Eight people across multiple sports set to join Rockland Sports Hall of Fame

They range from a woman who supporters say was in the right place at the right time and seized the moment to build powerful girls high school programs, to a man who used local high school football as a springboard into collegiate and ultimately pro athletics.

The 51st anniversary of the Rockland Sports Hall of Fame will be celebrated Sunday afternoon at the Paramount Country Club in New City. with the induction of eight new members.

The most-senior member of Sunday's inductees is Jean Cary, who will turn 83 next month. The youngest is 40-year-old Kelvin Smith.

Here are the eight inductees:

Jean Cary

Cary, who coached the girls softball and girls soccer programs to more than 500 total wins during more than 20 years at Pearl River High starting in the 1970s, grew up as an athlete in New Jersey.

It's a label she can proudly still wear today while she teaches an aerobics swim class three times a week, plays badminton weekly and is president of her area tennis association in Arizona.

Former Pearl River girls soccer and softball coach Jean Cary, who’ll be inducted into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame Sunday, is pictured outside her home in Arizona April 10, 2024.
Former Pearl River girls soccer and softball coach Jean Cary, who’ll be inducted into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame Sunday, is pictured outside her home in Arizona April 10, 2024.

But, in her pre-Title IX youth in New Jersey, her opportunities were limited. She became an accomplished club-level softball pitcher largely through nightly pitching sessions with her dad squatting as her catcher.

But while Cary excelled at both softball and basketball, there was no high school girls softball or girls basketball at her school.

She did play both sports for Montclair State, but this wasn't 2024 softball or basketball. The latter, for instance, was a far, far cry from last weekend's South Carolina vs. Iowa game.

Cary and all women of her generation were mostly limited to six-man basketball, the court divided in two with three from one team and three from the other on each end, and players barred from crossing mid-court. That game was tweaked, but only in a minor way, her senior year in college when Montclair led the charge to make one player on each team a rover who could go the length of the court.

Cary noted the women prevailed in that fight, despite protests from men who argued running the length of the court was "too strenuous for us."

Despite that victory, the rover couldn't take a ball end-to-end or anything even close to that, since a rule barring players from dribbling the ball more than three times in a row still applied.

But with and without restrictions, Cary, whose now a huge fan of both men's and women's college basketball has always gotten a lot out of sports. She said she's still in touch with many of her past Pearl River players.

"We had such memorable times. I don't know what I would have done without being able to do that," she said.

Between 1973 and '79, her soccer teams won three Rockland County public school titles (the county championships were later discontinued). Her soccer teams won two Section 9 Class B crowns and four Section 1 Class B titles, the section titles coming from 1979 through 1994.

In softball, her teams won one county title and three Section 9 championships.

Kelvin Smith

Kevin Smith Jr., who went on to star as a linebacker for Syracuse before playing that position in the NFL, was also a big offensive contributor  in high school. Here he picks up yardage during an Oct. 20, 2001 game vs. Ramapo.
Kevin Smith Jr., who went on to star as a linebacker for Syracuse before playing that position in the NFL, was also a big offensive contributor in high school. Here he picks up yardage during an Oct. 20, 2001 game vs. Ramapo.

Cary was done coaching at Pearl River by the time Kelvin Smith made his mark athletically at North Rockland High.

Smith, a 2002 graduate and now 40 years old, followed his dad onto the Red Raider football team and followed his uncle, Clarkstown North graduate Keith Bulluck, an 11-year NFL linebacker, on to Syracuse University.

Smith's remarkable senior season at North Rockland as a first-team all-state player saw him rush for 700-plus yards and seven touchdowns and, as a middle linebacker, make 150 tackles pick off six passes and recover three fumbles,

He was drafted in 2007 by the Miami Dolphins and played for them, as well as the Carolina Panthers, before injuries cut short his NFL career in 2011.

But Smith's bond with sports remains tight. He runs his own training business in Texas, his clients including professional athletes from multiple sports.

He's among a few inductees who've played sports on the pro level.

Jim Eschen

One is former Suffern High baseball and basketball star Jim Eschen, who gained All-ACC baseball honors at Wake Forest before playing for 10 years in the minor leagues.

Eschen, known in part for his quickness and ability to play multiple positions, has baseball in his genes. A grannfather and uncle both playing briefly in the big leagues and his dad, Wil, another Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame member, served for many years as Suffern baseball coach, including when Jim played.

The 1967 Suffern grad, who's now 74 years old, came within a step of the majors, playing for a few years at the Triple-A level.

His resume also includes years of coaching and teaching at the high school level in Florida, where he has made his home for decades, and stints as a minor league coach and scout for the Mets.

Kurt Lundgren

Another former minor leaguer gaining induction is Nanuet Class of 1979 pitcher Kurtt Lundgren.

A hard-throwing righty, he was Rockland Baseball Player of the Year in 1979, when he went 11-1 with a 0.89 ERA after an impressive 9-2 season as a junior.

With Lundgren on the mound, the Knights won section championships in 1977 and '79.

He went on to pitch for Columbia University. He set school single-season and career strikeout records and, as a senior in 1983, earned both Ivy League and Eastern Collegiate Baseball League Pitcher of the Year honors.

Lundgren subsequently signed a free agent contract with the Mets organization. He spent five years in the minors with the Mets, his best coming in 1985, when he went 8-4 with a 3.21 ERA and earned Pitcher of the Year honors with the Double-A Jackson Mets.

A torn rotator cuff and subsequent surgery effectively ended his professional career after the 1986 season.

After graduating from law school, Lundgren discovered he'd regained some pain-free pop in his arm and pitched for many years with good success on a semi-pro level.

Dana Williams

Also still playing just about everything is former standout Spring Valley High and Bridgeport University basketball point guard Dana Williams.

In high school, the 1993 Spring Valley graduate was a cheerleader and an all-star in spring track, where she was a sprinter and thrower.

But it was on the basketball court that she stood the tallest, even if that was officially only 5-foot-7.

As a freshman, Williams set out to hit the 1,000-point mark on varsity. She did that and more. Her 1,328 points are second in Spring Valley history only to 2015 grad Rickey McGill, who went on to play for Iona and is now playing professionally overseas..

Williams remains the only female Spring Valley player to hit for 1,000 points. Her senior year, she was Rockland County's top female scorer, averaging 25.5 points per game.

On an athletic scholarship at Division II Bridgeport, Williams again surpassed 1,000 points, finishing with 1,398 points. She also had more than 500 rebounds. Those numbers helped vault Williams into the Bridgeport Athletics Hall of Fame.

A psychology major, who went on to earn a doctorate in counseling psychology, Williams works as a psychologist with Rockland BOCES.

But she has hardly left athletics behind. After college, she played some semi-pro basketball and since then has participated in road races up to half marathons, as well as competed in weightlifting, cross-fit and multiple other sports.

Mike Schroer

While perhaps not quite as versatile, Clarkstown South High School and Georgetown University alum Mike Schroer has also continued to excel in athletics. Specifically in track.

The 49-year-old, who now lives in California, has successfully raced on the masters level after major scholastic and collegiate success, as well as success on the pro circuit.

In a county historically rich in 800-meter runners, Schroer stands out. He won the 1992 national indoor high school 800 title in 1:52.55, then the second fastest time ever run by a New York high school student. That same season, he ran the fastest time in the nation that year indoors among high school students also in the 600 (1:21.09) and the 1,000 (2:29.8).

Schroer went on to become an eight-time All-American at Georgetown. He helped the Hoyas win six Big East team titles and the 1997 Georgetown 4x800 relay he ran on won the Penn Relays in a school-record 3:04.96.

Schroer, who made it to the quarterfinals of the 1996 U.S. Olympic trials in the 800, advanced to the semifinals at that distance in the 2000 Olympic Trials. He placed fifth that year at the U.S. indoor nationals in the 800 as a member of the Reebok Enclave professional track club.

After several years as a pro, Schroer took a nine-year break from competition, returning in 2010 to compete on the masters level. He captured the 35-39-year-old U.S. indoor and world outdoor 800 titles. Despite the layoff, he was less than half a second off his top high school time.

Scott Finlay

The final inductee to join the Hall of Fame this year due to athletic achievement is Scott Finlay, Nyack Class of 1974. He might have also been going in for track had a friend not introduced him to lacrosse his freshman year.

Finlay, who'd planned to pole vault, instead became a three-time all-county lacrosse player and, moreover, an All-American his senior year when Nyack went 15-2.

Finlay, who won 80 percent of the face-offs he took, left Nyack High with a since-broken Rockland County-record 109 career goals.

A three-sport high school athlete (he also played football and ice hockey), Finlay went on to play lacrosse for West Point, where he helped the Golden Knights to a national Division I No. 9 ranking as a junior and No. 5 ranking as a senior.

He led West Point in scoring each of his four years there and finished his collegiate career with 140 goals and 46 assists in 46 games. A third-team All-American both his junior and senior years, Scott held West Points's all-time scoring record for 35 years.

After graduating in 1979, Scott, who was the MVP of the 1978 North-South collegiate all-star game, went to Army Flight School before commanding two Army aviation units in Europe.

After leaving the Army, Scott, who now lives in New Jersey, worked in investment banking before founding a healthcare information technology firm.

Pete Schiebner

Pete Scheibner will also be honored Sunday, but not for playing or coaching.

Instead, Schreiber will receive the Joe Holland Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of service to the Hall of Fame.

He joined its Board of Directors in 1988, and nine years later started what's now a 27-year stint as the Hall's chairperson.

During that time, he transformed the Hall of Fame into a charitable organization, which, in part, provides yearly college scholarships to local athletes.

Under Schreiber's watch, the Hall of Fame is also now inducting highly-successful high school teams.

While not the reason for his induction, Schreiber was an accomplished high school and college athlete. He was a three-sport (soccer, basketball and baseball) athlete at Pearl River High before becoming an All-Mid Hudson Conference tennis player at Rockland Community College, where he played first singles.

His play helped RCC to two Mid-Hudson Conference team titles and a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament.

Schreiber, who earned his undergrad degree from the University of Arizona, is now a retired archivist.

The 72-year-old, who's a passionate historian, captained the men’s 4.5 USTA Bergen County tennis team, which won bronze at the 1974 USTA nationals.

He continues to play both tennis and golf today.

Sunday's induction dinner is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at Paramount Country Club, which is at 60 Zukor Road in New City. Tickets are $85, which includes the full dinner, and may be purchased at the door.

Nancy Haggerty covers cross-country, track & field, field hockey, skiing, ice hockey, basketball, girls lacrosse and other sporting events for The Journal News/lohud. Follow her on Twitter at @HaggertyNancy.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Rockland Sports Hall of Fame will honor 8 athletes, coaches, HOF head