Five former student-athlete standouts at the University at Buffalo, and a pair of distinguished alumni, will be the newest class inducted into the Dr. and Mrs. Edmond J. Gicewicz Family UB Athletics Hall of Fame.
This year’s class includes Stacey (Evans) Hayes (softball), Devon (Russell) Minocchi (women’s soccer), Jennifer Koeppel (track & field/cross country), Jack Kaminska (baseball/hockey) and Joe Mihalics (baseball). Also, Jim Militello and Bob Barczak will be honored as Distinguish Alumni at the ceremony on Friday, April 19.
“This will be my first induction ceremony and I look forward to celebrating these outstanding contributions to our program,” Director of Athletics Danny White said. “We are honoring seven individuals who each played integral roles in the success of UB athletics. They are deserving of this distinction and we are proud to induct them into the Dr. and Mrs. Edmond J. Gicewicz Family UB Athletics Hall of Fame.”
Here is a brief biography on each inductee.
Stacey M. (Evans) Hayes, BS ’05, stands among the best pitchers in Buffalo softball history. At the conclusion of her career, Stacey held all but one of the 14 different career and season records among seven categories. As a junior, she tossed a 1-0 no-hitter against Toledo, which was one of nine shutouts she threw that season alone. At the time of her induction in the Hall of Fame, her 536 career strikeouts are 160 more than the second place pitcher, five more shutouts than the next closest four combined, and her 42 wins are nine ahead of the second place pitcher. She led the team to its first-ever appearance in the Mid-American Conference Tournament as a freshman, and was a three-time All-MAC Academic pick.
Devon W. (Russell) Minocchi, BA ’04, was a standout soccer player who led the team to 41 wins and appearances in the MAC Tournament in all four seasons she was a student-athlete. She was a first-team All-MAC defender, who also was honored as a SUNY Chancellor’s Award recipient and an All-MAC Academic team member for her accomplishments in the classroom. The National Soccer Coaches Association named her to the All-Northeast Region team twice, and she also won the NCAA’s National Sportsmanship Award and Citizenship Through Sports Award. Despite being a lock-down defender, Devon also scored nine career goals and had six assists.
Jennifer E. Koeppel-Acker, EDM ’07 BA ’05, was the cornerstone of the UB track and field and cross country teams, becoming the first UB woman to compete in the NCAA Division I championships. As a senior, she earned an at-large berth to the cross country championships and was named to the ESPN The Magazine’s All-District I Cross Country/Track and Field team, along with being a nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. In 2004, she won the MAC cross country title and the outdoor track 10,000-meter race, along with setting a school record in the outdoor 5,000-meter race to earn All-Northeast Regional All-American team honors. She currently owns school records in the 3,000- 5,000- and 10,000-meter events and has remained dominant after her college career, winning five races in the Buffalo News’ Corporate Challenge to earn the 2012 Female Runner of the Year honor.
A multi-sport athlete at UB, John J. Kaminska, BA ’77, was active for the entire academic year over his time as a Bull, playing for the baseball and hockey teams. As a senior, he was the captain of both teams, and ultimately earned seven varsity letters (four in hockey, three in baseball). A left winger for the hockey team, he is third all-time in scoring with 141 points, third in goals (67), and fourth in assists (74). As a senior shortstop for the baseball team, he batted .350 with 23 stolen bases and only nine strikeouts in 324 plate appearances. In his final two seasons, he helped lead the team to the ECAC District II Regional tournament. He left Buffalo as the leader in five difference baseball categories and was a recipient of the Clifford C. Furnas Award for outstanding athletic prowess.
A fellow star on the baseball diamond, Joseph J. Mihalics, Jr., BA ’06, was the heart and sole of the baseball program as it began to rebuild after disbanding from 1988-99. His unquestioned leadership both on the field and off helped lead the team to 66 wins in his four seasons. He became the first player in UB history to reach 200 career hits, and finished with 234 and a .322 career batting average. When he left the program, he owned program records for games (192), at bats (729), runs (136), and hits. He was a captain for two seasons and was also named the team MVP twice, and Baseball America ranked him as the 16th best prospect in the state of New York after his senior season. He was then taken in the 34th round of the 2005 MLB draft by the New York Mets, making him the first UB player to sign a pro contract since 1986.
James M. Militello, BA ’79, is one of two distinguished alumni to be recognized this year. Militello has served as a sportscaster and reporter for The Associated Press for more than 30 years. Since 2003, he had served as president of the DC Alumni Chapter and is a long-standing member of the UB Alumni Association board’s executive committee. In 2012, he received the Charging Buffalo Award from the New York State Society. As a reporter, Jim has reported from 13 Olympiads on four different continents, including the “Miracle on Ice” hockey team in 1980 and the “Dream Team” in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Additionally, he has covered 17 Masters, 13 Super Bowls, and numerous other momentous sporting events.
Robert P. Barczak, EDB ’61, EDM ’64, joined the teaching staff at Sweet Home High in 1961, and in 1964, he became the school’s athletic director. From that moment on, the Western New York high school sports scene would be forever changed. The Panthers athletic department would accumulate a winning percentage of .720 department-wide, capturing five state championships and ten regional titles along the way. The Erie County Interscholastic Conference awarded Sweet Home the Clarkson Trophy for overall athletic supremacy 16 times under Barczak. His commitment to the Title IX initiative helped the women’s teams at Sweet Home to attain national acclaim, highlighted by the national-record-setting 292 match winning streak in women’s volleyball. Today, you can watch the Sweet Home Panthers football team play in Robert P. Barczak Stadium.
Presented by the Division of Athletics and UB Alumni Association, this year’s event will be held on Friday, April 19, 2013 in Alumni Arena. There will be a reception at 6:00 p.m. followed by the induction ceremony at 6:45 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested. Visit www.buffalobulls.com to register or call Marian Iak at 716-645-6867.