Class of 2015 is Fourth to Enter HOF; Includes 1,000-Point Scorers and Winningest Coaches in Two Sports

PHOTO: Colt Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2015MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – SUNY Orange’s Colt Athletic Hall of Fame welcomed the five-member Class of 2015 during a breakfast ceremony Saturday morning (Nov. 7) at Kuhl’s Highland House in Middletown.

The Colt Athletic Hall of Fame’s fourth induction class featured John Basalyga ’70, Sherry Morris ’89, Stacey Morris ’89, Paul Rickard and John Sileno ’66. Basalyga is the Hall of Fame’s first baseball player while this year’s quintet also represented the sports of women’s basketball, women’s soccer, softball, men’s basketball, men’s soccer and golf.

The five inductees bring the tally of Colt Athletic Hall of Fame members to 26 individuals, along with one team. The Morris sisters remain the only two 1,000-point scorers in the history of the College’s women’s basketball program. As coaches, Stacey Morris (softball) and Rickard (men’s basketball) are the winningest coaches in their respective programs, and they combined for more than 650 victories at SUNY Orange.

This year’s class also secured 13 all-region selections and two All-America recognitions (one third team and one honorable mention) while also collecting five “Coach of the Year” awards.

Photo caption:
SUNY Orange’s Colt Athletic Hall of Fame inducted five members of the Class of 2015 on Saturday morning, Nov. 7, during a ceremony at Kuhl’s Highland House in Middletown. Inductees in attendance were Paul Rickard (seated) along with Stacey Morris ’89 (back left) and Sherry Morris ’89. John Basalyga ’70 and John Sileno ’66 were also inducted before a crowd of approximately 100 guests. Rickard and Stacey Morris are the College’s winningest coaches in men’s basketball and softball, respectively. The Morris sisters remain the only two 1,000-point scorers in SUNY Orange women’s basketball history. Basalyga was the first baseball player to be enshrined since the Hall of Fame was initiated in 2012. Sileno was an honorable mention All-American in 1966. (photo by Steve Hedderton)

Class of 2015 Profiles

PHOTO: John BasalygaJohn Basalyga ’70

John Basalyga, who attended SUNY Orange from 1968-70, played baseball for the Colts in 1969 and 1970. In 1969, he led the team in batting average and slugging percentage with a .353 average and a .549 slugging percentage.

Basalyga was named to both the All-Mid Hudson Conference and all-region teams. A versatile catcher/first baseman, he was second on the team in putouts in 1969. He also served as the soccer team goalie for one season.

After SUNY Orange, Basalyga went on to study and play baseball and hockey at Bowling Green University. The Falcons’ 1972 baseball team won the program’s first-ever Mid Atlantic Conference Championship and was ranked 13th in the nation in the final Collegiate Baseball poll.

Basalyga’s first coaching stint came as the boys soccer coach at Turpin High School in Cincinnati. Over the course of 24 seasons, he compiled an impressive 325-93-58 record and led Turpin to Ohio state championships in 1986, 2000 and 2001. His teams produced 22 consecutive winning seasons and captured 15 sectional championships. Basalyga was named the Ohio State High School Coach of the Year in 2001.

For the past 12 years, Basalyga has been the soccer coach at Northern Kentucky University. He entered this Fall with a career record of 152-68-30. In 2010, he guided the Norse to the NCAA Division II National Championship, the first national championship in any sport at Northern Kentucky. In September 2013, he became the winningest coach in NKU men’s soccer history.

He helped grow the program into a perennial national contender at the Division II level before ushering the program into the Division I ranks in 2012. He has been named regional “Coach of the Year” twice, and was voted the NCAA “National Coach of the Year” in 2010 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Basalyga and his wife, Linda, reside in Cincinnati. They have three children. His daughter, Lindsay Basalyga, is the head coach of the women’s soccer team at Bowling Green State University.

Sherry Morris ’89

A 1989 graduate of SUNY Orange, Sherry Morris spent two years on the basketball, softball and soccer squads for the Colts. She was named to the all-region team in all three sports during each of her two years at the College.

In her first year on the softball diamond, Morris was named Mid Hudson Conference Softball “Most Valuable Player” in 1988. She was also a 1,000 point scorer in basketball and led the team to the national tournament in Tyler, Texas in 1989. More than 25 years after her graduation, Sherry and her sister Stacey remain the only two women’s basketball players at SUNY Orange to have scored 1,000 points in a career.

Upon graduating from SUNY Orange, Morris earned a full scholarship to Wagner College, where she played basketball and softball. She was named to the Northeast Conference Softball first team in 1990. That season, she also ranked among the nation’s leaders in triples. Her three triples against Iona on April 4, 1990, still places her among a group of players who jointly hold the Division I single-game record for triples in a game. As a pitcher, her earned run average (ERA) was a sparkling 1.98.

On the hardwood, she averaged 13.8 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game during the 1990-91 campaign. That season, she was named Northeast Conference “Player of the Week” three times and was an all-conference honoree. She set career highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds. Her 16 rebounds in a game are still listed in third place on Wagner’s single-game list, more than two decades after her departure. In her first season at Wagner, she was named to the NEC All-Newcomer Team.

A graduate of Middletown High School, Morris was a three-sport standout who lettered all four years in soccer, basketball and softball. She was a 1,000 point scorer in basketball and was named the area’s “Softball Player of the Year” in 1987. She was also voted the school’s 1987 “Female Athlete of the Year.”

Morris currently resides in McKinney, Texas, where she teaches 8th grade U.S. History. In her spare time she enjoys camping, spending time with her family and playing golf.

Stacey Morris ’89

Stacey Morris graduated from SUNY Orange in 1989 following stellar careers in softball, basketball and soccer. She was named to the all-region team for each sport during both of her years at the College.

Morris was named the Mid-Hudson Conference “Most Valuable Player” in basketball at the conclusion of the 1987-88 season, and was SUNY Orange’s female “Athlete of the Year” in 1988 and 1989. A 1,000 point scorer on the hardwood, Morris led the Colts to the national tournament in 1988-89 and was honored as a third-team NJCAA All-American. More than 25 years after her graduation, Stacey and her sister Sherry remain the only two women’s basketball players at SUNY Orange to have scored 1,000 points in a career.

Following her career at SUNY Orange, Morris carved a standout career at Wagner College, earning a full athletic scholarship to play basketball and softball.

She is considered one of the greatest dual-sport athletes in Wagner history. As a senior, Morris was one of the predominant softball players in the entire nation, leading the country in slugging percentage (.954) while ranking second nationally in batting with a robust .556 average (which remains the fifth highest single-season batting average in Division I history). She was also third nationally in home runs (10) and RBI (43). A catcher, Morris was behind the plate for all 71 games during the 1990 and 1991 campaigns.

As a senior on the hardwood, she was a First-Team All-Northeast Conference (NEC) performer while leading the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game. She was also a member of the 1990-91 NEC All-Tournament team.

Her penchant for on-field excellence continued when she returned to SUNY Orange to serve as head softball coach. In 17 years (1993-2010), she amassed more than 300 career victories and guided the Colts to 12 regional and conference championships. She was named “Coach of the Year” on three occasions. In 1994, Stacey led the Colts to the NJCAA National Tournament, where the team placed third. Morris was inducted into the Wagner College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

Hailing from an extremely athletic family, her parents Diane and George reside in nearby Montgomery. Her sister and fellow Class of 2015 inductee Sherry resides in McKinney, Texas, while her younger brother Matt spent 11 years as a Major League pitcher, toiling for much of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Paul Rickard

For the past 35 years, Paul Rickard has been a fixture at SUNY Orange as both a professor and a coach.

He has taught as a member of the mathematics faculty since 1980. He coached the men’s basketball team for 25 years (1981-82 through 2005-06), guiding the Colts to 323 wins and a handful of regional and conference championships. He retired as the golf team coach in 2014 following 32 years at the helm.

On the hardwood, Rickard’s Colts registered 19 playoff appearances in his 25 campaigns. In 2006, Rickard led the Colts to a 23-8 record, a district championship and the program’s first-ever appearance in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II National Championship Tournament. That year, he was named the NJCAA Division II “Coach of the Year” in District IX. He was tabbed Region XV “Coach of the Year” during his final season in 2005-06.

His teams won the Region XV Sportsmanship Award six times. Many of his players were named to all-conference and all-region teams, while he mentored three players who earned All-America status: Garfield Sybliss, Gordon James and Ben Bowman.

While coaching golf, Rickard guided the Colts to one Region XV championship and four Mid-Hudson Conference titles. During that time, 31 of his players earned all-region honors and advanced to the national tournament, with two placing among the Top 18 at the national event.

Many of Rickard’s basketball players have gone on to play and coach at the collegiate level, including his sons Tom and Dan. He has also served as a mentor and inspiration to many of the region’s high school coaches, having built longstanding relationships with them over the past three-plus decades.

Overall, Rickard spent 38 seasons on a basketball sideline at the college and high school levels. In addition to coaching at SUNY Orange, Rickard guided the high school programs at St. Mary’s and Pine Bush high schools. He was named New York State High School “Coach of the Year” in 1979 while at St. Mary’s. In his 38 years, he amassed 460 career victories.

PHOTO: John SilenoJohn Sileno ‘66
John Sileno, Class of 1966, was a standout men’s basketball player who spent the 1964-65 and 1965-66 seasons with the Colts.

He was named the 1965 Region XV Tournament “Most Valuable Player” and was an honorable mention All-America selection.

Sileno teamed with current Colt Athletic Hall of Fame member David Brownbill (Class of 2014) as a formidable one-two punch for the Colts. He helped SUNY Orange to the championship game of the Region XV Tournament in 1966, where the Colts suffered a 102-94 overtime defeat at the hands of Wesley Junior College in Dover, Del.

Despite playing just nine games in his first season, Sileno was named an honorable mention all-conference selection. That season, he averaged 27.8 points per game, 17.2 rebounds per game and 10.2 assists per game. He led Region XV in assists as the Colts forged an 8-16 record. He scored 37 points against Queensboro on Feb. 21, 1965.

In 1965-66, he appeared in 30 games and was second, behind Brownbill, on the team in scoring at 20.9 ppg. He led the team in rebounding with 11.8 rpg. For his career, Sileno scored 902 points (in 39 games), averaging 22.6 ppg.

Sileno transferred to the University of Tampa following his career at SUNY Orange. He spent two years with the Spartans’ basketball team and was named to the All-Florida Intercollegiate Conference Team as a senior.

Sileno has been a Professional Golf Association pro since 1989. Today, he serves as head pro at Maple Leaf Country Club in Punta Gorda, Fla.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940