Former sports journalist and current adjunct professor Jeff Rea, class of 1971, hosted a ceremony attended by about 100 family and friends in Sheldon Hall. Honored were women’s soccer standout Melisa Verdoliva, class of 1999; former lacrosse captains Daniel Bartlett, class of 1996 and Greg Peel, class of 1994; baseball and basketball star John Wynne, class of 1966; three-letter athlete John Canale, class of 1947 and master’s class of 1950; and All-American wrestler Ralph Pizzo, class of 1971, all received plaques.
“Anyone who has ever lived at Oswego State has loved it,” said Rea, who played basketball as a student. Each inductee spoke of the personal connections they made through Laker sports during the induction.
Verdoliva called soccer her “lifeline” as a student. A current girls soccer coach in the Oswego City School District, Verdoliva said her proudest collegiate moment was her 50th career goal in her senior year after battling back from injury.
The first of two lacrosse players inducted, Bartlett said his teammates were the best people he has ever met. The former All-American said he was proud to be a part of the 1996 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship team that â€œput Laker lacrosse on the national map.”
Peel’s speech was a testimony of struggle and perseverance for someone who had “no lacrosse skills in high school.” The 1994 All-American said he developed at Oswego through hard work and dedication practicing everyday on his own before team practices. Peel also attributed his professional success as a vice president at Paychex to the time he spent at Oswego.
Wynne, the 1966 Oswego State Player of the Year, counted his pitching appearance in the Division II regional championship at Yankee Stadium as a major highlight in his collegiate career.
“Thank you all for adding another great memory to my life,” said Wynne, who was also a member of the the 1964 conference champion basketball team.
Canale was honored for his success in soccer, basketball, and baseball. He paid tribute to an Laker sports legend in his acceptance speech.
“I am here because of one person ... Max G. Ziel,” Canale said. “[I’m] proud that his plaque will be under Max Ziel’s in Laker Hall.”
Ralph Pizzo and his twin brother, Casper (class of 1971), who presented Ralph with his plaque, both spoke affectionately about their alma mater. The brothers thanked former Oswego State wrestling coach and charter member of the Oswego State Athletic Hall of Fame Jim Howard for his efforts to bring the brothers to the Oswego campus and for their experience as a student athlete at Oswego State.
PHOTO CAPTION: Laker Legends—The 2009 Oswego Athletic Hall of Fame class are, back row, from left: Daniel Bartlett, class of 1996; Greg Peel, class of 1994; and Ralph Pizzo, class of 1971. Appearing front row, from left: Melisa Verdoliva, class of 1999; John Canale, class of 1947 and master’s class of 1950; and John Wynne, class of 1966.
(Posted: Oct 29, 2009)