Senior Sports Reporter
On September 20, generations young and old gathered in the Mabel Brown Room with one goal in mind: Honoring those who quite literally poured athletic blood, sweat, and tears into their passion.
The 2019 Keene State College Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony acted as the kickoff to the 2019 Alumni Reunion Weekend.
Four individuals and one team were officially inducted into the KSC Hall of Fame and two other individuals were inducted into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame.
Michelle Mason, inducted for women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse, and Joe Branciforte, inducted for men’s lacrosse, both already hold spots in the KSC Hall of Fame. However their entrance into the LEC Hall of Fame make them the 70th and 71st athletes to be inducted in the history of the conference.
The first inductee, or inductees, of the night to join Mason and Branciforte in the KSC Hall of Fame was the 1983 men’s soccer team.
The 1983 men’s soccer team was the first soccer team to qualify for the NCAA tournament in the history of Keene State College. Although they did not win, they ended the season with an impressive 14-2-3 record, scoring a total of 58 goals throughout.
The team was introduced by their coach at the time, Dr. Ron Butcher, then made their way up on the stage to receive their awards. Eleven members of the 1983 team stood with Butcher in the center of them as the audience clapped and cheered.
The second inductee of the night was Matt Johnson.
Johnson graduated from Keene in 2008 after an incredibly successful career as the goalie for the men’s lacrosse team.
During his time at Keene, Johnson managed to break the school record for saves, save percentage, goals against average, and wins by a goalie. As well as those records he was named the Little East Conference Rookie of the Year his first year and was then honored with the LEC Defensive Player of the Year his remaining three years at the college. He was also a four-time All-LEC First Team selection and received an Honorable Mention All-American honors.
“I came to [the Hall of Fame] when I was a student athlete representing the lacrosse team,” Johnson said after the ceremony. “I never even thought that I would be up on that stage, it is a tremendous honor… I am so appreciative for everything Keene has done for me.”
Matt Johnson’s advice for the men’s lacrosse team?
“Show up every day, practice like you are going to play in a game, and good things will come if you practice hard.”
The next inductee of the night was Bryan Kolacz.
Kolacz, a thrower for the track and field team who graduated in 2011, shows his success through the legacy he has left at the school.
Three school records, weight, discus, and hammer, remain unchallenged in his name. As well as that Kolacz was a national champion, three-time All-American, LEC Rookie Field Athlete of the Year in 2008, LEC Field Athlete of the Year in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and the list of achievements just go on.
“[When I got inducted] I was curious on who inducted me,” Kolacz laughed after the night was done. “I was always kind of wondering if the time would come for me, just because I definitely didn’t have as much of an example for… throwing events behind me when I started at college here.”
Bryan Kolacz advice for throwers on the track and field team?
“Get used to that nervous feeling, it’s going to always be there… you’re going to have to live in the moment no matter how good or bad it is at the time you’re dealing with it and understand that it’s not going to go away… you just have to perform under that.”
The final inductee of the night was Brittany O’Bryant.
O’Bryant, inducted for her impressive volleyball career, had an emotional induction when her coach, Bob Weiner, gave an emotional speech about her.
O’Bryant holds the school records in kills and attacks and was named Second Team All-LEC her sophomore year and First Team All-Conference honors her junior and senior years.
O’Bryant also lead her team to a two-year LEC championship run.
“I feel like I just left [Keene State] and it’s been ten years,” O’Bryant spoke with tears in her eyes. “It’s crazy… it feels so surreal.”
Brittany O’Bryant’s advice for the women’s volleyball team?
“Hold these memories, have fun, play hard… in the end I still am best friends with all my teammates and that’s the best part about it… it goes by so fast.”
Jennifer Adams, a decorated distance runner, was also inducted into the KSC Hall of Fame, however she was not able to attend the event because of a family emergency.
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