Six Former Colt Athletes Highlighted; Standouts in Soccer, Hoops, Softball, Tennis and Cross Country

PHOTO: Heather Canfield pitchingMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Six former standout athletes at SUNY Orange, representing a half dozen different sports, will be inducted into the Colt Athletic Hall of Fame during ceremonies planned for 9 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 4 at Kuhl’s Highland House in Middletown.

The Class of 2017 includes Lori Beesmer ’83, Heather Canfield ’99 (right), Michelle Diener ’91, Anthony Evans ’92, Laura Gabella ’02 and George Shurter ’74. The sextet represents the sports of soccer, softball, basketball and tennis on the women’s side, along with basketball and cross country on the men’s side.

“This year we induct our sixth class into the Colt Athletic Hall of Fame, and I am again amazed by the remarkable group athletes we’ve assembled this year. The quality of this class speaks to the great athletic heritage that the College’s has enjoyed for more than six decades,” said Wayne Smith, SUNY Orange athletic director. “Laura was a national champion tennis player, while Lori and Heather were each a regional ‘Player of the Year’ and Michele was a two-sport all-star.

“Anthony was a thousand-point scorer in basketball and George led the cross country team to consecutive regional titles and national championship appearances. In addition, Lori, George and Anthony have been successful in the coaching ranks following their time at SUNY Orange.”

The induction ceremony will be part of the College’s two-day Homecoming and Reunion Weekend that kicks off with an alumni cocktail reception on Friday, Nov. 3. For more information, contact Mary Roth, director of alumni engagement for the SUNY Orange Foundation, at (845) 341-4179. Tickets for the Hall of Fame induction are $15 and can be purchased by contacting Mary Roth.

Beesmer, a star for the women’s soccer team, went on to forge stellar playing and coaching careers. As a player at SUNY Cortland, Beesmer was named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American in both 1984 and 1985. She was the 1985 SUNYAC East Division Player of the Year, and a two-time Northeast Regional Player of the Year. She was also voted by Soccer America as one of the top 11 players in the country, and nominated for the national player of the year.

During her three seasons at Cortland, she compiled 116 points (39 goals, 38 assists) to rank second on the program’s all-time scoring list, a position she retains today. Her 17 assists (in 20 games) in 1984 established the Cortland single-season record that still stands. In her three seasons, the Dragons went 45-10-8 and advanced to the NCAA Division I soccer tournament three times, including reaching the quarterfinals twice.

Beesmer later served as head coach of the Cazenovia Central High School girls’ soccer team, where her daughters excelled before moving on to standout careers at SUNY Fredonia. She was also an assistant women’s soccer coach on the collegiate levels at the United States Military Academy (Army) and SUNY Oswego.

Canfield was a standout pitcher for the Colts’ softball team. During her freshman year, she was selected to the Mid-Hudson Conference and Region XV all-star teams, and was named a Second Team All-American. As a sophomore, she posted a 16-1 record with a 1.38 earned run average over 97 innings, including a perfect game against Nassau. At the plate she hit .455 with 18 RBIs. She was named the 1999 Region XV Player of the Year and was a first team All-American while leading the Colts to the Region XV Championship and a fourth place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament.

PHOTO: Michelle Diener shootingA two-sport standout for the Colts, Diener (right) excelled in basketball and softball before continuing her education and playing career at Wagner College. As a freshman forward for the SUNY Orange basketball team, she led the Colts to a Region XV Championship and a berth in the NJCAA National Tournament. She was named to the Region XV First Team, as well as the all-tournament team, during both her freshman and sophomore campaigns. A solid offensive player on the softball diamond, Diener was selected as a Mid-Hudson Conference all-star following each of her two seasons.

At Wagner, her hoops career featured averages of 12 points and 7.9 rebounds as a junior, and 9.3 points and 6.7 rebounds as a senior.

Evans played basketball for SUNY Orange during the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons. He was the team scoring leader in both seasons and finished his career with 1,182 points. After graduating from St. Thomas Aquinas College, Evans embarked upon his coaching career with stops as an assistant at SUNY Orange and New Paltz before becoming the head coach at SUNY Ulster in 1999. During his two seasons at SUNY Ulster, he guided the Senators to a record of 23-8 and was named Region XV Coach of the Year in 2000. From there, he accepted an assistant coaching position at SUNY Delhi before being named head coach at Norfolk State in Virginia from 2007-2013.

In 2013, he was named the head coach at Florida International University where he still coaches today. Anthony’s 10-year head coaching record stands at 150-170. His record at Norfolk State was 99-91, but included a remarkable run of 47 wins against just 22 losses during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns. In 2011-12, he led the Spartans to the school’s first-ever Mid-Eastern Athletic PHOTO: Anthony EvansConference championship, an overall record of 26-10 and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans became just the fifth No. 15 seed to advance in the first round when they upset Missouri 88-86. The next season, Norfolk State was 21-12, with a perfect 16-0 record in MEAC play before earning a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. Evans was named MEAC Coach of the Year in 2013.

Gabella was a two-year tennis standout, playing both singles and doubles. She went 6-0 and 6-1 during her freshman year at #3 singles and #2 doubles, respectively. As a sophomore, she posted marks of 6-2 and 7-0 while playing at #1 singles and #1 doubles. In 2001, she was named First Team All-Region XV and helped lead the Colts to the NJCAA National Tournament where she was a finalist at #3 singles and won the national championship at #2 doubles.

In 2002, Gabella was again named to the All Region first team, and won championships at both 1st singles and 1st doubles at the NJCAA National Tournament in Arizona. A team leader, she was well respected by teammates as well as opponents. She assisted as a volunteer coach at SUNY Orange after her college playing career, and currently works as a tennis teaching professional.

Shurter ran cross country at SUNY Orange during the 1972 and 1973 seasons. He led the team to back-to-back Region XV championships and was twice named to the All-Region team. He won 10 meets in 1973, including the Mid-Hudson Conference Championship race. Shurter helped the team finish 24th and 20th at the NJCAA National meet in 1972 and 1973, respectively. Still actively involved in the local running scene, he is vice president of the Orange County Runners Club and coaches the girls’ cross country team at Middletown High School.

The primary goal of the Colt Athletic Hall of Fame is to recognize those individuals, who by outstanding achievement in athletics or service to the College, have made lasting contributions to the sports program. While athletic achievement is the primary qualifier for eligibility, the character of the nominee and their contributions to the institution and the community were also considered.

Annually, the selection committee may elect to present honorary Hall of Fame Awards to those individuals who have distinguished themselves through exemplary service and commitment to the SUNY Orange Athletic Department. The committee also reviews contributions and achievements of past SUNY Orange athletic teams and can choose to present Hall of Fame Team Awards. Athletes and administrators may be nominated for the Hall of Fame at any time throughout the year. Alumni and friends of the College may submit athletes for consideration, but athletes are also able to nominate themselves if they choose to do so.

The inductees were chosen by a nine-member selection committee that represented the following areas of the College: athletic director (Smith); administrator (Mike Albright, communications officer); faculty member (Ann Marie Boffalo, movement science professor); former coach (Gary Dross); student athlete (Renita Johnson, women’s cross country); Athletic Advisory Committee member (Anthony Scalia, academic advisor and retention specialist), alumnus (Stacey Morris, ’89/HOF ‘15); current coach (Daryl Williams ’93, golf coach) and existing Hall of Fame member (Sherry Morris, ’89/HOF ’15).

The Colt Athletic Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2012 included Charles J. Cawein ’52, Chris G. Chachis, Mary B. Diana, Glen M. McGinnis ’55, Marie A. Piccone ’63, Chris Schmid ’54, James Stanfield ’59, Art Stegen ’66, Linda Tjepkema ’76 and Gary Ventimiglia ’71. The Class of 2013 was comprised of Walter Cawein ’57, Susan Deer ’71, Lois Hayes ’79, Richard E. Morse ’58, Achilles J. “Kelly” Rossi ’53 and John Scanlan. The Class of 2014 included David Brownbill ’67, Yogi Davis ’71, Donna Frazier ’93, Bob Heins ’71, Theresa Rickard ’76 and the 1969 Cross Country Team. The Class of 2015 featured John Basalyga ’70, Sherry Morris ’89, Stacey Morris ’89, Paul Rickard and John Sileno ’66. The Class of 2016 included Frank Carrozza ’67, Matt Dillon ’87, Sam Markovits, Jack McMahon and Dana O’Neill ’91.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940