Jun 27, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
More than a quarter-century after arriving from British Columbia to energize the sport of lacrosse, and seven years after his twin brother received the same honor, Gary Gait is finally making his way to the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.
The current women’s lacrosse coach at Syracuse University, Gait is joining fellow lacrosse legend Barry Powless, plus Greg Tearney, Joe Tesori, Adam Markowski and Don Savage in the Hall’s Class of 2013, which was announced Wednesday afternoon at Driver’s Village in Cicero.
They will be honored Oct. 21 at the annual Hall of Fame dinner at Drumlins Country Club, not far from where most of the class found athletic glory, and where Tesori was head golf professional for 28 years.
Gary Gait, along with his brother, Paul, were a part of the most dominant period in SU lacrosse history, one where the Orange went 51-5 and earned three consecutive national championships.
Yet it wasn’t just the titles, or the 192 goals, or the four All-American honors, that made Gait stand out. It was his playing style, personified by the famous “Air Gait” goal in the 1988 NCAA title game against Cornell that was outlawed from the sport.
A long professional career followed, with Gait playing and coaching on numerous indoor, outdoor and Canadian national championship sides while, at the same time, serving as an assistant coach for the dominant Maryland women’s team that won seven consecutive NCAA titles at one point.
In 2007, Gait returned to Central New York, and in six seasons at SU, his women’s teams have reached the national semifinals three times and the title game in 2012. Gary coaches his daughter, Taylor, at SU, while his son, Braedon, is a standout at Christian Brothers Academy.
Barry Powless came from a long family tradition of lacrosse dating back to his great-grandfather, Welcome Powless, as part of the Onondaga Nation and Eel Clan. He earned All-American high school honors at LaFayette High School and starred for three years on the SU hill.
Like Gait, Powless has a long and storied professional career, suiting up until age 50 and also serving as a top-notch coach, leading the expansion Rochester team to the 1997 Major Indoor Lacrosse League championship over defending champion Buffalo, two years after that same side – with Paul Gait playing – lost to Philadelphia, who got the winning goal from Gary Gait.
For two years (1991 and ’92), Powless coached at his alma mater, LaFayette, and he also has worked as the National Lacrosse League’s vice president of lacrosse operations. He was an assistant coach for the Iroquois Nationals as they won the silver medal at the World Indoor championships. Powless currently works for Casino Niagara.
Greg Tearney is the name most associated with martial arts in Central New York. For more than four decades, Tearney, through his karate and kickboxing school, has trained thousands of students, even famous ones like Tim Green and Mike Hopkins.
A Nottingham High School and SU graduate, Tearney came across karate by accident early in his adult life, in an advertisement for a local dojo in a magazine. Once he started, though, Tearney never let up until he had earned five Black Belts in various martial arts disciplines and fought as a heavyweight in karate from 1965 to ’77. He was named to the Karate Hall of Fame in 1983.
At the same time, he started Tearney’s Karate and Kickboxing, currently located in Fairmount. Tearney, along with his wife of 31 years, Judy (herself an eighth-degree Black Belt), trains more than 400 students. Past students have gone on to win 10 different world championships.
A grandmaster of Okinawa-style karate, Tearney has done all sorts of work for local charities, including the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, and in 2011 was honored as the NAACP Small Businessman of the Year.
For four decades, Joe Tesori has held a primary role in the area golf community, from early tutelage at Onondaga Golf and Country Club to his long stint at Drumlins and his current role as head pro at the Pompey Club.
Certified as a PGA professional in 1973, Tesori grew up in the Southern Tier, attended Union-Endicott and Le Moyne College, and got his Masters degree at SUNY-Cortland. He then set out to teach the game he loved to anyone who would listen, giving, my his own estimation, 30,000 lessons.
Tesori also competed in PGA Tour events in the United States and elsewhere, won countless local tournaments, wrote newspaper columns, appeared on radio shows and also found time to coach the girls golf team at Jamesville-DeWitt and the men’s golf team at Le Moyne.
Twice, Tesori was named PGA Professional of the Year and was the 1986 Central New York PGA Teacher of the Year. He also officiates high school basketball games, served as an observer in the Big East Conference and was the 2010 CNY Catholic Charities Man of the Year.
A posthumous inductee, Adam Markowski starred in the early 1930s at Central High School and SU, but made his greatest mark as a coach in the old Parochial League.
At Sacred Heart, Markowski’s basketball teams won 116 games and lost 40, capped by a 1958-59 campaign where the Hearts went undefeated, 21-0. They’re considered one of the greatest prep teams in local annals.
Markowski also coached championship baseball sides at Sacred Heart, including the 1963 All-City champions. Only an overseas work assignment cut short Markowski’s remarkable and successful coaching career.
Like Markowski, Don Savage is a posthumous inductee, but he already is a pioneer as Le Moyne College’s first-ever choice for its Athletic Hall of Fame.
Following his own Parochial League stardom, Savage joined the fledgling Le Moyne basketball program and, under Hall of Fame coach Tom Niland, was a captain for three seasons, picking up 1,341 career points, capped by a 40-point effort against St. Francis (NY), a State Fair Coliseum venue record.
Drafted by the NBA’s Syracuse Nationals, Savage played two seasons, served in the military for two years, and then returned to the Nats, where a freak knee injury cut short his career. Savage went on to a successful career in the insurance business and was active in community and Le Moyne alumni activities.