Hiram College will induct eight former student-athletes into the William H. Hollinger Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 26 as part of the College’s Homecoming festivities.
Established to honor those who have made a significant contribution to the College’s athletic history, Hiram has inducted more than 300 alumni to the Athletic Hall of Fame since 1964. In June 2006, the College formally named and dedicated the Athletic Hall of Fame to honor William H. Hollinger ’43, a coach and director of Hiram’s athletic program for 33 years.
A private induction ceremony and brunch will be held in Dix Dining Hall of the College’s Kennedy Center. The inductees will also be honored at the home football game against Ohio Wesleyan University, which begins at 1 p.m. on the Charles A. Henry Field.
The 2019 inductees include:
Cassandra (Bedard) Braden ’07
A two-sport athlete, Cassandra (Bedard) Braden ’07, was a four-time All-NCAC women’s basketball selection, earning All-NCAC Honorable Mention in 2004 and 2005, and All-NCAC Second Team in 2006 and 2007. Braden was a four-year letter winner with the women’s basketball team and a two-year letter winner with track and field, playing four years of basketball while participating in the field events during her first two years at Hiram.
Braden was twice selected as the NCAC Player of the Week, and still holds the record for the most points scored in a game with her 37-point performance against Kenyon on February 19, 2005. She is also a member of the 1,000-point club, and ranks among the top 10 in a number of categories. Braden ranks third in Terriers’ program history with 1,465 career points, 561 field goals made, 1,319 field goals attempted, free throws made (343), free throws attempted (473) and blocked shots (95), fourth in career points per game (14.5), fifth in field goal percentage (.425), sixth in career rebounds (566) and seventh in career minutes played (2,628).
Currently, Braden teaches seventh grade at Rootstown Middle School in Rootstown, Ohio while coaching junior high girls’ basketball and track and field. She was also recently inducted into the Waterloo High School Hall of Fame.
Patrick Comerford ’77
A four-year letter winner for Hiram men’s soccer, Patrick Comerford ’77 was a three-time All-President’s Athletic Conference first-team selection (1974, 1975, 1976) as well as a two-year co-captain with the Terriers’ men’s soccer program (1975, 1976), playing both midfield and defense.
Following his graduation from Hiram, Comerford set sail in Florida as a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, and moonlighted in local TV both in Florida, and eventually as a freelancer in Philadelphia and New York, covering Live Aid and multiple World Cups.
Comerford currently runs Jane Chalfant Inc., a long-standing retail store in West Chester, Pa., and hopes to again set sail when he retires. He is member of a number of different organizations in the West Chester area, serving as the president of both the West Chester Improvement District and the West Chester Downtown Foundation. In 2004, the West Chester Area Chamber of Commerce named Comerford their Business Person of the Year.
Damion Creel ’98
Damion Creel ’98 was a four-year letter winner for both baseball and football, graduating with the Terriers’ program record for career hits. A two-time All-OAC selection and a Preseason All-American, Creel earned First-Team All-OAC honors in 1997, finishing the season as the OAC’s batting champion with a .430 batting average. The following season, Creel earned Second-Team All-OAC honors, as well as Second-Team Academic All-OAC in 1998.
A team captain, Creel also earned the Moses Fleetwood Walker Award, given to an Ohio minority student who has attained excellence in baseball and the classroom.
On the gridiron, Creel started at quarterback all four years of his playing career, completing 251-of-515 passes for 3,202 yards and 25 touchdowns. A team captain, Creel also earned an OAC Player of the Week honors. Currently, Creel is a physical education teacher at Beachwood Middle School and the Head Football Coach at Beachwood High School in Beachwood, Ohio. He earned his master’s degree in 2014.
Michelle Kozempa ’07
The 2007 Helen M. Petroskey Award winner, awarded each year to Hiram’s most outstanding female student-athlete, Michelle Kozempa ’07, earned four varsity letters in women’s volleyball, helping the Terriers to a 111-29 record from 2003-06. After earning All-NCAC Second Team honors in 2004 and 2005, Kozempa earned All-NCAC First-Team in 2006, and was named the NCAC Player of the Year. Kozempa was also named an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American in 2006, as well as AVCA All-Region.
Kozempa helped lead the Terriers to two NCAA Tournament appearances, one regular season NCAC Championship and one NCAC Tournament Championship. For her efforts in the 2006 NCAC Tournament, Kozempa was named to the 2006 NCAC All-Tournament Team and the 2006 NCAC Tournament MVP. Kozempa ranks second in program history with 491 career blocks, fourth in career kills with 1,326 and fifth in games played with 464.
Following her graduation from Hiram, Kozempa went to nursing school and is currently a registered nurse. She began her nursing career as an ICU nurse and now works in a cardiac catheterization lab in Austin, Texas. Kozempa is a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and a certified critical care registered nurse (CCRN).
James “Max” Kravitz ’06
The 2006 Donald M. Campbell Award winner, awarded each year to Hiram’s most outstanding male student-athlete, James “Max” Kravitz ’06, was a four-year letter winner for the Terriers football team. Kravitz played 18 games at quarterback, completing 212-of-460 passes for 1,858 yards and 12 touchdowns over three seasons before switching to wide receiver for his senior year.
At wide receiver, Kravitz caught 46 passes for 658 yards and two touchdowns, setting a then-school record for catches (12) and receiving yards (184) in a single game. A team captain, Kravitz earned All-NCAC Honorable Mention his senior year and was named the Offensive MVP and a 2005-06 NCAC Scholar Athlete.
Currently, Kravitz is in his ninth year of teaching in Cleveland Heights-University Heights School district in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, serving as an Intervention Specialist at Cleveland Heights High School. Kravitz also coached football at Cleveland Heights High School from 2011-14 and Euclid High School in 2014, qualifying for the OHSAA State Playoffs three out of his five seasons as a coach.
Michelle “Shelly” Leshe ’08
Michelle “Shelly” Leshe ’08 was a four-time NCAA All-American Honorable Mention, earning the distinction twice in 2006 and twice again in 2007 in the 100 and 200 meter butterfly. A four-year letter winner on the swimming & diving team, Leshe was a three-time All-NCAC selection in 2006 in the 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly and the 400m relay.
Leshe holds seven school records: three individual records in the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly and four relay records as a member of the Terriers’ record setting 200m and 400m freestyle relay teams, and the 200m and 400m medley relay teams. Leshe also holds top 10 times in six other events.
Currently, Leshe is an acquisition professional with various Federal agencies, and enjoys traveling to national parks across the United States. After joining the vegetarian co-op at Hiram, Leshe also discovered a love for cooking, and enjoys making home cooked meals.
Matthew Ray ’93
A 1992 Preseason All-American, Matthew Ray ’93, was a four-year letter winner for the Terriers football team. Ray holds the Hiram program record for career tackles with 491, and was a two-time Defensive MVP selection in 1991 and 1992. Ray was named Honorable Mention All-OAC in 1990, 1991 and 1992, and was an Academic All-OAC selection in 1990, 1991 and 1992.
Ray also earned one OAC Player of the Week nod, and played one season of baseball in 1990, as well as three seasons of club rugby from 1991-93. Following his graduation from Hiram in 1993, Ray worked several sales jobs across the country. In 2009, Ray purchased Midwest Retail Services, a retail store fixture company in Columbus, Ohio, where he’s currently the president and owner.
Ray has coached a number of different youth sports, from football to baseball, softball and soccer, and is also a volunteer adviser for the Dublin City Schools Business Academy. In 2017, Ray was named the CEO of the Year by the Chief Executives Board International.
Dawn Soroka ’93
Dawn Soroka ’93 was a three-sport athlete for the Hiram Terriers, lettering in women’s basketball, softball and women’s volleyball. On the diamond, Soroka was a four-year letter winner for the Terriers’ softball team, playing all across the infield and outfield. A team captain, Soroka earned Academic All-OAC honors in 1992.
On the court, Soroka was also a three-year letter winner for the women’s volleyball team and a one-year letter winner with women’s basketball. Soroka earned Academic All-OAC during her one season of women’s basketball in 1991, and was a team captain for women’s volleyball in 1992. Soroka is one of the last three-sport athletes in Hiram Terriers’ program history.
Since graduating, Soroka has worked in the insurance field for two, large consulting firms, as well as the compensation and benefits department of a large manufacturing company. Currently, Soroka has her own small business as an independent health insurance agent specializing in Medicare. In her spare time, Soroka volunteers at various local theaters and helps coach and manage her children’s baseball and soccer teams.
by Jenelle Bayus