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The Queens College Athletic Department highlighted the contributions of several prestigious female athletes, most of whom left their mark on the basketball courts, during the school’s Hall of Fame dinner.
With Darryl Jacobs, the men’s basketball coach, emceeing the show, each honoree was presented with an award by a spokesman connected with their college sports career during the event at the school Saturday. Eileen MacLellan, Majorie Larney, and Althea Gwyn, as well as the 1972-73 women’s basketball team coached by Lucille Kyvallos, were among those honored.
Like a scene out of “A League of Their Own,” the dinner commenced with a cocktail hour, where former athletes met up with their former cohorts. The Hall of Fame dinner paid tribute to both male and female athletes and helped to raise funds for the Queens College’s Athletic Department’s plan to feature Kvyallos’ name in the gym.
MacLellan, a 1983 grad, was an all-around athlete, competing in basketball, swimming, volleyball and softball. She was captain of the Queens College volleyball and softball teams, named the MVP of both sports, and ultimately earned the Silver Knight Award, given to the school’s top female athlete.
Larney received guidance and advice from a coach to learn the javelin, discus throw and shot put, and she later won the U.S. National Championship in these three events. Larney competed on the Olympic level and served as the youngest javelin thrower ever. She made the finals in the javelin in the Melbourne Olympics. In the 1955 and 1959 Pan-American Games, she won silver in the javelin and a bronze in the discus.
Gwyn played basketball for Queens College from 1974-1978.
“In 1974, I felt as if a meteor hit Queens College,” Kyvallos said before introducing Gwyn.
Under the leadership of Kyvallos, Gwyn and the Lady Knights were the first collegiate woman’s basketball team to ever play in Madison Square Garden. She was also on the roster of several USA national teams, led the nation in rebounding and was selected as a Kodak All-American in 1978. At the end of her collegiate career, she joined the Women’s Professional Basketball League as the No. 1 draft pick of the New York Stars.
The highlight of the evening was Donna Orender’s presentation of the NCAA 40th Anniversary Award Team of Distinction to the 1972-73 Queens College women’s Basketball team.
“I am so honored to do this,” Orender said. “When a team melds, it stirs your inner soul and motivates you in ways you couldn’t fathom until it happens.”
Orender, not only played under Kyvallos, but is the former President of the WNBA.
“We all remember her booming voice, that excessive whistle, and the short raps of a broomstick, but mostly the gift of getting many to believe in one. These 13 young women chose to play basketball when it was not the fashion for women to do,” Orender said of her former coach and teammates.
The squad was led on the court by future Olympian, Gail Marquis, and posted a 22-5 record with an average margin of victory of 19.9 points. The Knights advanced to the AIAW Championship and earned a No. 2 national ranking.
The roster included Marquis, Debbie Mason, Cathy Andruzzi, Maggie Hilgenberg, Maryann Jecewiz, Shirley Johnson, Yvette Pierre, Judy Milewski, Barbara Riccardi, Nance Rullo, Judy Spinal, Maureen Steurer, and Racheel Wells, most of whom attended the event Saturday. For all their accomplishments during that season, they were the first women’s team ever to be inducted into the New York City Hall of Fame.
James Muyskens, president of Queens College, congratulated the honorees during his speech.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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