UMass Amherst Athletics to be Saluted at Gala in Boston April 26

AMHERST, Mass. - Top coaches and players at the
University of Massachusetts will be recognized at the "Salute to UMass Athletics" dinner, scheduled for Wed., April 26 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston.

The event is sponsored by the UMass Alumni Association, and will honor outstanding coaches and student athletes. Bob Behler, the voice of the UMass basketball Minutemen, will serve as master of ceremonies. Basketball coaches James "Bruiser" Flint and Joanie O''Brien will also be on hand. The event typically draws several hundred attendees. The reception will begin at 6 p.m. and dinner will follow at 7:30 p.m. This year''s honorees are volleyball player Jill Meyers, gymnast Jeff LaVallee, women''s soccer coach Jim Rudy, and baseball coach Mike Stone. Tickets to the event are $75 for Alumni Association members, $100 for non-members, and $50 for children under 18. Deadline for reservations is Mon., April 17.

Information on the honorees follows:

Jill Meyers ''00 - Outstanding Female Student-Athlete: Volleyball player Jill Meyers has won numerous campus awards for academic achievement, and was named one of Glamour magazine''s 1999 Top Ten College Women. She is also a recipient of the 1999 Division I Woody Hayes National Scholar-Athlete Award. She is a three-time All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection and one of only four players in UMass history to record more than 1,000 career kills. A senior political science and English major from Huntington Beach, Calif., she currently holds a long slate of UMass volleyball records. She has been named to the Varsity Clubs of America Classic All-Tournament Team and was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week in November of 1998.

Jeff LaVallee ''00 - Outstanding Male Student-Athlete: One of the most successful gymnasts in UMass history, Jeff LaVallee is a five-time All-America champion in all-around, floor exercise, still rings, parallel bars, and vault. This year he won the Nissen-Emery Award, recognizing the top senior male gymnast in the nation. A native of Stafford Springs, Conn., he maintains a 3.79 GPA in sport management and has earned Academic All-America honors three times. He is the 1999 and 2000 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) All-Around Champion and Most Outstanding Senior Gymnast, and holds ECAC championships in parallel bars, floor exercise, and still rings. He is the top all-time male gymnast at UMass in the All-Around, and on pommel horse, vault, parallel bars and high bar.

Jim Rudy - Alumni Association Career Coaching Award in Women''s Sports: Jim Rudy, women''s soccer coach, ranks third all-time and ninth amongst active women''s coaches. In 18 years of coaching, Rudy has directed his squad into NCAA play 13 times, including nine of 11 at the helm of the UMass team. He holds the honor of being the only coach to ever guide two different schools to the Final Four. He has coached 37 All-America selections, including three goalkeepers on the U.S. National Team: Briana Scurry, Amy Allmann, and Kim Wyant. In addition, at least16 former Rudy players have served as collegiate coaches. He has a 241-83-20 all-time women''s coaching record overall, with a 167-60-14 record at UMass.

Mike Stone ''82, - Alumni Association Career Coaching Award in Men''s Sports: Baseball coach Mike Stone is in his 13th season as the head baseball coach at UMass, having racked up more than 400 career wins. Since his hiring in 1988, Stone has led the Minutemen to six Atlantic 10 regular season titles, two A-10 Tournament titles, and two NCAA National Tournament appearances. Stone is the ninth-winningest Div. 1 head coach in the nation, age 45 or younger. Last season, he guided the Minutemen to a 26-23 record and a sixth straight Atlantic 10 Eastern Division Crown. He has sent 28 players into professional baseball during his years at UMass. In his 18 years as a head coach at the collegiate level, he has amassed a 407-312-3 record. In his 13-plus seasons at UMass, he has posted a record of 353-222-1.

NOTE: Tickets to the event are $75 for Alumni Association members; $100 for others, but reporters are welcome to attend free of charge. Deadline for reservations is Mon., April 17. To order tickets or reserve a press seat, call 1-800/456-UMASS. Further information is available from Melissa Vara at 413/545-2317.