Athletics Hall of Fame honors Wheaton stars

W_Athletics_logo_blueAs student-athletes, they made their marks, racking up the points on the basketball court; leading the pack on the track; ruling the fields of their sports; breaking records. As coaches, they have inspired teams through challenging seasons and led them to victories defined by more than just winning. Now, each holds a special place of honor for all to admire—in the Wheaton College Athletics Yowell Hall of Fame.

Named for Chad Yowell, former director of athletics from 1988 to 2011, the Hall of Fame was established to honor and give permanent recognition to those who have made outstanding contributions in the athletics arena and continue to demonstrate in their lives the values of intercollegiate athletics.

The Athletics Department launched the Hall of Fame in October 2013 at Homecoming, with a celebration in Emerson Dining Hall. Alumnae/i, coaches, student-athletes, faculty and staff attended the event in which the achievements of nine inductees and the 1983 field hockey team were lauded.

“This event was very special. In addition to recognizing the all-time greats, it really highlighted the tremendous athletic program we have, and it gave everyone an opportunity to celebrate as well as reconnect with former teammates and alums,” said John Sutyak ’00, director of athletics and the event’s master of ceremonies. He was a member of the committee that worked to bring the Hall of Fame into fruition and helped select the first inductees.

The committee, composed of faculty and staff, will decide who gets inducted each year. However, all members of the Wheaton community, including alumnae/i and friends of the college, are encouraged to submit nominations.

2013 inductees:

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyChad Yowell

Former athletics director

Chad Yowell was Wheaton’s executive director of athletics from 1988 to 2011. He was named the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Northeast Director of Athletics of the Year during the 2003–04 academic year. Under Yowell’s direction, Wheaton won eight National Collegiate Athletic Association championships, 13 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference titles, and had four top-25 finishes in the competition for the NACDA Directors’ Cup award. Yowell also turned an eight-sport women’s athletics program into a 21-sport coeducational program that garnered national attention.

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyLynn Miller

Head coach, women’s and men’s tennis team

For 33 years, Lynn Miller has been both head coach and an administrator. She has coached the women’s tennis program since 1980 and the men’s tennis squad since 1989, in addition to guiding the women’s basketball program from 1980–84. She also served as the director of athletics from 1986–88. Miller was inducted into the United States Tennis Association New England Hall of Fame in 2012.

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyJudith Alper Smith ’57 

Chief recruitment officer for the National Association of Corporate Directors, Washington, D.C.

Inducted into the United States Tennis Association New England Hall of Fame in 2013, Judith Alper Smith has been prominent in the national senior circuit for nearly four decades. Smith has earned No. 1 rankings in women’s doubles and mixed doubles in several age categories since the 1980s. She continues to represent the region in national tournaments.

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyDeborah Simourian Jamgochian ’76

Real estate sales associate for David Ogilvy & Associates in Greenwich, Conn.

Although Wheaton did not sponsor a golf team, Deborah Simourian Jamgochian earned a first-place tie in the 1975 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national individual golf championship. Her honors include an Eastern Association of Intercollegiate        Athletics for Women championship, a Massachusetts State Amateur title, and a New England Amateur championship. She was ranked third overall in the 2008 Golf Digest National Rankings in the Senior Women Amateurs division for her performances in 2007.

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyAnn Zarchen Knoblock ’81

Longwood Cricket Club president

Ann Zarchen Knoblock was the first Wheaton basketball player (among both women and men) to score 1,000 career points. She still holds several program records at Wheaton. Knoblock ranks seventh all-time in points scored (1,195), third in field goals (525) and ninth in games played (108). She also was invited to the 1981 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women National Tennis Championship and appeared as a finalist in the Massachusetts Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Tennis Championship in the same year.

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyJanet Kelly ’86

Managing partner,
Boston Marketing Advisors

Janet Kelly was the first All-American in the history of Wheaton athletics. She was a defensive cornerstone for the field hockey team from 1982 to 1985 and women’s lacrosse team from 1983 to 1986. She earned College Field Hockey Coaches Association All-America honors in 1983. Kelly was named a Massachusetts Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women All-Star. She holds a rare honor in Wheaton athletics history as she played for the first team to reach the NCAA Tournament in 1983 (field hockey) and the first team ever to advance to the NCAA Final Four in 1986 (lacrosse).

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyKimberly Sears ’00

Algebra II teacher at Florida Virtual School 

A two-sport all-region student-athlete (field hockey and softball) at Wheaton, Kimberly Sears compiled many awards, including three National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America honors (1997–99), four NFCA All-New England accolades, and three Eastern College Athletic Conference New England All-Star selections in softball (1997–99). She was also named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-New England squad in 1999. Academically, Sears is a two-time NFCA Scholar Award recipient, and also received GTE Academic College Division All-District I accolades for softball in 1999.

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyChristopher Denorfia ’02 

Outfielder for San Diego Padres 

An eight-year veteran in Major League Baseball (MLB) playing for Cincinnati, Oakland and San Diego, Christopher Denorfia was an American Baseball Coaches Association All-America selection in 2002, highlighting several awards he gathered while at Wheaton. He earned three New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association All-New England nods and two Eastern College Athletic Conference New England All-Star selections. He was named the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Player of the Year in 2002 and the NEWMAC Co-Rookie of the Year in 1999. He was selected in the 19th round of the 2002 MLB amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds.

Wheaton College Hall of Fame CeremonyAmber James ’04

Marketing writer at
Biamp Systems, Portland, Ore.

Easily the most decorated student-athlete in the history of any Wheaton athletics program, Amber James was a 17-time NCAA national champion and 24-time All-American as a member of the women’s track and field team. She is the only NCAA Division III male or female student-athlete to sweep an NCAA event national title in all four years in both the indoor and outdoor track and field championships. James was voted the Greatest Female Athlete in the 25-year history of the NCAA Division III indoor track and field championship, named to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division III Silver Anniversary Team, and selected as the United States Track Coaches Association National Track Athlete of the Year (Outdoors) in 2002.

Wheaton College Hall of Fame Ceremony1983 field hockey team

The 1983 field hockey team holds claim to earning the first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in Wheaton history, as the Lyons posted a 12–2–0 record to win a spot in the 16-team NCAA Tournament field that year. The Lyons’ 13-win season in 1983 is still tied for second all-time in program history.

Members of the 1983 varsity field hockey team:

Kathleen Bannon ’87, Margaret Beebe Peeples ’87, Lisa Blank ’87, Elsbeth Brown ’85, Lynn Brown ’84, Mairbeth Burke ’87, Patricia Croston ’85, Susannah Gardner ’84, Janet Kelly ’86, Nancy Lawlor ’86, Paula Mcfarland Mayo ’87, Therese Ross ’86, Eileen Salathe Gernhard ’87, Kristen Sarles ’87, Amy St. Cyr Von Hone ’87, Sarah Jane Vokey Zerbino ’84, Karen Wentling Schroder ’87, Sandra Yannone ’86. Head coach: Deborah Field McGrath ’70