The Daily Star
---- — Staff Report
Retired wrestling coach and Oneonta resident Al Sosa headlines Oneonta State’s 2012 Athletics Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted at 10 a.m. Saturday at the college’s Alumni Field House.
The Red Dragons’ 14th Hall of Fame class will be honored during Homecoming and Family Weekend at the college.
Sosa be inducted with Dr. James P. Coon (Class of 1975), Billy Kapogiannis (1993), Melissa LaBarre (2003), Susan Lee-Miller (1990) and John David Pufky (1999) as O-State’s Hall membership will grow to 110.
O-State also will make Dr. Jeffrey A. Saal (1971) its sixth honorary inductee, and the 1979 field hockey team will become the college’s sixth Team of Distinction.
The following is a closer look at the Class of 2012.
Sosa spent his entire professional career at O-State, where he served the Red Dragons as their wrestling coach, an administrator and an instructor in the physical education program. Sosa joined the college in 1966, retired as the head wrestling coach in 2004 and continues to teach at the college as an adjunct professor.
Sosa coached wrestling for 38 seasons, finished with winning records 17 times and guided 12 All-Americans, 12 Scholar All-Americans and 77 All-State athletes.
Sosa earned induction to the NCAA Division III Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001, the New York State Collegiate Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in 2004, and the New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame with the Lifetime Service Award in 2008. In 2010, he received the SUNY Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Award, which is the highest honor given by the conference to a retiring administrator or coach.
Also instrumental in developing the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference after the SUNYAC stopped sponsoring the sport, Sosa and his team raised more than $20,000 to benefit Oneonta’s annual Pit Run road race. He also helped develop and maintain a mountain biking trail system in the Oneonta area, organized the Oneonta Community Mountain Biking Club, and received the Otsego County Conservation Association’s Conservationist of the Year Award in 2011.
Dr. James P. Coon
Coon was a standout men’s basketball player for four years, including three with the varsity team as freshmen were not allowed to play at that level in the 1970s.
One of coach Don Flewelling’s first recruits, Coon helped O-State to its first postseason tournament appearance in 1975, when the Red Dragons competed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament.
Binghamton native Coon averaged double figures in scoring during each of his three varsity seasons and finished with 700 points. With Coon serving as a senior co-captain, Oneonta went 16-10 overall and 8-3 in the SUNYAC.
Coon is currently a Regional Lead for the Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh, N.C.
Kapogiannis was a four-year standout soccer player from 1985-88, helping the Red Dragons to a 49-27-3 overall record and a 20-1-1 mark in the SUNYAC during that time.
Kapogiannis led Oneonta to a SUNYAC Tournament championship in 1985, helped the Red Dragons to undefeated seasons in conference play in 1986 (6-0) and 1988 (5-0), and earned SUNYAC Player of the Year honors in 1988.
Kapogiannis finished with 22 goals and a program-record 26 assists for 70 points all-time. He was a three-time All-Conference and two-time All-State selection who served as team captain in 1988. He also played in the Senior All-Star game and was drafted by the Baltimore Blast of the MISL.
Kapogiannis is the Director of Product Marketing & Development at The Depository Trust & Clearing Company (DTCC).
Conklin native LaBarre started four seasons at shortstop for Oneonta’s softball team, which won SUNYAC championships in 1999 and 2001. Both teams qualified for the NCAA tournament, with the 2001 squad falling one victory shy of reaching the College World Series.
LaBarre still ranks in the top five in all-time hits (178), total bases (211) and runs scored (106). LaBarre, who struck out 12 times in a school-record 503 at-bats, also finished with a .354 batting average and 73 RBIs.
LaBarre is currently employed by Reynolds Enterprises in the rental shop division.
Lee-Miller became O-State’s first female athlete to compete as an individual at an NCAA championship event when she qualified for the NCAA cross-country meet at Rock Island, Ill., in 1989. Her 54th place finish is still the best among female cross-country runners in school history.
A three-time Most Valuable Runner for the program, Lee-Miller served as captain in 1989. She led the Red Dragons to a 38-6 record in dual meets during her tenure, including a string of 29 straight victories.
She is a registered Dietitian and Nutritionist for Philadelphia-area hospitals and is self-employed as a massage therapist.
John David Pufky
Endwell native Pufky started as the goalie for the men’s lacrosse team for four years (1996-99) and helped lead the program to its only NCAA tournament appearance to date, in 1999. Pufky went 40-19 and helped O-State to two ECAC tournaments and back-to-back Empire Lacrosse League titles.
Pufky was a three-time Empire Lacrosse League All-Conference selection and earned Defensive Player of the Year in 1998. The following year, he played in the North/South Senior All-Star game for Division III.
Pufky is teaching and coaching girls lacrosse at Maine-Endwell, where he has been recognized as a Teacher of Distinction four times (2008-12).
Dr. Jeffrey A. Saal
Saal is a pre-eminent physician in the field of sports medicine. After graduating from Oneonta in 1971, Saal received a graduate degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine. He completed residencies at Boston University in internal medicine and Stanford University, concentrating in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Saal is board-certified in both areas, along with electrodiagnostic medicine. He also has a degree in Chinese Medicine and is a co-founder of Sports, Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Associates, which operates in the San Francisco Bay area.
His medical group treats Bay area teams at Stanford and Santa Clara, as well as the San Francisco Giants and the San Jose Sharks. The group also spent 26 years as team physicians for the San Francisco 49ers, who gave Saal a Super Bowl championship ring in 1984.
Saal is the founding member and past president of the North American Spine Society and the Physiatric Association of Spine, Sports and Occupational Rehabilitation.
1979 Field Hockey
Oneonta qualified for the AIAW Division III national tournament at Princeton University in 1979. At that time, the tournament was sponsored by the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and recognized by the United States Field Hockey Association.
The team qualified for the national tournament after winning the NYSAIAW Division II and EAIAW Division III regional tournaments. They hosted the former and defeated C.W. Post, 2-1, before moving on to Manhattanville for the Regional tournament. There, they beat city-rival Hartwick College in strokes.
At the national tournament, the Red Dragons won their first two games, 1-0 over Calvin and 3-1 over Hollins College, to advance to the semifinals.
In the semifinals against top-seeded Franklin & Marshall, a late goal by Colleen Larsen tied the score at 2 and forced overtime. The teams remained deadlocked through two overtimes and one series of strokes before O-State fell, 3-2, in the second set of strokes.
O-State went on to beat Glassboro State of New Jersey, 2-1, in the second overtime of the consolation game. Allison Merchant assisted Larsen on the winning goal.
O-State finished the season 17-5.