Courtesy Vermont Sports Hall of Fame
SOUTH BURLINGTON — Outstanding multi-sport athletes, Olympic Nordic skiers, a legendary stock car driver and renowned coaches are among the newest members of the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. The 11 inductees and two special award recipients will join three previous classes at the 2015 Vermont Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Celebration presented by Casella at the Doubletree by Hilton Burlington on Williston Road in South Burlington on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015.
Selected by a statewide committee of nearly 50 voters, the class includes Olympic Nordic skiers Martha Rockwell and Laura Wilson Todd, stock car driver Bobby Dragon, hockey/baseball standout Kirk McCaskill, multi-sport star and legendary coach Jack Leggett, stellar soccer players Shelley Addison Smith and Carl Christensen, basketball star Jim McCaffrey, and coaching legends Mona Garone, Tom Lawson and Bev Osterberg.
Joining these 11 inductees will be amateur boxing promoter Ernie Farrar and outdoorsman Fred Harris. Farrar will be the David K. Hakins Award inductee for his long-time work with Vermont Golden Gloves. Harris is the VSHOF’s Historical Pioneer Inductee for his development of winter sports including creating the famed Brattleboro Harris-Hill Ski Jump and the Dartmouth Outing Club. Their selections were announced last month.
Ticket information for the fourth annual dinner will be announced soon and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Hall’s designated charity, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. For more information, log on to the official website of the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame at: www.vermontsportshall.com
Introducing the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of ’15:
Shelley Addison Smith, Shaftsbury, Athlete/Coach (soccer): A standout player for Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington and the University of Vermont, Smith is currently the head coach of the University of South Carolina women’s soccer program. She led Mount Anthony to two state championships and was a three-time all-state players and two-time NSCAA All-American with the Patriots. At UVM, Smith earned two all-New England and three North Atlantic Conference first-team citations. She played professionally before becoming the head coach at Rhode Island, where she was the New England Coach of the Year, before moving to South Carolina in 2001. She has led the Gamecocks to two SEC titles and seven trips to the NCAAs including the national quarterfinals in 2014.
Carl Christenson, Essex Junction (soccer): Christenson was a star player for the Essex High School soccer team and kicked extra-points for the Hornets football team. At the University of Vermont, he was a four-year starter as a back/defender and helped the Catamounts capture two Yankee Conference championships. His UVM teams also went to the NCAAs in 1975 and 1977. He was a three-time all-Yankee Conference first team choice and three-time all-New England selection. He was the first Vermonter to play professionally in the North American Soccer League, the highest U.S. pro league. Sports Illustrated ranked him 28th in a 1999 Top 50 Sports Figures from Vermont.
Bobby Dragon, Milton (stock car racing): A member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Dragon had a tremendous successful career on Vermont tracks as well as throughout the Northeast and in Canada. He won more races than anyone at Catamount Stadium, winning four track championships and numerous major events there. He also won three track championships at Thunder Road (Barre), two at Devil’s Bowl (West Haven) and one at Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh N.Y.) as well as three at Sanair (St-Pie, Quebec). Among his other accomplishments were three Vermont state championships and three Northern NASCAR Late Model Sportman Tour championships.
Mona Garone, Bradford, Contributor/coach: Garone was one of three Vermont high school girls basketball coaches to win over 500 games in her career at Bradford Academy and Oxbow High School. Her teams captured 15 league championships and 10 state titles. She directed her players to 31 final four appearances and 18 championship game appearances. Garone received multiple state and national basketball awards. She also coached the field hockey team at Oxbow, winning a Division III title plus sharing a Division II crown. She has been named to the Lyndon State, Vermont Basketball Coaches Association, Vermont Principal’s and the New England Basketball Halls of Fame. The Vermont State Athletic Directors Association honored Garone with its Vermont State Award of Merit for her many years as Oxbow’s athletic director.
Thomas (Tom) Lawson, Proctor/Middlebury, Contributor: coach/administrator: In his six years as the head coach of the Proctor High School boys soccer team, Lawson directed the Phantoms to six Marble Valley League title and four state championships. The Phantoms won 52 consecutive games. He also coached Proctor to three boys basketball state titles. He moved to Middlebury College in 1969, where he coached several sports and later became the school’s director of athletics. He had a 48-26-8 record in eight years coaching men’s soccer, including a 20-1-1 mark for the 1972-73 seasons. In basketball he had a 107-81 record in eight seasons including a then-school record 17-8 mark in 1974-75. As the school’s AD, he oversaw a tremendous growth in opportunities for women as well as the development of several state-of-the-art athletic facilities.
Jack Leggett, South Burlington, Athlete (multi-sport)/Coach (baseball): Leggett was one of South Burlington High School’s all-time all-around athletes, excelling at baseball, basketball and football, earning all-state honors in each sport, and helped the Rebels win back-to-back state championships in baseball and football. At the University of Maine, Leggett was a two-time All-Yankee Conference in football as a defensive back/place kicker and earned two All-Yankee Conference baseball citations as a second baseman. He was on the 1976 Maine team that finished fourth in the NCAA College World Series. Leggett became UVM’s baseball coach at age 23 before moving on to Western Carolina and Clemson of the ACC. His all-time record of 1322-770 (.665) puts him 16th in NCAA history in career wins. Overall his college teams made 26 NCAA appearances with six trips to Omaha. He was named to the ABCA Hall of Fame in 2014.
Jim McCaffrey, Rutland, Basketball: A record setting scorer in high school and college, McCaffery once scored 55 points in a game for Rutland High School, a total that still stands as fifth on Vermont boys basketball history. He scored 1,111 points in two years at Rutland. He began his collegiate career at St. Michael’s College, leading the Purple Knights in scoring as a freshman (12.9 ppg) and as a sophomore (21.0). McCaffrey transferred to Division I Holy Cross, leading the Crusaders in scoring as a junior (21.6) and a senior (22.8), ranking him 10th on the school’s single-season scoring list. He was twice named first-team all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at Holy Cross and he was the 1986 MAAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player as a senior. The Phoenix Suns selected him in the sixth round of the 1986 NBA Draft. He is a member of the Holy Cross and New England Basketball Halls of Fame.
Kirk McCaskill, University of Vermont, Baseball/Hockey: McCaskill was one of UVM’s finest two-sport athletes, in ice hockey and baseball, going on to play professionally in both. He was an All-American on the ice and an All-East baseball player. Drafted by the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets and the California Angels in baseball, McCaskill was a Hobey Baker finalist in 1982, and scored 83 goals and 144 points for the hockey Catamounts, at the time putting him 10th on UVM’s all-time scoring list. A top pitcher and strong hitter for Vermont, McCaskill was California’s fourth round selection went on to pitch 11 years in the majors with the Angels and the Chicago White Sox, winning 106 games including 17 in 1986 and 15 in 1989, while striking out 1,003. He twice pitched in the postseason, for the Angels in 1986 and the White Sox in 1992. He is a member of the UVM and Canadian Baseball Halls of Fame.
Bev Osterberg, Williamstown/Stowe, Contributor/coach: Osterberg is one of five high school coaches nationwide to accumulate 500 victories in field hockey. She led Stowe High School to 16 state championships in her 44 years with only one losing season. The Raiders field hockey field in Stowe bears her name. She also was Stowe’s girl’s basketball coach for 34 seasons winning 346 games and two state titles. She was also a standout athlete at Williamstown High School and Castleton State College. She has been named to the Vermont Principals Association, New England Women’s Sports and Castleton Halls of Fame.
Martha Rockwell, Putney, Nordic skiing: Rockwell was a pioneer as a member of the first U.S. Olympic women’s Nordic ski team at the 1972 Winter Games. She competed in all three events offered to women, the 5- and 10-kilometer individual and the relay. She returned to the Olympics in 1976. In 1973, she won her first international race in Italy. A year later, she posted an American-best 10th in a women’s FIS race a year later. In 1975, she wound up 10th overall in the World Cup standings. Between 1969 and 1975, Rockwell won several national distance titles, capturing 18 of 19 events, and twice was named USA’s top Nordic competitor. She is a member of the U.S. Ski and Vermont Ski Museum Halls of Fame. Due to a previously scheduled commitment on Nov. 14, Rockwell will be formally inducted at a later date.
Laura Wilson Todd, Montpelier, Nordic skiing: Wilson ranks as one of UVM’s all-time Nordic skiers and a two-time Olympian. She was the first skier, male or female, to win four NCAA individual championships and twice earned first-team All-American honors. A member of the UVM Athletic Hall of Fame, Wilson was named the female Skier of the Year by Ski Racing Magazine. She later won five U.S. Senior National championships and represented the United States in the Winter Games in 1994 and 1998, including skiing in five events at Nagano in 1998. Sports Illustrated selected Wilson 18th in its list of the Top 50 Vermont athletes of the 20th Century in 1999.