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Rhode Island sports icons share stories of success

The former athletes honored at Saturday’s football game included Olympic gold medalist Sara DeCosta-Hayes, former MLB player Bill Almon ’75, Olympic hockey player Dave Emma and basketball coach Ed Cooley.

An Olympic gold medalist, two former professional athletes, an NCAA basketball coach and a renowned amateur golfer all came together for a panel discussion at the Nelson Fitness Center Friday. Brown honored the five panelists, as well as 23 other Rhode Island sports legends, at halftime of the Brown-University of Rhode Island football game Saturday evening.

These accomplished men and women all have one thing in common: They were born and raised in Rhode Island.

Sara DeCosta-Hayes, Bill Almon ’75, Dave Emma, Ed Cooley and Nancy Chaffee gathered before a crowd of nearly 100 people to talk about their experiences growing up and playing sports in Rhode Island and how those early years impacted their future careers.

“We all love Rhode Island,” said Athletic Director Jack Hayes, who organized the event. “As a hard-working state of people who appreciate success, we are thrilled to recognize these individuals who have done some incredible things.”

Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 P’17 said, “We’re a small state, but we’ve produced some great athletes over the years.”

Other honorees included hockey player Jim Bennett ’79, lacrosse standout Tom Gagnon ’86 and former professional tennis player Gordie Ernst ’89.