Seven Lakers Inducted into Athletic Hall of Fame
As children, sisters Heather Kohler Valpreda and Holly Kohler Duncan remembered hearing their father, Richard G. Kohler ’66, say that his time at Oswego State were the best years of his life.
“I was like, ‘Well, thanks, Dad!’” Heather said during the 2021 Oswego State Athletic Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on Nov. 13 in the Sheldon Hall Ballroom. “What about your daughters?! But that only goes to show what an amazing time he had here.”
His daughters were present at the ceremony to accept the award on behalf of their late father who was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for his contributions to the men’s basketball team.
“Our father passed away in March 2020, so it’s bittersweet to be accepting this award without him being physically present,” Heather said through her tears. “But I know that he is with us tonight. He wouldn’t miss the chance to visit the college he loved so much.”
Kohler was one of seven former Oswego athletes inducted in the ceremony, which was emceed by current women’s soccer team captain Elizabeth Myers ’22.
Canadian resident, former men’s ice hockey player and inductee Brendan Edward Bryan McLaughlin ’09 said he was grateful that COVID restrictions had eased so he and his family were able to attend the ceremony.
“I wouldn’t be here without my parents who made my dreams their own,” he said. “I know you both spent a lot of hours in cold hockey rinks for my sake. I don’t think the words, ‘Thank you,’ can ever do justice for the life you have given me, but I did give you two beautiful grandchildren and my beautiful wife!”
Andy Rozak ’05 presented his wife, Kathryn Carbonaro Rozak ’05, with her award for her outstanding performance on the Lakers women’s lacrosse team. She currently serves as an assistant women’s lacrosse coach at Skaneateles High School.
“As an athlete, you wouldn’t find someone who worked harder or was more passionate about their sport,” Andy said. “If she wasn’t running, Katie could be found in the weight room doing everything she could to succeed on the lacrosse field. All this time, commitment and dedication is what helped Katie find success in lacrosse, whether it was individually setting records or helping her team win a game.”
Inductee Maureen Kasperek ’06 has solidified herself within the history books for Lakers women’s soccer, as the all-time points’ leader in program history with 154, which is 28 more than the next closest Laker. She is the all-time leader for goals in program history with 71, which is 17 more than the next closest Laker. She holds the record for the most points and most goals in a single season, and she is also tied for sixth-most assists in program history with 12.
“In my opinion, the word ‘phenom’ was created to describe Maureen, ‘Mo,’ or ‘Momo,’ as her mom calls her,” said her presenter, Mary Grace Fronk. “Mo’s optimism, outstanding wit and dedication to her teammates and the game all blended together to inspire others to elevate their skills and ethics to a higher standard.”
Inductee Bob Hagan ’88 was recognized for his strong work ethic and unwavering commitment to men’s ice hockey – as a college and professional player and as an assistant coach for the Lakers and then at RIT.
“To my father, my passion for hockey became his passion, and we did it together,” Hagan said of his father, Brendan Hagan, who co-presented the award with former Laker Men’s Ice Hockey Coach Don Unger ’71. Bob said his excitement and anticipation for hockey games could only be eclipsed by seeing his daughters grow up and overcome their challenges and attending their basketball games and track meets.
For inductee Thomas Fitch ’71, wrestling provided the structure that helped him succeed in college. During his junior year, he recalled feeling that the “juice wasn’t worth the squeeze” of staying on the wrestling team, so he turned in his equipment and went to tell Coach Jim Howard.
“An hour and half later, I was back at the cage, checking my gear back out,” said the three-time SUNYAC Champion and the only wrestler to win SUNYACs on three separate occasions. “I finished out the last year and half of wrestling and graduated on time.
“Thank you, Coach Jim Howard. Without him, I wouldn’t be here. I sucked up Coach Howard’s coaching like a sponge. I also had some great teammates.”
David Locascio ’63 was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for his contributions on the wrestling team, but he was unable to attend the ceremony.
Nominations of alumni-athletes or former coaches (living or deceased) for future consideration are accepted online. To submit a nomination for a future Hall of Fame induction, please complete this online form.
CAPTION: Congratulations to the 2021 Oswego State Athletic Hall of Fame inductees! Pictured here are: (back row, from left) Brendan Edward Bryan McLaughlin ’09, Bob Hagan ’88 and Thomas Fitch ’71; (front row, from left) Maureen Kasperek ’06, Kathryn Carbonaro Rozak ’05 and Holly Kohler Duncan and Heather Kohler Valpreda, daughters of posthumous inductee Richard Kohler ’66. Not pictured is David Locascio ’63.