Alumni recognize iconic leaders of AU athletics
Former student-athletes and administrators are excited about the improvements that have been made to the AU athletic facilities — the installation of new turf and construction of a new grandstand and press box at Merrill Field — as well as the prospects for further enhancements outlined in the Score One for AU proposal.
For several alumni who played for the late Alex Yunevich, the renaming of the Merrill Field in the iconic football coach is appropriate. The same can be said regarding a proposed new softball field that will be named in honor of Doris Harrington, a former physical education department chair who helped usher women’s sports into AU in the 1970s.
Bob Codispoti ’66, who played for Yunevich from 1962-65 and later coached for the Saxons, spoke of the link between his former coach and mentor and the University that still exists today.
“My association with Coach Yunevich at Alfred would last until he retired in 1976. I was privileged to play football four years and be an assistant coach for 11 years,” Codispoti remarked. “Even today, for many individuals, the words Alfred University, Alex Yunevich, and football tradition are synonymous and always come together in the same sentence or conversation.”
Bob Friend ’69, who played under Yunevich four seasons (1965-68), agrees, and says it’s fitting that the field where the former coach forged a legend will now bear his name.
“Alex Yunevich is a one-of-a-kind coach who gave his all and his heart to Alfred. I smile when I think of him, as all of us who knew him probably do,” Friend said. “Coaching 36 years at AU is a standard for all to see. No honor could be more fitting.
Harrington was appointed chairperson of the AU physical education department in 1969, at a time when the women’s varsity teams that exist today had yet to be formed. In 1972, federal Title IX legislation was approved and AU expanded its athletic offerings to include more women’s teams. Harrington — along with former athletic directors Paul Powers and Gene Castrovillo — were at the forefront of those efforts.
Linda Castrovillo, former physical education instructor at AU and wife of Gene Castrovillo, said it’s appropriate the University is planning to name a new softball field after Harrington.
“I believe that naming the softball field in Doris’ honor would be a tribute she has definitely earned,” Linda Castrovillo commented. “It is earned not merely due to her efforts to help promote women’s intercollegiate athletics at Alfred, but more so due to her overall contribution to women on the (AU) campus.”
It’s important AU develop and maintain a solid sports and recreation program Castrovillo said, pointing to the significant role participation in athletics can play in a student’s success
“Being in physical education and dance all my life, and married to a former Alfred University Athletic Director and Head Athletic Trainer, life has never existed without athletics and physical activity on some level,” she said. “Both Gene and I feel that life’s real lessons are learned through some type of physical activity and sports’ experiences. The university should always continue the development of the total being by promoting the mind, body, and spirit experiences that can only be gained through the physical movement of the body as an individual or a team member. “
Carolyn Clark ’90, a former women’s soccer star at Alfred and a 2006 inductee into the AU Athletic Hall of Fame, agrees.
“Through my ability on the soccer field, Alfred afforded me the opportunity to get a first class education,” Clark said. “I always knew I wanted to play soccer in college, what I didn’t expect was how much it helped me s a student. By competing and succeeding at that level, I gained confidence in my ability as an athlete and that translated to my success as a professional.”
Adds Friend, “Playing football at Alfred is a great lifetime memory. I was the genesis in building many. Many friendships that continue today. Without playing football, I doubt that I would have the same appreciation for AU that I have today. It reinforced the benefits and values of working together in a team atmosphere, the excitement of competition, and the pride of winning — all of which I carry with me today.”