2003 Hall of Honor
[Hall of Honor Years]
The words “unique,” “outstanding” and “All-American” all describe Matt Laszlo’s accomplishments as a Buccaneer football and baseball player. Recruited from Columbus, Georgia, he is the first Beloit athlete to earn first-team all-Midwest Conference honors four times in both sports. He quickly earned recognition as a place-kicker by making 17 of 18 extra-point attempts and five of eight field-goal tries as a first-year athlete; and he holds the school record for conversions in a career (100), season (34), and game (7) and is second in field goals for career (17) and season (8). Twice an academic All-Conference and pre-season All-American selection, he was named a National Scholar Athlete in 1990. When not pitching, Laszlo played first base or center field at a time when the Buc diamond men played 10 fewer games (24) than they do today. Despite this, he remains tied for first career-wise in innings pitched (219.1) and is second in wins (17), ERA (2.95), and strikeouts (157). Having a career batting average of .336 and hitting .391 as a junior, he was selected team MVP and “Pitcher of the Year” in 1992, when baseball awards were first presented. Recipient of a “B” blanket and of the “Red” Janssen’50 and Pat Dawson’25 scholar/athlete awards as a junior and senior, respectively. Laszlo resides in Wheaton, Illinois, with his wife Andrea and their daughter Bridgette.
Hailing from St. Helens, Oregon, Betsy Phinney arrived at Beloit College already an established academic and athletic all-star. In her first season as a middle-hitter in volleyball, she set a new record for solo blocks (93), and her 175 kills were just seven short of the all-time high. She continued to excel at the net as a sophomore, accumulating a total of 58 solo stuff blocks, 88 block assists, and 30 service aces. At the culmination of a Buccaneer volleyball career that remains unmatched, Phinney is the pacesetter in solo blocks (373), block assists (246), and total blocks (619), as well as the holder of one single game and two season marks. She also was nationally ranked third in blocks and ninth in hitting percentage and was twice named first-team all-Midwest Conference and academic all-conference. Paralleling her dominance on the court, Phinney was a force to be reckoned with on the track. During her career as an indoor and outdoor hurdler, she set school standards that stand today. In the outdoor 100 high hurdles, she is the record holder at :15.36, and in indoor competition, her time of :8.79 in the 55 high hurdles still prevails. Phinney won an impressive three conference championships in indoor and outdoor hurdle events and capped an already stellar career by earning the coveted “B” blanket and the Red Janssen’50 and Ruth Colman Peterson’38 scholar/athlete awards. Betsy and her husband, Peter Williams, reside in Spokane, Washington.
Little did Buccaneer basketball fans dream that the hiring of Bill Knapton as men’s basketball coach in 1957 would find them witnessing the crafting of a living legend. He arrived on campus with impressive credentials, first as an outstanding athlete at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he captained the basketball and baseball teams and later was named to its Athletic Hall of Honor; next as the coach at Stevens Point (Wis.) High School, where his team won the 1954 state basketball championship and had a two-season record of 42-7, and then as an assistant coach for three years at Marquette University. Over the next four decades, Knapton guided Beloit teams to 31 winning seasons, including 20 in a row, and often out executed more talented opponents with his basketball moxie and intelligence. He compiled a 557-343 record, and his 344 Midwest Conference victories and 10 championships were the best of any coach in the league’s 76-year history. In 1981, the Bucs posted a 24-2 record and were ranked the nation’s No. 1 Division III team for five weeks, with Knapton earning NCAA Midwest regional and conference “Coach of the Year” honors. A creative and committed competitor whose passion for the game and caring for his players were contagious, he later served as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches for two years. At the time of his retirement in 1997, his 557 victories ranked him third among active Division III coaches and fifth all-time. Knapton’s tenure at Beloit included service as athletic director, golf and baseball coach, and assistant in other sports. Bill and his wife Joan have two daughters, two sons, and several grandchildren. They recently moved to The Villages, Florida and continue to enjoy retirement.