Q.U. Hall of Fame Adds 1954-55 Men’s Basketball Team & Postiglione
The Quincy University Athletic Hall of Fame Committee announced the 2017 Hall of Fame class at a news conference in the University’s Hall of Fame Room. The University will formally induct Dick Thompson and his 1954-55 men’s basketball team members along with former women’s soccer coach Bill Postiglione into the Hall of Fame at an honorary breakfast on Saturday, February 18. The 1954-55 team and Postiglione will also be recognized during halftime of the Q.U. men’s basketball game against William Jewell that afternoon.
While the 1954-55 basketball team was the first in the school’s history to qualify for a national tournament, their accomplishments and the adversity they faced as a team served a greater purpose. The Hawks, under head coach Harry Forrester, fielded a team with four black players, unprecedented in the racially segregated United States of the 1950s. This coming more than a decade before Texas Western started five black players to win the national championship against Kentucky in 1966, which was depicted in the 2006 film “Glory Road.”
The Hawks endured relentless prejudice and racism throughout their times together from being denied service at restaurants and hearing racist chants from opposing stands to having to play on the court with biased officials.
The players on the 1954-55 team include Bob Bender, Edsel Bester, Ed Crenshaw, Pat Flannigan, George Gruendel, Jim Hubbard, Bill Lemon, Frank Longo, Dick Overheul, Dick Thompson, Sidney Tucker, Art Willenburg and Edmund Wisz. Forrester, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, was in his first of three seasons as a coach in 1954-55.
The team finished with a 17-9 overall record and had the highest winning percentage in the school’s history at that time and qualified for the NAIA national tournament in Kansas City for the first time.
Postiglione coached Quincy’s women’s soccer team for 23 seasons, launching the program in 1983 and leading it through the 2005 season. He led the Hawks from the club and NAIA ranks to the NCAA Division II Level and took Q.U. to consecutive Division II semifinals in 1994 and 1995. Postiglione finished his career with a 181-171-28 overall record.
“Coach Postiglione took a chance when he helped young female players start a women’s soccer program, then went on to be their long-time coach, taking them from a club team to the NCAA Final Four. The accomplishments of this year's class will be cherished for decades to come.”
Postiglione is among the greatest coaches in the University’s history, having launched the women’s soccer program and bringing it to national prominence in the mid-1990s. The legacy of those teams still last with the program, which has continued to have success on the regional and national levels. He won four regional Coach of the Year honors in his career, and coached four All-Americans and 18 all-region players.
“This year's Hall of Fame class consists of pioneers in the field of athletics,” said Linda Moore, chairperson of the QU Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. “The 1954-55 men's basketball team met challenges that so many teams faced after them. They overcame those challenges with dignity, pride, and the Franciscan spirit that permeates throughout our alma mater.