Five top athletes and two faculty members who have made a lasting imprint on college athletics became the newest members of the John Jay Athletics Hall of Fame on September 14.
The induction ceremony and reception, held in the Faculty/Staff Dining Room of the new building, brought out a full house of John Jay alumni, students, faculty and staff, College Foundation trustees, and friends and family of the honorees.
“It is a wonderful thing for the inductees and the College to reconnect and to acknowledge people who have made so many great contributions to this institution,” said Director of Athletics Dan Palumbo. “I am very proud to be the athletics director of this College and to be bringing this very important function back in into the spotlight.”
The Hall of Fame’s class of 2012 includes former soccer player Jason Bowrey (BA ’03), former softball standout Heather Stewart (BA ’02), baseball greats James DeCesare (BA ’08) and John Dobkowski (BA ’08), and former basketball star and Olympic kayaker Steve Kelly (BS ’72). Also inducted were CUNY swimming icon Dr. Jane Katz and long-time John Jay Director of Athletics Dr. Susan Larkin.
Kelly played basketball for John Jay for three seasons and was a three-year member of the College’s rowing crew. He holds the distinction of being the only Bloodhound athlete named to three U.S. Olympic teams, competing in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics in the four-man kayak event.
DeCesare and Dobkowski were four-year mainstays of the baseball team that won the 2007 CUNY Athletic Conference championship. DeCesare, a perennial all-star second baseman, compiled a career batting average of .365, with 209 hits and 150 runs batted in. Dobkowski, a hard-throwing right-hander, closed out his career as the all-time John Jay and CUNY Athletc Conference leader in wins, with 30.
Stewart was as dangerous in the batter’s box as she was fierce on the mound. Her three-year softball career included a .374 batting average, with 144 hits and 112 runs batted in. She also won 39 games as a pitcher, striking out 279.
Jason Bowrey was a first-team conference all-star during each of his three seasons with the men’s soccer team, a career in which he scored 27 goals and 11 assists in 49 games.
Katz has been part of the CUNY system for more than 52 years in the CUNY system, as a professor of physical education, swim coach and apostle of the life aquatic. She is also a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Larkin served in the dual capacities of Director of Athletics and chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education from 1987 to 2008, and was the first female athletics director in CUNY. She has also coached volleyball and tennis, among other roles.
The inductees’ acceptance remarks were laden with reminiscences and tributes to family members, former teammates and their alma mater. “Everyone has their path, and I’m grateful that my path went through John Jay,” said Kelly, who was also a former Student Council president. “I came to open the pool at John Jay almost 25 years ago and never left,” the characteristically effervescent Katz recalled. Schiff teetered on the edge of tears as she thanked her family and said, “Twenty-five years ago I started playing softball, and never in a million years did I think I’d be standing here tonight.” DeCesare and Dobkowski were effusive in praising Palumbo, who recruited and coached them as part of what Palumbo called “the greatest team in CUNY history.” Bowrey, now a Florida resident, was unable to attend the ceremony, but sent his thanks via a touching video.
During the evening, members of the 2007 John Jay baseball team got together to buy a commemorative brick on the new Jay Walk, which will read in part, “Thank you Coach [Palumbo] for giving us the ultimate all-around college experience.”With the latest inductees, the Hall of Fame now numbers 26 athletes, coaches and administrators. The Hall of Fame plaques are located on the fourth floor of Haaren Hall.