brunelle, Swierzewski, junior Greg Knight, and sophomores Paul Burns, Chris Shields and Aaron Uschmann.

On June 6, at the official Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the boys golf team award will be accepted by Jeff Brunelle ’92.

The Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, dinner, and reception will be held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Register to attend here.

Nominate your favorite athlete, team, or coach for the 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame here.

 

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015: Anthony “Tony” Lavelli ’45

A phenomenal athlete with a love of music, Tony Lavelli came to Williston Academy as a post-graduate. He was elected captain of the varsity basketball team and led the team to a 14-0 record, scoring 307 points out of the team’s 672  total, before moving to tennis in the spring.

Tony Lavelli
Tony Lavelli

At the end of the year, Coach Lash toldThe Log that it had been “probably the greatest team in Williston’s basketball history.”

“This can be attributed to several factors,” the yearbook went on, “accurate shooting, aggressive team play, smart ball handling, and especially to a certain chap by the name of Tony Lavelli. Tony’s marvelous team play and sparkling leadership helped the Lashmen tremendously as Williston produced its first undefeated basketball team in thirty-five years.”

At Yale University, Tony scored 1,970 points (a school record that stood for 35 years) and, in his senior year, led the nation in (averaging 22.4 points per game).

Tony Lavelli 11 (1)Tony was named second team All-American selection in 1946 and 1948 and a first team All-American selection in 1949. He was also named the College Player of the Year. In February 1949, Life magazine called his hook shot “the most spectacular offensive weapon in college basketball history.”

Tony was the number four overall pick of the Boston Celtics in the 1949 NBA draft. In his rookie year, he averaged 8.8 points per game; he was traded to the NY Knicks the following year.

Tony had a great love of music, so he had it written into his contracts with the Celtics and Knicks that he could play the accordion at halftime to entertain the crowds. After his first year with the Knicks, he quit the NBA to pursue a career in music at The Juilliard School. Tony then returned to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, where be was named captain of the College All-Star team and the Globetrotters musical director. Tony went on to release two albums and had a long career as a songwriter and musician.

In a March 1949 issue of Sport Life Magazine, Anthony “Tony” Lavelli ’45, who as trained as a musician, was described as having taken up basketball for relaxation—a nice break from his musical training.

“Some think that the secret of Lavelli’s prodigious scoring—he averages 20 points a game against the severest opposition—is in his hands, the hands that were trained for music,” the magazine said. “They are large, powerful hands, with tensile fingers, fingers study enough to control a basketball held at arm’s length.”

The Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, dinner, and reception was held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Tony was the Veteran’s Committee selection for the 2015 Athletic Hall of Fame. His award was presented by Jake Ross ‘16 and accepted by his sister, Ginny Lovett.

Nominate your favorite athlete or team for the 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame here.

Athletic Hall of Fame 2015 Inductees

Five outstanding athletes, two amazing teams, and one beloved coach to be inducted

They would win New England championships, set school records—and national ones—and go on to play at Yale, Columbia, Boston College, or Williams College. They would be given such titles as best small college halfback in the East, Massachusetts Player of the Year, or Eastern Seaboard Champions and would compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials, with the Harlem Globetrotters, and with the New England Mutiny.

On Saturday, June 6, these five outstanding athletes, two amazing teams, and one beloved coach will garner one more honor: as inductees to the Williston Northampton School Athletic Hall of Fame.

The fourth class of athletic superstars will include pro basketball player Anthony “Tony” Lavelli ’45; the 1986 girls basketball team; the 1992 boys golf team; pro soccer player Katie Coffey ’04; All-American swimmer and football player Harlow “Chip” Ide Jr. ’55; All-American basketball player Roger Walaszek ’65; record-setting swimmer Jim Edwards ’65; and Coach Sue Curry Barnett.

Even while they were students, the athletes earned praise from their peers. That admiration can perhaps best be summed up by a description the 1945 student yearbook of “the greatest team in Williston’s basketball history” and the special player who made that possible.

“Tony’s marvelous team play and sparkling leadership helped the Lashmen tremendously,”The Log noted, “as Williston produced its first undefeated basketball team in thirty-five years.”

The inductees were nominated by their friends, families, classmates, and teammates and then chosen by a Selection Committee.

Nominations are now being accepted for next year’s Athletic Hall of Fame here. Eligible nominees who were not chosen this year will be automatically added to the list of candidates for next year.