BY JAMIE KEMPTON
The Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame will honor eight individuals during its 41st annual induction banquet on April 26 at the Pearl River Elks Club in Nanuet. The gala begins at 6 p.m. with the cocktail reception, followed at 7 p.m. by the dinner and ceremony.
Tickets for the event are $55 per person and $30 for children 12 and younger. For tickets or further information, contact Pete Castellano at 201-390-3245 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the ticket form on the Hall of Fame’s website, www.RCSHF.org.
This year’s roster of inductees includes Rick Carey, Nanuet class of 1978; Tom DePatto, Haverstraw class of 1960, who is being honored posthumously; Don Fischer, Tappan Zee class of 1975; former Suffern basketball coach Ed Kolakowski; Lorraine Moylan, Pearl River class of 1976; Richard Schumacher, Suffern class of 1966; Thad Wilson, Nanuet class of 1969; and former Journal News photographer Al Witt.
Carey is the only seven-foot high jumper in county history, having cleared 7 feet ¼ inch as a junior in 1977. He won three New York State high jump championships, four Rockland County and four Section 9 crowns, and finished second in the U.S. Junior National meet. He was named Rockland Scholastic Athlete of the Decade for the 1970s by The Journal News and his 7-foot high jump was rated the No. 1 individual accomplishment in Rockland spring sports in the 1970s by the newspaper.
DePatto starred for Haverstraw High School as a pitcher in baseball, posting a 9-1 record his senior year. At Ithaca College, he was the ace of the staff as a senior and led the team to the College World Series. At Clarkstown High School, he coached the cross country team to two Rockland and three Section 9 titles. At Clarkstown South, he coached cross country, wrestling and baseball and served as athletic director and head of physical education for many years. DePatto passed away in 2003.
Fischer was Rockland’s first boys swimming state champion, capturing the 200-yard individual medley in 1975 and adding a runner-up finish in the 100 freestyle. He set county records in the 200 IM, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle, and as a leg on Tappan Zee’s 400 freestyle relay. He also held six individual school records and contributed to two record-setting relays. At South Carolina, Fischer qualified for the NCAA meet in the 400 and 800 freestyle relays.
Kolakowski coached the Suffern boys basketball team from 1954 to 1981. He won three Section 9 championships and was Rockland PSAL Coach of the Year in 1968, when his team also won the county title. He officiated high school football from 1955 to 1985, including varsity games with the same four-man crew for 25 years. As an athlete he excelled in basketball at Siena College and played in the 1951 East-West All-Star game.
Moylan coached girls basketball for 30 years, 10 at Albertus Magnus and 20 at her alma mater, Pearl River. She coached Albertus to New York State and Federation Class B championships in 1991 and 1992. Collectively she won 21 league titles, 6 Section 1 crowns and 5 regional championships. Her career coaching mark is 536-140, a winning percentage of 79.3 percent, and she holds the Rockland record for career coaching victories in basketball.
Schumacher was a three-sport standout at Suffern. He earned All-County honors twice as a tackle in football and once as a catcher in baseball, and won two Rockland titles and one Section 9 crown in wrestling. At East Stroudsburg State College, he was a four-time NCAA All-America wrestler, winning a Div. III national championship and finishing fifth in Div. I. He later served as head coach at Bucknell and assistant coach at East Stroudsburg.
Wilson was the dominant hurdler in Rockland in 1968 and 1969. He claimed two county titles each in the 120-yard high hurdles, 180 low hurdles and 880-yard relay, and won three Section 9 Class B and State Qualifier titles. He was the first hurdler in Rockland to break 15 seconds in the high hurdles (14.9), held county records in both hurdle events, and held eight school records including relays. In Masters track (age 40 and older), he has won 30 national age-group championships and eight world titles.
Witt is the recipient of the Joseph Holland Lifetime Achievement Award. As a Journal News photographer for almost three decades, he did general assignment work and excelled in many areas, especially sports. His photos in The Journal News sports section captured the drama and excitement of the games played in Rockland, from the youth leagues to high school and semi-pro competition.