Growing the Athletics Hall of Fame


Five all-time greats were inducted into the University Athletics Hall of Fame in the 19th annual inductions last fall. Roughly 150 were on hand to see their friends, family and classmates enshrined.

The Class of 2014 included: Kathy Jekanowski ’96, basketball; Nora Lynch ’00, track and field; Chris Whalley ’03, soccer; Paul Whalley ’75, soccer/baseball/coach; and Matt Yvon ’04, football/basketball.

Paul and Chris Whalley are the first father-and-son pair to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Paul Whalley has made a significant impact as a player, coach and contributor for more than 40 years, while his son Chris was a two-time All-New England and four-time all-conference honoree.

Jekanowski was a key member of Westfield State’s highly successful women’s basketball teams in the mid-1990s, and Lynch was a big-meet performer for the Owls’ championship track and field squads. Yvon was a record-setting wide receiver for the outstanding football teams of the early 2000s.


Paul Whalley ’75 has made a significant impact on Westfield State as a player, coach and contributor.

Whalley was a standout defender/midfielder and a two-year captain for the Westfield State championship soccer teams of the early 1970s, including the 1974 squad that placed third in the nation in the NCAA Division III championships his senior season. During his four years at Westfield State, he posted a brilliant record of 56-14-7, participated in two NCAA tournaments and one ECAC tournament, and captured three Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) championships.

Whalley also played two years of intercollegiate baseball and volleyball and was the Owls’ second leading hitter with a .333 batting average as a freshman starting second baseman. During his senior year at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, Whalley was an All-Western Massachusetts first team second baseman and the soccer squad’s most valuable player.

Whalley returned to Westfield State in 1997 as the men’s soccer head coach and quickly resurrected the program that had posted only one winning season in the previous eight years. He was named the 1997 conference coach of the year in leading the Owls to a 13-4-1 record and their first MASCAC championship in 17 years.

Whalley also guided Westfield State to the MASCAC title in 2000, along with its first NCAA Tournament berth in 16 years, when his team posted a 15-5 record and advanced to the NCAA second round with a 3-2 opening-round victory over Roger Williams in Bristol, R.I.

Under Whalley’s watch, the Owls also participated in two Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournaments, including a runner-up finish in 2001. During his six-year coaching tenure, Westfield State compiled a 63-40-6 record against a demanding schedule of nationally ranked opponents; the Owls were ranked in the top 10 in New England four of those years.

Whalley was a physical education teacher for eight years and a fifth- and sixth-grade math and science teacher for three years before becoming sales manager at Whalley Computer Associates in Southwick. Since 1987, he has been their vice president.

Whalley honed his entrepreneurial skills when he started Whalley’s Studio of Photography to pay for his college education. The part-time business prospered for 12 years and included taking photographs of Westfield State varsity sports teams.

Whalley has also been a strong supporter of Westfield State throughout the years and is a corporate sponsor of the Owl varsity athletics program. He was honored as the Westfield State Alumnus of the Year in 2000.

Whalley and his wife, Bonnie ’75, live in Southwick and have three children and five grandchildren.


Chris Whalley ’03, Paul’s son, was a two-time All-New England and four-time all-conference selection for Westfield State’s men’s soccer program.

Whalley earned All-New England honors during his junior and senior seasons when he also finished second in MASCAC player of the year voting. The standout midfielder was a three-time first-team all-conference selection and a second-team pick and conference rookie of the year in 1999.

A team captain and MVP in 2001 and 2002, Whalley ranks fourth on Westfield’s all-time list with 39 assists. He ranks 17th in scoring with 75 career points. During his sophomore season in 2000, he helped lead the Owls to the MASCAC championship and an opening round victory over Roger Williams in the NCAA Tournament. During his junior year, the Owls advanced to the ECAC Tournament championship game.

Following his stellar four-year career, Whalley participated in the New England Intercollegiate Soccer League All-Star game at Gillette Stadium and scored the Division III team’s only goal in a 4-1 setback to the Division I-II all-star squad.

Whalley was highly recruited out of nearby Southwick High School, where he was a three-time All-Western Massachusetts selection and participated in state tournaments during his freshman, sophomore and senior seasons. He was the Massachusetts Division II player of the year and an All-New England selection during his senior year in 1998, when he led Southwick to the Western Massachusetts championship. Whalley also played for the Massachusetts youth soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) team for six years and was a three-time captain.

Whalley remains highly active in soccer today. He was president of the Southwick Soccer Association from 2008-13 and coached the Southwick under-11 team for four years. He directed the Berkshire Youth Academy Football Club for the past five years and, this year, started his own academy in the Westfield/Southwick area to help local players learn the game he loves.

Whalley is the business development manager at Whalley Computer Associates, and this year, he received the Enterasys Networks Award for best marketing group in the United States. He and his wife, Jessica, live in Westfield with their three children.


Kathy Jekanowski ’96 was an integral member of the highly successful Westfield State women’s basketball teams of the mid-1990s.

A three-time all-conference selection, Jekanowski scored 1,044 career points in helping to lead Westfield State to the best four-year stretch in school history. The Owls posted a brilliant 88-27 record with four straight 20-win seasons, captured two MASCAC championships and participated in NCAA Tournaments in 1995 and 1996. In addition, Westfield State was the ECAC Tournament runner-up in 1993 and ECAC tournament semifinalist in 1994.

In addition to scoring 1,000 career points, Jekanowski totaled 503 career rebounds and ranks in the top 10 in school history in free throw shooting (71 percent, 286 for 402). Her team-first efforts did not go unnoticed, as she was a first team all-conference selection in 1993 and 1996 and a second team selection in 1994.

Jekanowski also scored 1,000 career points in high school at Hopkins Academy in Hadley, where she was an All-Western Massachusetts selection in both basketball and softball. She has been a certified athletic trainer for 18 years and earned a master’s of education in strength and conditioning from Springfield College in 2002. 

Jekanowski has been an athletic trainer at Amherst College since the fall of 2005 and was voted honorary class member by the Amherst College Class of 2011. She was the athletic trainer for two national championship teams with the women’s ice hockey program in 2009 and 2010.

Track and Field

Nora Lynch ’00 was a big-meet performer for the Westfield State women’s track and field team.

A two-time All-New England honoree and a four-time conference champion, Lynch helped lead the Owls to three consecutive MASCAC track and field championships.

Lynch’s discus throw in the final event of the 1998 MASCAC championships gave Westfield State its first conference crown in women’s track and field, as the Owls edged Bridgewater State for the team title. Moreover, the Norwood native’s discus throw of 127 feet, 11 inches in the 2000 MASCAC finals remains the conference record after 14 years.

Lynch earned All-New England honors in 1998 and 2000 and All-ECAC honors in 2000. She was both the MASCAC and New England Alliance champion in the discus (1998, 1999, 2000) and hammer throw (1999), and the Alliance indoor champion in the 20-pound weight throw in 2000. She placed second in the shot put and hammer throw at the 2000 MASCAC championships.

Lynch was named Westfield State’s most valuable field performer in 1999 and 2000. A stellar student in the classroom with a 3.7 grade point average, she was a member of the MASCAC All-Academic team for four consecutive years.

Lynch has been the throws coach at Fitchburg State for the past 14 years. She has coached two All-Americans and five national championship qualifiers.

Lynch has been employed full-time as a kindergarten teacher in the Dedham school district since graduating from Westfield State. She and her husband, Steven Armstrong, were married on Sept. 27, 2014.


Matt Yvon ’04 was a record-setting wide receiver for Westfield State’s championship football teams in the early 2000s.

Yvon holds the New England Division III record for career receiving yards (3,413) and ranks second on New England’s all-time charts with 217 catches. At the time of his graduation, the big-play receiver held 13 school records and still holds school career records for catches per game (5.6), touchdown catches (34), receiving yards per game (87.5), and points scored (241).

The talented Yvon achieved national acclaim and legendary status in a 30-27 victory over Fitchburg State in 2003 as he kicked the game-winning 31-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining and caught 11 passes for a school record 257 yards to earn New England’s prestigious Gold Helmet Award. Yvon also scored 18 points and totaled 304 all-purpose yards versus Fitchburg as he returned three punts for 47 yards.

And in the biggest victory in school history, Yvon set a then single-game school record with 13 pass receptions and caught the game-winning touchdown with 59 seconds remaining in Westfield’s thrilling 35-31 over Worcester State in a battle of unbeaten teams in the 2001 regular season finale.

Yvon was a first-team all-conference selection in 2001, 2002 and 2003 in the 14-team New England Football Conference (NEFC) when the Owls posted an aggregate record of 25-7, captured three NEFC Bogan Division and MASCAC championships, and won the 2001 NEFC championship to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. He was an All-East Region second team selection and ECAC All-New England honoree in 2002 and 2003.

The East Longmeadow resident, who was inducted into the Springfield Cathedral High School Hall of Fame three years ago, capped his outstanding collegiate career by playing for the NCAA Division III All-Stars against Mexico in the Aztec Bowl in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2003.

Yvon also displayed his talents on the basketball court for Westfield State. He played during his junior year and helped to lead the Owls to a school-record 13 consecutive victories.

Yvon is a regional sales manager for Essilor of America (Perferx Optical), a leader in the optical industry. Currently in his eighth year at Perferx, he was a President’s Club Award recipient in 2011.

Yvon and his wife, Katy, live in East Longmeadow with their newborn son.


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