Induction ceremony to be held Friday, October 19 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow, Mass.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (July 9, 2018) – Western New England University announced its 2018 Downes Athletic Hall of Fame class on Monday morning.
Michael O'Connor '03 (men's basketball), Tim Larocca '07 (men's soccer), Katharina Boes Hiergeist '11 (women's volleyball) and Professor John Anzalotti (contributor) will be honored for their contributions to Western New England athletics at an induction ceremony and dinner event on Friday, October 19 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow, Mass.
Michael O'Connor, a guard for the men's basketball team from 1999-03, helped lead the Golden Bears to their most successful four-year run in program history.
The Farmington, Conn. native was a four-year starter and two-time All-Conference performer, serving as team captain his junior and senior seasons.
O'Connor holds the program's all-time record for assists (480) and his 161 career steals rank fifth. He is among 23 men's basketball student-athletes to reach the 1,000-point milestone (1,025), while his 102 games started and 105 games played rank second and fifth in program history, respectively.
O'Connor made an immediate impact during his freshman season in 1999-00, as he started all 28 contests for a Western New England squad that went 22-6, captured the GNAC championship, and appeared in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the second time in program history. O'Connor was recognized as the GNAC Rookie of the Year for his contributions.
The following season (2000-01), Western New England topped the 20-win mark again (20-8) and repeated as GNAC champions with the help of O'Connor, who was named to the GNAC All-Tournament Team. O'Connor's junior and senior campaigns were highlighted by selections to the All-GNAC second team.
In 105 career games (102 starts), he compiled 1,025 points, 480 assists, 312 rebounds and 161 steals. O'Connor's teams went a combined 74-35 (.678) and won two GNAC titles with two NCAA Tournament appearances.
O'Connor, who earned his undergraduate degree in sport management from Western New England, currently works at ESPN as a feature producer.
Tim Larocca, a midfielder for the men's soccer team from 2003-06, played an integral role in the program's rise under head coach Erin Sullivan.
Larocca was a two-year captain, three-time All-GNAC First Team performer and three-time All-New England Region honoree for the Golden Bears. As a senior in 2006, he became the men's soccer program's first ever All-American with his selection to the NSCAA/Adidas Division III Third Team.
Coming off a 7-8-4 showing during Larocca's freshman campaign in 2003, Western New England went 16-6-1 in '04, captured the team's first GNAC championship, and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The following season, Larocca and the Golden Bears set a team record for wins (21-3 overall), including the program's first two NCAA Tournament victories. Larocca's senior campaign was highlighted by another GNAC title and wins over Wheaton and Amherst in the NCAA Tournament.
In 88 career matches, Larocca compiled 41 points with 11 goals and 19 assists.
The East Longmeadow, Mass. native was a member of Western New England teams that won over 70 percent of their games (60-23-7), appeared in three NCAA Tournaments (including consecutive trips to the Sweet 16), and set the standard of success for the men's soccer program.
Larocca earned his undergraduate degree in marketing from Western New England before receiving his master's degree in education from Utica College in 2009. He currently serves as the Assistant Director of Recreation for his hometown of East Longmeadow, Mass., and as Boys Coaching Director for Connecticut Football Club. Larocca has also been an assistant coach with the Western New England men's soccer program since the 2009 season.
Katharina Boes Hiergeist is the most decorated setter and one of the top overall players in the 25-year history of the Western New England women's volleyball program.
Boes assumed the role of setter as a freshman in 2007 and proceeded to rack up a program record 3,786 assists over the course of her four-year career. She also compiled 965 digs, 281 kills, 207 blocks and 205 service aces in 130 matches (457 sets).
The Buffalo Grove, Ill. native was a three-year captain and four-time All-Commonwealth Coast Conference performer, earning First Team selections in both 2009 and 2010. She was named Team MVP on two occasions (2008 & 2010) and received All-New England Region honorable mention recognition following her senior campaign. Additionally, Boes was selected to numerous All-Tournament Teams during her Western New England career.
Boes helped lead the Golden Bears to a pair of 20+ win seasons, including a program record 27 victories (27-10 overall) in 2009. With Boes posting career-best statistics, the 2009 squad went 14-2 at home and 9-1 in conference play, reaching the championship match of the CCC Tournament and earning a trip to the ECAC New England Tournament.
Boes, who earned her undergraduate degree in sport management, now works in ticket sales for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League.
Professor John Anzalotti will enter the Downes Athletic Hall of Fame as a contributor in recognition of his longstanding support of athletics at Western New England University.
Anzalotti arrived at Western New England in 1965 and was appointed Faculty Athletic Representative in September of '66. He held this position for over 25 years and played a significant role in the growth of athletics at the University.
In addition to attending and providing support at countless athletic contests, Anzalotti served as a liason between the athletic department and the rest of the campus community. He aided in the development and expansion of Western New England's physical education program, and chaired a committee that drew up guidelines for the use of the Alumni Healthful Living Center.
Anzalotti also helped usher in a new era of athletic success at Western New England in 1998, when he served on the committee that hired Dr. Mike Theulen as Director of Athletics.
A native of Springfield, Mass., Anzalotti attended Classical High School and American International College before completing his studies at the University of Massachusetts. The history professor completed his 53rd year at Western New England in 2017-18.