Athlete alums receive Hall of Fame recognition
The 1988 to 1989 men’s tennis team and five additional alumni athletes were inducted into the Joseph M. Linsey Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, celebrating the occasion with a nostalgia-filled reception.
The team and five individuals were selected out of a pool of 50 to 75 potential candidates. “We try to get as good a balance to the Hall of Fame as we can, to look for sports or eras that are underrepresented sometimes. That was sort of specifically what we were looking for this year,” Sports Information Director Adam Levin ’94 said in an interview with the Justice.
In interviews with the Justice, the athletes reminisced on their favorite tournament and game memories and discussed their feelings about being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
John Fobia ’73, a soccer player and striker for the team, said his favorite memory was an away game against Babson College. “Babson had an undefeated season, and we won 1-0 away,” he said. On being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Fobia said, “It’s incredible. I’m very honored for the opportunity and I’m very pleased that the pre-Coven era players were recognized by the Hall of Fame,” referring to former Head Coach Mike Coven, who joined after Fobia graduated.
Other honorees also cited underdog victories as their favorite moments from their collegiate athletic careers. Michael Mayer ’94 M.A. ’95, a fencer, talked about a match in the University Athletic Association competition during his first year. He “came out of nowhere and won it. … It was kind of this amazing moment, where nobody knew who [he] was.”
Mayer said he is “thrilled beyond words to be inducted,” adding that he felt lucky to share the experience with his parents and his children. “For me, this is just wonderful,” he said.
Nostalgia was a running theme throughout the evening. Sara “Albe” Albert ’04, a softball player, said, “I remember the last game vividly, because I knew that it would be the last time that I would get to play softball on a team like I had, and I had played with them for four years. … I knew that my time at Brandeis would be up and playing softball here meant so much to me.”
On being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Albert explained that she feels “it’s an honor, because now I am more connected to the Brandeis community and will be forever now.”
Swimmer Marshall Goldman ’03 recalled that, on the day of a race against Bentley University, he “had a 101 degree fever and so did the breaststroker, and we swam the opening medley relay, and we actually ended up winning it, but immediately after, he and I went to the bathroom and threw up for the next 20 minutes.”
Goldman added that it is “surreal” that he is now in the Hall of Fame, and that he is “still getting used to it.”
Track and Field thrower Greg Steelman ’91 echoed this sentiment, saying that “it honestly feels incredibly humbling” to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Steelman looked back fondly upon his record-breaking discus throw at his freshman NCAAs.
“I still remember the throw that won at the Division III Nationals. I went through my technique and I launched the thing and … it just [looked] like it was hanging up in the air,” he recalled. “I knew it was a huge throw but I didn’t know how big it was until they actually measured it and it was like 10 feet further than everyone else.”
Victories are certainly memorable, but the experience of winning is better when it comes as part of a team, tennis player Noel Occamy ’89 said.
His most satisfying memory from his Brandeis athletic career was when the tennis team qualified for NCAAs, he said. Occamy had qualified and won individually, but said the victory “felt empty … when the entire team was not there to share in the experience.”
“It is exciting for the whole team [to be] together,” he added. “The team came for the NCAAs, and now they’re here getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. We’re back together one more time.”
Another player on the tennis team, Mike Gratz ’91, also reflected on the UAAs, where he won his singles and doubles matches. “It was a nailbiter … it was very difficult to concentrate … but we did it,” he said. “It was the first time Brandeis had ever won the UAAs.”
On being inducted as a team, Gratz said, “It’s a great honor … we were a special team and we had a real special bond, and I think that’s why we were successful. We just really loved each other.”
Jessica Bergman ’91, the president of the Friends of Brandeis Athletics and a member of the Hall of Fame Committee, captured the spirit of the event when she said, “You represent the best of Brandeis Athletics, and it is truly an honor to induct you all.”