SUNY Adirondack inducted five members into the Timberwolves Hall of Fame this weekend.
The Hall of Fame was founded in 2013 and has inducted members each year since, through the Hall of Fame Committee who takes nominations through in person and online processes. Each year they meet and discuss the nominations before deciding who will be the newest members of the Hall of Fame.
This year they decided to elect five very deserving Timberwolves spanning the history of the athletics program and showcasing the rich depth SUNY Adirondack Athletics. This year's class included Damian Fantauzzi, Ellen Donahue Marcantonio, Stephane Legris, Jim Schreiner and Darla Belevich.
Damian Fantauzzi starred on the men's basketball team in 1965 for inaugural Hall of Famer Bob Addison. He dominated the competition and after putting up huge numbers for Coach Addison, accepted an offer to play for New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He averaged 10 points for the NAIA program and caught the attention of the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association who invited him to a try out. He would play one year of semi professional basketball before returning home to Saratoga Springs to join Saratoga Springs High School as a teacher and coach. He taught and coached for 34 years impacting many young men and women and becoming a pillar in the Saratoga Springs community.
Fantauzzi said, "coming to ACC was the best thing I ever did. It was the beginning of my beginning."
Ellen Donahue Marcantonio was the true definition of a multi sport athlete. She competed in volleyball, basketball, tennis and softball at Adirondack and would have played more sports had they been offered. Darla Belevich, her coach, athletic director and fellow Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee explained, " She was very dedicated to her sport and that was ALL of them." She excelled at Adirondack and was named Female Athlete of the Year for 1975, but she described ACC as much more than an athletics experience. She proclaimed that, " what ( she ) learned was invaluable from ACC," and in a touching moment that brought tears from Belevich and applause from the audience said, " I saw a role model that I wanted to become," describing her coach and mentor.
Belevich described Donahue Marcantonio as having "all of the elements you want to see in a player," but continued to emotionally expound that she "had the opportunity to coach her and be her friend and I am so proud."
Bob Harris, Class of 2013, introduced Jim Schreiner who never stopped smiling throught the night. "Jim was a fiery, ferocious competitor," said Coach Dave Hodgson who coached Schreiner at SUNY Adirondack. Bob Harris described the van trips and conversations with Jim as some of the best moments of his career, with the ski's on top of the van and the skiiers piled into the vehicle for a trip up the mountain. He "truly is a champion," said Harris, and that describes Schreiner perfectly. He is one of the best pure athletes to ever come through the doors of ACC. His accolades include being inducted into the Kayaking Hall of Fame, being the 15 Kilometer NJCAA National Champion and being named Male Athlete of the Year for Adirondack in 1985, but the most impressive feat may the one that no one knows about. Schreiner competed for a spot on the United States Olympic Team in the mid 1980's and came within .02 seconds of making the trip to Calgary to represent his country.
Darla Belevich is no stranger to the community as she was the director of athletics for nearly 4 decades from 1974 to 2013 and now she will be honored amongst many of those she precided over as director in the Hall of Fame. Ben Davis, Class of 2016, introduced her and their close friendship was evident from the aura of love and respect from the beginning. Belevich created a familial atmosphere at Adirondack during her tenure and it was evident from the relationships she was able to build. Davis described his "sisterly love" for Belevich and she described him as his "brother from another mother," before thanking her family and many friends and former student-athletes that had come to the event to honor Coach Belevich. She produced 628 career wins, most ever for SUNY Adirondack, but you wouldn't have known she had ever won a game if it was up to her. Her humility and grace flowed through the room as she gave credit to her student-athletes, who she remembered by name from decades ago, at every turn.
"We just want to bring out the best in our student-athletes," she said, which is the perfect description of her career. At one point she brought a former student-athlete, Tina, to the podium and showcased her uncanny ability to remember statistics, dates and scores from years prior. The only thing more impressive than that is the fact that even on a day set aside to honor her career and put her in the spotlight, Belevich found a way to lift up a former student-athlete.
The final inductee was Stephane Legris, who is the youngest member of the Class of 2018. He played tennis for Coach Pat LaHaise in 2013, when he was named Male Athlete of the Year after dominating Region III Tennis. Legris was a very motivated athlete. He is the son of a professional athlete and that pushed him to be great, not good. At a young age he decided to pursue tennis and to do so with everything he had. "I'm going to play tennis, that's what I'm going to go after," said Legris. His confidence was his most invaluable asset as the stories of his bravado brought laughter from the crowd. For instance, he often played matches in sweat pants. When asked why, he replied simply that it wasn't worth taking them off for how quickly he was going to win the match. He also refused to practice against anyone, but the best player on the team and did so for the duratin of the season. This developed his skills to the point that he reached his ultimate goals, which were to be Region III Singles Champion and to play at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. ACC "taught me how to win and how to battle back from a loss."
Congratulations to our five newest inductees into the Timberwolves Hall of Fame!
Special thanks to the SUNY Adirondack Foundation, Roger Eagan, Jason Enser, Dan Dennett, Christine Merrill, Jonathan Sisk, Jill Vogel and Julie Clark.