The SUNY New Paltz department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Wellness and Recreation inducted two teams into its Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, October 17, 2008 in the Student Union multipurpose room as part of the college’s Homecoming festivities.
The 2008 class included the 1962 men’s cross country team and the 1965 men’s soccer team.
The 1962 cross country team, led by coach Doug Sheppard, was a perfect 8-0. This marked the first time in SUNY New Paltz history a team finished a season undefeated. Members of the team included: Joe Barr, Kenny Barr, Carl Crittenden, Jerry Guldenpfeing, Bill Marinaccio, Frank Miata, Ondeiki Nyamanga, Jason Nyariki and Ed Szymanski.
Team captain Szymanski spoke about his teammates and commented on Nyariki, who they all called the “Kenyan Komet”. He said the Komet was unbeatable. But yet, Coach Sheppard told Szymanski to try his hardest to try and beat Nyariki. In the second to last meet of the year, Szymanski and Nyariki were stride for stride through the course until the final 100 yards, when Nyariki turned it into full gear and left his teammate in the dust. Szymanski and his teammates celebrated after that win, knowing they were going to be a undefeated, something no one else had done.
The 1965 men’s soccer team is one of the most accomplished teams in the history of SUNY New Paltz athletics. Led by coach Al Miller, the Hawks finished with a record of 12-1-0 and a perfect 6-0 in conference play. The team won the SUNYAC Conference title and the NCAA College Division Atlantic Coach Championship.
Members of the team included: Heinze Ahlmeyer, Keith Ashby, Allan Bell, Frank Coletta, Vince Coletta, Rob Davis, Daryl Didio, William Doon, Joe Facciolli, Cary Gluck, Gerald Hawkins, Howard Hayes, Solomon Iyasere, Richard Lotze, Gary Maasch, Robert Mountz, William Parment, Allan Pomponio, Jack Ridolph, Bryan Schmalz, Robert Spadoni, Ron Van Kampen, Eugene Ventriglia, Daniel Zipkin and assistant coach Dee Winter.
Miller was a young coach, not much older than the players on the team, and he had an idea for an off-site training camp to foster team unity. He said, ‘they came as boys and individuals to camp, but left as men and a team.’
He commented that one of the greatest games if not the greatest game he ever coached was the 4-3 come-from-behind victory over SUNYAC rival Cortland. Eugene Ventriglia scored three times in the final three minutes to tie the game before Rick Lotze won the game with a goal in overtime.
Maybe it was the training camp, or maybe it was “the hill” that made this team unstoppable but the 1965 team was a “team of destiny”. Their destiny was to win and when the Hawks stepped onto the field each time that year, they knew they had what it took to be winners.
At the conclusion of the evening, Miller presented Athletic Director Stuart Robinson with a piece of art work, to be displayed through the years. It was a piece of textile art that Dee Winter handcrafted himself for Miller, which was the Greek symbol for soccer.
After listening to the teams reminisce about their glory days as a Hawk athlete, it is evident that their success in athletics carried over into their own lives by the proof of who they each have become.