Orono, Maine — The University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame will induct an eight member class this fall, adding standouts from men’s soccer, cross country, football, women’s soccer, field hockey, track & field, and baseball to the 205-member hall.
Honorees include Corey Conner, 10-time America East champion and two-time track All-American; Gerald (Jerry) Ellis, nine-time letterwinner and two-time Maine State Champion in the mile; Heather Hathorn (Driscoll), women’s soccer record holder for career goals and career points; Joe Johnson, second round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves and NCAA Regional All-Star Co-MVP; Kelly Newton, three-time field hockey all-conference first team selection and 2010 America East Offensive Player of the Year; Ben Spike, men’s soccer captain and All-New England selection; Justin Strzelczyk, nine-year NFL veteran; and the 1965 football team, Yankee Conference Champions and the only team in UMaine history to appear in a Bowl game, having participating in the Tangerine Bowl.
The Class of 2019 Hall of Famers was selected by the M Club and approved by UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Athletic Director Ken Ralph. The induction dinner and ceremony will be held on Friday, Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer, Maine.
Conner ’13 captured a total of 10 America East conference titles and became the first woman in UMaine history to compete in five NCAA Championship events, during her time with the Black Bears. Conner currently holds a total of seven individual schools records, sitting atop the leaderboard in the following events: 1,500 meters (outdoor), mile (indoor), 3000m (indoor), 3000m (outdoor), 5000m (indoor), 5000m (outdoor) and 10,000m (outdoor). A two-time U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-American, Conner currently holds the America East record in the 5,000m. Following her collegiate career, Conner ran professionally for the Hanson-Brooks team. In March, she was selected to the United States Trail team and in June will compete in the 2019 Trail World Championships in Portugal.
Strzelczyk earned All-Conference first team and All-American status while helping lead the Black Bears to Yankee Conference titles in 1987 and 1989. Strzelczyk, who played both tight end and defensive line at UMaine, won the Black Bears’ Roger Ellis Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award following his senior season. Following his career at Maine, Strzelczyk was selected to play in the 1990 East-West Shrine Game. An 11th round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1990 NFL Draft, Strzelczyk went on to play 10-years with the Steelers, appearing in 133 games with 75 starts on the offensive line. In 1995, Strzelczyk helped the Steelers to an appearance in Super Bowl XXX against the Dallas Cowboys.
Spike ’89 established six school records as a member of the men’s soccer team during 1985-88. Spike tallied a school-record 58 points during his career and graduated as the school’s all-time leader in career goals (26). He was a captain of the school’s only North Atlantic Conference championship team in 1988 and was named All-New England in 1987.
Hathorn Driscoll ’06 is UMaine’s all-time leader in career goals (35) and total points (84). The 2002 America East Rookie of the Year, Hathorn led the Black Bears to the America East finals in three-straight seasons. A two-time America East all-conference second team selection, Hathorn was a part of three of UMaine’s eight winning seasons, compiling an overall mark of 44-23-7 during her four seasons in Orono. After her career at UMaine, Hathorn went on to play two seasons for the SoccerPlus CT Reds of the Women’s Professional Soccer League, winning the U23 National Championship in 2007. Following her playing career, Hathorn served stints as an assistant coach at UC Irvine and Stony Brook University.
Johnson, who competed in three College World Series while at UMaine, was named NCAA Regional All-Star Co-Most Valuable Player in 1981 after tallying three postseason regional victories on the mound for the Black Bears. A two-time Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) all-tournament team selection, Johnson went 18-10 on the hill, including an impressive 9-2 mark as a sophomore. He was selected in the 2nd round, 37th overall, by the Atlanta Braves in the 1982 Major League Baseball draft and went on to play three years, for both the Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays, and seven seasons in the minor leagues.
Newton ’13 was named the America East Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 after putting together one of the most impressive statistical seasons in league history, tallying 19 goals and seven assists for 45 points. Newton led the Black Bears in total points each of her four seasons and, at the time of her graduation, held UMaine records for career goals (57), career assists (49), career points (169), points in a season (51), assists in a season (25) and total points in a single-game (10). A three-time America East All-Conference first team selection, Newton earned league Rookie of the Year status following the 2008 season. She was twice named a National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association (NFHCA) third team All-American and a two-time NFHCA Regional All-American. Newton helped guide the 2011 squad to a No. 13 national ranking and a 16-4 mark; the third highest single-season win total in school history.
Ellis ’64 achieved the maximum amount of varsity letters, nine, throughout his career at UMaine, earning letters in cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field, to go along with three freshman letters. A captain of all three teams during his senior season, Ellis was a two-time state champion in the mile, capturing first place honors in both 1963 and 1964. Ellis recorded numerous top-tier finishes in the New England Cross Country Championships, Yankee Conference Championships and IC4A meets including a runner-up showing in the 1963 Yankee Conference Championship and a fourth place showing at the 1962 IC4A Cross Country Championships. Ellis, a decorated military veteran, served as a captain in the US Army and is the recipient of two Bronze Stars for his service during the Vietnam War.
The 1965 football team, coached by Harold Westerman, claimed the Yankee Conference title with a perfect 5-0 mark in league play and was awarded the Lambert Cup, awarded to the top team in the East’s lower tier, to earn a spot in the Tangerine Bowl. The only UMaine team to ever appear in a Bowl game, the 1965 Black Bears finished the season with an 8-1 overall mark.
To register for the 2019 UMaine Sports Hall of Fame ceremony, please click HERE. For more information, please contact Aysha Vear at 207.581.1146 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org