Post University men’s basketball coach Al Sokaitis, women’s basketball coach Stephen Schuler, and softball coach Tracey Garofalo will be inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 22. The three will join other honorees representing a variety of categories including coaches, players, teams and special contributors at a major ceremony at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.
Sokaitis just finished his third season as head men’s basketball coach at Post, and has led the Eagles to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Tournament each year. The Eagles tied their longest winning streak in team history with eight-straight victories early in the season and received votes in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Top 25 for three consecutive weeks after an 8-1 start.
During his collegiate coaching career which spans more than 20 years, Sokaitis appeared in seven NCAA Tournaments and won six conference titles with three different programs. He was awarded conference coach of the year 11 times in his career. In addition, Sokaitis earned eight wins against Division I programs with his Division II teams, including a tournament title in the 2002 BP Top of the World Classic. Sokaitis led Alaska-Fairbanks to three wins in as many days over Wisconsin-Green Bay, Nebraska and Weber State.
He was recently named the men’s and women’s national programs’ basketball coach of Tanzania. In addition to his head coaching roles, Sokaitis served as a lead clinician at the NCAA Division I Final Four 13 times, and has worked privately with numerous National Basketball Association (NBA) players.
In his first season at Post University in 2012-13, Schuler led the Eagles to their first CACC Tournament appearance since 2006-07. He coached two players that were named All-CACC and had one student-athlete selected as an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) All-Star.
Prior to Post he was the head coach of the Albertus Magnus Falcons, he led the squad to a 14-12 record. The mark represented the first winning season in eight years for the program. Schuler guided the team to the best start in program history, with four wins to open the season. Additionally, a pair of players was named Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) All-Conference Third Team at the end of the season.
As a scholastic coach at the Academy of Our Lady of Mercy, Schuler won 71 games in four seasons and was named the 2008 Connecticut Post Coach of the Year.
Schuler finished his playing career at Saint Joseph’s (Maine) as a two-time NAIA All-American. Following his senior season, he was named a National Catholic Basketball Tournament All-American. Schuler never lost a home game in his collegiate career and finished seventh on the school’s all-time scoring list.
Garofalo finished her playing career at Post as the all-time leading scorer with 1,510 points. She also added 596 rebounds and 239 assists and at one point held the school record in 11 different statistical categories. Garofalo was a two-time women’s basketball most valuable player. In softball, she picked up Second Team All-CACC honors as a freshman, and she was named Post Athlete of the Year in 2000.
After her playing career, Garofalo was the assistant girls’ basketball coach at Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury for five seasons. She helped the Hearts to four postseason appearances and a spot in the Class S State Championship contest. She also served as the head coach of the softball program for one year and led the squad to a berth in the Class S State Semifinals and a 10-8 record.
Currently, Garofalo is the head softball coach at Post. Over the course of her coaching career, Garofalo has mentored five All-CACC selections, including two first-team choices in Amy Mantha (2011) and Lianna May (2012). The Eagles made the CACC Tournament in each year since 2009.
The June 22 event will include a series of afternoon panel discussions featuring a number of former NBA and WNBA players who will be inducted that evening, as well as famed coaches, such as John Calipari of Kentucky, former UMass Coach. Renowned novelist, Harlan Coben, who was an outstanding player at Amherst, will be among the inductees, and will serve as an afternoon panelist.
The event — as much reunion as ceremony — has become one of the largest sports dinners in America. At the last ceremony, the event welcomed over 1,600 people and was a sellout. The 2013 event is expected to be a sellout.
For further information, visit http://www.nebasketballhalloffame.com.