Old Westbury, N.Y. - Over 140 Presidents,
administrators, coaches, student-athletes and guests from all nine
East Coast Conference institutions traveled to the de Seversky
Mansion on the campus of New York Institute of Technology on May 25
for the East Coast Conference Awards Dinner.
The event highlighted team and student-athlete accomplishments and also honored the first three recipients of the ECC Lifetime Achievement Award.
Three former athletic directors from the East Coast Conference, Neil Judge of Mercy College, Vincent Salamone of C.W. Post, and Dr. Rick Wettan of Queens College, were honored with the award.
Judge, Salamone, and Wettan were involved in the creation of the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference, the predecessor to the East Coast Conference and were involved in helping to organize, govern and lead the conference. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the three for their significant contributions to the development and success of athletics and student athletes at their respective institutions and in the ECC.
Judge was a mainstay at Mercy College beginning in 1969 as a part time Phys Ed instructor and then became the college’s first AD in 1971, the position he held until his retirement in 2005.
During his tenure at Mercy, Neil could be seen coaching Mercy teams - during his career he coached each team the college sponsored at some point – arranging for facilities, taking care of the fields, handling compliance, doing stats or the clock at games, taping ankles, along with directing the Mercy summer sports camps and teaching PE. Most important to Judge was the success of the Mercy student athletes in classroom.
Famous for reminding Mercy team members that they were students first and athletes second” Neil worked with both students and faculty to create an environment of academic accountability and achievement off the field. For all of his contributions, Neil was inducted into the Mercy College Hall of Fame in 2006.
Salamone’s involvement with CW Post athletics spans 50 years dating back to 1959 when he entered the college as a freshmen. During his student-athlete days at Post, Vin played three sports: football, baseball and lacrosse. After graduating in 1964 with a degree in accounting but stayed on as a coach and athletic trainer until being named Director of Athletics at his alma mater in 1986.
During his years as AD, amassed many championships including Post’s first ever national champions, the 1996 men’s lacrosse team and produced many academic All Americans. Vin helped implement the women’s soccer, lacrosse and swimming programs at Post and nearly doubled the department’s full time staff. He was also involved with the planning of the Pratt Recreation Center gymnasium and upgrading of athletic facilities and was a significant advocate for the health and safety of his student athletes. Vin was inducted into the CW Post Hall of Fame in 2007
In 1988, Vin and fellow honoree Rick Wettan began work on creating what eventually became the NYCAC, now the ECC, by bringing together Division II institutions from the NY metropolitan area with the idea of creating a multi sport conference. Vin held the position of Treasurer of the conference from 1988 until he left the position of AD in 2006 and was clearly a key leader in the growth and development of the league and was committed to its success.
Like his colleagues Neil Judge and Vin Salamone, Dr. Rick Wettan spent nearly his entire life in higher education and athletics at one institution: Queens College.
Doc Wettan arrived at Queens as a freshman in 1961. He participated in several freshmen and varsity sports while studying there and after graduation he was appointed as a lecturer and track coach by the college while working on his masters from Brooklyn College. He later went on to receive his doctorate from Ohio State in 1970.
Returning to Queens, Doc was appointed to Assistant Professor, teaching sport history and sport sociology and also took over coaching soccer and was named DII coach of the year by the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Soccer League in 1972.
In 1978 Rick Wettan was appointed Director of Athletics at Queens, given the task of rebuilding the entire Athletic and Recreation program which had been retrenched the year before by finding private funding sources. As a result of the success of business ventures he put together, the entire program was moved from NCAA Division III to II in 1982.
The intercollegiate program grew significantly under the watch of Doc Wettan with facilities being upgraded, new programs and staff being added, teams winning conference titles and participating in ECAC and NCAA postseason championships and student athletes succeeding in the classroom. Along with these efforts, as noted earlier, Rick Wettan was instrumental in the creation of the NYCAC, working with Vin Salamone in 1988 to create the NY metro area athletic conference for DII schools. He was named the conference’s first president that year and held many leadership roles on committees for the conference over the years.
In addition to recognizing the Players, Coaches and Scholar-Athletes of the Year from all thirteen ECC sponsored sports, the conference honored eight student-athletes and four institutions while and also handed out the 2010-11 Commissioner’s Cup.
The Molloy College women’s basketball team was named the recipients of the ECC Community Engagement Award of Excellence for their involvement with the Friends of Jaclyn organization. (read more)
St. Thomas Aquinas College was presented with the ECC Community Cup for the second consecutive year after averaging 18 hours of community service and community engagement per student-athlete, the highest among the eight institutions. (read more)
Dowling received the ECC Cares Award for the second straight year for leading the conference in monies raised for collective causes. The Golden Lions raised an average of $23.17 per student-athlete to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, breast cancer awareness and prostate cancer awareness, and Lax For Life among others. (read more)
Junior defender Vladimir Milosavljevic of the Dowling College men’s soccer team was named the 2011 Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Milosavljevic boasted a 4.0 GPA as an Accounting and Finance major to earn the NCAA’s Elite 88 award given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA at the NCAA Tournament. Milosavljevic was a standout on the field as well, being named an NSCAA Third Team All-American. (read more)
Senior goalkeeper Rachael Goldstein of Dowling College’s women’s lacrosse team was tabbed the 2011 Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Selected the 2011 ECC Goalkeeper of the Year, Goldstein maintained a near-perfect 3.7 GPA and helped the Golden Lions to their first ever ECC championship and appearance in the NCAA Tournament. (read more)
Two student-athletes received the John Smillie, Jr. Awards for overcoming personal and physical challenges to continue to play the sport that they love. Junior John Merchant of the Dowling College men’s basketball team and senior Joe Mare of the C.W. Post baseball team were recognized for their courage, dedication and inspiring stories. (read more)
The most prestigious award of the evening, dubbed the Excellence in Community and Character Award (E.C.C. Award), was presented to three student-athletes this year. The E.C.C. Award recognizes student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through positive actions and behaviors that are consistent with the NCAA Division II attributes of learning, service, passion, sportsmanship, balance and resourcefulness. This year’s recipients were Jackie Bove (Women’s Lacrosse, Molloy), Ben Latchford (Men’s Soccer, Mercy College), Sarah Kiser (Softball, C.W. Post) and Kim Pinzon (Women’s Lacrosse, St. Thomas Aquinas). (read more)