On Oct. 21, Wesleyan welcomed three former athletes, one coach, one athletic director and a team to the 8th Class of the Athletics Hall of Fame. Wesleyan’s Athletics Hall of Fame, housed in the Freeman Athletic Center, is filled with entertaining and enlightening accounts of Cardinals past.
Wesleyan inducted its eighth class to the Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 21. The class features Bill Brooks ’49, P ’71, Jenna Flateman Posner ’04, Alexis Keeler ’02, Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos, Don Russell, and the 1994 Wesleyan women’s soccer team.
“All of this year’s inductees have very impressive credentials and are well deserving of this recognition,” said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen ’83. “It was particularly gratifying for me to have Don Russell and Peter “Kosty” Kostacopolous inducted as both were at Wes during my time as a student-athlete. There were a large number of former student-athletes who played for both Don Russell and Pete Kosty who attended the dinner to support their former coaches. In fact, Jed Hoyer ’96 who played baseball for Coach Kosty and is now the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs took the redeye from Los Angeles after the Cubs won Game 5 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), attended the dinner and then flew back to Chicago to watch the Cubs win the National League pennant. That is a testament to how strong the bond is between student-athlete and coach.”
The induction ceremony took place during Homecoming Weekend with a reception at the Daniel Family Commons in the Usdan University Center, followed by a dinner and ceremony in Beckham Hall of Fayerweather. There were over 180 people who attended this first class event.
“The Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame (HOF) is intended to honor and give lasting recognition to those individuals or teams, who either through participation, support or interest, have made outstanding contributions in the athletics arena and specifically to the Wesleyan athletics program,” added Whalen. “The individuals and teams enshrined have not only brought recognition, honor and distinction to Wesleyan and its athletics program, they have continued to demonstrate in their lives the values imparted by participating in intercollegiate athletics.”
The HOF was founded in 2006 through the collaborative work of the Athletics Advisory Council (AAC), the Athletic Department and the Office of University Relations. The HOF is on display in the Warren Street lobby of the Freeman Athletic Center, and includes world class and national caliber athletics, Olympic medalists, NCAA champions, regional titleholders, and teams that have won New England titles and placed in national competition.
Photos of the most recent inductees are below and in this Wesleyan Flickr Album. (Photos by John Van Vlack)
Bill Brooks ’49, P ’71 was a dual-sport athlete at Wesleyan, excelling in both football and track. On the football field, he played an integral role in three consecutive undefeated seasons; 1946 (7-0), ’47 (7-0) and ’48 (8-0). He played running back for the Cardinals and holds the program record for longest scoring run from scrimmage, in which he ran 94 yards against Swarthmore in 1947. Additionally, Brooks achieved great success on the track and is Wesleyan’s all-time record holder in both the 100 and 220-yard runs, crossing the finish line in :09.7 and :23.3, respectively.
Jenna Flateman Posner ’04, a 2003 NCAA National Champion, was an exceptional track athlete at Wesleyan, and also competed in field hockey for three years with the Cardinals before excelling in rugby following graduation. During her tenure at Wes, she set numerous records in track that still hold strong today. She is the indoor record holder in the 55-meter dash (:07.03) and the 200m (:25.71), and also a member of the 4x200m relay (1:44.74) and sprint medley relay (4:30.65) teams. Flateman Posner holds the fastest outdoor times in the 100m (:11.90) and the 200m (:24.88) as well, while also holding the record in the sprint medley relay (4:21.78). She piled up numerous accolades throughout her career, most notably the 2003 NCAA national title in the 55-meter dash, while also winning numerous New England Division III, NESCAC and ECAC titles, and earning several NCAA All-American, All-New England Division III, All-NESCAC and All-ECAC honors. Following her storied career, Flateman Posner competed in women’s rugby and became a star on the USA Women’s Sevens team.
Alexis Keeler ’02 was a key member on the most successful women’s volleyball team in program history, as the 2001 Cardinals finished with a 30-6 overall record and 9-1 NESCAC mark en route to their first-ever NCAA Championship appearance. Keeler was named the NESCAC Player of the Year that season, as Wesleyan earned the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC Tournament before falling short in the title match. Behind the stellar play of Keeler, the Cardinals also reached the second round of the national postseason tournament. A team captain in 2001, she was also named an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in the fall. Keeler holds numerous records at Wesleyan and is the all-time leader in service aces with 361. She also holds the record for most aces (144) and aces per set (1.19) in a season, and the most aces (12) and blocks (11) in a match. Keeler is pictured here with Director of Athletics Mike Whalen.
The 1994 Women’s Soccer Team, led by head coach Jeff Vagell and captains Michelle Duff ’95, Olga Fernandez ’95 and Rachel Hunt ’95, was the most successful in program history. The Cardinals finished 12-4-1 that season, while claiming the ECAC New England Division III Championship. Wesleyan went 5-0-1 down the stretch and defeated Bates in the final, 1-0. Flo Stueck ’96 led the team with 15 goals and five assists for a total of 35 points, while goalkeeper Stacey Parris ’98 was terrific in net with a 0.77 goals-against average, a 91.3 save percentage, and six shutouts.
Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos is the all-time winningest coach at Wesleyan. He served as the head baseball coach for 28 seasons, from 1974-to-2001, and also acted as an assistant football coach. During his tenure at the helm of the baseball program, the Cardinals posted a 478-304-7 record, which is good for a .610 winning percentage. He led Wesleyan to 11 Little Three titles, and a NCAA College World Series appearance in 1994, earning NCAA Coach of the Year honors as the Cardinals finished as runner-up. Kostacopoulos was a recruiter, motivator and game planner, and he earned the respect of his players.
Don Russell was the former Chair of Physical Education and Director of Athletics (AD) at Wesleyan from 1968 to 1988, and also served as head coach of both the football and women’s squash programs. As a football coach, Russell posted a 37-19 record, while coaching the Cardinals to three Little Three Championships (’66, ’69, ’70). He coached the last undefeated Wesleyan team in 1969 (8-0), and his .661 winning percentage is the highest among coaches in the modern era. The ’69 Cardinals also shared the Lambert Cup with Delaware as the best division college team in the East, while Russell was named the New England Division College Coach of the Year.