Alfred-Almond Alumni Association inducts 5 into Sports Hall of Fame

The 2020-2021 Alfred Almond Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame inductees, left to right:  Hannah Holmok, Keith Holmok, Kali Muhleisen, Don Higgins, Kaila Smith.

The 2020-2021 Alfred Almond Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame and Outstanding Service Award recipients were recognized and received their awards at small personal gatherings, due to the cancellation of the annual banquet.

On the front steps of their alma mater, Alfred-Almond Central School, Ervilla Crandall, representing the AAAA Sports Hall of Fame committee, assisted by AAAA President Lisa Patrick, presented the 2021 awards to Kali Muhleisen, (2012), Hannah Holmok, (2012) and Coach Keith Holmok, and the 2020 awards to Don Higgins (1970) and Kaila Smith (2006). At a family picnic, Donna Ryan, AAAA secretary, and AAAA board member Shelley Brown honored Patricia Spaine Harvey Curran, (1953) with the 2021 Outstanding Service Award.

Keith, an honoree in the contributor category, came to Alfred-Almond in 1983 as an accomplished coach and athletic director from Windham Ashland Jewett Central School. He served as athletic director at AACS from 1983-90, then again for five years following his retirement from teaching in 2015.

Keith coached boys’ varsity basketball 1983-86, losing in the Class C sectional semi-finals in 1986. He also coached varsity softball during this same time period. Keith then moved to the modified level, establishing skill foundations in boys’ soccer (three years), girls and boys basketball (ten seasons) and baseball, where he compiled 27 seasons among modified, JV, and ultimately varsity. He recorded over 250 varsity wins, several county titles, and numerous teams in sectional semifinals and finals. Keith also made administrative contributions in Steuben County, serving as League Coordinator for Baseball from 2002 until the present.

Keith may be best known as an area soccer official, officiating at the state tournament 15 times. Active since 1979, he has also officiated USSF and collegiate soccer games. He currently serves as President of the New York State Certified Officials of Soccer. Keith has amassed an amazing 41 years in public education!

As an intro to the bios of Kali and Hannah, this tribute was written in the 2021 AAAA alumni newsletter: “The breathtaking 2011 soccer season, where Hannah was named to the All State First team behind her 10 goal, 11 assist seasons and Kali earned a second team nod with her 29 goals and 8 assists, resulted in a DD Sectional title for the first time since 1985. Beating higher ranked rival Arkport in the final 3-2 was icing on the cake. To quote their coach, Jim Lucey, "You'd have to know nothing about soccer to watch those two play and not realize they are top players at any level.”

Kali played varsity soccer for four years, and was a first team Steuben County All Star in 2009, 10, and 11. She earned honorable mention status on the All Greater Rochester Team in 2009, and was named to the team in both 2010 and 2011, and to the NY State Class D All State team in 2010 and 2011. Also in her senior year, Kali was named the Most Valuable Player on the Steuben County Exceptional Senior Team, and earned a National Scholar-Athlete Award from the United States Army Reserve.

During the winter season, Kali kept her skills sharp on the basketball court with one year of JV and three years of varsity competition, including sportsmanship awards as a freshman and sophomore, and MVP awards as a junior and senior. She garnered Spectator Great 8 honorable mentions during her junior and senior seasons. Kali was chosen as a first team All Star in softball all four years, and was recognized as the Most Improved player as a junior, and winner of the Sportsmanship Award as a sophomore and senior. Kali was a NYSPHSAA Scholar Athlete all four years. Despite a season ending injury during her senior year, Kali went on to compete at the collegiate level, earning first team All American status twice at Alfred State College. Kali is currently employed for the Fairfax County Public Schools as a K-12 Adapted Education teacher.

Hannah's resume is similar, although she chose track for her spring sport, competing at the varsity level for six years, and helping her team to win County and Sectional Championships. Hannah competed in both track and field events, individually in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, and as part of the 4X100 relay team, that garnered the Sectional title in Class D when she was only in seventh grade. Her 2010 relay team set a school record that still stands today. She was a discus finalist as a freshman, sophomore, and junior, and placed in the top five in all of her events scoring points for her teams that twice went on to State Qualifiers. Hannah was a team captain in 2010, 11, and 12.

Like her friend Kali, Hannah's soccer skills are legendary. She played varsity soccer for four years, earning county first team all star status and All Greater Rochester, as well as, All NY State recognition. Both girls were named Soccer MVPs and Hannah captained her team as a senior. She also played winter basketball, and was named Most Improved Player in her senior year. Hannah continued to garner soccer awards as a collegiate athlete as well, culminating in All American status at Alfred State. Hannah is employed for Kalmia and Catholic Health as a Radiologic Technologist.

The Alfred Almond Alumni Association OSA honorees, left to right:  Shelley Brown, Patty Spaine Harvey Curran, Mig Pierce Amato.

Don was a four-sport participant at Alfred-Almond: soccer, basketball, track/field, and wrestling. In his junior year he joined the AACS wrestling squad, holding Allegany County championship titles in the unlimited weight class both his junior and senior year, and advanced to the sectionals. His four-year career in track/field brought him second place in the discus and third place in the shot put at the Allegany County meets as a junior. The next year, as a senior he took first place in both the discus and shot put at the Allegany County meet, as well as first place in the discus at the Section V meet and fourth in shot put. Don held the home and away discus records for AACS for approximately 15 years.

Upon graduation, Don enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served honorably from 1970-72. He was also a member of the Marine Corps band representing the USMC across the Eastern United States. Presently, Don is a Senior Ride Captain in charge of nine western counties for the Patriot Guard Riders of New York State, providing escorts, flag lines and support at funerals and events for military veterans and first responders and their families.

Kaila was an Alfred-Almond multi-sport athlete, playing soccer and basketball for four years, softball for two years, and ran track/field one year. As part of AA’s soccer defense, she was a member of the undefeated JV soccer team (18-0), and received the MVP award at the Belfast Annual Girls Invitational Soccer Tournament. Holding the point guard position for three years, Kaila averaged 17 points per game and held Spectator Great 8 First Team and Second Team All Star honors in her junior and senior year. She was the AACS Eagles MVP Wegmans Athlete of the Month, Steuben County Hoop Player of the Week, Section V BirdsEye Foods Player of the Week, and was nominated for prestigious Wendy’s HS Heisman Scholarship.

She went on to play soccer for Alfred State College and basketball for the Lady Pioneers, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She continued her education at SUNY Brockport earning a B.S. in Education and Canisius earning an M.Ed. She resides in Buffalo currently.

“Patty,” as she is fondly known, has been a lifelong resident of the Alfred-Almond communities. She and her first husband, Jack Harvey, owned The Inn (now Muhleisen’s) for several years, surviving and recovering from the ravages of the Flood of 1972. Her love and high respect for family history motivated Patty to spend years researching local family genealogies. Seven of her family history books are listed on the Alfred University’s Herrick Memorial website as Unpublished Family Genealogies. These include the Burdicks; Burdick, Brewsters and Hubbards (The early Burdick, Brewster, and Hubbard families that settled in the colonies); Cornelius; Curran; Jacox; Proctor and Spaine; and Waight, Crusen and Harvey. Patty also donated complete copies of these large, three-ring binders to the Almond Historical Society for their genealogy reference section.

An active member of the Alfred Seventh Day Baptist church since childhood, Patty was recently highlighted in a feature story in the Cuba Patriot and Free Press for her longtime commitment to the Op Shop, located upstairs in the Alfred SDB Church Parish House. Up until her recent retirement, Patty managed the shop, open on Tuesdays, for many years. The proceeds from this endeavor go toward the expenses of the church. She has been church treasurer, served on boards, chaired committees, functioned as church treasurer, deaconess, trustee, and even substituted in the pulpit when the pastor is not available. The church sanctuary is the home of the historic Rosebush Memorial Moller Pipe Organ, installed in 1930. These instruments require extensive repairs and maintenance, and several years ago, Patty assisted in a major restoration project, writing countless fund-raising articles and letters to elicit support. She also participated with others in hands-on restoration projects to keep the project cost down.

She served on the AAAA board in the early 2000s, and the Almond Town Planning Board. She is also a life member of the Almond Historical Society, and along with her contribution of several family history volumes, she has written her memoirs of living in Almond for their newsletter.

This article originally appeared on The Evening Tribune: Alfred-Almond Alumni Association inducts 5 into Sports Hall of Fame