Courtesy Vermont Sports Hall of Fame
COLCHESTER — Olympic medalists, legendary coaches, sports pioneers, a champion boxer, a standout football player, a star hockey player and a chronicler of Vermont’s athletic scene make up the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017. The VSHOF made its announcement today at the Ross Sports Center at Saint Michael’s College.
A dozen new members, plus one member of the previous class, will be inducted at the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame Dinner and Celebration presented by Casella onSaturday, April 22, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Burlington in South Burlington. Ticket information will be available soon on www.vermontsportshall.com.
The VSHOF’s fifth induction class includes Olympic skiers Betsy Snite Riley of Norwich, Vt. and Lindy Cochran Kelley of Richmond; coaches Missy Foote of Middlebury College, Ed Markey of St. Michael’s College and Bernie Cieplicki Sr. of Burlington; the father of U.S. Nordic skiing, John Caldwell of Putney; Olympic equestrian gold medalistTad Coffin of Stratford; Burlington Free Press sportswriter Don Fillion of Shelburne; Golden Gloves champion boxer Tony Robitaille of Newport; hockey and soccer standoutGuy Gaudreau of Beebe Plain; mountain climbing pioneer Helmut Lenes of Shelburne; and legendary distance runner Clarence DeMar of South Hero, a multiple winner of the Boston Marathon. In addition, Olympic cross country skier Martha Rockwell of Putney will be honored for her selection to the hall’s fourth class. Due to a prior commitment, Rockwell could not attend the 2015 induction dinner.
Inductees were selected from a field of nominees by a voting committee consisting of previous inductees, members of the VSHOF board of directors, and advisors from all corners of Vermont. This year’s class will bring membership in the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame to 61. Full biographies of all inductees and information about the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame can be seen at its official website, http://www.vermontsportshall.com/2017class.html Proceeds from the annual VSHOF Dinner and Celebration benefit the Hall’s designated charity, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. In its first five years the VSHOF has raised over $10,000 for PCAV.
John Caldwell, Nordic skiing, Putney: Known as the “grandfather of Nordic skiing in the United States, John Caldwell represented his country in the 1952 Olympics as a cross-country skier and combined (ski & jump) Nordic competitor. After retiring from competition, Caldwell returned to his alma mater, The Putney School, as a teacher and coach. He joined the national program as the Olympic Nordic coach for the 1968, 1972, 1980 and 1984 games. He helped developed many of the U.S.’s finest Nordic competitors, including silver medalist Bill Koch (VSHOF ’12), Mike Gallagher (VSHOF ’14), Martha Rockwell (VSHOF ’15), Mary Heller, Larry Damon, Ned Gillette, Jim Galanes and his son, Tim Caldwell. In addition Caldwell is the author of “The Cross-Country Ski Book”, internationally known as the ‘bible’ of cross country skiing.
Bernie Cieplicki Sr., basketball, Burlington,: The patriarch of one of Vermont’s most celebrated basketball families, Bernie Cieplicki was a standout player at St. Michael’s College and remained in the state to make his mark as a high school and youth coach. He was a two-time captain at SMC helping the Purple Knights win the NCAA College Division New England Regional title his last two seasons. He graduated as the all-time St. Michael’s leading scorer with 1,139 points. He later coached the Rice Memorial High School boys basketball team from 1960 to 1978, winning three Class L (now D-I) state titles. He completed his Rice coaching career with 309 victories. In addition to his playing and coaching accomplishments, Cieplicki was instrumental in bringing CYO basketball to Vermont, founded the successful Burlington Summer Basketball League and served as basketball coordinator for the Burlington International Games.
Tad Coffin, equestrian, Stratford: Tad Coffin and his horse, Bally Cor became the second Vermont resident to win two gold medals in a single Olympics, duplicating the feat first achieved by skiing legend Andrea Mead Lawrence (VSHOF ’13), who won two golds in alpine skiing in the Oslo Winter Games. At Montreal in 1976, Coffin won the individual three-day mixed event, a competition that featured dressage, cross-country and jumping. The accomplishment marked the first time a U.S. rider had won the gold medal in the event. Coffin then helped the U.S. capture the team competition for the second gold medal. Coffin was the first Vermonter to capture a summer Olympic gold medal since Albert Gutterson (VSHOF ’12) in 1912.
Clarence DeMar, distance running, South Hero: Winner of the Boston Marathon a record seven times and an Olympic Bronze Medalist in the event, Clarence DeMar is this year’s Historical Pioneer Inductee. DeMar spent his teenage years running the back roads of Grand Isle and South Hero, his hometown at the time, before joining the track and field, and cross country teams at UVM as a member of the class of 1911. He went on to run the Boston Marathon 34 times, winning the premier marathon race seven times, his first in 1911 and his last in 1930. He ran in three Olympics and won bronze in the marathon at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Since 1983 a road race has been run in his honor in the Lake Champlain Islands. DeMar is the first from Grand Isle County to be inducted.
Don Fillion, media-sportswriter, Shelburne/Montgomery: Don Fillion is the first sportswriter to be inducted into the VSHOF. He spent more than 30 years covering Vermont sports from Little League to the Lake Placid Olympics, displaying a great love and passion for the state’s sports. Fillion spent most of his career as a sportswriter and sports editor for the Burlington Free Press. A champion of high school sports, Fillion was also at the forefront of expanded covering for women’s sports. Honored by multiple organizations, Fillion was also one of the founders of the Vermont Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, which monthly honored outstanding athletes in Vermont as the male and female Athletes of the Year. After retiring from the Free Press, he worked as a correspondent for the St. Albans Messenger. Fillion died in 2015.
Missy Foote, field hockey/lacrosse, Middlebury: Missy Foote spent 34 years building an impressive resume at Middlebury College as a coach and administrator before retiring in 2015. She directed the Panthers field hockey program for 21 years with a career record of 180-95-12. Her 1998 team won the NCAA D- III championship with a 17-1 record. Prior to NCAA participation, Middlebury also won two ECAC titles. In her 34 years as its women’s lacrosse coach, Middlebury reached 14 consecutive NCAA final fours, winning five titles with four perfect seasons. Her 422 career wins are second in Division III history and she ranks third among coaches in all divisions. She is a member of several sports halls of fame, including the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Guy Gaudreau, ice hockey/soccer, Beebe Plain: Guy Gaudreau was one of the most prolific Vermont high school athletes in soccer and hockey as a student at North Country Union High School before continuing his outstanding careers in both sports at Norwich University. He led NCUHS to two straight Division I state soccer titles, finishing his Falcons career with 63 goals and 36 assists, earning three all-state and two all-New England honors. In hockey, Gaudreau provided the Falcons with 118 goals, including 51 as a senior. His exploits continued at Norwich, scoring 30 goals in soccer, second best in Cadets history at that time. On the ice, he led Norwich in scoring in three of his four years, racking up 88 goals and 144 points to make him one of Norwich’s top four scorers by the time he graduated. He is the first Norwich student-athlete to be inducted into the VSHOF. He is also the father of Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League.
Lindy Cochran Kelley, Alpine skiing, Richmond: The youngest of the skiing Cochran siblings, Lindy Cochran Kelley excelled on the slopes at the college, national and Olympic levels. She won the U.S. national slalom title in 1973 and the giant slalom championship in 1976. At the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria, Cochran Kelley was the top American women’s finisher in the slalom (sixth) and giant slalom (12th). She went on to ski at the University of Vermont for three seasons and was an All-American in 1979 and 1980. In the mid-1990s, she co-developed the Ski Tots Program at the Cochran Ski Area in Richmond. All three of her children have skied for the U.S. National Team at the World Cup level. She joins her siblings Barbara (VSHOF ’13), Marilyn (VSHOF ’14) and Bobby (VSHOF ’14) in the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame.
Helmet Lenes, mountain climbing/skiing, Shelburne: Helmet Lenes is the David K. Hakins Inductee for the Class of 2017 for his contributions as a business leader in exceptional promotion and development of sports, athletics and recreation in the state of Vermont. This inductee honors Hakins, a founding member of the VSHOF, who passed away in 2013. Lenes built a reputation as a mountain guide and ski instructor in his native Austria before he moved to Vermont in 1968. Lenes also eventually established Climb High in Shelburne, a company that promoted mountain and rock climbing as well as other outdoor pursuits. Lenes built a 28-foot rock-climbing wall at Climb High and provided free usage and classes. Among his feats as a climber while living in Austria and Vermont are scaling Denali (Mount McKinley) twice, Mount Rainier, the Grant Tetons, the top of the Himalayas, Gasherbrum and the Matterhorn, and the North Face of The Eiger in a record time of one day.
Ed Markey, basketball/administrator, St. Michael’s College: Ed Markey spent close to five decades at Saint Michael’s College starting as a student-athlete and capping his career as the school’s director of athletics. He was a basketball and baseball captain as an undergrad at St. Michael’s, eventually returning as an assistant basketball coach to Doc Jacobs (VSHOF ’14). He replaced Jacobs at the helm in 1963 and through 1972, Markey compiled a 134-86 record, leading the Purple Knights to three NCAA appearances, including the 1965 Final Four. Markey also coached the baseball team for 19 seasons. He became the St. Michael’s director of athletics in 1968, replacing Jacobs, a position he held until he retired in 1997. He has received a number of honors including several coach-of-the-year awards and membership in halls of fame for St. Michael’s, New England Basketball and the Northeast 10 Conference.
Tony Robitaille, boxing, Newport: Tony Robitaille emerged as one of Vermont’s greatest boxers in the late 1970s, dominating the Vermont and New England Golden Gloves heavyweight divisions. Robitaille won four consecutive state titles, backing up each with the New England regional crown. He reached the national Golden Gloves quarterfinals in 1979 and the semifinals in 1980. He received the Rocky Marciano Award as best amateur heavyweight in New England and ranked No. 2 among amateur heavyweights nationally. Robitaille lost a disputed split-decision to eventual world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and eventually served as a sparring partner. As a student at North Country Union High School, Robitaille was a state champion in two track and field events.
Betsy Snite Riley, alpine skiing, Norwich: Betsy Snite Riley of Norwich, Vt. became the second American woman to win an Olympic alpine medal when she capture the silver in slalom in the 1960 Winter Games at Squaw Valley, Calif. A fellow Vermonter, Andrea Mead Lawrence (VSHOF ’12), earlier won two gold medals in 1952. At 16, Snite Riley defeated Lawrence for the 1955 U.S. slalom championship, and also won U.S. Easterns in the downhill and combined that year. She was named to the 1956 U.S. Olympic team but could not compete due to injury. Four years later at Squaw Valley, Snite Riley also placed fourth in the giant slalom in addition to winning the silver in slalom. She also was a member of two FIS teams and won world cup slalom events in 1958 and 1959. She died in 1984 at the age of 45.
Martha Rockwell, Nordic skiing, Putney (2005 Inductee): A pioneer in the United States in women’s cross country skiing, Martha Rockwell was a member of the first USA women’s Nordic ski team to compete at the Olympics in 1972, and made a second trip in 1976. Between 1969 and 1975 Rockwell won several national distance titles capturing 18 of 19 possible U.S. championships over that period. Twice she was voted the USA’s top Nordic competitor. She raced in the first three events offered to women, the 5K, 10K and Nordic relay, at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. She also competed at the 1976 Olympic Games. After retirement from competition, she was the women’s Nordic coach at Dartmouth for many years. Twice the winner of Ski Magazine’s U.S. Nordic Skier of the Year (1975-76), she was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Vermont Ski Museum Hall of Fame in 2005.
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