Former Oswego State athletes honored in hall of fame induction ceremony

The Oswego Athletic Alumni Association inducted six new members into its Hall of Fame at its ninth annual event on Oct. 24. The six members that were inducted included john Canale (’47), John Wynne (’66), Ralph Pizzo (’71), Greg Peel (’94), Dan Bartlett (’96) and Melisa Verdoliva (’99).

The first inductee was Verdoliva, who played for the women’s soccer team from 1995-1999. Verdoliva started playing soccer as a child and grew up to become a star soccer player at Oswego State. During her time at Oswego State, she collected many awards and achievements, including team Most Valuable Player (1995, 1996), second all-time leading scorer with 126 points, second all-time in career goals with 54, All-SUNYAC First Team (1995, 1996, 1997, 1999), All-New York State Women’s Collegiate Athletic Association First Team (1995, 1996, 1999), NSCAA ALL-Region Second Team (1996, 1997, 1999) and SUNYAC Most Valuable Player (1997). Even with all of these great achievements, Verdoliva considers something else to be her biggest achievement.

"Meeting so many people and becoming something that is bigger," Verdoliva said. "It is not just about player soccer, it is about being on a team and being part of a community."

Verdoliva is still involved with soccer, coaching a middle school team, who were at the ceremony to greet her with flowers right before her speech.

Next to be inducted was Bartlett, who was part of the men’s lacrosse team from 1993-1996.

"It is a surprise and I am truly honored," Barlett said. "It is weird when you get an individual award after being part of a team for so long; everything you try to do is for your team. And now to be honored with an individual accomplishment award, it is different. It is difficult to stand there and take recognition [for what] you did when you know you wouldn’t have been able to do it without your teammates. So that is tough, but I am certainly honored."

The great achievements that helped get Bartlett inducted were All-Empire League First Team (1994, 1995, 1996), Empire Lacrosse League Player of the Year (1995), Most Improved Player Award (1994), team captain (1995), member of the ECAC Championship team (1996), 100-Point Career Club for his 89 goals and 48 assists (1993-1996), United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association North/South Senior All-Star (1995), All-American and United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (1996).

The next member to be inducted was a second former men’s lacrosse player, Peel. Being inducted along with former teammate Bartlett, Peel couldn’t have been more proud and excited to be back at Oswego State.

"Oswego is one of the greatest places on Earth," Peel said. "Having attended [Oswego State], I wouldn’t have chosen any other university. As I look back on the decision I made almost 20 years ago, Oswego was the place for me, and if I had to go back and relive it I wouldn’t have done it any other way."

During his time at Oswego State as an athlete, Peel’s biggest achievements were team Most Valuable Player (1993, 1994), team captain (1993, 1994), Empire Lacrosse League First Team (1992, 1993, 1994), United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association North/South Senior All-Star (1994) and All-American, United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (1994).

Peel feels that time as an athlete at Oswego State has helped him in his personal life.

"My coach put in me a passion to lead, motivate and inspire, which positioned me for a professional opportunity where I’ve had a chance to be with a company called Paychex for the past 15 years," Peel said, "I’ve been able to leverage some of the tools that my coach taught me to help other people develop and grow."

Wynne was the next member to be inducted. In his time at Oswego State, Wynne played both men’s basketball and baseball. He accomplished the majority of his greatest achievements in baseball, but his accolades in basketball are nothing to look past. The awards that Wynne received were Basketball Conference Champion (1964), All-Conference Pitcher (1965, 1966), Baseball Conference Champion (1965, 1966), Baseball Team Most Valuable Player (1966), Oswego State Athlete of the Year (1966), Oswego State Baseball Hall of Fame (1986) and he won an NCAA Division II Regional game in Yankee Stadium (1966).

"Nothing can beat the lifetime thrill of playing at Yankee Stadium," Wynne said.

The fifth member to be inducted was Canale, who is the oldest of the six inductees. During his time at Oswego State, Canale was a triple threat, playing men’s soccer, men’s basketball and baseball. He is also one of the people that helped start the Oswego Athletic Hall of Fame. His athletic achievements were Three-Letter Athlete (1941-1943, 1945-1947), basketball team captain (1946) and a baseball career batting average above .300. Canale said that he would have never been a great athlete without his emotion and intensity, which he said is something every good athlete must have.

Canale’s athletic skills were not the only reasons for his induction. Canale served in World War II and has over 60 years in teaching, as well as 20 years in coaching. He still substitutes for Oswego County Schools to this day. Canale was also the first student to receive a master’s degree at Oswego State, in 1950.

"I am very honored to be nominated, especially by my only son, Gregory," Canale said. "For many years I was not selected, and I am so happy that they selected me this time."

Canale could not thank his former coach Max Ziel enough for everything that he had done for him. By luck, when his Hall of Fame plaque is hung up in the Romney field building, he will be right under his favorite coach.

The final member to be inducted was Ralph Pizzo, who was part of the Oswego State wrestling team. Pizzo was said to have never missed a practice, but that isn’t the only reason he is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. His greatest achievements included being a member of the undefeated freshman wrestling team (1968), 167 pound SUNY Athlete Conference Champion (1970), team co-captain (1971), 167 pound SUNYAC Conference Runner-Up (1971) and 158 pound Division II All-American. Seeing Pizzo inducted into the Hall of Fame was a big deal to his family, who was there to support him.

"It is an honor of a lifetime; I didn’t think that this day would ever come," Pizzo said. "It is deeply honorable. It is nice to come back here and be noticed. This has just made for a wonderful weekend."

After graduating, Pizzo went on to a teaching career, where he feels that he has touched many lives for the past 31 years.