Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Widener Athletics Announces Second Hall of Fame Class

Photo Courtesy of Widener University Athletics
CHESTER, Pa. (Sept. 7, 2016) – Seven exemplary former student-athletes and one of the University’s most successful coaches will be inducted into the Widener Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 14 during Homecoming Weekend.

The second class to enter the Widener Athletics Hall of Fame consists of Tom Deery (football), Joe Fields ‘75 (football), Jack Klotz ‘56 (football, basketball, track & field), Maureen McGinn Kee ’82 (basketball), Wally Rice (basketball), coach C. Alan Rowe (basketball), Debbie Smuda Williams ’92 (track & field) and Richie Weaver (football, track & field).

Widener Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Tom Deery excelled as a defensive back and kick returner during the football team’s glory years. He was a three-time All-American who helped lead Widener to a 42-3 record over four seasons as well as the program’s second national championship in 1981. Deery sparked many comebacks with key interceptions and long kick returns and still holds school records for career interceptions (24), career punt return yards (1,007), career interception return yards (293) and longest kickoff return (100). He was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the 10th round of the 1982 NFL Draft and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Joe Fields ’75 enjoyed a solid three-year career at the center position, leading Widener to a 24-3 record and helping lay the foundation for future championship teams. Thanks in large part to Fields, the 1973 team led the country in rushing offense even though he played three games with a broken toe. Regarded by many to be the conference’s premier center at the time, Fields was selected by the New York Jets in the 14th round of the NFL Draft. He played with the Jets from 1975-87 and was an all-pro selection four times and a team captain for nine years before concluding his career with the neighboring New York Giants in 1988. For his efforts, Fields was later selected to the Jets’ all-time team in 1990.

One of the school’s top offensive tackles, Jack Klotz ’56 helped the 1954 football team register a perfect 7-0 record to complete the program’s first undefeated season since 1888. His blocking also helped the team average 23.7 points per game that year. Klotz, who earned a combined 12 letters in football, basketball and track & field, was later drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 18th round. He went on to play in the AFL for the New York Titans from 1960-62, the New York Jets from 1963-64 and the Houston Oilers in 1965.

Maureen McGinn Kee ’82 helped put the women’s basketball program on the map during her four-year career at Widener. She remains the all-time leading scorer with 1,935 points while also being named an all-league player every season she played. In addition, McGinn helped the program reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 1982 and claim two consecutive division titles. McGinn, who was a two-time Middle Atlantic Conference Southern Division MVP, started every game of her career and was the team’s leading scorer all four years. She currently resides in Drexel Hill with her husband, Bob, and their four children.

By compiling 536 wins from 1965-1998, men’s basketball pilot C. Alan Rowe (1931-2015) was the winningest coach in school history in any sport at the time of his retirement. He led Widener to the NCAA championship game in 1978, a second Final Four appearance in 1985 and 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament. Rowe also mentored eight players who were named All-Americans as well as 17 who reached the 1,000-point milestone. Widener won the Middle Atlantic Region of the NCAA Tournament three times and was also among the nation’s elite in points allowed by effectively utilizing a 1-3-1 zone defense. In addition, the Pioneers led the nation in scoring defense in 1978, 1986 and 1987. For his achievements, he has also been inducted into the Middle Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame, Delco Athletes Hall of Fame Club, Philadelphia Area Small College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. Rowe, who is a graduate of La Salle High School and Villanova University, was married to Gail Watts and had two sons and two daughters.

Debbie Smuda Williams ’92 is one of the most decorated female track & field athletes in school history. She was an All-American in the indoor triple jump in 1991 and 1993 as well as the outdoor triple jump in 1993. Smuda was also a CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team selection in 1992 and a second team pick a year later, becoming the first student-athlete in any sport at Widener to be recognized more than once. She graduated first in school history in the 400-meter dash (indoor and outdoor), long jump (indoor and outdoor) and triple jump (indoor and outdoor) and her indoor standard of 37-feet, 5.25-inches established at the Middle Atlantic Conference Championships is the longest-standing school record in the program annals. Smuda, who earned her bachelor’s degree in three years and received her master’s during her fourth year of eligibility at Widener, is also a member of the Middle Atlantic Conference All-Century Team. She currently lives outside of Boston with her husband, Tom, who graduated from Widener in 1993 and was a four-year member of the men’s track & field team as a hurdler, and three daughters, Emily (11), Natalie (9) and Madeleine (9).

A multi-sport athlete at the university, Richie Weaver excelled as a hurdler on the track and a running back on the football field and earned numerous accolades for his prowess in each sport. In track & field, Weaver was a two-time All-American and most notably the national champion in the 440-meter intermediate hurdles in 1970. On the gridiron, he graduated with 10 Middle Atlantic Conference records and 10 school records. Weaver was named an All-American in 1971 after setting a single-season program standard at the time with 1,267 yards on the ground and ended his career with 2,604 rushing yards, which was also a record when he graduated. In addition, his 363-yard rushing performance against Moravian on Nov. 7, 1970 are still MAC and ECAC single-game records to this day.

Wally Rice began his collegiate career as an unheralded basketball player out of Philadelphia and turned out to be one of the building blocks for the men’s basketball program which would eventually become a national powerhouse under the direction of C. Alan Rowe. With freshmen ineligible to compete on the varsity stage at the time, he first spearheaded a team which completed its season undefeated at 20-0. Rice then joined C. Alan Rowe’s varsity team as a sophomore and earned all-conference and all-small college first team laurels in each of his three seasons. He was also most notably named the program’s first All-American as well as the conference player of the year as a senior after leading the program to its first NCAA Tournament berth in what was then known as the College Division. Rice, who was drafted by the NBA’s Boston Celtics and ABA’s Indiana Pacers, exited as the school’s all-time scoring leader at the time with 1,493 points in only three varsity seasons and was among a league-best eight former Widener players who were named to the Middle Atlantic Conference All-Century Team. He then pursued a career in retail management after college and raised five wonderful children, including one which graduated from Widener in 2009.

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