Western New England Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Western New England Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Induction ceremony to be held Friday, September 22 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow, Mass.  

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (July 13, 2017) – Western New England University announced its Class of 2017 inductees into the Downes Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday morning.

The 2007 men's lacrosse team, Lisa and Bruce Bachmann '83/'90 (contributors), Jackie Shedlock '05 (softball) and Justin Walz '10 (baseball/football) will be honored for their contributions to Western New England athletics at an induction ceremony and dinner event during homecoming weekend on Friday, September 22nd at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow, Mass.

2007 Men's Lacrosse Team
The 2007 Western New England University men's lacrosse team laid the foundation for a program that is now one of the most respected not just in the region, but in all of NCAA Division III. The Golden Bears have captured six Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championships and reached the NCAA Tournament six times since the 2007 squad's historic campaign.  

Coming off four consecutive second place finishes in the Pilgrim League from 2003-06, the 2007 Golden Bears were determined to break out. They did just that under sixth-year head coach John Klepacki, reeling off eight straight wins to open the season, including victories over No. 5 Tufts and No. 6 Nazareth. Western New England didn't slow down from there, closing out the regular season with six more triumphs en route to a perfect 14-0 campaign.

After rolling to a 20-5 victory over Lasell in the Pilgrim League semifinals, the Golden Bears defeated city rival Springfield College 8-6 for the conference title, avenging a 12-11, double-overtime loss to the Pride in the previous season's championship contest.

Western New England, which had climbed all the way to No. 3 in the national polls at that point, received a first round bye in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Bears eventually welcomed No. 17 and also undefeated Keene State to Springfield for the first NCAA contest played on campus in any sport. Leading 5-3 at halftime, Western New England scored six unanswered goals in the third quarter on its way to a 13-5 victory in front of 1235 fans at Golden Bear Stadium.

Although the team's undefeated run ended in the quarterfinals at the hands of defending national champion SUNY Cortland, Western New England had established itself as a national power. The Golden Bears finished with a program record 17 wins (17-1 overall), while their .944 winning percentage ranked second among 130 schools. They also finished fourth nationally in scoring defense (5.78) and sixth in scoring margin (7.39).

At the conclusion of the season, five Golden Bears were recognized as United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) All-Americans, including third team selections in senior attackman Adam Cherry, who led the team with 69 points, and junior face-off specialist Travis Brown. Junior goalie Chris Body, junior midfielder Jon Hayes, and sophomore defenseman Jared Pabis also garnered USILA Honorable Mention All-America recognition. Additionally, Klepacki was selected as the USILA Division III Coach of the Year, becoming the first and only Western New England coach to receive a national coach of the year award.

Lisa & Bruce Bachmann '83/'90
As longtime supporters of the athletic department at Western New England, Lisa and Bruce Bachmann will enter the Downes Athletic Hall of Fame as contributors.

The Bachmanns, who earned both their undergraduate (1983) and graduate ('90) degrees from the University, have been instrumental in their support of numerous athletic department initiatives over the years and have been tireless advocates for the advancement and growth of women's athletics programs at the University.

They have been a driving force behind the establishment of the Women's Athletics Council at Western New England, which was created to connect female athletic alumnae with current student-athletes and shape the future success of women's programs at the University.

The Bachmanns have also been annual supporters of both the Golden Bear Club and the Athletic Department Golf Tournament. Their leadership, vision, and financial support played an important role in the construction of the Flynn Family Golden Bear Pavilion, which opened in the fall of 2015 and features state-of-the-art locker rooms for Western New England's outdoor teams.

Lisa, who was a member of the Western New England basketball and softball teams during her time as a Golden Bear, has also served as a Commencement Speaker for Graduate Commencement in 2016. She currently serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising and Operating Officer for Big Lots, Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio. Bruce, an alum of the Western New England ice hockey program, is retired from industry where he is enjoying what life has to offer after a long career. Together, the two of them have played a significant role in shaping the Western New England University Athletic program and in assuring the quality of the Golden Bear student athlete experience.

Jackie Shedlock '05
One of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the Western New England softball program, Shedlock ranks in the top-3 of almost every career pitching category, including first in batting average against (.165), second in strikeouts (576) and earned run average (0.99) and third in wins (60).

She was a key contributor as a sophomore in 2003 during the Golden Bears' run to the College World Series, going 9-1 with 0.72 ERA while limiting opposing batters to a .158 average. Shedlock followed that up with an even more impressive campaign as a junior in 2004, as she went 20-6 with a 0.94 ERA and earned Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III Northeast Region first team, All-Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) first team and GNAC Pitcher of the Year accolades.

Shedlock capped her collegiate career in 2005 by becoming Western New England's first female All-American in any sport with her selection to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III third team. She also collected a pair of regional honors and repeated as the GNAC Pitcher of the Year after winning a single-season program record 23 games (23-5 overall) and posting a 0.95 ERA with 239 strikeouts in 154.2 innings pitched.

A three-time All-Conference and two-time All-Region performer, Shedlock was a member of Western New England teams that went 138-33-1 (.805), won four consecutive GNAC championships and appeared in the NCAA Tournament each year during her four-year career.

Justin Walz '10  
A two-sport athlete during his time at Western New England, Walz excelled both as a quarterback on the football gridiron and as a second baseman on the baseball diamond for the Golden Bears. He earned All-Conference honors in both sports and was named Western New England's Coca Cola Co-Male Athlete of the Year in 2008. 

Walz started 31 of the 34 games that he appeared in at quarterback over his four-year football career, setting program records for passing attempts (1019), completions (581), yards (6911) and touchdowns (39). He was also a threat to run, racking up 989 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground.

The Groton, Conn. native received the prestigious New England Football Writers Division II/Division III Weekly Gold Helmet Award as a sophomore in September 2007 after compiling 334 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in Western New England's season-opening win over Hartwick College. Walz went on to earn All-New England Football Conference (NEFC) second team accolades as a junior in 2008, before establishing career-highs in passing yards (2103) and touchdowns (13) in 2009 as the Golden Bears set a then-program record with six wins during his senior campaign.

Walz was also an integral part of the Western New England baseball program's dominant run in the late 2000's, as the Golden Bears won the conference title and reached the NCAA Tournament all four years of his career. A career .319 hitter in 178 games, Walz earned All-Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) second team honors as a freshman in 2007, before going on to collect All-Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) second team recognition as a junior in 2009.

In addition to owning several football program records, Walz's name can also be found throughout the baseball record books. He is the program's all-time leader in runs (180) and walks (143), and also ranks second in triples (14), third in games played/games started (178), sixth in hits (203) and eighth in on-base percentage (.449).

The Downes Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1999 to pay tribute to the outstanding performances of student-athletes, contributors, coaches, administrators and teams that have shaped the rich history of Western New England Athletics. It is named in honor of Arthur William "Red" Downes, a member of the Western New England coaching staff and faculty for 45 years who was inducted in the inaugural 1999 class.