Four of the five athletes to join the Stevens Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 25 graduated in the 2000s, reflecting the recent growth and increased prominence of the Stevens Athletics program. Young alumni entering the Athletic Hall of Fame will be Shanna E. Garber Urgo ’02, basketball, tennis, soccer and outdoor track & field; Eric Stanley ’04, basketball; Aracely Cruz ’05, basketball and tennis; and Matthew J. Grande ’05, lacrosse. The late Walter K. Stamer ’64, M.M.S. ’70, represents the previous generation of outstanding Stevens athletes, as he will be honored for both lacrosse and basketball.
While each set their distinctive records of achievement on the playing field and later in their professional lives, these stand-out alumni share a common trait.
“Each of these athletes set a standard of excellence on the field or court that will forever remain an integral part of the Stevens athletic program,” says Russell Rogers, Stevens’ Director of Athletics. “While their playing careers were truly special, I think that each individual is known even more so for their character and integrity and the positive impact they had on their teammates and classmates.”
These Hall of Famers will be inducted during the Stevens Athletic Hall of Fame brunch on Sept. 25 at Stevens—just one of many activities in an action-packed Stevens Homecoming 2010.
Homecoming activities begin Friday, with a Stevens Cross Country Invitational at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J., and a men’s lacrosse alumni game at DeBaun Field. Saturday morning starts with a women’s lacrosse alumnae game at DeBaun Field, followed by the Athletic Hall of Fame Brunch inside the Bissinger Room at Howe Center; an afternoon community barbecue; men’s and women’s soccer games; and an Alumni Meet & Greet reception inside Bissinger that evening, among other activities.
Performing arts lovers will have the chance to enjoy two performances by Stevens students at DeBaun Auditorium Saturday afternoon: a Performing Arts Showcase, featuring Stevens singers, dancers and comedians; and later a performance of “Good Ship Pride of Communipaw Flats,” a comedy, written by James T. Costigan ’33, that has become a Stevens theater tradition.
The Stevens Athletic Hall of Fame Brunch, co-sponsored by the Stevens Alumni Association, will include presentation of the 2010 SAA Outstanding Teacher Award to Dr. Jonathan Wharton, assistant professor of social sciences at Stevens. Wharton will be on hand to receive the award, which was voted upon by members of the five most recent graduating classes.
Alumni and guests must register for both the Hall of Fame Brunch and the Alumni Meet & Greet reception. The cost for the brunch is $20 for adults and $5 for children under 12; and the Alumni Meet & Greet reception, which will include light food and beverages, is free. To see the full Homecoming schedule, see accompanying story. Online registration for the brunch and reception is available at http://www.stevensducks.com/Homecoming.asp Registration is also available by calling the Alumni Office at (201) 216-5161.
Homecoming 2010 marks the 21st Stevens Athletic Hall of Fame inductions. Stevens founded the program—which honors student athletes, coaches, athletic administrators and also alumni who have excelled in sports outside of Stevens—in 1990.
Here’s a look at the Stevens Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
Remarkable creaseman and engineer
The late Walter K. Stamer ’64, who will be honored for lacrosse and basketball, enjoyed remarkable careers both on the playing field and later in his professional engineering work.
Stamer was selected as one of the three top attack players for Stevens lacrosse from 1960 to 1969 and to the All Decade Team for Stevens Lacrosse’s Centennial Year in 1984. In his Stevens lacrosse career, he ranks third among all players in goals a game, at 2.69. Stevens was co-champion of the Mid-Atlantic Division of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association in 1963 and went 12-7-1 in Stamer’s final two seasons.
“He was one of the best creasemen I’ve coached,” says his former lacrosse coach Irwin “Buzz” Seymour. “Bruce Boylan ’63, a Stevens Hall of Famer and fraternity brother, got Walt to come out for the team, and together they were a great combination, with Bruce feeding Walt for most of the 63 goals he scored in the first two seasons.”
Stamer enjoyed a successful 36-year career with Union Carbide/Rhone-Poulenc, where he rose from process engineer with Union Carbide’s plastics division to his last position as Operations Director for the United States entity of Rhone-Poulenc, which acquired Union Carbide in the 1990s. In this position, he was accountable for the manufacturing of 14 U.S. plants with more than 2,000 employees.
Stamer, who lived in Cary, N.C., died on Oct. 29, 1996. He is survived by his wife, Victoria; his two daughters, Jennifer and Katherine; and four grandchildren.
Jim Thorpe’s finest
Shanna E. Garber Urgo ’02 grew up, quite fittingly, in Jim Thorpe, Pa., a small town named after one of the greatest all-around athletes ever. Garber Urgo continued in this tradition, as this gifted athlete played four sports at Stevens: basketball, soccer, outdoor track & field and tennis. With Garber Urgo, the women’s basketball team went 40-29 in her last three seasons, and in soccer, she helped the team to a 16-2-1 record in 2001. That fall, the women’s soccer team won the WIAC and Skyline Conference Championships and advanced to its first-ever ECAC post season tournament.
Garber Urgo scored 1,016 points in her basketball career at Stevens and averaged 12.7 points per game.
“She set a fine example for all of her teammates and made a significant contribution to the foundation of our highly successful basketball program,” says Stevens Director of Athletics Russell Rogers. “She was as good a person as she was a versatile athlete.”
“Shanna was a very physical player who gave 100 percent every night,” recalls her former basketball coach Tom Sclafani.
Garber Urgo works as a web consultant and lives in Wanaque, N.J., with her husband, Brian Urgo ’98, and their infant daughter, Cameron.
Extraordinary talent and drive
Eric Stanley ’04 was not only one of the greatest basketball players ever to come out of Stevens, he was also one of the gutsiest. Stanley had a career 1,213 points, despite a major knee injury. This places Stanley, who was named to the All Skyline Conference and all ECAC teams, fourth in Stevens men’s basketball history in career points.
Charles Brown, his former basketball coach at Stevens, calls Stanley “the ultimate competitor.”
“He was a hard worker and very talented—one of the best inside players I recruited for Stevens,” Brown says. “He was such a special player, I made 162 recruiting visits to see him.”
Stanley followed a fascinating path to Stevens. Growing up in Spanish Harlem in New York City, he took a test at the Boys Club of New York as a sixth grader, leading to admission to Hillside School, a private school in Marlboro, Mass. He later enrolled at Solebury School in New Hope, Pa., with the Boys Club providing financial assistance to this talented teenager.
Today, Stanley works as an information technology specialist with Chimera Securities in New York City, where he also resides.
Pride of Union Hill
Both Aracely Cruz ’05 and Matthew Grande ’05 were such outstanding Stevens athletes that they are being inducted into the Hall of Fame on their first year of eligibility.
Cruz, a top basketball and tennis player for Stevens, was an extraordinary athlete out of Union Hill High School in Union City, N.J. She is perhaps the greatest women’s basketball player in Stevens history, scoring 1,704 points in her career and being the women’s basketball record holder for points scored per game (16.4). She also holds the record for points per game in a season, scoring 500 points in the 2003-2004 season, and averaging 18.5 points a game that year.
She won many honors, including being named Player of the Year for the WIAC in 2002 and 2004 and All-Skyline Conference all four years that she played. Her former basketball coaches offered high praise for her leadership as well as her talent on the court. “She was the best leader I’ve had in my 32 years of coaching,” says former coach Tom Sclafani. “Nobody knew about her, and after seeing her play, both (Stevens’ Dean of University Admissions) Daniel Gallagher and I were convinced we had to have her come to Stevens.”
Former coach Sue Roarke calls Cruz “the fastest player getting to the rim that I’ve coached.” She also remembers her leadership skills and her character.
During a late season Skyline Conference play-off game in 2003, Roarke recalls that “I had just received a technical foul, and we were down 22-6 when Aracely said to me, ‘Don’t worry, Coach, we’ve got your back.’ Stevens went on to win the contest 52-48 to reach the Skyline Conference Championship Game.
“I was also impressed by Aracely’s desire to give back to her community after she graduated. She was very serious about helping and encouraging young people to study and go on to college.”
Cruz works as a process engineer with Kreisler Industrial Corporation in Elmwood Park, N.J., and lives in North Bergen, N.J.
‘Grande’ rise of Stevens lacrosse
Matthew Grande ’05, also entering the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility, “put Stevens lacrosse on the map,” his former coach says. It’s easy to see why.
Grande led the men’s lacrosse team to a 45-18 record over his four seasons. These extraordinary teams had a four-year streak of NCAA Tournament bids, including the first in Stevens lacrosse history in 2001. The Ducks were Knickerbocker Conference Champions from 2001 to 2004, with Grande, a long stick midfielder, leading the way.
“He was such a remarkable long stick midfielder that opponents had to look for and adjust to him,” says his former lacrosse coach Byron Collins. “His strong riding, clearing and ground ball pickups ignited our transition game, enabling us, for example, to rank third in the nation for goals a game, 14.9, in 2004. It is unique for a long stick midfielder to be honored as much as he was.”
Grande was named to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-American 2nd team in 2004 and as an Honorable Mention in 2003. He was also Knickerbocker Conference Player of the Year for 2003 and 2004.
Grande works as an account install representative with Honeywell in Morristown, N.J., and lives in Lincoln Park, N.J.
John Lyon is a former Stevens Sports Information Director.