Five Inducted into Oswego Athletic Hall of Fame
The Oswego Alumni Association and college Athletics Department welcomed five to the Oswego Athletic Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony Saturday in the Sheldon Hall Ballroom.
Wrestling's Mark Bowman '83, soccer's Donna Clark-Gayne '89, ice hockey's Sean Fitzgerald '89, tennis' Richard Nelson '70, and track and field's Wally Yelverton '77 were honored.
"I specifically came up to be coached by Jim Howard," Bowman said. "In my 25 years of coaching, I had a lot of great (athletes). They were coached under a lot of the structures that he taught me."
Bowman was a three-time qualifier for the NCAA Division III Championship and a four-time SUNY Athletic Conference placewinner. In 1980, he became what is believed to be the first Oswego State freshman to receive All-America recognition in any sport while wrestling at 142 pounds. Three years later, Bowman closed out his career with a runner-up finish at the 1983 NCAA Division III Championship in the 158-pound weight class.
"Most of my life is about what he taught me," said Bowman of wrestling Coach Emeritus Jim Howard, who presented him with his Hall of Fame plaque at the ceremony.
"I feel like I've come full circle, because this is where my sports career began," Clark-Gayne said in her acceptance speech. An Oswego native, she grew up playing soccer with her seven brothers at many college facilities before becoming a star player for the Lakers.
"I learned very quickly that I'd have to play hard all the time to fit in," she said.
Clark-Gayne graduated as the premier scorer for women's soccer, holding the distinction until 1999. Clark-Gayne was the first player in program history to reach the 100-point plateau and ranks third in points (104) and goals (48). She was a two-time SUNYAC All-Western Division Team selection in 1987 and 1988, while also being named the 1988 SUNYAC Western Division Most Valuable Player. During her senior year, Clark-Gayne was a member of the squad that went 13-3-1, which is the highest single-season winning percentage in school history.
"It was awesome being a part of this team and this program from the start," she said.
Fitzgerald said he was honored to be recognized by the school that has meant so much to him in the hockey rink and beyond.
"It's given me just about everything good I have in my life," Fitzgerald said, acknowledging his wife, Laurie Onufer Fitzgerald '89, and their son.
Fitzgerald was a left winger for the Oswego State men's ice hockey team from 1985 to 1989 and was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. Fitzgerald ranks fourth on the Laker all-time scoring list with 236 points on 125 goals and 111 assists in 125 games. His best season came in 1988-89 when he was named First Team All-SUNYAC, SUNYAC Player of the Year, Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and First Team All-American. During that year, Fitzgerald also set the current NCAA Division III men's ice hockey record for power-play goals in a season (27) and career (44). He is one of 13 players in Division III history to score seven goals in a game, and ranks 11th all-time in goals scored among all Division III players.
Nelson reflected fondly on his days as a top tennis player for Oswego State, including the "gale force" winds that made playing here a challenge at times.
"I really appreciate the opportunity to play sports at Oswego," said Nelson, who retired as a magistrate in Virginia after a long career in coaching and education. "I think it helped me develop my character and had an important role in the rest of my life."
At Oswego, he posted three second-place finishes in the SUNYAC Men's Tennis Championships. He recorded more points for the team championship in a three-year span than any other player. Nelson was a team co-captain and most valuable player, and was a two-year member of the men's basketball team. As a singles player, Nelson presently ranks second in Virginia and fourth in the Mid-Atlantic Region in U.S. Tennis Association Men's 65 Tennis.
Shot putter Yelverton transferred from Iowa State University, where he earned a scholarship to play football. At Oswego, he realized his dream to become an industrial arts teacher.
Yelverton established three school records in the shot put in indoor and outdoor track and field and the 35-pound weight throw during his intercollegiate athletic career. All three records still stand today.
He solidified himself as one of the greatest throwers in Oswego State history by winning four SUNYAC indoor and outdoor as well as four New York state track and field shot put titles in 1976 and 1977, as well as the 1977 state weight throw title.
Yelverton went on to earn All-America status twice after recording seventh- and ninth-place finishes in the shot put at the NCAA Championships in 1976 and 1977, respectively. He followed his collegiate performance with a long career in education and coaching, including an 11-year stint at SUNY Binghamton.
The Oswego Alumni Association established the Hall of Fame in 2001 to honor those who have made outstanding contributions to Oswego State Athletics.
⎯ Shane M. Liebler
The Oswego Alumni Association and college Athletics Department welcomed five to the Oswego Athletic Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony Oct. 27 in the Sheldon Hall Ballroom. From left, tennis' Richard Nelson '70, soccer's Donna Clark-Gayne '89 (seated), track and field's Wally Yelverton '77, wrestling's Mark Bowman '83 (seated) and ice hockey's Sean Fitzgerald '89 were honored.
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