New Athletics Hall of Fame Inducts First Members
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – More than 350 alumni, administrators, coaches, student-athletes, trustees, and friends of athletics gathered on January 24 in Nelson Recreation Center for the opening celebration of the Middlebury Athletics Hall of Fame.
“Tonight we honor five extraordinary alumni athletes,” said President Ron Liebowitz in his welcoming remarks. “These individuals represent the highest levels of athletic performance and the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, dedication, and service. Their stories and accomplishments, memorialized in our Hall of Fame, will inspire Middlebury students across the generations.”
The history of athletics at Middlebury is filled with All Americans, championship teams, noble Olympians, inspirational coaches, and record-setters galore. So when the College decided to form a Middlebury Athletics Hall of Fame, the composition of the inaugural group was a complex task. The first class of inductees needed to contain both women and men; a variety of sports had to be chosen; and the inductees had to represent the recent and distant past.
|Hall of Fame Inductees|
Middlebury’s selection of its charter members was met with great enthusiasm by the audience at last Saturday’s historic induction ceremony. The charter group comprised three men and two women covering a span of nine decades in eight different sports.
The honorees were: Heidi Howard Allen ’99 for field hockey and lacrosse; John Bower ’63 for Nordic skiing; Ray Fisher, Class of 1910, for baseball, football, and track & field; Phil Latreille ’61 for ice hockey; and Dorcas DenHartog Wonsavage ’87 for Nordic skiing and cross country.
Heidi Howard Allen ’99 was introduced by Missy Foote, the associate director of athletics who was her coach in both field hockey and lacrosse. Foote said Allen was not the fastest, strongest, quickest, or most powerful player on her teams, but it was her savvy play, selflessness, and determination that led her teams to five NCAA final fours – including two national championships in lacrosse and one in field hockey.
John Bower ’63 was introduced by Mike Schoenfeld ’73, the senior vice president of advancement who was coached by Bower in the 1970s. The first Middlebury Nordic skier to win a national title, Bower competed in both the 1964 and 1968 Winter Olympics. Schoenfeld said Bower stunned the skiing world in 1968 when he became the first American to win the famed King’s Cup of Norway in the Nordic-combined event.
Ray Fisher, Class of 1910, was represented by his grandson, John Leidy, and introduced by baseball historian Karl Lindholm ’67, dean and assistant professor emeritus. Lindholm called the Middlebury native “the most accomplished athlete to come from Addison County,” and detailed Fisher’s three-sport career at Middlebury, his 10 seasons as a pitcher in major league baseball, and his 30 years as head baseball coach at University of Michigan, where he compiled a 661-294 record and won a national championship in 1953.
Phil Latreille ’61 was introduced by Bill Beaney, the men’s hockey coach, who pointed to Latreille’s scoring records – 250 goals in his college career, 80 goals in a season, and 10 goals in a game – and called him “the most prolific goal scorer in the history of college hockey.” Middlebury became a national power in college hockey, the decorated coach explained, and Latreille “changed college hockey forever” because opposing coaches had to develop ways to defend against aggressive, tenacious forwards with a booming slap shot like Latreille’s.
Dorcas DenHartog Wonsavage ’87 was introduced by Terry Aldrich, the assistant director emeritus of athletics who coached her in both cross country and Nordic skiing. Aldrich said Wonsavage ran “the most amazing race I have ever witnessed” when, at the 1985 NCAA championship race in Georgia, she won the event by 36 seconds. “When she crossed the finish line,” Aldrich recalled, “no one else was in sight.” Equally successful at Nordic skiing, she competed for the United States in three Winter Olympics.
Each of the inductees spoke for five to 10 minutes recalling the coaches, staff, and family members who supported their efforts on the field of play. The College presented each honoree with an engraved pewter plate marking the occasion, and a photo and biography of each now hangs on the Hall of Fame wall in the lobby of Peterson Family Athletics Center.
The induction ceremony will now become an annual event in November on the College calendar, and up to 10 more athletes, coaches, staff, or administrators can be inducted each year. The Hall of Fame charter, which explains the candidacy, nomination, and selection process, requires that each Hall of Fame class through the year 2024 must include at least one pre-NESCAC (pre-1971) inductee.
Reporting by Robert Keren; Photos by Todd Balfour and Yeager “Teddy” Anderson ’13.5