NEW PALTZ, NY — The SUNY New Paltz Department of Athletics will welcome four new members into its Hall of Fame. The class of 2005, which will be presented on May 7, covers the last three decades and will feature a track & field Olympic qualifier, the all-time leading scorer for the men’s basketball team, a two-sport athlete and a conference champion swimmer.
In 1973, Ben Fields became the first Track & Field All-American at SUNY New Paltz. He set a New York State high jump record at the SUNYAC Championship and qualified for the NCAA Championship where he went on to finish second. The following year, SUNY New Paltz dropped track & field so Fields took his talents to Seton Hall where he was a Penn Relay Champion. Following his collegiate career, Fields continued to compete in major track & field competitions around the world. He was ranked as high as fifth in the world and qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics prior to the United States’ decision to boycott the games.
Curtis “Smooth” Hammond is still the most prolific scorer in the history of the SUNY New Paltz men’s basketball program. In a three-year career, Hammond scored 2,137 points and averaged 24.5 points per contest. He is the SUNY New Paltz record-holder for points in a season with 607 and points in a single-game with 48. Hammond was the Most Valuable Player of the CACC and an ECAC Division III all-star. While at SUNY New Paltz he was honored with the Floyd Patterson award for being the top male athlete at the college.
Michael Duff was a member of the soccer and volleyball teams from 1981-84. As a soccer player, Duff was a three-time all-conference selection, the conference player of the year, a team captain and the team’s Most Valuable Player. As a volleyball player, Duff enjoyed many accolades as well. He was a part of the Hawk teams that at one point won 76 of 77 matches. In 1984 he helped lead the squad to the ECVL championship. Duff earned all-league honors in volleyball and as a junior in 1983 he was the recipient of the Floyd Paterson Award for being the top male athlete at SUNY New Paltz.
Jessica DiFabio is one of the most decorated swimmers in the history of the program. From 1995-99, DiFabio won eight SUNYAC Championships and four ECAC titles. At one time she was the holder of 16 varsity records. Along the way she established four conference records, four ECAC meet records and had four NCAA Division III qualifying marks. As a junior in 1998, she helped lead SUNY New Paltz to a second place finish at the SUNYAC Championship. To this date, its the highest finish by the Hawks at the conference championship. A four-time team MVP and three-year captain, DiFabio capped off her career by winning the Grace Mowatt Award which is given annually to the top female swimmer over a four-year period in the SUNYAC. She was also the recipient of the Heinz Ahlmeyer Award for being the top athlete at SUNY New Paltz.