Five individuals and two teams join the ranks of the Jumbo greats
Five outstanding student-athletes and coaches and two memorable teams will be inducted as the fourth class of the Tufts University Athletics Hall of Fame this year.
Six decades and 10 sports are represented in the group of honorees as Tufts continues to recognize accomplished individuals and teams from its more than 150 years of athletics history.
This fourth class will be inducted at the Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on Friday, June 9 at Gillette Stadium. Ticket information will be released in the coming weeks.
2023 Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees:
Allyson Fournier Caron, E15
Softball, Swimming & Diving
Fournier Caron finished her outstanding Tufts career as arguably the best pitcher in the history of NCAA Division III softball. During four years in the circle for head coach Cheryl Milligan’s Jumbos, Fournier led the team to three straight NCAA championships (2013-15), earned a 111-5 record, and was a two-time Honda DIII Athlete of the Year honoree (2013 and 2015).
She was also a four-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association first-team All-American and four-time NESCAC Pitcher of the Year. Her 0.44 career earned run average, 44 consecutive victories, and 14 career no-hitters are three of the many NCAA Division III records that she holds.
In 2015, she posted a remarkable 35-0 record and 0.20 ERA while leading Tufts to an undefeated (51-0) national championship season. Fournier was also the first non-Division I athlete to play in the National Pro Fastpitch League.
“Allyson was a fierce competitor on the mound, a humble teammate in the locker room, and a workaholic on the practice field,” Milligan said. “It is no coincidence that these attributes led to such a tremendous career. She was a huge part of our team and fit into our culture seamlessly by being the kind of kid who makes a coach proud and fellow teammates better, all the while maintaining an unassuming air. We could not have achieved our team success without her.”
Robert C. “Bob” Jones, A53
Track & Field
Amazing track fans with his versatility and recuperative powers, Jones was a star of Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame coach “Ding” Dussault’s teams from 1949 to 1953. He competed in many different events and was a leader of three New England championship teams.
A three-time MVP of the team, he was a school record-holder for the most points scored in one meet by winning the 100, 220, high jump, and long jump events at one competition. He scored in four events when Tufts repeated as New England champions in 1953. The only Black member of the Tufts Class of 1953, Jones owned the school’s broad jump, 100-yard dash, and 120-yard hurdle records. At the end of his junior year, he competed at the 1952 U.S. Olympic Trials, where he was ninth in the triple jump and 14th in the high jump.
“Bobbie Jones symbolizes what to me is the finest type of athlete,” Dussault said near the end of his career. “He was a phenomenal performer in individual events, but preferred to work in a great variety of events in order to contribute higher totals to the team score.”
Gerald T. Mahoney, Jr., A59
Mahoney was an outstanding offensive player who helped put Tufts Hockey on the map during the early years of the program. At a time when Tufts played larger schools from the area, Mahoney scored 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists) in a game against UMass in 1953-54, which is still tied for the NCAA single-game record. His eight goals in that game are tied for second-most ever in DIII.
He scored 99 goals and 192 points overall during four seasons at Tufts in 1951-55, which remain the program’s all-time records. He’s also second all-time in assists (93). He was co-captain of 1954-55 team that finished 16-3, with wins against Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Providence, and New Hampshire. He also had an 11-point game against Bowdoin in 1954-55, and twice scored more than 30 goals in a season.
“Gerry led the Jumbos in scoring for the past two years, and last year [1952-53] he was one of the leading scorers in the East,” wrote the Tufts Weekly. “However, his skill does not end with scoring. He is fast, agile, and possesses that fiery will to win that singles out a truly great competitor.”
Head Coach Swimming & Diving, Cross Country, Golf, Marathon
Megerle was much more than just a successful leader of the Jumbo men’s swimming and diving teams for 33 seasons (1971-2004). He was a seven-time New England or NESCAC Coach of the Year, whose teams compiled a dual meet record of 268-81. At the NCAA championship meet, 92 of his swimmers posted All-American performances, including two national champions.
However, it was his mentoring of these student-athletes that stood out even more than his coaching technique. Those who came to Tufts to swim for “Coach” entered into a lifetime relationship with their mentor. Also a widely respected NCAA championship meet coordinator for more than 30 years, he earned numerous awards, including the National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy, the CSCAA’s highest honor. His Tufts career now spans over 50 years, as he continues mentoring Jumbos as Tufts Marathon Coach.
“Coach was completely unique,” said Marc Benvenuti, a 1996 graduate of Tufts and the current head men’s swimming and diving coach at Connecticut College. “He coached you as a person, a student, and an athlete. I don’t believe anyone else has ever put all of those things together the way Coach did. Tufts would not have been Tufts without him.”
Kara Murphy, J97
Soccer, Basketball, Softball
Even in an era when student-athletes playing multiple sports was more common, Kara Murphy displayed athletic versatility that stood out. As a forward in soccer, a point guard in basketball, and a center fielder in softball, she excelled in all three sports for the Jumbos. Her name is listed throughout all three teams’ record books, where her 22 career goals scored in soccer is sixth-most all-time, her 200 career steals remains fifth all-time in basketball’s history, and her .403 career batting average is among softball’s best-ever.
She was a captain of the 1996 soccer team that won the ECAC New England championship, and was a basketball captain as well. In softball she played for the ECAC North championship team in 1995 and for the 1997 team that earned the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament berth.
“Kara Murphy was obviously an outstanding and versatile athlete,” said Bill Gehling, A74, AG79, A05P, who coached her in soccer. “This enabled her to play critical leadership roles in three completely different sports. But what really set Kara apart from her peers was her unparalleled determination and competitiveness. She was absolutely relentless, both in training and in games. It was a privilege and a pleasure to coach her.”
1972-73 Men’s Basketball
One of the great teams in Tufts and New England basketball history, the 1972-73 Jumbos won the ECAC New England championship and finished with a 22-4 record, which remains the best single-season winning percentage (.846) in school history. With NESCAC schools ineligible for NCAA tournament play at the time, the Jumbos won the ECAC title after defeating Williams College in double overtime, 95-89, at Cousens Gym.
Their 89.1 points per game that year still stands as the highest scoring average in Jumbo history. With a balance of talent spread out among 10 players, Tufts was also relentless defensively and was dominant rebounding the ball. Coached by Tom Penders, who went on to a successful Division I career, the 1972-73 Jumbos were inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in October 2006.
“It was an extremely talented group of players, we had some real Division I talent,” Penders said when the team was inducted into the New England Hall of Fame. “I felt that team was good enough to win the national championship, and it was a little frustrating that we couldn’t do that. We won all that we could, though.”
2000 Women’s Soccer
With a surprise run to the NCAA championship game, which Tufts hosted at Kraft Field, the 2000 women’s soccer team coached by Martha Whiting provided the university with one of its first exciting NCAA tournament moments. After 12 regular-season wins, including the first victory over Williams College in 10 years, and then advancing to the NESCAC championship game, the team earned just its second NCAA berth ever.
Its NCAA run began with four wins in the first two weekends. At home for the Final Four, they defeated Wisconsin-Stevens Point 1-0 in overtime, to earn a berth into the national championship game. Despite a 2-1 loss to College of New Jersey in the final seconds of the game, the Jumbos finished the historic season with an 18-4-1 record that remains the team’s highest win total.
“They believed they could beat anybody on any day and honestly, you could never count them out,” Whiting said. “I remember two games in particular that year when we were losing 2-0 and came back to win 3-2, and that was the expectation. Going into the NCAA finals against perennial national powerhouse TCNJ we were significant underdogs, but this team wasn’t fazed at all. We weren’t just happy to be there as they say. Although we lost, we battled them evenly for 90 minutes with the belief we would win, and that was a testament to the grit and toughness of that team.”
Brown & Blue Award
An excellent student-athlete at Tufts in her own right as a captain of the field hockey and lacrosse teams in the early 1980s, as well as an indoor track & field participant, Diane Wilcox, J82, has been a stalwart supporter of Tufts Athletics for 40 years. She was a “go-to” member of the Jumbo Club, serving many years as treasurer. She was also a dependable leader who never said no to an opportunity to support the teams and student-athletes.
Wilcox organized the very successful team receptions hosted by the Jumbo Club each sports season through the 1990s, which brought families and alumni together. She helped attract new members to the Jumbo Club and extended its support to a larger group of teams and student-athletes. Wilcox was a regular at Tufts events over the years and remains truly Brown & Blue to this day.
“Diane is known to be the first to arrive and the last to leave, always ready to lend a hand and do whatever it takes to ensure that every Tufts alumni event, award celebration, board meeting or special sports team trip that she is involved with—planning, organizing, and managing—runs smoothly,” said Kim Penney, A92, a member of the Jumbo Club with Wilcox. “She genuinely loves Tufts, and her own success as a college student-athlete fuels her desire to share in the current successes of those who have followed in her footsteps.”
David P. “D.J.” Hessler, Jr., E11
In addition to the 2023 inductees, Hessler, who was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2020, but was unable to attend the ceremony, will be inducted this year as well.
Hessler was the offensive leader of the 2010 Tufts team that won the university’s first NCAA team championship. He earned the Most Outstanding Player Award for the NCAA final after tallying a goal and four assists in the Jumbos’ 9-6 win over Salisbury. A three-time All-American, Hessler was named the Lt. Col. J.L. (Jack) Turnbull Award recipient as the Outstanding Attackman in Division III for 2011, when he helped lead the Jumbos back to the NCAA final.
A two-time NESCAC Player of the Year, Hessler graduated as Tufts’ all-time leading scorer with 321 points on 140 goals and 181 assists. An academic stand-out as well, he received the NCAA’s Elite 88 award as the highest performing student at the 2011 NCAA Men’s lacrosse championship.
“D.J. was an instrumental part of our program winning our first national championship,” said Mike Daly, his coach at the time. “He was a great player, but he made everyone around him better as well. Beyond lacrosse, D.J. came from an amazingly supportive family and was a top student, often missing practice for engineering labs. He always found time and a way to balance everything.”