SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – The Mount Holyoke College Athletics Department inducted eight new members into its Hall of Fame on Saturday evening in a gala event held at the Willits-Hallowell Conference Center.
The weekend opened with a dessert reception on Friday evening, as inductees and current student-athletes, got together to discuss their experiences. Saturday continued the festivities as the inductees met for a private brunch, followed by photos at the Athletics Hall of Fame Wall inside the Kendall Sports and Dance Complex. The inductees were then honored at a halftime ceremony at the soccer team's game against Bard College.
Those who make up the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 includes Barbara Cassani ’82 (advocate), Michele Drolet ’76 (skiing), Ruth Elvedt ’55 (administrator), Krista Lindquist ’03 (field hockey), Robert and Maril O’Malley (advocates), Olga M. Sacasa-Cruz ’84 (cycling) and Cheryl Daley Williams ’94 (track & field/volleyball).
A successful business woman, Cassani is a regular speaker and commentator on leadership and management across the globe, backed by her experiences in the airline sector and winning the 2012 Summer Olympic bid. She served as Chairman and Vice-Chair of the group that secured the Olympic and Paralympic bid for London – a site that was recognized as being the Olympics with the largest number of women participants with over 40% of the 10,500 athletes being female. Cassani also served as Chief Executive of Go Airline – a subsidiary of British Airways, and was later named chairman of the board at Vueling Airlines and Jurys Inn Hotels. An avid horse rider, Cassani is also a former trustee of Mount Holyoke.
The first American woman – in the Olympics or Paralympics – to win a cross country skiing medal, Drolet became legally blind as an infant, but didn’t let that stop her from achieving great feats. She won a bronze medal at the 1994 Winter Paralympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, posting a time in the 5k freestyle that was just 30 seconds shy of the silver medal. Drolet has gone on to continue helping others with disabilities, serving as the manager of community relations for The Seeing Eye, Inc., a guide dog training school in Morristown, N.J., for a number of years.
Elvedt, who was known by classmates and colleagues as ‘Elvie,’ was a member of the Mount Holyoke Athletics Department for 38 years. In addition to serving as the Assistant Chairwoman of the department, she was a teacher and a coach with expertise in canoeing, skiing and also golf. The class sponsor for the Class of 1955, she also served as a consultant to the American Red Cross, the Massachusetts State Department of Education and several Olympic development committees. For her work, Elvedt was honored by the Orchards Women’s Golf Association for her service to the sport, as well as by the Red Cross for her work in aquatic rehabilitation.
One of the all-time greats in MHC field hockey history, Lindquist was a captain and four-year starter for the Lyons – having never missed a game in her career. The three-time All-Conference and All-Region selection held nearly every offensive record upon graduation and continues to rank among the best. She is currently third in both career goals scored (60) and points (143), as well as seventh in career assists (23). Earning numerous academic honors, including the highly regarded Student-Athlete Award given by the MHC Athletic Director, Lindquist went on to graduate from veterinary school. She now works at Branch Equine Veterinary Services, which is a large ambulatory practice for horses, camelids and small ruminants in Maine.
Robert and Maril O’Malley played a critical role in the establishment and continued success in the Mount Holyoke rowing program. Together with a group of friends, Dr. and Mrs. O’Malley established the Friends of Rowing – a group that has raised money for a number of efforts, including the program’s first head coach, equipment and the state-of-the-art boathouse to which the Lyons’ team calls home. The O’Malley’s support, which remained throughout all the transition and changes of the program, continues today via the O’Malley Endowed Equipment Fund, which helps maintain the team’s fleet as one of the best in all of NCAA Division III.
Sacasa-Cruz entered Mount Holyoke not owning a bike; however, she became the first female to represent Nicaragua in the sport of cycling. Sacasa-Cruz finished 16th overall in the inaugural women’s 3,000-meter individual pursuit at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. For a short time, she was the Olympic record holder in that event. As a pioneer in the sport of cycling, Sacasa-Cruz helped to support women’s cycling in Nicaragua. She is now a physical therapist, having opened many doors of opportunity for female Olympians in the sport of cycling.
Daley Williams was the first track and field athlete to earn All-American status at Mount Holyoke – finishing top eight in the country for Division III – with her fourth-place finish in the 100-meter race at the 1992 NCAA Outdoor Division III Track & Field Championships. She earned that same recognition in the 55-meters during the 1994 Indoor Championships as well. Daley Williams was also a member of the only Lyons’ relay team to qualify for Nationals, appearing in 1994. A combined seven-time New England Division III Champion in a variety of events, Daley Williams held the Mount Holyoke record in the 100-meter race (12.32) until it was eclipsed in 2013.
Cover photo by MHC Sports Information. Interior class photo courtesy of RJB Sports Photography.