NOTE: We apologize to our friends at Notre Dame. We received this article in a timely fashion and neglected to publish it.
Article by Joseph Scanlon.
Eight individual graduates and the 1973 Bishop Smith League Co-champion Football Team were inducted into the Notre Dame High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the school.
Inductees included five individuals inducted as student-athletes: John Francis ’66, Mike Callahan ’67, John Stisser ’80, Sue [Burns] Keefe ’81 and Kathy Dwyer ’90 along with two alumni as supporters -- Joe ’68 and Patty Jurewicz ’69 Flynn and Rick Mancuso ’76 as a coach.
ND Principal Wade Bianco opened the program by welcoming the Fighting Irish faithful who packed the newly renovated Reinhart Gymnasium for the evening program
ND grad Deacon Walter Szczesny '76, HOF '15, gave the invocation while ND Athletic Director Mike Rapone '71, HOF '96, served as Master of Ceremonies presenting Hall of Fame plaques to this year’s recipients.
Mark Francis ’75, HOF '96, accepted on behalf of his brother John ‘66 and Hall of Fame Committee member Joe Scanlan, Ph.D., ’65, HOF ’17, read an acknowledgment from Sue Burns’ former Volleyball Coach Rhonda DiCasolo and accepted on behalf of Sue [Burns] Keefe ’81. Mike McGee ‘74 spoke on behalf of the ’73 team being inducted. Annie Lawrence, ND Board of Trustees president, provided closing remarks for this year's well-attended induction program.
A big word of thanks goes out to the following members of the 2018 ND Sports Night Committee for yet another successful program -- Overall Chairperson Mark Francis ’75, HOF ’96; Chair of the Selection Committee Mike Rapone '71, HOF '96; ND Director of Advancement Emily Patrick; Diane Zigrossi Fraser '68, Michele Rapone Fuller '67; and Joseph Scanlan, Ph.D., ’65, HOF ’17.
Individual bios, as well as a review of the Fall 1973 ND Varsity Football team's accomplishments, follow:
John Francis ‘66
Regarded as one of the most talented student-athletes in the mid-1960s era, as well as in overall ND sports history, Batavia native John Francis was a key member of Fighting Irish Football, Basketball, Baseball and Track and Field teams from 1962 – 1966.
Known for his speed and elusiveness in each of the aforementioned sports, John earned nine Varsity letters during his historic athletic career at ND. Small in stature yet huge in performance, he captained ND’s first ever Bishop Smith League Varsity Football Championship team in the fall of 1965 earning first team All-Catholic all-star honors as a halfback. He led the Smith League in scoring while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Highlights from his senior team MVP gridiron season included a four-touchdown performance against the Knights of Lockport DeSales [38 -27] and a memorable offensive performance as a running back and defensive performance as a cornerback in ND’s first-ever victory over all boys powerhouse St. Francis of Athol Springs [34 – 14].
A speedy guard and tenacious defender, John played a key role during his senior Varsity Basketball season helping ND qualify for the highly competitive postseason Manhattan Cup competition pitting the top teams in Bishop Burke vs. Bishop Smith leagues for only the second time in school history.
John was a leader in school as well as in the athletic arena has served as a Student Council officer during his sophomore, junior and senior years. His overall senior year athletic performance earned him the recognition of 1966 ND Male Athlete-of-the-Year Award awarded by legendary Director of Athletics Reverend David J. Scheider.
John pursued his football career at the collegiate level at Long Island’s C.W. Post University in Brookville, where he played competitively for four years, his freshman year as a JV team halfback and his final three years as a letter-winning split end. As a junior receiver, he was credited with scoring eight touchdowns and amassing more than 700 total yards including a 78-yard touchdown score. As a senior, he was recognized as ECAC All-East Division 2 “Player of the Week” for his record-setting 12 catch, two touchdowns, 262 yards receiving game which established a C.W. Post school record that stood for 24 years until surpassed in 1993.
John was recognized by the Notre Dame High School Sports Boosters as the Genesee Amateur Athlete-of-the-Year at the annual ND Sports Night in 1968. He graduated with a BA degree in Business Administration from C.W. Post and served as a football graduate assistant in 1970. He currently resides in Las Vegas.
Mike Callahan ‘67
Hailing from Le Roy, Mike Callahan was a prominent member of Fighting Irish Cross-country, Basketball, Baseball and Track and Field teams during his athletic tenure [1963 – 1967] at 73 Union St. Mike played four years of Cross-country and Basketball, three in Baseball and one as a Track and Field team member.
Mike earned coveted All-Catholic recognition during his senior year [1966-67] seasons in Varsity Cross Country, Varsity Baseball and Varsity Track and Field! He finished second overall in the highly competitive 1966 All-Catholic Meet held on the challenging Delaware Park course in Buffalo. As a junior, he was a key member of ND’s fall 1965 undefeated Bishop Smith League Championship Cross-country team – ND’s first Cross-country championship team in school history. Mike was a key performer on ND Cross-country teams, which compiled an overall dual meet 15 – 4 record during his sophomore through senior seasons.
A starting guard on ND’s Varsity Basketball team during his junior and senior years, Mike’s stalwart offensive and defensive play on the hardwood helped ND to qualify for postseason Manhattan Cup competition vs. Bishop Burke league opponents both years. These appearances were only the second and third times that a Fighting Irish Varsity Boys hoop team had advanced to that level in school history. Mike’s team’s two-year Varsity Basketball record was 28 -8 highlighted by a 16 -2 senior season with both losses by one point!
Mike achieved All-Catholic recognition in both Baseball and Track and Field as a senior where his play on the diamond as a pitcher and infielder and on the track as a distance runner helped ND achieve Bishop Smith League Championship status in both sports while interestingly enough participating in both simultaneously.
An excellent academic student, Mike earned the Excellence in Math Award during his senior year at ND and went on to earn a BS degree in Mathematics from St. Bonaventure University in 1971. While at St. Bonaventure, he continued to pursue his athletic career by playing collegiately for the Bona baseball team for two years as well as running Cross-country and Track for one year each.
His post-collegiate softball career earned him induction into both the Rochester Senior Softball Hall of Fame as well as the New York State USSSA [United States Senior Softball Association] Hall of Fame.
Mike and his wife Margy are the proud parents of 3 grown children: Michael  Jamie  and Dan ’02  and currently reside in Churchville. Now retired, Mike previously served as Office Manager for RR Gamble, CH Wright Distributors and Wright Beverage Distributors in Batavia.
John Stisser ‘80
A native of Pavilion, John Stisser earned 11 Varsity letters during his four-year student-athlete career [1976 – 80] at ND. During this time period, John was a four-year member of Fighting Irish Football, Basketball and Baseball programs as well as a one-year participant in Track and Field.
Named ND Varsity Football’s Outstanding Defensive Back during the 1978 and 1979 fall seasons, John’s play on the gridiron helped ND earn Genesee Region [GR] Championships during both his junior [1978-79] and senior [1979-80] seasons, as well as a coveted Section V NYSPHSAA Class C Championship during his junior fall 1978 season. He was named to the Genesee Region [GR] Football All-Star team as a Defensive Back as a junior and also as a senior while he served as ND Varsity Football team’s co-captain.
He was recognized as the MVP of the 1978 JV Basketball team and received the Coach’s Award during his senior hoop season [1979-80].
A -four-year letter winner as a Varsity Baseball player, John’s play on the diamond earned him Genesee Region [GR] All-Star status as a junior  and as a senior  when he helped lead ND to two consecutive GR Baseball Championships, as well as Section V NYSPHSAA Class C Championships. He concluded his star-studded baseball career by being selected as the MVP of the GR All-Star Baseball game.
The 1979-80 ND Male Athlete-of-the-Year, John graduated with honors from ND in 1980, and continued his post-secondary education at Marietta College in Ohio where he earned a BA in General Studies.
John and his wife Pnina are the proud parents of three grown children – Max , Joe  and Meredith  and currently reside in Manchester, NH. He previously spent 20 years in publishing with The New York Times/Simon and Schuster and Manson News and currently is employed by Reynolds American Inc. Trade Marketing Services.
Sue [Burns] Keefe ‘81
Sue [Burns] Keefe was a truly remarkable four-sport student-athlete at ND [1978 – 1981] during which time the native Batavian was a four-year member of the Lady Irish Varsity Volleyball and Basketball teams and a three-year member of the Lady Irish Varsity Soccer and Tennis programs.
She was a senior tri-captain in Soccer and a key member of her team at the sweeper position for which she earned team MVP recognition in 1980.
She co-captained her ND girls Volleyball team as a senior, a sport she excelled at under the tutelage of legendary ND Girls Volleyball Coach Rhonda DiCasolo.
Sue’s overall play as a setter earned her team MVP honors and Genesee Region [GR] All-Star recognition during both her junior  and senior  seasons under Coach DiCasolo. She earned Section V NYSPHSAA All-Tournament team recognition as a senior and played a key role in helping ND earn two Section V NYSPHSAA Class C Championships [1978 and 1980] during her time as a Varsity team member.
She received the ND Sportsmanship Award as well as the prestigious 1981 Female Athlete-of-the Year honor during her senior year [1980-1981] at ND.
Upon graduation from ND in 1981, Sue entered Niagara University to pursue a BS degree in Nursing. In addition to earning her undergraduate degree in Nursing, she has also earned two master's degrees, one in Nursing and the other in Epidemiology. While at Niagara, she played Division I Softball for three years as a first baseman for the Purple Eagles as well as Varsity Tennis for four years! She was the recipient of the Niagara University Interscholastic Athletic Sportsmanship Award as a graduating senior in 1985.
Sue is currently employed by Catholic Health System in Buffalo in a management position and continues to enjoy golf and tennis recreationally. She credits her success in athletics, education and life in general to her former ND Girls Volleyball Coach Rhonda DiCasolo and Girls Physical Educational instructor Faith Flick, who were amazing role models inspiring her as a female and as a student-athlete during her career at ND.
Sue and her husband Daniel currently reside in Amherst and are the proud parents of two grown children Katherine , Daniel Maxwell .
Kathy Dwyer ‘90
Kathy Dwyer was a key member of Fighting Irish Varsity Volleyball, Basketball and Tennis teams in the late 1980s – early 1990s earning 13 Varsity Letters, as well as multiple team MVP awards, Genesee Region [GR] All-Star accolades and Section V NYSPHSAA All-Tournament recognitions during her star-studded ND career.
A four-year Varsity Volleyball team member, Kathy received team MVP and Section V NYSPHSAA All-Tournament team recognition in both her junior and senior years, as well as Genesee Region [GR] All-Star recognition as a senior.
Kathy began her star-studded career as a member of the Lady Irish Varsity Basketball team as an eighth-grader at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Batavia and proceeded to earn team MVP honors during three Varsity hoop seasons! During this time period [1985-1990], she was recognized as a Genesee Region [GR] All-Star on 3 occasions [1988, 1989 and 1990] and a Section V NYSPHSAA All-Tournament selection twice [1989 and 1990].
She also played four years of Varsity Tennis and earned team MVP honors in 1989 and 1990.
Kathy was named ND Female Athlete-of-the-Year in both her junior [1988-89] and senior [1989-90] years!
Upon graduation from ND, she attended SUNY Cortland where she earned a BSE degree in Physical Education in 1994. While at SUNY Cortland, she played two seasons of women’s collegiate Tennis and Basketball. During that time period, she was the starting point guard for the Women’s Varsity Red Dragons' Basketball team. She earned her master’s degree from United States Sports Academy after her undergraduate career at SUNY Cortland.
Kathy now joins her sister -- Lisa Dwyer Lenhart ’83, ND HOF ’15 -- as the second member of the Dwyer family to be recognized as a ND Hall of Famer! She is currently employed as a Physical Education instructor in the Alexander Central School District where she also coaches Boys Modified Tennis.
ND Fall 1973 Varsity Football Team – Bishop Smith League Co-champions
The Fall 1973 Varsity Football Team [5 – 1 Bishop Smith League competition; 7 – 2 overall record] avenged their only regular season Smith League loss to Lackawanna Baker-Victory by defeating the previously undefeated Lockport DeSales Knights to gain a share of the highly sought after 1973 Smith League title.
A review of the ND’s 1974 Mater Dei credits the junior passing combination of QB Andy Vogl to wideout Mark Francis and the punishing running of sophomore Walter Szczesny – currently ND’s Campus Minister/Theology teacher – as key cogs in Coach Bayne Johnson’s Fighting Irish offense. A review of Batavia Daily News articles during the 1973 season continually made mention of Jerry Cecere and Mike McGee as offensive contributors and teammates Dan Wagner, Tom Maxwell, Mike Mead and Tom Hughes as turning in stellar defensive performances on a weekly basis.
The season-ending non-league portion of the 1973 season came to a memorable end as the Irish retired the “Judd Cup” – named in honor of former ND football team member and United States Military Academy at West Point graduate Don Judd ’60 who was killed in action during the Vietnam War -- with a 15 – 6 victory over Genesee County rival Le Roy on a snow-covered Oatkan Knights’ home field at Le Roy’s Hartwood Park. Sophomore Walt Szczesny scored both ND TDs in this season ending finale enabling the Irish to finish the season with a 7 – 2 record for the second straight season!
The season did not end without individual honors bestowed on team members as Mark Francis ‘75 was named to the prestigious All-Western New York Football All-Star team as well as receiving first team All New York State recognition. Jeff Sanfratello ’74 [2nd team] and Mike Mead ‘74 [3rd team] also received New York State All-Star nods.
ND was well represented on the 1973 All-Catholic team with seven team member recognitions: seniors Co-Captain Mike McGee, Jeff Sanfratello, Mike Mead, Tom Maxwell and juniors Co-Captain Mark Francis, Andy Vogl and Kevin Sullivan.
Team members included 11 seniors [Class of ‘74] Robert Minekheim, Mike McGee, Mike Hughes, Mike Mead, Jerome Cecere, Jeff Sanfratello, James Tibbs, Ed Flynn, Andy Cordes, Thomas Maxwell and James Majors; 11 juniors [Class of ‘75] Andy Vogl, Mark Francis, Mike Tepedino, Jim Tassone, Dan Wagner, Kevin Sullivan, Mark Steger, Joe Cesarano, Ange Paradise, Tony Pecora and Dennis Johnson and nine sophomores [Class of 1976] James Mullen, Paul Judd, Walt Szczesny, Dan DiMartino, Mike Cordes, Steve Bucciffero, Stacey Thompson, Vic Marchese and Tom McGrath and one freshman [Class of 1977] Gino Oliveri.
The 1973 Bishop Smith League Co-Champions were coached by Head Coach Bayne Johnson and assistant coaches Rich Funke and Ed Sullivan. Tom Cesarano and Pat Vogl served as student managers.
Joe [’68] and Patty [‘69] Jurewicz Flynn
Suffice it to say, Joe and Patty [Jurewicz] Flynn are classic examples of ND alumni who continue to truly enjoy bleeding “blue and gold” in support of all ND student-athletes long after their own children have graduated from ND!
The Flynns have passionately supported our Alma Mater’s Fighting Irish athletic program since their early days as students in the mid- to late-1960s, initially as student-athletes, later as parents of their ND daughters Maura [class of 2000] and Mallory [class of 2004] participation in athletics and even after their daughters’ graduations as dedicated fans who simply enjoyed [and continue to enjoy!] supporting their Alma Mater’s rich history of interscholastic athletic competition.
The Flynns interest in athletics dates back to their high school days at 73 Union St. when ND was a competitive member in Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Smith League Catholic high school competition. Joe ’68 was a member of Fighting Irish Basketball, Football, Cross-country and Tennis teams while Patty ’69 was a member of Fighting Irish ND Volleyball and Bowling teams and a four-year participant in intramurals throughout high school.
A prior recipient of the prestigious Father David J. Scheider ND Alumni Award for promoting ND in the community, Joe earned his BBA degree in Business in 1972 from St. John Fisher College in Rochester and pursued a career as an accountant with Batavia-based Eaton Corporation – Trojan Industries [1973 -1994] and Boyle’s Motor Sales [1994 – 2017] prior to retirement.
Patty earned her BA Education degree from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., in 1973 and her MS Education degree from the State University College at Buffalo in 1976. Her 37-year teaching career as an elementary educator included teaching assignments in the Pioneer Central School District [1973-76], St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Batavia [1976 – 77] and Pembroke Central School District [1977 – 2010], from which she retired in 2010.
Congratulations are definitely in order for ND Athletic Hall of Fame inductees Joe and Patty Flynn for their ongoing support of Fighting Irish athletics as well as their interest in ND student-athletes as individuals. It wouldn’t be a ND sporting event if you weren’t there to lend your loyal, passionate support!
Rick Mancuso ‘76
Rick Mancuso’s ’76 flair for competition began at ND when he entered as a freshman in the fall of 1972. Throughout high school [1972-76] he was known for his competitive spirit as a key member of Fighting Irish Varsity Football, Basketball and Baseball programs. Upon graduation from ND in 1976, Rick continued his education at Niagara University where he earned his BS degree in Management in 1980. The competitive spirit and work ethic that he demonstrated as a student at ND and Niagara University have contributed to his successful career in business in the Batavia area as the President of Mancuso Restaurant [T.F. Brown’s] and Bowling Lanes, and Main and Ellicott Properties LLC [Mancuso Real Estate], as well as a legendary coach in the annals of ND Fighting Irish sports history.
The following review of Coach Mancuso’s 37-year relationship with his Alma Mater [documented and supplied by current ND Director of Athletics Mike Rapone ’71, HOF ’15] paints the picture of an individual who truly epitomized the qualities of dedication to his Alma Mater and a work ethic of service to ND and his student-athletes throughout his coaching career.
Coach Mancuso began his coaching career as the Head JV Football Coach at ND in the fall of 1981, a position he held until taking over the reins of ND’s Varsity Football program in 2005 following the retirement of longtime, legendary Varsity Football Coach Bill Sutherland ’67. During his tenure as Varsity Football Coach, Rick’s Varsity Football teams qualified for Section V post season competition in nine of his 13 seasons and, in the process, won two Section V Class D NYSPHSAA Championships [2006, 2012], advanced to the title game on three other occasions while also winning three Genesee Region [GR] League Championships! He was recognized as Section V “Coach of the Year” during both title years.
In addition to his success on the gridiron, Rick also coached ND Lady Irish Varsity Softball for five years [2011-2015] winning a New York State Class D Softball Championship in 2012 after advancing to the NYSPHSAA semifinals the prior year. His Varsity Softball teams captured Section V NYSPHSAA Class D Championships in 2011 and 2012 as well as earning three Genesee Region [GR] Championships during this same time period. Rick received New York State “Coach of the Year” as well as Rochester Democrat and Chronicle recognition as All Greater Rochester “Coach of the Year” in 2012.
Coach Mancuso’s resume also includes successful stints as ND’s JV and Varsity Baseball coach, as well as a successful Boys Modified Basketball coaching record during which time period his teams lost only one game!
A very civic-minded individual, Rick has served as a past director of the Batavia Area Jaycees, the Batavia Rotary Club, Batavia Youth Football, and the Children’s’ Home Association, as well having served as a contributing member of the ND Board of Trustees and the Batavia Improvement District. He has played a key role hosting the annual T.F. Brown’s Community Christmas Dinner for the underprivileged for the past 25 years.
A past recipient of the Father David J. Scheider ND Alumni Award for service to others and the Paolo Busti Society ”Outstanding Italian American Award,” Rick and his wife, Julie, are proud parents of five ND graduates – Morgan [‘01], Alexandra [‘03], Rick [‘05], Patrick ‘ and Maddie [‘11].
Congratulations on your 2018 ND Athletic Hall of Fame induction, Rick . . . A true Hall of Famer – on the field of play and in the community!
Top photo: Individual 2018 ND Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees [L to R]: Rick Mancuso ’76 [Coach], Mike Callahan ’67, John Stisser ’80, Patty Jurewicz Flynn ’69 [Supporter] Kathy Dwyer ’90 and Joe Flynn ’68 [Supporter]. Not pictured: John Francis ’66 and Sue [Burns] Keefe ’81.
Fifteen of the original 32 roster members of ND's 1973 Bishop Smith League Co-Champion Football team returned for the Nov. 3rd induction ceremony. Pictured Row #1 [L to R]: Mike Hughes, Jeff Sanfratello, Mike Mead, Joe Cesarano, Mike Tepedino, Jerry Cecere, Paul Judd and Mark Francis.
Row #2 [L to R]: Ed Flynn, Dan Wagner, Andy Vogl, Walt Szczesny, Mike McGee, Dan DiMartino and Jim Tassone.