Athletics: New Hampshire adds eight inductees to Hall of Fame

By Danielle LeBlanc
On April 11, 2014

Dr. Rick Schavone, Alyson (Coler) Quinn and Ryan Leib are three of the eight UNH graduates who will be inducted into the UNH Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 7 at 6 p.m.

Schavone graduated from UNH in 1971 with a physical education degree. He played basketball and baseball for UNH, though that is not the reason for his induction into the UNH Athletic Hall of Fame. Schavone is regarded as one of the nation's premier diving instructors.

"I was a physical education major at UNH," Schavone said, "and over the summer I was working at the Park and Recreation department in Wayland, Massachusetts and I was asked to teach diving."

According to Schavone, he had never before competed in diving and didn't know much about the sport. However, when asked to teach diving, he immediately began to read up on it.

"It was kind of like a snowball effect," Schavone said. "Everything after that just snowballed one after the other."

This included his time at Stanford University, where Schavone started out as a graduate assistant in 1976 and was then later promoted to head diving coach the following year. His successes at Stanford included helping the university to become one of the top all-around diving programs in the nation and founding the Stanford Dive Club in 1981.

According to a press release, the club was named one of the seven USA Diving Podium Centers with the main goal of producing future Olympians in 2013. Schavone said he was also part of Team USA's coaching staff during the 2012 summer Olympics.

"I've been really lucky and fortunate," Schavone said.

Two of his divers flourished that year, especially Kristian Ipsen. He won the bronze medal in the three-meter springboard. 

"He was really great to work with," Schavone said. "It was a great experience. One of the best times of my life was getting to work with both of them and having them competing."

Schavone has procured other recognition as well. He was a four-time NCAA Diving Coach of the Year and eight-time recipient of the Pac-12 Diving Coach of the Year award. 

Though he's earned these accolades, he claimed that at the moment he is in shock at the present achievement of being inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at UNH.

"I am shocked and very humbled by this," Schavone said. "This truly is a great honor and testament to how fortunate and lucky I've been."

Coler, the best volleyball player to ever compete at UNH, started playing the sport in middle school and quickly became interested. She then tried out for her high school team and made it.

"I didn't start playing club volleyball until my sophomore year," Coler said. "So I really started a lot later than a lot of girls do now-a-days."

According to Coler, her following experience as a Wildcat was a great one. Coler claimed that, although it was hard being so far from home, her family flew out nearly every home game and many away games as well. Coler also claimed she had great support from her team.

"It was such a close-knit team," Coler said. "All the girls were basically my home away from home... and it was really great having Jill [Hirschinger] as a coach."

According to Coler her coach was a great inspiration and leader for the team. 

"I couldn't have asked for a better experience really," Coler said.

As a Wildcat, Coler was the America East Rookie of the Year in 2000 before becoming two-time America East Player of the Year in 2002 and 2003. Coler also acquired recognition at both the regional and national level.

Coler helped guide her team to two conference titles in 2002 and 2003. During this time, she was the first and only student-athlete at UNH to be named AVCA All American Honorable Mention in 2003 and was also names to the AVCA All-Northeast Regional Teams in 2002 and 2003.

According to a press release, she also left UNH as the program's record holder in career kills (1,814), career attack attempts (4,726) and most kills (38) in an individual match. Coler also ranks third all-time digs with 1,231. These are just a few of Coler's many achievements during her volleyball career while at UNH.

"I feel really fortunate that I've been able to accomplish all those things," Coler said. "I had a great team behind me, and a great coaching staff and my family."

Similar to Schavone, Coler claimed she was in shock when she found out that she was being inducted into UNH's Athletic Hall of Fame.

"I couldn't believe it when Jill [Hirschinger] called me and told me the good news," Coler said. "I feel really honored to be a part of this inductee class."

"My dad was a soccer coach at the University of Maine," said Ryan Leib. "So pretty sure as soon as I could walk I was kicking a ball around."

Leib played center midfield for the UNH men's soccer team and graduated with a degree in athletic training in 1994. According to Leib the soccer team had been struggling until the year he and nine other freshmen arrived, with a record of four wins and 16 losses.

Along with 10 new members, the team gained a new head coach as well, Mike Noonan. Leib claimed that six of the 10 freshmen started right away, including Leib.

However, Leib said that things turned around for the team with a fresh start, including a hat trick scored by Leib in a 3-1 win over Iona in his first game for UNH. Their record that year ended up being 10 wins and six loses. The team made it to the conference playoffs.

"That was a fantastic achievement and amazing turn around in one year," Leib said.

Through the first 18 games of his career at UNH, he set the program record for most points by a freshman (31) on 13 goals and five assists. This record still stands today. He was also on the All-New England Team all four years of his college career.

In his junior year, Leib helped his team to nine straight wins and a chance at the conference championship. 

"We made it all the way to the conference championship that year, but lost a tough game to Boston University in the finals," Leib said.

Leib also earned All-North Atlantic Conference honors as a sophomore, junior and senior.

"I had a fantastic freshman year just personally, so that set me up [for] a lot individual awards that came later," Leib said, "just because our team was doing so well."

According to Leib, because of his time at UNH and the success of his team and personally, it helped him to gain the exposure he needed to play professionally.

"I was able to play professionally in the USL [United Soccer League] here in the U.S. for eight years," Leib said.

Leib played in Virginia Beach, Va., Charlotte, N.C. and Atlanta, Ga. He is currently the director of coaching position at Briarwood Soccer Club in Birmingham, Ala. since 2002. He works with kids from ages five to 18.

"I think back on how much impact the games had in my life," Lieb said. "I just enjoy each day giving them the chance to learn and get better and open up those opportunities for them." 


 "It's very exciting and humbling," Leib continued, "You know, you look at the list and the wall and of who's in there, and I'm just very thankful for the great four years I had there."

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