By Austin J. Schofield
Whitman-Hanson Regional School District hosted its first induction ceremony, celebrating the accomplishments of 11 inductees, into the newly established Athletic Hall of Fame Oct. 6, at the Pembroke Country Club.
More than 50 nominations were received, and from that, the committee chose the following student-athletes to be inducted in this first class: Dennis Lozzi (Class of 1970), Mike Frisoli (Class of 1989), Robert Clifford (Class of 1991), Shayna Micol (Class of 1996), Sean Conover (Class of 2002), Noel James (Class of 2009) and Samantha Mewis (Class of 2011). In addition, the following coaches were inducted: Bob Bancroft (Football), James Daley (Girls Basketball), and Kevin Black (Cross Country, and Track & Field). Finally, the committee also inducted Susan Moss as a contributor, for her time as a student athlete, work as a teacher and coach, and her service as Athletic Department Assistant.
According to Athletic Director Bob Rodgers, about 195 were present at the Country Club for the ceremony.
“This night is so special in so many ways. I mean, for one, we’re recognizing a lot of great athletes that have come through Whitman-Hanson – many of them, I had an opportunity to see them perform,” said David Floeck, the assistant principal and girls’ soccer coach. “It’s just a great event for the community.”
His excitement was mirrored by that of the group in attendance; many friends were reunited, many mentor-mentee relationships rekindled, and the energy surrounding Panther Nation was felt.
“This is panther nation,” said Moss. “You are looking at Panther Nation.”
Inductions started with coaches.
“He could affect positive change in all areas of sports at Whitman Hanson Regional,” a colleague said while speaking on the career of James Daley, who excelled in his career as the freshman girls’ basketball Ccoach, boasting 509 wins upon his retirement. Notably, his career also included founding the volleyball team, and coaching JV baseball. Following this came the induction of Bob Bancroft, who led the Whitman-Hanson Panther Football team to three seperate super bowl victories.
“It was a tremendous 32 years at Whitman-Hanson… I still feel at home when I walk in there,” Bancroft said as he recalled his career at the school. The last coach to be inducted in the newly found Hall of Fame was Kevin Black, who coached boys’ cross country, indoor track, and track & field.
“These accomplishments will never duplicated. They stand alone,” Sean Clifford said On the statistics from Black’s career.
At the podium, Black summed up his career.
“Thirty-six years. Many teams. Many championships. A lifetime of memories,” he said.
Following the induction of these coaches, student athletes were inducted.
Lozzi credited to his coaches’ guidance for his success
“Head coach Bob Teahan, he was the reason I ended up at Notre Dame,” said Lozzi, who played football at Notre Dame before moving on to play professionally for two years in the World Football League. Later, he returned to Whitman-Hanson to teach for a short time.
Frisoli, a graduate of the class of 1989 played football, wrestling, and track & field during his time at Whitman-Hanson.
“Coach Reagan, he truly made me fall in love with offensive line,” Frisoli said as he recalled memories of his time playing football at Whitman-Hanson. He continued his athletic career at Tufts University, winning multiple awards during his time there.
Up next was Clifford, who played football and track & field, and is now regarded highly as one of Whitman-Hanson’s most talented athletes. “I watched my two older brothers play and I was awed by them. I saw the pride in my family,” Clifford said.
The next to be inducted was Shayna (Ross) Micol, who, as a girls’ soccer goalie, held the record for most shutouts (41) for 20 years.
“Strong hands, a great vertical jump, and unbelievable quickness – perhaps her greatests assets, however, were her decision-making and her internal desire to be the best there was,” said Glenn Ward, former W-H girls’ soccer coach. Following her career as a student athlete, her athletic career continued as she went on to play in the Women’s Professional Football League.
Conover, who, following his career at Whitman-Hanson and Bucknell University, played in the NFL for four years. While reflecting on his career as a football player, he said, “I have been able to play in some big stadiums, in front of some big crowds, but I will always remember those games under the friday night lights on O’Brien field.” Interestingly enough, he wasn’t just successful in football and basketball, but also in track & field, which he participated in for one season and ended up being the top discus thrower for the Atlantic Coast League championship.
“[This] is pretty surreal. A lot of hard work and dedication went into this,” James said prior to his induction. “I appreciate this opportunity a lot.” James played football, basketball and track & field while at W-H, receiving many recognitions and leaving behind a school high jump record of 6’11. He went further with athletics, competing at American National College and the University of Connecticut.
Following the inducted athletes & coaches that were present for the ceremony, the career and contributions of Sue Moss were celebrated.
“She was an outstanding student athlete, a tremendous coach,” Rodgers said. “An amazing teacher, and an administrator at Whtiman-Hanson as well, but the biggest thing about her is how much she wants to give back to others.”
She received a standing ovation from the crowd as she approached the podium to accept her award, which is a testament to the relationships she built within the community during her extensive career serving Whitman-Hanson.
Though a member of this class of the Athletic Hall of Fame, Samantha Mewis was not present at the event due to a scheduling conflict, though according to Rodgers, she was technically an inducted member following the conclusion of the night. Heavily decorated in awards from her high-school athletic career, Mewis is still playing soccer professionally, and is currently a starter on the United States National women’s team, who won the World Cup this past season. Due to her absence, Whitman-Hanson athletics will be celebrating her accomplishments later in the month, on Oct. 30, though scheduling is still tentative.
The Whitman-Hanson Athletic Hall of Fame is accepting new nominations for the second class of inductions, which will occur in October of 2021. Those with nominations of deserving student-athletes or coaches are asked to visit the W-H Athletics website (whathletics.com).