NEWARK, Del. -- Seven former Outstanding Senior Athletes of the Year, a pioneering field hockey coach, one of the all-time leading scorers in men’s basketball history, and a two-sport field hockey and women’s lacrosse standout highlight the 2012 University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame induction class.
The 16th induction class will be honored in a ceremony and reception at the Bob Carpenter Center Auditorium this Friday, Nov. 2, and will be introduced on the field at halftime of the Delaware vs. Towson football game at Delaware Stadium the following afternoon, Nov. 3.
The Class of 2012 features five male and five female student-athletes and coaches representing every decade since the 1950’s and the sports of baseball, field hockey, football, men’s track & field, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball, women’s lacrosse, and men’s lacrosse.
The 10-person class includes Delaware’s first field hockey head coach Aggie Bixler (Kurtz), All-American football wide receiver Eddie Conti, 1950’s high-scoring men’s basketball player Skip Crawford, volleyball record-holder Renee DuFlon (Elsman), field hockey and lacrosse all-conference standout Megan Fortunato (Fisher), 1950’s football and baseball standout Bob Hooper, all-time great women’s basketball performer and current UD assistant coach Tiara Malcom, all-time NCAA men’s lacrosse faceoff record-holder Alex Smith, clutch-hitting All-American baseball infielder Jeff Trout, and record-setting women’s diver Julie Van Deusen (Savage). Crawford will be inducted posthumously.
Below are biographies of the Class of 2012:
AGNES “AGGIE” BIXLER (KURTZ)
A true pioneer of women’s athletics not only at the University of Delaware but on the national level as well, Bixler had a brief but significant career with the Blue Hens as the program’s first field hockey coach. She taught physical education at UD from 1968-72 and played a key role in the formation of the Blue Hens women’s varsity sports program that quickly became nationally-recognized. She served as head coach of the first UD field hockey team in 1969 before taking a year off to compete for the U.S. Lacrosse Team. She returned in 1971 and led the UD team to a 7-1 mark.
She moved on to Dartmouth College where she helped form the women’s athletics program, serving as director of women’s athletics and lacrosse head coach from 1972-89. A 1962 graduate of Smith College, she was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2003 and is part of the inaugural Smith Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012 this fall. She was also a member of the U.S. Squash Team, was a nationally-rated lacrosse umpire, and wrote several books on women’s lacrosse.
She and her husband, Tom Kurtz, are retired and reside in Hanover, N.H. She has three stepchildren and nine grandchilden.
EDWARD J. “EDDIE” CONTI
One of the most exciting athletes in the history of Delaware football, Eddie Conti’s lightning speed made him a threat to score every time he touched the ball. As a wide receiver and kick returner for Tubby Raymond-led teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice, Conti set a staggering 43 school, conference, and NCAA records and was a consensus first team All-American in 1998.
A native of Neptune, N.J., he was a two-time All-East and All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection and played in the prestigious Blue-Gray All-Star Game as a senior before earning a tryout with the New York Jets and New England Patriots and playing for two seasons in NFL Europe for the Barcelona Dragons. He also was named the 1999 UD Outstanding Senior Male Athlete of the Year and was co-winner of the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association (DSBA) Outstanding Athlete Award for 1998. As a senior in 1998, he caught 91 passes for an NCAA-record 1,712 yards and finished his career ranked among the NCAA all-time Top 10 for career receiving yards and all-purpose yards. He also was a record-breaking sprinter for the UD indoor and outdoor track & field team.
He earned his degree in physical education studies from Delaware in 2002. He currently lives in Neptune, N.J. and works as a personal fitness and golf trainer.
RAYMOND H. “SKIP” CRAWFORD
One of the great athletes of his era, Crawford used his incredible jumping ability and quickness to become a prolific scorer for the Delaware men’s basketball team during the 1950’s. A native of Woodbury, N.J., Crawford became the Blue Hens’ all-time leading scorer with 1,205 points in a career that spanned four seasons between 1951-57.
He averaged 20.6 points per game as a sophomore in 1952-53 before leaving for a two-year stint in the Army during the Korean War. He returned home and never skipped a beat, averaging 18.2 points per game as a senior in 1956-57. He scored over 30 points in a game three times and his career scoring average of 19.4 ppg still ranks No. 2 all-time in UD history. He was a member of two Middle Atlantic Conference Southern Division title teams in 1952 and 1953 for head coach Fred Emmerson and finished his career playing for Hall of Fame coach Irv Wisniewski. D
espite several professional draft offers, Crawford became a physical education teacher and served for 33 years at Gibbstown (N.J.) Elementary School before retiring. He also served as a golf starter at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del. for 39 years before passing away at the age of 64 in 1996. He earned his degree in education from Delaware in 1957. He and his late wife, Edna, had two children, Katherine Crawford and Peter Crawford, who will represent the family at the induction ceremony.
RENEE DUFLON (ELSMAN)
One of the finest players in the rich tradition of University of Delaware volleyball, DuFlon was an outstanding hitter for teams led by Hall of Fame head coach Barbara Viera during the late 1970’s.
A native of Ridgewood, N.J., DuFlon led the Blue Hens to a four-year record of 127-61-1 that included four straight Eastern Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (EAIAW) Regional appearances and a trip to the AIAW National Tournament in 1979 when the team posted a record of 35-8. She also was a standout on the 1977 team that won a school-record 38 matches. A 1979 co-captain, she set school records for kills in a match (34), season (461) and career (1,283), and for hitting percentage in a season (.401). She also ranked No. 2 for service aces in a season with 107. Her single match kills record still stands today and her season and career kills marks lasted for nearly 20 years. A two-time team Most Valuable Player, DuFlon was named the University of Delaware Outstanding Senior Female Athlete of the Year in 1980.
She earned her degree in physical education with a minor in recreation from Delaware in 1980 and currently serves as a legal secretary and bookkeeper. She resides in Saint Charles, Ill. with her husband, Ray Elsman. They have two children.
MEGAN L. FORTUNATO (FISHER)
One of the most successful two-sport stars in Delaware women’s athletics history, Fortunato served as captain and earned all-conference and all-region honors in both field hockey and lacrosse. One of the last student-athletes to play both sports at UD, the Hatboro, Pa. native competed in a combined 151 games, led teams to a record of 92-57-4, earned all-conference honors six times, and all-region recognition four times.
In lacrosse, she led Blue Hen teams to America East conference titles in 1998 and 1999 and to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2000 for coach Denise Wescott. She earned all-conference and IWLCA All-Region honors three times each and upon graduation ranked No. 4 all-time at UD in assists (70), No. 8 in points (188), and No. 9 in goals (118). In field hockey, she was a three-time all-conference and two-time all-region pick who led the 1997 team to an America East conference runner-up finish. She played in a UD record 82 games for head coach Carol Miller and registered 9 goals and 15 assists.
She earned her degree in health and physical education from Delaware in 2001 and her master’s degree in education from Wilkes (Pa.) University in 2006. She has taught health and physical education at Upper Moreland (Pa.) High School since 2002 where she also coached field hockey and lacrosse in 2002-08. She has also completed four marathons, including two Boston Marathons. She and her husband, Toby Fisher, reside in Lansdale, Pa. with their infant daughter, Kate.
ROBERT D. “BOB” HOOPER
One of Delaware’s top student-athletes of the 1950’s, Hooper starred in football and baseball and was selected as the 1956 UD Outstanding Senior Male Athlete of the Year. He was a member of Blue Hen football teams that posted a three-year record of 23-4 under Hall of Fame coach David Nelson and baseball teams that went 37-20-1.
After spending two years as a backup to All-American Don Miller, Hooper took over the starting quarterback spot as a senior and led the squad to an 8-1 record as he threw for 665 yards and led all passers in the East with nine touchdowns. The Mill Creek, Pa. native also led the team in interceptions and served as punter and kicker for the 1955 squad. He was a three-year regular in baseball and enjoyed an outstanding senior year in 1956 when he joined the pitching rotation and posted a record of 9-0 with a 1.64 earned run average and 48 strikeouts for Hall of Fame coach Tubby Raymond. The 1956 squad went 14-2 and became the first UD team to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
He earned his degree in biology from Delaware in 1956 and his degree in dentistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. He served in the U.S. Army Dental Corps and ran his own private practice in the Newark, Del. area from 1965 until 2000 before retiring. An avid golfer, he served as a U.S. Open Rules Official for nearly 30 years and received the United States Golf Association (USGA) Joseph Dey Award for service in 2006. He and his wife, Carolyn, have been married for 55 years and reside in Hockessin, Del. Two of their three daughters earned degrees from Delaware.
TIARA P. MALCOM
A standout frontcourt player, Malcom earned a host of awards and set numerous school records during her stellar career at the University of Delaware. A native of Wilmington, Del., Malcom was an instant star for coach Tina Martin and led her teams to a four-year record of 89-32, two Colonial Athletic Association regular season titles, and three post-season WNIT appearances.
A three-time all-conference selection, she was named the CAA Player of the Year as a senior in 2005 when she averaged a league-best 15.5 points per game and pulled 6.8 rebounds per contest. She also was selected as the 2005 UD Outstanding Senior Female Athlete of the Year. Malcom set UD records for career free throws made (535, also a CAA record), games played (121), and double-figure scoring games (88) and ranked No. 4 all-time in scoring (1,545 points), No. 5 in blocked shots (109), and No. 9 in rebounding (794).
She earned her degree in family and community services in 2005 and her master’s degree in higher education administration in 2011, both from Delaware. After a brief professional career overseas, she returned to the University of Delaware as an assistant coach and has served with the Blue Hens since the 2006-07 season. During her tenure as an assistant coach, the Blue Hens have advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice, in 2007 and 2012, and captured the 2012 CAA Tournament title with a 31-2 record and a No. 7 national ranking.
ALEXANDER F. “ALEX” SMITH
The top faceoff specialist in the history of the sport of men’s lacrosse, Smith revolutionized the position while setting records and leading the University of Delaware to national prominence under coach Bob Shillinglaw. A native of Timonium, Md., Smith rewrote the records books as he led the NCAA in faceoff winning percentage each of his final three seasons and led the nation in groundballs as a senior.
He established NCAA records for faceoffs won in a season (311) and career (1,027), faceoffs attempted in a season (430) and career (1,484), groundballs in a career (553), and faceoff pct. in a game (21 for 21 vs. Manhattan in 2006). He was a three-time All-American who earned All-Colonial Athletic Association honors four times and was the 2007 CAA Player of the Year. The 2007 UD Outstanding Senior Male Athlete of the Year, he led the Blue Hens to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including the school’s first-ever berth in the NCAA Final Four in 2007. In 2010, Smith was selected as the men’s lacrosse representative to the CAA Silver Anniversary Team, becoming the lone UD student-athlete to earn the award.
Smith has enjoyed an outstanding professional lacrosse career in both the National Lacrosse League (indoors) and Major League Lacrosse (outdoors) and led the Chesapeake Bayhawks to the MLL title this past summer. He also was a member of the United States team that captured the gold medal at the FILA World Games in Manchester, England in 2010. He resides in Baltimore, Md. and is an owner and operator of several eateries in the area. In addition, he continues to conduct face-off camps to teach his trade through his Company, FOGO Lacrosse.
JEFFREY M. “JEFF” TROUT
In the long history of championship baseball at the University of Delaware, few players have matched the pure hitting talents of Jeff Trout. The left-handed hitting second baseman led the Blue Hens to national prominence under Hall of Fame coach Bob Hannah in the early 1980’s, putting together an impressive four-year record of 141-54-1 (.722) that included four East Coast Conference titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
A native of Millville, N.J., Trout was a two-time All-ECC selection who was named the ECC Player of the Year and a first team All-American as a senior captain in 1983 when he batted an incredible .519 with 14 home runs, 63 RBI, and 17 stolen bases. Among his school records are standards for career batting average (.519) and single season batting average (.397), hits (98), and runs scored (86). He was named the 1983 UD Co-Outstanding Senior Male Athlete of the Year, was selected in the fifth round of the 1983 Major League Draft, and played for five seasons in the Minnesota Twins organization, rising as high as the AAA level.
He earned his degree in education from Delaware in 1983 and has been employed by the Millville Board of Education for the last 25 years as a history teacher. He also served as a head baseball coach in 1992-98 and was an assistant football coach for 20 years. He and his wife, Debbie, reside in Millville, N.J. and have three children and two grandchildren. His youngest son, Mike, is currently an All-Star Major League outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and is a leading candidate for 2012 American League Rookie of the Year honors.
JULIE VAN DEUSEN (SAVAGE)
It took just two seasons for Van Deusen to leave her mark as the top diver ever to compete for the University of Delaware. A native of Newark, Del., Van Deusen transferred to UD from Syracuse and starred for the Blue Hens immediately for head coach John Hayman and diving coach John Schuster. She never lost a dual meet competition in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events and earned CAA Diver of the Year honors twice, winning both events at the 2003 CAA meet and placing second in both in 2002. She also posted three third place finishes at the NCAA Zone meet.
Van Deusen became the first UD diver to qualify for the NCAA Championships in 2002 when she placed 32nd in the 1-meter and 35th in the 3-meter event. She also set three school records and one CAA diving record during her tenure. She was selected as the 2003 UD Outstanding Senior Female Athlete of the Year and was honored for her academic and community service efforts as the 2003 NCAA Woman of the Year for Delaware.
She earned her degree in exercise science with a minor in nutrition from Delaware in 2003 and later went on to serve as assistant diving coach at the University of Georgia and head diving coach at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004-07. Since 2009, she has managed an evening gown boutique in Wilmington, Del. She and her husband, Brian Savage, reside in Philadelphia. The couple is expecting their first child in January, 2013.