Jun 27, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Accomplishments that span at least seven decades – from the 1950s all the way to the present time – helped four local sports figures earn spots in the 2012 class of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.
They include Royce Newell and Brad Kotz, two important parts of West Genesee’s athletic history. Also, Westhill graduate Sally Dee, who made it to the LPGA Tour, and Bishop Ludden boys basketball coach Pat Donnelly were selected.
All the announcements were made Wednesday in a press conference at the Hall of Fame’s display inside Driver’s Village in Cicero. The induction dinner will take place Oct. 15 at Drumlins Country Club.
Sally Dee played both golf and basketball at Westhill, earning 1,668 career points on the court. But she turned her attention full-time to golf after that point, winning a slew of local and state amateur tournaments.
A stint at the University of South Florida followed, where Dee was a three-time Academic All-American. From 1998 to 2002, Dee played on the LPGA Tour, finishing in the top five twice and top 10 five times, but stopping after she was unable to recover from a left elbow injury in 2001.
Still, Dee went on to win a RE/MAX World Long Driving championship in 2004 and appeared on The Golf Channel’s “Big Break” program in 2008. More recently, she coached at USF, but has now started Playbook Public Relations, a firm with clients in both Tampa and Syracuse, just after earning her MBA at USF.
“I’ve had a long, long run in golf,” said Dee, who started at the game at age 4. “It was time to use my brain power.”
Pat Donnelly has enjoyed a long coaching run – 33 years, the last 25 of them at his alma mater, Bishop Ludden, where he took over in 1987, succeeding another Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Jerry Wilcox.
In that time, Donnelly’s Gaelic Knights have gone 420-158, a .720 winning percentage, won seven consecutive Section III titles from 1993 to ’99 and have claimed a pair of state championships, in 1994 and 2012. For last winter’s state title run, Donnelly earned Coach of the Year honors from the Basketball Coaches Association of New York,
Counting his stint at East Syracuse-Minoa in the 1980s, Donnelly’s overall record is 455-204, for a win percentage of .690.
“All the players I’ve had (through the years) got me here,” said Donnelly. “I’ve been fortunate to ride their coattails.”
Royce Newell, who passed away in 2006, could rightly be termed the father of lacrosse at West Genesee, initiating the program in 1957, just after the merger of several local schools into the current Camillus location.
In all, Newell spent 33 years at West Genesee as a teacher, coach and as the merged school’s first athletic director, serving until his retirement in 1982. During that time, he was secretary-treasurer of the Onondaga High School League for nearly 50 years.
All that followed a strong basketball career at Syracuse University. From 1945 to ’49, the 6-foot-8 Newell joined Billy Gabor, Jack Kiley and Ed Stickel on a team coached by Lew Andreas, who is also in the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.
As a freshman, Newell helped SU go 23-4 and reach the NIT, the school’s first-ever post-season tournament. The Orangemen also had a 19-6 mark in Newell’s sophomore year and an 18-7 record in his senior campaign, where he averaged 10 points per game.
Brad Kotz was an indirect beneficiary of Newell’s initital vision, a star on West Genesee’s first state championship team in 1981 who would go on to do much, much more.
Led by Kotz, who was team MVP and an All-American, the Wildcats, in ’81, claimed what would be the first of 15 state titles under Hall of Fame head coach Mike Messere.
Then, at Syracuse University, Kotz earned All-American status three more times, and his MVP performance in the 1983 NCAA championship game led the Orangemen to a memorable come-from-behind victory over Johns Hopkins. Two more NCAA finals appearances followed in 1984 and ’85, as Kotz got 129 goals and 205 points during his SU tenure.
And the winning didn’t stop there, as Kotz played on back-to-back Major Indoor Lacrosse League championship teams in 1989 and ’90 with the Philadelphia Wings and, at the World Games, helped Team USA to consecutive gold medals in 1986 and 1990.
Amid all that, Kotz got an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. A 2001 National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, Kotz now lives in Maryland, where he’s the co-founder and manager of Seneca Properties.