Benefits, memories from sports linger a lifetime

valerie thompson

As the University’s 175th anniversary drew near, there was a discussion amongst the Communications Office staff about the importance of sports at AU. In an effort to pinpoint just how vital campus organized sports have been through the decades, we contacted a few Sports Hall of Famers to ask them how their playing years affected them as students and in the years following graduation. 

joe fasanoJoseph Fasano, AU Class of 1954, Football

“I thoroughly enjoyed my years at Alfred as a teammate of some great athletes (some have become lifelong friends) and of course being able to play for the legendary coach Alex Yunevich, who taught me some lessons in  simple logic that I have continued to use to this day. Being part of some great teams — only two losses and one tie in four years. — (one year as a member of the Freshman Team) meant a lot to me. It made me proud and the experience has afforded me many, many great memories.

“Playing football under a defensive genius and tough task master, Alex Yunevich, taught me discipline and leadership.  The rigorous training under a great coach made it easier for me to endure the tough training you get in the military, especially the USMC (U.S. Marine Corps).

“At 80 years old, after many years of participating in the major sports, I have been reduced to playing golf two-three times a week. (Is golf really a sport?)” 

Charles Schultz, AU Class of 1957, Football

“Our practices were hard, but Alex also made them fun. Playing for him helped me develop a strong worth ethic, and the friendships that I developed with my teammates have continued to this day.” 

Jack Hedlund, AU Class of 1965, Football/Track & Field

“Athletics quite literally, kept me in school, which in turn afforded me a degree leading to a career from which I recently retired.

“I enjoyed playing both sports along with the personal relationship with my teammates and coaches.

“I left AU with a degree in education (got my masters there as well) where upon I served 36 years including eight years coaching.  Had I not become an administrator after eight years of teaching, I probably would have coached much longer.  As it was, I became chairman of scholastic athletics in our district of PA, served on the state Board of Director (PIAA) for 12 years and am still the statewide rules interpreter for T&F/CC.  In that role, I serve as the referee at both our state track and cross country meets. 

“As a side note, I currently serve on the national rules committee for T&F/CC (National Federation of High Schools or NFHS) which writes rules for scholastic sports.  It is a four-year term and this is my third term non-consecutively, one of which I served as the chairman. 

“To sum up, athletics has been and continues to be a big part of my life, particularly T&F/CC.  I might add, my wife and I continue to follow Saxon Athletics and go to Homecoming annually. We enjoy tailgating and visiting with old friends, emphasis on old as you can imagine. ”

Mary Beth (Dooley) Horsington, AU Class of 1976, Swimming

“Swimming was a huge part of my wonderful experience at Alfred University. The pool was quite new the year I started at Alfred (1972) and I think that was also the first year AU had a women's swim team.  Maggie Ohara was our coach and I can't tell you how many great memories I have of Maggie and the rest of the swim team. She was definitely not a taskmaster - I practiced sporadically and enjoyed a pack-a-day smoking habit. But as I recall, we did quite well for a small school competing against the likes of Syracuse, Ithaca, and University of Rochester. This was before Title IX, but Alfred was very supportive of us. We had chartered buses taking us to dual meets and we had nice swimsuits and sweats, as I recall.

“Junior and senior year, Mike Schaeberle was our coach and things definitely got more serious. He wasn’t about to let me continue my slacker ways and he really got me whipped into shape in a hurry. He assigned George Hooper to give me individual coaching and my performance reflected it. I adored Maggie, and I will always be grateful to Coach Schaeberle for his role in my swimming career at Alfred. He was convinced that there was nothing I couldn't do, and demanded that I do it.

“My swim team experience is one of my fondest memories of Alfred, and believe me, I have MANY fond memories. The camaraderie of being part of a team representing a school I loved meant the world to me. The exceptional coaching and individualized attention I got really brought out the best in me as an athlete. It was hard work and it was often very difficult to juggle my coursework, practices, meets, and a part-time job. But it taught me the value of time management and it added a dimension to my life that I will always value.

“Thirty five years later I recall with amazing clarity the incredible feeling I’d have after a hard practice, trudging through the snow at dusk as a light snow fell. I was exhausted, spent, but that quiet village was so incredibly peaceful and lovely and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I knew this was a place and feeling that would stay with me forever, and it has.

“I work as a copywriter and editor in the marketing department at University College of Syracuse University. My work demands a huge amount of organizational skill, which does not come naturally to me. I must function as part of a creative team with designers and production coordinators, and I have to put forth my best effort in projects that can stretch on for weeks and months. Being part of an athletic team definitely helped me develop and fine-tune the skills that make it all possible: time management, endurance, performance under pressure, and above all, teamwork. My swimming career is more than a memory – it’s a life experience I draw from every day in my work.

“I was lucky to find a sport early (age 10) that I could excel at and enjoy throughout my lifetime. Unfortunately, swimming is really the only sport I was ever good at. I can’t run, always hated field sports, and never learned how to play basketball. I tried mightily to be a gymnast, but had no talent in that arena. Swimming, though, comes as naturally to me as walking. I feel completely at home and in my element in a pool. I still swim laps whenever I can at Archbold Gym at Syracuse University, and would love to join a master's swim team if I could find the time. I still keep in touch with one of my swim team buddies from freshman year, and she, too has kept up the sport. I think I'll be swimming when I'm 90, if I make it that far. It's the kind of sport you can enjoy throughout your life, and I plan to do just that.” 

Valerie (Thompson) Dobson, AU Class of 1984, Track & Field

“Track and field was my life. I wanted to go to the Olympics. I ran indoor, outdoor and summer, so it was extremely important to me to attend a University that at least had a program on the books …. I didn't mind not having a track on campus because it gave me the opportunity to travel almost every weekend.  Although, I did miss all of the Alfred fun, like Hot Dog Day.

“My experience as a member of the track team was amazing.  I enjoyed representing Alfred University, sometimes scoring the only points for the school.

“I am currently a police officer at the University of Buffalo, so being a member of the track team helped immensely. The physical agility test can be a big hurdle for a lot of people, especially females. I was well trained and actually got the job just a few months after graduating. Back then there was no gender differential for physical fitness requirements, only age. I remember having to do 44 push-ups, 76 sit-ups in a minute and the mile and a half run. It was just another workout for me.

“Since graduation I joined Bally's gym, and am still an active member.  I am a physical fitness instructor at the Central Police Academy which is where the city of Buffalo, Sheriffs,  and surrounding towns go to train.  I am currently taking Tae Kwon Do with my two daughters Courtney 14 and Michelle 17.  I chose this for them since they were not involved in sports.  Master Gorino would not let me just be a parent and sit around on my buttocks, he got me involved to. We are currently working on our blue belts.  I really enjoy it, although there are times when I wish I started when I was younger.”   

Carolyn Clark, AU Class of 1990, Soccer

carolyn clarkPlaying soccer at AU was “extremely important; it was my top priority to find a competitive program that would challenge me as an athlete. I had played one year at Alfred State College, and while the head coach lacked prior soccer experience, I was fortunate that the team consisted of a group of strong players. I was actually introduced to the Alfred University women’s program by the head men’s coach at Alfred State. He made one phone call to Pat Codispoti and I met with her the following day and learned about the University and the women’s program. I was very fortunate to receive a Presidential Grant and additional financial aid, which enabled me to transfer over the summer.

“I couldn’t have dreamed of a better experience. From the first day of pre-season to the last game—and winning the ECAC championship—the experience of playing at the collegiate level and achieving my goals as well as those of my team could not have been better.

“There are many attributes that I gained as an athlete that I’ve applied to my professional career, including leadership, confidence, drive, and organization. If you’ve ever spoken with my parents, I know they would say that I “never lacked confidence.” I feel very blessed to have excelled in sports, because it allowed me to find my way to Alfred University. The top-level education I obtained through the University has helped me to excel in my professional career, and I now lead a growing organization in the field of medical communications.

“My only participation in sports presently is with my children, Austin and Sophia. Austin definitely has the athletic ability that I had at his age, and it is just so much fun to watch. I’m hoping that he falls in love with soccer, but if not, I’ll always be his number one fan on any sideline. My daughter, Sophia, is all about dance and fashion, but I expect that she’ll soon be as active as her brother.”

glenn clintonGlenn Clinton, AU Class of 1997, Track & Field

“The opportunity to compete in T & F was tremendous as I need something other than football to occupy my need to compete.  I had recently quit playing football and enjoyed the family environment of the track team under Coach Dubriel.

“Again tremendous! Despite the small numbers of the team and apparent lack of support from the University as a whole I frequently reflect upon my time at AU running around Davis Gym for practice. When I describe the lack of support what I mean is that it felt as though the track team and the support thereof was an afterthought.  Again despite all of that we all became a family and enjoyed each other's company and the support of our coach and teammates.

“Did being a member of a sports team help you in any way in your chosen career? What track and field taught me is that despite competing as an individual the greater goal is to bring pride upon the entire team.  That can be done by helping a co-worker finish a project, completing your tasks on time and buying into the dream/vision of the entire group. Track didn’t necessarily impact my choice of careers, but did provide some fundamental building blocks that have assisted me in advancing my career.  Do you still participate in sports in any way?  Recently I have been asked by a member of my church and good friend to possibly assist the track team his son's run on.  Aside from that my schedule doesn't allow me to participate in much.  I stay in shape by running and exercising with my children and prayerfully they can fulfill some of their own athletic goals when the time comes.

Brian Striker, AU Class of 2000, Swimming

“Swimming has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember.  While looking at colleges, I only had schools with swimming programs on my initial search list.  Swimming at Alfred University was a great experience for me as we grew from a team of five or six guys my freshman year to a team that finished 15th at the NCAA Championships my senior year.  The competitive aspect of swimming is something that still excites me to this day.   Alfred was also the type of institution that allowed me to grow in all aspects of my life; athletically, academically, and socially.

“Being a part of the swim team at Alfred University was a great experience for me.  Being able to swim with my brother Todd was very important to me, as well as having the opportunity to coach my brother Brandon. I was able to meet a group of people that were very diverse in academic interests, making for a great group of lifelong friends.

“It sure did! Even before I was hired as the coach here at Alfred, I coached club and high school swimming while working in the business field.  The character traits that I gained and fostered as a competitive swimmer helped me in many ways in every aspect of my professional career.

“I try to do charity long distance bicycle rides.  I still have aspirations to get in the water and swim competitive again as well.”

Todd Striker, AU Class of 2001, Swimming

“My opportunity to swim was the deciding factor in attending Alfred University. The academic programs were indeed important, but the swimming team was the difference when considering other schools.  Being a student-athlete was an incredibly challenging endeavor.  The daily physical demands of swimming were tough, but I think it fostered many positive things.  Having pride in what you do is something that I still try to live by, and something that we strived for as a team in the pool every day.  The social aspect of being on the team is something that cannot be explained. My best friends were my teammates, and the comradery that we had was and still is something that I wouldn't trade for anything.

“Swimming changed my life.  I think about the lessons that I learned every day.  Whether it is related to my family, my friends, or work.  Not long after leaving Alfred, I started coaching. I think it's the biggest example of how important swimming was for me. If I can pass along the positive attributes I gained from swimming to them, I would be thrilled. As a team, I learned a lot about loyalty and teamwork.  Working towards a common goal builds a ton of character and integrity, it's the process of reaching the goal (and sometimes not reaching it) that makes all the difference and holding each other responsible.  These things cannot be taught, it's a living, dynamic and challenging process.

“Although I did not choose my career based on my swimming experience, I use many of the qualities that I obtained from swimming everyday in my profession.  Teamwork, attitude, pride, integrity, toughness.  All of these things are important to have a successful career anywhere you go. However, after I "go home" from my real job, I coach age group swimmers.  My goal is to somehow pass along all the positive things that I obtained from swimming, in a sense, I hope to ‘pay it forward.

“Everyday! I certainly don’t swim everyday.  But one of the most practical gifts of participating in sports is the lifelong understanding of the importance of being physically fit. I learned how to set goals and hold myself responsible for those goals.  Whether it's the weight room, a run, a bike-ride, or a swim, I like to stay active.  I don't believe I would have this attitude if I had not falling in love with the sport of swimming in high school.”

2 responses to “Benefits, memories from sports linger a lifetime”

  1. steve grossman Says:
    Playing tennis for AU put me in good stead for my stint in the Army. I played #1 singles for the 47th Inf. Regt. and was a finalist in the inter Regemental playoffs. I played #2 singles for the 9th Div and #1
    doubles all of which were in Germany. I was then sent to
    Garmisch to compete in the US European Chps where I reached the 1/4 finals losing to the #1 player from
    U of Miami. Quite a memorable experience.

    Steve Grossman '54
  2. Aman Says:
    Memories

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