Former Golf Coach Mucica Posthumously Receives 'The Smitty'
By UMass Lowell Atheltics
UMass Lowell honored 10 outstanding individuals recently at the 2012 Dream of Perfect Games Celebration of Sport at the University's Inn & Conference Center.
The second annual event honors athletic excellence as well as individuals or groups that have used the power and appeal of sports to improve lives and strengthen communities.
Former golf coach and director of UMass Lowell's MBA program Gary Mucica '71 posthumously received the James T. Smith Award for distinguished life achievement. Mucica lost a brief battle to cancer in July.
Additionally, associate director Steve Kelley '71 and director Billy Robertson '82 of the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence each received the Family Lew Community Impact Award. The honor is presented to an individual or group for their commitment to using sports to improve lives and strengthen Merrimack Valley communities.
Dr. Sheri Russell '87 and Ed Scollan '76 both received the Champion of Sports Award, presented to individuals or groups with roots in the Merrimack Valley for championing sports to benefit others.
Two student-athletes, distance runner Kelly Walton and golfer Travis Kellegrew, received $1,500 scholarships. Walton earned the Jane Pankovich Austin Scholarship and Kellegrew earned the Charles Puliafico Scholarship.
UMass Lowell's 2012 Hall of Fame class was also inducted: Nicole (Plante) Hunt '08, a nine-time All-American and NCAA champion in the 10,000 meters; Joanna DaLuze '06, who led the field hockey team to the 2005 NCAA Championship; Jason Paige '05, an All-American in soccer and track and field; and his brother Mike Paige'03, a four-time All-American sprinter and standout soccer player.
A graduate of Lowell Technological Institute, Gary Mucica served the University in many capacities before passing away in July. Mucica was director of graduate programs for the Manning School of Business and also served as a visiting professor. Most recently, he was named to the UMass Lowell 2020 Strategic Plan, serving as the co-chair of the Branding and Marketing Committee. He became the golf coach when it returned to a varsity sport from club status in 2004. Mucica fervently took the program over and quickly built it into one of the best in the East Region.
“Gary was one of those rare individuals who had a talent for spreading optimism in every corner of the campus,” says Athletic Director Dana Skinner. “He wore many hats and touched many people - from faculty and staff, to students, to alumni and so many friends that it would be impossible to count. Gary loved this University, and his work with the golf program and our student-athletes was nothing short of special.”
UMass Lowell enjoyed is best season under Mucica last year when the team finished third among 34 teams at the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association Tournament.
Success followed in the spring as the River Hawks won three tournaments in four weeks – the team had one tournament title in the previous six years – and placed 10th overall and tops among Northeast-10 Conference schools in the NCAA Tournament East-Atlantic Regional.
Mucica was also active within the college golf circles, serving as NCAA Tournament Regional Selection Committee and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) All-America Selection Committee for three years and as the Northeast-10 Conference Coaches Chair for two years.
Mucica is survived by his wife, Sally, and his brother Bill.