Amherst Regional inducts Hall of Fame Class of 2012
JOHN MORAN Former Amherst Regional standout Jennifer Pariseau stands with her former coach Ron Moyer Saturday at the Student Union Ballroom at the University of Massachusetts. Pariseau, 11 other individuals and the 1959 undefeated football team were inducted into the ARHS Athletics Hall of Fame. Purchase photo reprints »
AMHERST — Jennifer Pariseau, who played on the 1993 undefeated state champion Amherst Regional girls basketball team, had to borrow a friend’s car to get to Amherst on Saturday.
Why? Because the former Hurricane two-guard works on Wall Street, and, like many New Yorkers, chooses not to have a car.
Pariseau was one of 11 individuals and one team inducted into the ARHS Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday night during a ceremony in the Student Union Ballroom at the University of Massachusetts.
The 2012 class included former New England Patriots and current Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo, who did not attend Saturday’s event, and the 1959 undefeated football team. Inductees spanned the 1940s to 1990s and included Frank Kuzmiski, James Parkinson, Steve Peene, Nadine Jackson, Rhonda Jackson, Mario Lopez, Shawn Durocher Chalmers, Betty Lawson and Colleen Schmitt.
“It’s an honor,” Pariseau said. “It’s a way of making sure we honor athletes that were a part of this school.”
Pariseau said she enjoyed the community involvement during that 1993 season. The gym, she said, started with about 100 fans before blossoming into a packed house that forced some fans to sit on the floor just to get a seat.
Pariseau said the crowd was so large they had something much more than home-court advantage.
“We felt a lot of support from them,” she said.
Mario Lopez, a standout lacrosse player for ARHS and UMass, was visiting Amherst for “the first time in a long time,” he said.
Lopez, who graduated high school in 1988, was with his son, Danny, 4, and wife, Leslie. Their other son, Lian Lopez, 18 months, was home in Granby, Conn.
Mario Lopez said this was the first time that Danny Lopez got a chance to see the fields that his father played on for so many years.
“He’d never been here, so it’s nice for him to see the Happy Valley,” Mario Lopez said.
Lopez grew up in Amherst, but he doesn’t come back often. His mother and father used to live in the town, but they recently moved to Chicago.
“I’m excited to be here,” he said.
After graduating from UMass, Lopez went to the University of Virginia before joining Team USA for the 1999 World Lacrosse Championships.
Lopez was also asked to play in the inaugural season of Major League Lacrosse, and accepted a roster spot on the Bridgeport Barrage.
He later played for the Buffalo Bandits in the National Lacrosse League.
Now, Lopez teaches physical education at Bugbee Elementary School in West Hartford, Conn.
“Lacrosse has brought me an amazing experience,” he said. “It’s all tied to Amherst. It’s all tied to my experience in Amherst schools.”
Amherst High football coach David Thompson, along with five of his captains, accepted Ihedigbo’s award.
“I’m honored to accept the award on his behalf,” Thompson said.
Thompson received a congratulatory call from Ihedigbo about 10 days ago following Amherst’s 46-14 season-opening win over Westfield. Ihedigbo asked his former UMass teammate to accept the award for him.
“I saw him go from being a skinny kid to a specimen because of how hard he works,” Thompson said.
Also being honored was the 1959 football team that went 8-0.
Cliff Allen, 70, was a part of that team.
“It feels good,” he said. “It’s a special event. It’s nice to see my teammates I haven’t seen in 50 years.”
Allen lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., and returns to Amherst once a year when he makes trips to Long Island, where he worked after graduating from Springfield College.
Allen was named to the Intercounty League All-Star Team during the undefeated season. Victories included a 30-0 win over Ware and a 28-0 shutout over South Hadley.
“It was unique,” Allen said on the 1959 season.
Allen coached football for a number of seasons following his time in Amherst and the Pioneer Valley. He said he’s coached more than 100 teams, and has never seen an undefeated season since.
He appreciated that the 1959 team was being inducted to the hall of fame.
“It’s excellent,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing to be recognized for something that happened 53 years ago. It’s unbelievable.”