Vt. Sports Hall of Fame announces Class of 2020

COLCHESTER, Vt (WCAX) Superstars from the courts, links, rinks, gyms and fields are among the 10 newest members of the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. The VSHOF Board of Directors announced its eighth group of inductees, the Class of ’20, during a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the Tarrant Center on the campus of St. Michael’s College.

The inductees are: standout cross country and track star Tara Chaplin of Middlesex; Legendary ice hockey coach Jim Cross of the University of Vermont; All-Star hockey player and coach Toby Ducolon of St. Albans; Renowned gymnastics champion Debbie Dunkley of South Burlington; Olympic ski jumper Jeff Hastings of Norwich; Basketball legends Ed Hockenbury of Northfield and Sarah Schreib of East Fairfield; Fabled golf pro and basketball player Libby Smith of Essex; Women’s ice hockey pioneer, Carol Weston of Bristol. Record-setting golfer Thomas ‘Tom’ Pierce of Rutland, also has been selected as this year’s historic inductee.

The class will be formally inducted at the 2020 Vermont Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Celebration Presented by Myers Waste at the Delta Marriott Burlington Hotel on Williston Road in South Burlington on April 25, 2020.

Ticket information for the 2020 induction and dinner will be available soon on the VSHOF website at www.vermontsportshall.com. Proceeds from the event go to Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, the designated charity of the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. The past dinners have raised about $19,000 to support PCAV’s work across Vermont’s 14 counties. Myers Container Service Corp, the “Red Can Family” is the new presenting sponsor for the annual event.

This year’s class, representing six of the state’s 14 counties, brings the membership in the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame to 97 since its first class was inducted in 2012. Also, Dunkley (gymnastics), Hastings (ski jumping), Pierce (men’s golf) and Weston (women’s hockey) are the first from those sports to be inducted into the VSHOF. The Class of 2020 was selected by three groups: the 15-member VSHOF board of directors, a statewide sports advisory panel and the previous inductees.

Besides honoring those making significant contributions to the state's sports legacy, the Hall is designed to help promote and provide inspiration in sports and recreation to the youth of Vermont.

To view previous classes and for more information on the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame, log on to its official website, www.vermontsportshall.com. For more information on the VSHOF’s designated charity, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, log on to www.pcav.org

Introducing the 2020 Vermont Sports Hall of Fame Inductees:
(complete bios available online at https://www.vermontsportshall.com/2020class.html

Tara Chaplin, Middlesex, running- cross country and track & field: The 2001 NCAA Division I Cross Country champion and an All-American at the University of Arizona, she also was a state champion and All-American runner at U-32 High School in East Montpelier. At U-32, Chaplin led the Raiders to three consecutive state cross country titles (1995-97), and was a four-time 3,000-meter champion. In her senior year at U-32, her 3,000-meter time of 9:46 was the best in the nation, and she finished second in the 1997 Northeast Cross Country Regionals and was ninth in the 1997 Foot Locker National Championship.

Jim Cross, University of Vermont/Burlington, hockey (coach): The architect of the University of Vermont men’s hockey program in the 1960s and 1970s, his success with the Catamounts also sped the rapid development of youth and high school hockey in Vermont. In Cross’s nine seasons in Division II, UVM was 113-42-1, including going 78-12-1 its last five years (1969-74). The Cats won three ECAC D-II titles in four years starting in 1970, and a trip to the 1974 NHIT title game, the lone D-II program in the field. His first season in D-I, Cross led the Catamounts to the ECAC Semifinals and a 24-12-0 mark. Overall, Cross was 280-251-9 in 19 seasons. He picked up the Edward Jeremiah Award as the national D-II coach of the year in 1973, was honored with the prestigious John McInnes Award in 2001 and received the Hobey Baker Legends of College Hockey Award in 2019.

Toby Ducolon, St. Albans, hockey (player/coach): The first Vermonter drafted by the NHL, Ducolon was a tremendous high school and collegiate player. At BFA-St. Albans he helped the Bobwhites to back-to-back D-I state championships in 1982 and 1983, and headed the Vermont All-State First Team as a junior and senior, with 38 goals his final season. He was the 50th overall selection in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues and was named to the 40-man U.S. Junior National Team that summer. At the University of Vermont, he tallied 46 goals and 39 assists as a four-year regular, capping his career with UVM’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 1988. Ducolon then played professionally for two seasons with the Blues IHL affiliate. Since returning to St. Albans and taking over the BFA program in 1990, he has taken his alma mater to a dozen D-I State title games and his Bobwhites have won seven crowns.

Debbie Dunkley, South Burlington, gymnastics: Was part of the Dunkley family that is synonymous with gymnastics in Vermont and beyond. Debbie Dunkley is arguably the top gymnast the state has produced. She was unbeaten in high school and was part of two national championship teams at Springfield College. Before graduating in 1971 the SBHS Rebel was the undefeated Vermont high school state champion for four years in the All-Around event — balance beam, uneven bars, floor exercise and vaulting. At Springfield, Dunkley earned All-American honors in the floor, beam and bars in both 1972 and 1973, and the beam in 1975. She also was in the the top-10 in the All-Around in the collegiate nationals in three of her four years. In 1973, she was an alternate for the Moscow World University Games in 1973.

Jeff Hastings, Norwich, ski-jumping: A four-time U.S. ski-jumping champion, Hastings narrowly missed a medal in the 1984 Olympics finishing fourth at the Sarajevo games. His fourth-place finish on the 120-meter hill, just 0.2 points away from third, is the best score by a U.S. jumper in modern Olympic history. Also at Sarajevo, Hastings was the top U.S. competitor and also came in ninth on the smaller 90-meter hill. Prior to joining the national team, he was a high school skier at Hanover (N.H.) High and went on to Williams College. He was a coach for the U.S. Ski Team for the 1988 Olympics and also has served as the lead ski-jumping television analyst for NBC Sports.

Ed Hockenbury, Northfield, basketball: The winningest men’s basketball coach in Norwich University history, the late Ed Hockenbury Sr. led the Cadets to their first two appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament. In 16 years at Norwich, he amassed 181 wins, bringing the program from a sub-.500 level to New England prominence. Starting in 1980-81, Hockenbury led the Cadets to eight straight winning seasons going 128-63, including 21 wins in both 1983-84 and 1986-87, advancing to the NCAAs both times. After leaving Norwich he was an assistant at Middlebury College and later head coach at Vermont Technical College, leading VTC to the NJCAA national tournament in his second season.

Thomas M. ‘Tom’ Pierce, Rutland, golf: Vermont’s most accomplished men’s amateur golfer by dominating the sport from the mid-1930s to the 1950s, the late Tom Pierce is the first men’s golfer to be inducted in the VSHOF. As a 16-year-old in 1935, Pierce won the first of his record seven Vermont Amateur golf championships. The long-time Rutland County Club members added state titles in 1938, 1939, 1940, 1946, 1947 and 1950. He also had great success at the northeast and national level reaching the match play portion of the U.S. Amateur Championship four times. He won RCC’s inaugural Leslie D. Pierce Memorial, named for his father.

Sarah Schreib, East Fairfield, basketball: The state’s top high school basketball player as a senior at Essex, Schreib went to D-I James Madison where she was an all-conference standout. She graduated at Essex as the all-time leading scorer (1663 points) and at James Madison the career leader in rebounds. The talented post player helped Essex to the 1990 D-I title as a sophomore and to the championship game as a senior. After a redshirt year, Schrieb was named the CAA Rookie of the Year in 1994, and earned all-conference honors her next three seasons, helping JMU to the NCAA tournament her junior year. The two-time captain finished as the James Madison’s career leader in rebounds (851) and sixth in scoring.

Libby Smith, Essex, golf/basketball: An outstanding athlete at Essex High, Smith went on to a standout career in basketball and golf at UVM, later earning a spot on the LPGA Tour. On the court at she was a four-year starter at Essex helping the Hornets to a 93-3 record including three 24-0 seasons and winning four state titles. She scored 1,106 career points and was named the 1998 Vermont State Player of the Year. Also at Essex, Smith was an all-state soccer player and twice won the Vermont girls golf state champ and was a New England champion. While at UVM, Smith was a four-year starting guard leading the Catamounts to two regular season conference titles, an America East Championship, an NCAA Tournament appearance and a trip to the WNIT quarterfinals. The 1999 America East Rookie of the Year and first team all-conference as a senior, Smith finished as the only UVM player to have more than 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. She was a captain of the UVM men’s golf team, and won five straight Vermont Amateur Women’s Golf Championships (1999-2003). She played professionally, including on the LPGA Tour, and currently is a teaching pro in Florida.

Carol Weston, Bristol, ice hockey/multi-sport: The first female hockey player inducted in the VSHOF, Carol Weston was a pioneer in the then-young sport of women’s ice hockey as she went from rural Vermont to star for a top NCAA Division I program at the University of New Hampshire. She was a four-year regular on defense for UNH (1987-91), where she helped lead UNH to back-to-back ECAC titles as a junior and a senior. At Mount Abraham, Weston was a tremendous all-around athlete including starring in boy’s soccer. She also was a three-event state champion in the discus, shot put and javelin, twice winning the New England discus title. She also played soccer at UNH and was a championship thrower on the Wildcats track teams. Weston was an assistant women’s hockey coach at Middlebury then Cornell for seven years, and was the Big Red head coach for four seasons (1998-2002), becoming the first Vermonter to become a Division I head hockey coach. She continues today as one of the top referees for the sport in Vermont.

Courtesy: Vermont Sports Hall of Fame