Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online


June 13, 2013

Lakemen mark 30-year anniversary

Wilson won the state Class C-D baseball title in June of 1983



For those on the other end of the state, however, the memory remains a painful one.
“It was a stinging loss, but we gave the team a nice ovation after the game. Thirty years later and I can only imagine how crushed the players on that team were at the time,” Hopkins said.
“Less than a year later, Rome Catholic did win a state championship — the first of back-to-back titles in hockey. They were coached by Bill Fleet, the same man who led the ‘83 RCH team to the baseball state finals.”
In 2009, the entire Wilson 1983 baseball team was inducted into the Wilson Sports Hall of Fame. Besides the players already mentioned, others from that team were Dan Eaton, Ken Davis, Mark Curran, Jim Thompson, Edward Kent, Tom Thompson, Todd Neumann and Bill Murphy. The Lakemen athletics director in 1983 was Bob Dinse.
Fleet, 69, retired from RCH in 1988 after serving 18 years as hockey head coach and 12 as baseball head coach. He works today as an assistant hockey coach at Rome Free Academy
“I’ve got a lot of grandkids in the area and when I’m not helping out with hockey or baseball, I love watching them grow,” Fleet said. “I’ve coached a lot of great kids here and I remember every single one of them.”
Okoniewski, who works as an accountant today, said he’s spent a lot of times in recent years coaching his sons in baseball and basketball and remains busy today “following my daughter around” in her softball and volleyball exploits.
Burke said this week that he fondly remembers what his father told him after that state championship run.
“I was only 23-24 years old at the time. My dad — the old-time wisdom guys — just looked at me and said, ‘That came way too fast to you.’ I didn’t understand what he meant at first, but I think I do now. You wouldn’t enjoy it as much as a 23-year-old than as a 50-year-old.”

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