UMass Dartmouth Corsair Hall of Fame Class of 2003
For four years Maurice J. Wills (SMTI `65) was a starting guard for men's basketball teams at Durfee Tech and later SMTI, finishing his career with a 14.8 points per game average. As a first year player for Durfee Tech during the 1961-62 season, Willis was the team's third leading scorer, averaging 10.9 points per game. Durfee Tech posted a 13-9 record and finished 4-6 in the Southern New England Conference (SNEC). The following season as a sophomore in 1962-63, Wills was Durfee Tech's second leading scorer with a 14 points per game average, as his team was 12-11 and 4-6 in SNEC play. As a junior in 1963-64, Wills took over as Durfee Tech's top offensive threat, leading the team by scoring 15.5 points per game for a team that went 4-16. In his final season, Wills was selected team captain for the SMTI squad that went 7-11 for the year. Wills enjoyed his best offensive season in 1964-65, scoring 366 points for a 20.3 points per game average. Despite a 1-7 record in the SNEC, Wills was sixth in conference scoring at 17.2 points per game. He finished his four-year basketball career as an SNEC Second Team All-Star. In addition to his offensive talents, Wills was recognized throughout his career for his leadership, as an excellent defensive player who was a solid playmaker. Wills was an outstanding athlete, playing two years of baseball at Durfee Tech and two other seasons on the men's golf team.
Steve Gardiner (SMU '74) enjoyed a solid athletic career at SMU, earning multiple varsity letters and playing an important role on SMU's undefeated 1971 cross country team. But Gardiner is being inducted in the Corsair Athletic Hall of Fame for his continued support of UMass Dartmouth and his contributions to student-athletes as a cross country coach and track and field coach at New Bedford High School for more than 20 seasons. In his nomination letter, former SMU teammate William Kelly (SMU '75) described Gardiner's coaching career by writing, "In my judgment, no area individual has had a greater effect on these two sports than Steve Gardiner." On several occasions throughout his scholastic coaching career, Gardiner has been selected The Boston Globe Division I Coach of the Year for regularly sending top quality individuals and teams to state championship meets. Several of his athletes have gone on to enjoy collegiate careers, many at top schools across the nation. In describing Gardiner's coaching career, Kelly praised him for playing an important role in the personal development of all of his student-athletes. "Today, the image of sports at all levels that the public so often encounters is of athletes and coaches who are stars in their own movies, who prize celebrity over competence, who celebrate the individual at the expense of the team. A coach like Steve Gardiner reminds everyone that this image isn't always the case, that an athletic program where the emphasis is on the mastery of fundamentals and the sheer joy of competition is alive and well."
Peter Kuchinski ('75 SMU) was a four-year competitor in cross-country and ran track and field for the Corsairs for another three season. An outstanding individual athlete, Kuchinski's cross country teams compiled a 47-5 record and his track teams posted a 33-3 record while he competed. After placing 10th in the NAIA NE Championships in his first season, Kuchinski's sophomore season included a victory at the Barrington Invitational, a fifth at the NAIA NE championships and a third at the Tri-State Conference championship. Kuchinski successfully defended his Barrington Invitational as a junior and also won the inaugural SMU Invitational. Later in the season, he won the NAIA NE's as the Corsairs captured first place. He led his team to a 10th place finish in the NAIA Nationals capping a 12-0 season. In his final cross country season he was ninth at the NAIA NE race as the Corsairs again took the title and SMU returned to the NAIA Nationals to earn a top 15 finish. Kuchinski's track career was equally impressive, including a third in the NAIA NE's in the one and three mile races, along with a school record in the mile, as a freshman. The following season, he set the SMU records in the two- and three-mile events and was third in the three mile at the NAIA NE's. As a senior, he set a school record in the marathon, was third in the NAIA NE mile, second in the three-mile and was third in the NAIA NE mile and second in the three-mile, capping his career by participating in the NAIA Nationals.
Kelly Roy ('98 UMD) was a four-year player for Coach Marilyn Ritz's UMass Dartmouth softball program. From 1993 through 1996, Roy was one of the Corsairs' top offensive players, leading UMass Dartmouth to four post-season tournaments, including the 1994 ECAC New England Division III championship. In her four seasons at SMU, the Corsairs' softball team posted a combined record of 84-36. Roy was a two-time ECAC New England Div. III First Team All Star ('93 and '94) and was a Second Team selection in 1995. As a first-year player in 1993, Roy was selected as team MVP after leading the squad in RBI (25), and batting average (.465). As a sophomore, Roy was a New England Intercollegiate Softball Coaches Association All-New England All-Star after leading the Corsairs with a .520 batting average. Roy was again named an NEISCA All-Star as a junior in 1995 and was a National Softball Coaches Association Second Team All-Region selection. In her final season, Roy was selected as a Little East Conference First Team All-Star and was twice named LEC Player of the Week. Helping her team to a fourth-place finish in its first year in the LEC, Roy led the team in batting average and RBI. After graduating from UMass Dartmouth in 1998, Roy continued to play softball for several years. In 2002, Roy's team placed third out of 48 teams nationally and Roy was her team's only First Team All-America selection.
Bruce Wheeler has been an integral part of the baseball program at UMass Dartmouth for the last 32 years. During his more than three decades of coaching the Corsairs he has compiled a record of 731-515-3. He has also served as Assistant Director of Athletics at UMass Dartmouth for several years. Nine of Wheeler's teams have advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament, most recently following the 2000 season when the Corsairs also won their first Little East Conference Tournament championship. Wheeler's teams also qualified for eight ECAC Tournaments and made four NAIA tournament appearances in the early 1970's. From 1996-98, Wheeler served as National Chairman of the NCAA Division III Baseball Committee. Wheeler was the 1997 Jack Butterfield Award recipient in recognition of his distinguished service and promotion of college baseball. The Corsairs enjoyed one of their finest seasons in the program's history under Wheeler during the 1998 season. The Corsairs finished 31-12 and reached the NCAA Division III Regional finals. Wheeler was selected Little East Conference Coach of the Year in 1998. From 1972 through 1983, Wheeler also coached basketball at Southeastern Massachusetts University, posting a 133-131 career record in 11 seasons.
For the UMass Dartmouth football program, 1994 was a year to remember. The Corsairs set school records for most wins in a season (8), the first football championship (shared the New England Football Conference crown with Maine Maritime Academy) and the first post season football appearance. Although the Corsairs were defeated by Union College, 34-14 in the ECAC North-West Championship Game, UMass Dartmouth's 8-3 season was filled with record-breaking performances. NEFC Coach of the Year Bill Kavanaugh had six Corsairs named to the NEFC All Star team and center Paul Salsinha was also named Second Team All-ECAC. Led by NEFC All Star quarterback Bill Casey the Corsairs' offense was among the best in the country (265.7 yards per game), ranked 14th best among Division III teams nationally. Joining Salsinha and Casey on the NEFC First Team were tackle Kevin Magnussen, tight end John Barbarossa, wide receiver Jim Santucci and free safety Paul Barnett. Co-captain James Chase was the Corsairs' top scorer with 10 TD's (60 points) and added 582 yards rushing, a 4.8 yard per carry average. After dropping their season opener to Plymouth State College, 35-0, UMass Dartmouth won three in a row before losing to Maine Maritime Academy, 28-21. But the Corsairs rebounded by finishing the regular season with five straight wins, including a 21-14 overtime thriller over Westfield State to earn a share of the NEFC championship. UMass Dartmouth closed out its season by earning a berth in the ECAC North-West Championship game with a school record eighth victory, a 14-12 victory over Bridgewater State College.