Eight Mohawk Valley athletic standouts are the newest members of the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame.
Olympic luger Erin Hamlin, professional golfer Moira Dunn-Bohls, basketball star Emily Durr, sports executive Joanne Gerace, baseball coach Joe Milazzo, harness driver Anthony Mondi, baseball coach Steve Owens, and football player Penny Semaia will be honored when the Hall of Fame holds its 30th annual induction banquet June 9 at Delta Hotels in Utica.
The members of the Class of 2019 were selected from a group of more than two dozen sports luminaries nominated by the public.
Hamlin, a three-sport athlete at Remsen High School, took up the luge while in school, was competing internationally by 15, and made her first Olympic team at 19. She competed for 13 years on the World Cup tour, never missing a race, won six national championships, and collected two gold and two silver medals in World Championship competition. In 2014 she won a bronze medal at the Olympics in Sochi, becoming the first American luger to medal in singles and the first American women ever to medal. She capped her career with the honor of being the flag bearer for Team USA at the Pyeong Chang Olympics in 2018.
Dunn-Bohls also was a standout all-around athlete at Notre Dame High School. She went on to star in golf at Florida International University, where she was an Academic All-American in 1993, and second-team All-American in 1993 and 1994. While in college, she won the New York State Amateur title three consecutive years, won the Women’s Western Title in 1993, and was runner up in the 1993 Doherty Championship. She began her LPGA career in 1994, scored her first victory in the 2004 Giant Eagle Classic, and had two second-place finishes and five top-10 finishes in 2001. She has won more than $2 million on the tour.
Durr enjoyed a record-setting basketball career at Notre Dame High School before going on Iowa State University. She scored a Section III record 2,445 career points with the Jugglers, and also holds the school record for 3-point shots and free throws made. During her four-year career, she averaged 22.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.8 steals, and led the 2014 team to the New York State championship. She was a three-time Tri-Valley League Player of the Year, three-time All-Mohawk Valley Player of the Year, the 2014 News Channel 2 Player of the Year, a McDonald’s All-America and Gatorade Player of the Year nominee, and a finalist for Miss New York State Basketball. At Iowa State, Durr scored 965 points (7.9 points per game), had 63 steals, 24 blocks, 295 rebounds and made 165 three-point shots.
A founder of the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame in 1990, Gerace has enjoyed a barrier-breaking career as a sports administrator and supporter of local athletic endeavors. She began her baseball career with the Utica Blue Jays, then worked for the Fort Lauderdale Yankees and the Alexandria Dukes before returning to her hometown to join the Utica Blue Sox in 1982. Over the next seven years, she rose to become a rarity – a female general manager in professional baseball. In 1983, she convinced noted baseball writer Roger Kahn to buy the Blue Sox, and the independent club went on to win the New York-Penn League championship, a season immortalized in Kahn’s best-selling book, Good Enough to Dream.She worked with New York State Senator Jim Donovan renovate Murnane Field, which was a major factor in keeping professional baseball in Utica. She was the 1987 New York-Penn League Executive of the Year, a two-time New York-Penn League Baseball Woman of the Year, and also was the Business & Professional Women’s Club of Utica’s Business Woman of the Year, among many other honors. She also is the longest-serving member of the Mohawk Valley Auditorium Authority.
Milazzo, now the head baseball coach at Utica College, began his career in 1981 at Notre Dame High School, where his teams went 146-54 with four Section III titles, three Central Oneida League and two Tri-Valley League championships, along with three state Final Four Appearances. In the 1990 season, he coached Herkimer County Community College to its first-ever National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament appearance. He moved to Mohawk Valley Community College the next year, and in 12 seasons, his teams made nine post-season appearances, won four conference titles, went to four regional Final Fours, won two regional titles, and went 174-122 overall. He then returned to Notre Dame as an assistant and helped the Jugglers to several outstanding seasons. His 2015 UC team was the first 20-game winner at the school in 23 years. He was the league administrator for the New York-Penn League for 10 seasons, and now is vice president of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. He was a Director/Instructor of the Grand Slam Baseball Academy in Montreal, and since 1990 has owned, operated, and instructed the Mohawk Valley Baseball Academy.
Longtime Standardbred harness racer Anthony “Tony” Mondi began training and racing horses in the 1960s. He captured Vernon Downs’ race-winning title with 89 first-place finishes in 1972, during the heyday of the “Miracle Mile” heyday. He had numerous other top-10 finishes in his career, and amassed more than 1,000 driving victories, ranking among the top 20 all-time among Vernon Downs’ regulars. He has earned more than $2 million in official purses. He’s mentored drivers such as Joe Pavia, Jr. and Rick Plano, both nationally recognized in the industry, and has developed esteemed trotting champions over the years like Iroquoindiangiver and Kash.
An outstanding football and baseball player at Sauquoit High School and St. Lawrence University, Owens also has enjoyed a spectacular coaching career, going 874-463-3 (.652) over 27 seasons at Cortland State, LeMoyne and now Bryant University. He is among the top 30 Division I coaches in career wins, and his teams have had 27 straight winning seasons. He is a four-time Northeast Conference coach of the year, and seven-time American Baseball Coaches Association Northeast Region coach of the year. Owens’ Bryant teams have had three 40-plus win seasons, including a school-record 47 in 2016, when the team was seeded second in the NCAA Charlottesville regional. He has had 56 players earn all-conference honors at Bryant, 11 earn All-American honors, and he has had seven consecutive NEC rookies of the year. He is a member of the St. Lawrence Athletic Hall of Fame and the Cortland State Hall of Fame.
Penny Semaia was twice an All-Mohawk Valley lineman at Thomas R. Proctor High School and a track standout as well before going to play football at the University of Pittsburgh. He was first team All-State and a Golden 50 New York State Selection in 1998. He was captain and lineman of the year during his senior year, when the Raiders made the Section III playoffs for the first time. He was selected to participate in the Governor’s Bowl All-State Classic that showcased the best high school football talent in New York and New Jersey, and went on to Pitt, where he played on bowl teams all four years as defensive tackle and offensive guard. As a sophomore, he had four tackles and his first career sack while playing against Syracuse University. Semaia is now Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student Life at Pitt, and has served as a facilitator for many NCAA life skills conferences.
Tickets will be available beginning April 29 at CNY Awards & Engraving in the New Hartford Shopping Center. They also can be ordered by emailing Lou Parrotta at firstname.lastname@example.org.