Members of the 24th Athletics Hall of Fame Class Reflect on Lessons Learned in Sports
During their years at Wilkes, these Colonels represented the University on the mats, courts and playing fields. When they graduated, what did they take with them besides their degrees and memories? This year’s inductees to the Athletics Hall of Fame reflect on the lessons they took with them from the playing fields.
Meghan Haddad Conway ‘98
Colonels sports career: She was a four-year letter winner on the Wilkes’ women’s soccer team, becoming one of the most decorated players in the program’s history. Conway was named first team All-Freedom Conference in 1996 as a striker and stands fourth all-time in career goals (32) and sixth all-time in career points (73). She also holds several single season records including goals in a season with 15 in 1994 and fourth with 33 points scored the same year.
Where she is now: Conway has been a teacher for 18 years and now teaches kindergarten for the Sharon Public Schools in Sharon, Mass.
Lessons learned: “As captain for three years, and in the sweeper position, I gained leadership skills, along with the ability to communicate effectively. When faced with challenges in games, my perseverance was also tested. In adulthood, I was able to rely on these lessons and skills….”
Jay Reimel ’71
Colonels sports career: Reimel was the men’s basketball team’s engine and led the Wilkes offense as the point guard. He remains the program’s all-time assist leader with 628 — a hundred more than the Colonel behind him on the list. He set a single-season record with 216 assists in the 1969-70 season and led Wilkes to four straight winning seasons.
Where he is now: Reimel works in his family’s business, Lee’s Furniture in Montrose, Pa. He is a third generation owner, working for the business for 46 years and serving as a partner for the last 38.
Lessons learned: “Most sports experts will tell you in athletic endeavors, the game is 75 percent desire and 25 percent talent. As one of the smallest, if not the smallest, college basketball teams in the country at the time, our teams had to overcome great odds of being successful. We were referred to as “Rainey Raiders” (our head coach was Ron Rainey) and we out hustled, out worked, out thought and out willed our opponents. Those attributes that made you successful in athletics also make you successful in life.”
Steve Schannauer ’90
Colonels sports career: He was a four-year letter winner on the Wilkes wrestling team, serving as co-captain during the 1989 season and a quad-captain for his senior season the next year. Schannauer wrestled at heavyweight, finishing fourth at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association in 1988, fifth in 1989 and second in 1990. Legendary Wilkes wrestling coach John Reese also selected Schannauer to the Super Sixteen team.
Where he is now: Schannauer is a regional sales director for Rexnord Industries and resides in Whitehall, Pa.
Lessons learned: “The importance of teamwork. Wrestling is often thought of as an individual sport, but success cannot come without the support of your teammates working together to develop each other and overcome daily obstacles and challenges. Teamwork is applicable in everyday life, business and personal. Without understanding the importance of teamwork, the opportunity to achieve success is limited.
Margo Serafini ‘92
Women’s Basketball/Softball/Field Hockey
Colonels sports career: A three-sport star for Wilkes, Serafini was a goalie for the field hockey team and her eight-career shutouts stand third of all-time in the program’s history. She also holds the single season record for saves in a game with 38 stops against Bloomsburg in 1985. Serafini also played softball for two years and baseketball for one year for the Lady Colonels. She was named the Wilkes Female Athlete of the Year in 1986 and 1987.
Where she is now: After graduating with a physics degree, Serafini got her master’s in educational leadership from Bloomsburg University. She is the principal of Dr. David W. Kistler Elementary School, Wilkes-Barre
Lessons learned: “My Wilkes experience has taught me that being part of a family or a team, no matter how big or small, makes a difference. I strive to create the same environment at my work place. I could not do everything I do without the support of my family/team at both home and work.”
1970-71 Wrestling Team
Colonels sports career: The 1970 wrestling team is one of five undefeated teams in Wilkes wrestling history. The squad finished a perfect 13-0 in dual match play including three shutouts and an average margin of victory of 23 points. The men won the Middle Atlantic Conference team championship with a tournament record of 116 points and six wrestlers won individual titles. The team featured nine wrestlers with one MAC championship, two two-time MAC champions and four three-time MAC champions. They also boast six All-Americans including two two-time winners. Wilkes finished second overall at the Wilkes Open and fifth at the NCAA College Division National Championship.
Team members include: Jay McGinley, Bob Roberts, Art Trovi, Dennis Verzera, Bob Matley, Jerry Alexander, Alan Zellner, Gerry Willetts, Rich Ceccoli, Ron Fritts, Alain Arnould, Mac Ahmad, Bob Darling, Dennis Gillespie, Bob Yanku, Al Brackleman, Jim DeSombre, Bill Kenney, John Martellucci, Tom Chabalko, Al Favata, Mike Lee, Tom Morris, Len Cholish, Ed Garabedian, Dick Mandigo and Jeff Walk.
Team co-captains: Dennis Verzera ’72 and Gerry Willetts ’72
Where they are now: Verzera is a decorated lieutenant colonel after serving 25 years in the United States Marine Corps. He lives in Pensacola, Fla. and is the president of KelTam Inc., a company that owns, manages and restores properties. Co-captain Willetts works as an engineer in health care and as a supply salesman in Byram Township, N.J.