Feb. 19, 2004
On the last weekend of January, the University of Massachusetts athletic department inducted six new members into the George "Trigger" Burke UMass Athletic Hall Of Fame. The inductees included five former players and one former coach. They are: Edward "Ned" Larkin '59, baseball and basketball; Bill MacConnell '41, ski coach; Tammy Marshall '93, gymnastics; Ed McAleney '76, football; Laura O'Neil '81, field hockey and lacrosse; and Granville Pruyne '33, soccer and track & field. With the induction of these six, the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame now has 67 members.
The athletic department honored them at a dinner held in the Campus Center auditorium and it featured remarks from chancellor John Lombardi, interim athletic director Thorr Bjorn, Hall of Fame benefactor George "Trigger" Burke, and Hall of Fame committee member Jim Mulcahy. The ceremonies included a video chronicling the accomplishment of each inductee, which was followed by their acceptance speeches. The next day, the six were honored at halftime of the UMass-Temple basketball game. They were presented with their plaques that will hang in the Hall of Fame in the Massachusetts Room in the Mullins Center.
Below are the inductees accomplishments and a brief excerpt from their acceptance speeches.
Ned Larkin was named first team All-Yankee Conference in both basketball and baseball as a senior in 1959. On the court, he played guard and led the team by scoring 13.5 points a game. Not to be out done in the spring, he played shortstop, hit over .300 and was named the team's MVP. Larkin finished his basketball career with 870 points, which was number two at the time of his graduation, and 441 rebounds. While at UMass, he played in the Cape Cod league one summer and hit .328. In the era before freshman eligibility, he lettered three times in each sport and would play professionally in both sports.
"I had a lot of real good days here at UMass and today is the best, no doubt about it," said Larkin. "Something that means a great deal to me and to the other inductees, is being recognized by the university for achieving something special. It makes all of us very proud.
"I would like to thank my two brothers who nominated me. My brother, Peter was an outstanding baseball and basketball player here at UMass and my brother Paul, who unfortunately lettered at UNH.
"I also must thank the two outstanding men who coached me at UMass: Earl Lorden in baseball and Bob Curren in basketball. Bob recruited me and gave me a full scholarship and that was my ticket to a college education."
For 40 years, Bill MacConnell was the UMass ski coach, leading the men's team beginning in 1961 and founding the women's team in 1976. His team's won 30 division titles with the men winning 18 consecutive from '68 to '86 and the women taking 12, including 11 in a row. His teams won so often that upon his retirement, they renamed the conference, the MacConnell Division. Bill coached one NCAA All-American, in William Schaffer, who finished sixth at the NCAAs, plus 10 men and 11 women who were named USCSA All-Americans. In addition to coaching skiing, McConnell served as a forestry professor at the university from 1948 until 1998.
"I first came to UMass in 1939 as a student," said MacConnell "Then in 1948, I became an instructor in forest management. After a dozen years as a college professor, several members of the ski team found me in my office. They asked me to take over for Larry Briggs, who coached soccer and skiing. The soccer team had a pretty serious bus accident and Larry and a lot of members of the team were pretty smashed up. So they talked me into doing it and I agreed to do it for a year.
"My whole adult life has been spent at UMass, and I still have an office on campus. I still work with the ski team, keeping the ski equipment in my basement and then I repair the busted equipment and gates for them, every day. I enjoy visiting with the members of the team when they come by before and after practice with the gates. It has been my privilege to coach the UMass ski teams."
Gymnast Tammy Marshall remains the only UMass athlete to win an NCAA individual championship, and she did it twice. She won the vault as a junior in 1992 and the floor exercise in 1993 as a senior with a school record, perfect 10. She was an Academic All-American, won five Atlantic 10 championships, was selected All-Atlantic 10 all four years and was named the league's female student-athlete of the year as a senior. Recently, the Atlantic 10 named her to the conference's Silver Anniversary honor unit. After graduating, she won a silver medal for the United States at the 1993 World University games.
"It is truly an honor to be here tonight," said Marshall. "My four years at UMass were undeniably some of the best years of my life. I grew tremendously in the four years in every aspect of my life. I came to UMass determined to be an outstanding athlete. Thanks to a highly supportive athletic program and my coach, Alfie Mitchell, I was able to achieve my dream of becoming an NCAA National Champion.
"I thank Alfie for believing in me. He would tell others, 'Watch out, because when Tammy says she's going to something, she does it.' Those words were very important to me. He helped make the fairy tale ending of my gymnastics career a reality."
Ed McAleney was a football All-American as a senior in 1975. As a defensive end, he was named All-Yankee Conference and All-New England three times. His teams won two Yankee Conference championships. McAleney was one of six UMass players named to the Yankee Conference All-Time 50th Anniversary Team. His football playing did not stop at UMass, as he was chosen in the eighth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers and then played seven seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders, and was named the CFL Defensive Player of the year in 1981. He finished his career with two years in the USFL. He also lettered three times in track & field in the shot put and discus.
"I want to thank coach Bob Pickett and coach Dick MacPherson, both Mainers, who encouraged me to come here," said McAleney. "UMass gave me the ability to do something I truly loved. To be honored for playing a game is something that is beyond the realm of reality. I want to thank UMass for giving me the ability to continue on in life. It became a great stepping stone.
"As a student here, I never understood why my parents followed me every where I went. Now that my kids are involved in athletics, I can truly see the pride a parent can have in their children."
A two-sport standout, Laura O'Neil was a first team All-American in both field hockey and lacrosse a senior. She also led both of her teams to their respective final fours in both her junior and senior seasons. Her teams racked up a combined 92-20-8 record. An offensive player in field hockey, she ranks among the all-time leaders in points, goals, and assists for both single season and career. In lacrosse, O'Neil was a defensive player. She was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player at the 1979 AIAW National Championship. She played field hockey at the 1979 National Sports Festival and was a member of the US National lacrosse team in 1980 and 1981.
"I only applied to one school, UMass, because my sister Kathy played field hockey and lacrosse here," said O'Neil. "When you graduate from high school, you are a big superstar. My coach warned me 'you may not be that superstar any more. You will have to work hard to get to the top.' Fortunately, when I came here, they had a junior varsity program and I learned how to work really hard.
"When I came to UMass, I intended to run track in the spring, but many of my field hockey teammates played lacrosse and they said they would show me how. When I tried to throw the ball, it would be on the ground. It was so frustrating, but they gave me the encouragement to do it, so I worked really hard and had a blast playing both lacrosse and field hockey. I think my mother and father saw the rewards that playing at UMass gave me.
"I ended up playing field hockey in the National Sports Festival and trying out for the 1980 Olympic team. That was difficult, because of one of my teammates, Judy Strong, who is also in the UMass Hall of Fame, made it. That was a lesson in competition; even though you admire and respect someone else, there are only so many positions open. That was a good lesson for my professional career, too. After I did not make the Olympics, that following spring I made the U.S. Lacrosse team and toured Australia. So athletics has allowed me to travel all across the country and around the world. I want to thank UMass for everything."
Granville Pruyne was a member of the first UMass Soccer team back in 1930. He was also UMass first All-American, earning the honor as a senior in 1932. A dominating defensive player who marked the oppostion with great speed, Pruyne led UMass to a 6-0 record as junior, giving up just three goals all year. During his All-America season of 1932, the team went 4-1. In addition to earning three letters in soccer, Granville received two in track & field, one as the team's captain in 1933.
"Back in September of 1929, my father and mother dropped me off at school," said Pruyne. "I was scared then, and I am scared now. My sophomore year, I became a member of the very first varsity soccer team. We had a rough time that first year. We did not let it beat us down and kept at it. The next year we had an unbeaten team, because we would not be beaten.
"I can not express in words what being inducted into the Hall of Fame means. It is the biggest moment of my life. My daughter graduated from this school. I have three boys and the youngest graduated from this university. And I am proud of them. It was a great school when I was here and it is even better now. "
Nominations for the 2004 UMass Athletic Hall of Fame are being accepted until March 15, 2004. Please send them to the Media Relations Office, 255 Boyden Building, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003.