Twenty-five alumni spanning 30-plus years, along with family and friends gathered, in Alumni Hall on Saturday, March 24 for the first alumni rifle match in 35 years. Former, long-time coach, Paul Klimitas, who is now the athletic director, and current coach Dr. Pete Dalidowicz C’90 had planned the event as an opportunity to reunite teammates with one another, the staff, and the campus.
Photo 1: Paul Klimitas accepting the scholarship named after him.
Photo 2: Alumni gather for a group shot
Photo 3: Current rifle team Coach Dr. Pete Dalidowicz C’90
Photo 4: A memory book of photos through the years was a big draw.
But what Klimitas did not know was that the alumni coordinated a surprise presentation of a scholarship in his honor.
The Paul E. Klimitas Honorary Scholarship will provide “financial support to intercollegiate athletes who demonstrate a strong commitment to excellence in the classroom, in athletic completion and in the community. Additionally, the recipients should model the values of the University and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.”
After a casual lunch between shooting lines, the attendees gathered in the former gymnasium that still partly exists in Alumni Hall for a group photo. That was followed by the surprise presentation to Klimitas presented to him by Director of Annual Giving Katie Battista on behalf of the alumni and the University.
“In 1976 Col. Shea - the previous coach for 15 years - asked me to take care of the team, I tried to do just that, and take the team to a higher level," recalled Klimitas. "The scholarship is a wonderful honor; however, it is actually a testament to each varsity rifle team alumnus and that they feel the program obviously has had a positive impact on their lives. I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach sensational student-athletes. I count many of these people as my close friends and it is an honor to have been their coach. I do believe that Col. Shea would be proud and approve of this honor.”
When they were not on a shooting line, alumni gathered in the official team room among some of the same couches, chairs, books, and décor that was there when they were students. They revisited memories about road trips to matches against the few other rifle teams that existed in their time, including that of Admiral Farragut Academy, a college-preparatory navel-training school that has since closed. They reminisced about those times before rifle became a NCAA-recognized sport at USciences, when the team competed in different courses of competition and on different types of targets. A photo book compiled by Alumni Relations helped spur the memories.
Alumni from the 80s spent time remembering each team members’ designated stuffed animal such as the penguin Ken Stewart P’82 had. The stuffed animals were chosen by the self-named, “team’s second mascot,” Rachel Clark-Vetri P’86.
“The whole thing started because I found a stuffed devil, Taz, in a store,” explained Clark-Vetri, “and then everyone ended up with their own stuffed animal.”
Alumni appreciated that the event motivated them to return to their campus. For Vince Anthony PhSci’10, it was the first time he was drawn back to campus since he was a student.
“It just feels good to be back. I immediately remembered all of the great times I had here,” Anthony stated. “Since I was a freshman, this whole campus has changed, except this room. It’s great to be in here shooting again,” Anthony said.
Those interested in supporting the scholarship can do so online at www.usciences.edu/giveonline and noting “Paul E. Klimitas Honorary Scholarship” in the comments box; or by writing Klimitas Scholarship Fund, c/o USciences Institutional Advancement, 600 S. 43rd Street/Box 54, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
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