Alumnae Gigliello & Saracino inducted into Hall of Fame

This past August, two Wilkes alumna, Lisa Gigliello and Doris Saracino, were inducted into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame. With the unveiling of the Hall of Fame’s new display case, the memorabilia from these alumnae is now open to the public in the Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport.

Through athletics, these alumnae proved themselves to be influential on various platforms, leaving an imprint on the community that deserves recognition.

According to Jim Martin, the president of the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame, “It’s all about what sports provides the community. We want to welcome the past, represent what is significant now and include what is making noise in the future.”

The Luzerne County/John Louis Popple Chapter Sports Hall of Fame is a community-based organization that strives to be a servant leader, promote events and donate to worthwhile causes. In doing so, they choose to recognize individuals who have become accomplished in any sport, how these individuals have grown and how they’ve contributed to their community.

Since its inception in 1985, the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame has inducted 654 individuals from various walks of sports history, representing five counties in Pennsylvania.

This year, eight women and seven men were inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.

“The Hall of Fame has been male-specific and we’re working hard towards representing a larger population of women,” said Martin. “We’re trying to level the playing field.”

Among these individuals is the recent addition of two Wilkes alumna, Lisa Gigliello and Doris Saracino.

As for Gigliello, her presence on the softball field has been prevalent since her time at Wilkes. She was a two-time Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) All-Star, won the Senior Student-Athlete award and was inducted into the Wilkes University Athletic Hall of Fame. During her collegiate career, Wilkes won the MAC title and was ranked tenth in the nation, resulting in Gigliello being named to the MAC 100 Softball Century Team.

At Wilkes, Gigliello earned a degree in electrical engineering, physics and an MBA, allowing her to be recognized as a top student-athlete in MAC history.

“It’s always nice to be recognized,” Gigliello said. “But it’s also a reflection of all the people I’ve played with and for, not just of myself.”

Although Gigliello’s presence on the field was impressive during her playing career, her time coaching in the third-base box has only enhanced her stat sheet.

At King’a College, Gigliello is entering her 26th season as the head softball coach, where she has acquired the most wins in the school’s history with a record of 621-322-2. Not only has Gigliello built one of the top softball programs in the region, but her program has been recognized on the NCAA Division III level, ranking her in the top 30 for both wins and winning percentage.

She has 19 consecutive playoff tournament berths, holding the longest and unmatched record in the MAC. She has led her team to 10 MAC championships, 11 NCAA tournaments and one ECAC.

However, perhaps what is more notable is the number of awards she has been able to acquire for her players, with 145 MAC All-Academic nods, 127 MAC All-Star honors and 51 Regional All-American honors.

“I’m fortunate to coach great people, not just great athletes or student-athletes,” said Gigliello, reflecting on the accolades of her players.

Although Gigliello has had a successful career, both on and off the field, she notes that her recent induction is bigger than herself, indicating that what she passes on to her players is crucial to her.

“Hopefully, some of them will want to coach and share the benefits of sports that takes place by being on a team that you wouldn’t get to experience otherwise,” Gigliello said.

Of these experiences, Gigliello highlights the life-long friendships that are created as a result of the dynamic on the field.

“We’re in NEPA – it’s cold. Just thinking about the 20 other people willing to be out there with you in that nasty weather, working towards that one sunny day when you actually get to play can be all it takes,” Gigliello remarked.

From Little League to her time at Wilkes, Gigliello notes that the individuals she has played with have become apart of her life, portraying the significance of sports.

Although Gigliello has an impressive repertoire, her accolades cannot compare to the message she wants to leave behind following her recent induction into the Sports Hall of Fame.

“Sports represents a tiny microcosm of life,” said Gigliello, indicating the overwhelming role that sports can play in an individual’s life. “It teaches you how to deal with people, disappointments and even success. It’s a glimpse of the big picture of life –  in just one inning, one game or one season.”

In addition to Gigliello’s induction, former 34-year member of the Wilkes athletic department, Doris Saracino was inducted as well.

Although Saracino’s induction comes after her passing, her recognition by the Sports Hall of Fame does not carry any less weight, as she was affectionately dubbed the “Mother of Wilkes Women’s Athletics.”

With Saracino’s influence, women’s sports became just as prevalent as men’s sports in the athletic community at Wilkes.

In 1960-61, She kick-started women’s basketball, being their first full-time head coach and leading them for their first 10 years of existence. The following year in 1962, Saracino added another women’s sport to Wilkes’ lineup: field hockey. While continuing to coach basketball in the winter, Saracino coached field hockey for eight years in the fall. In 1975, she implemented another fall sport: women’s volleyball, which she coached for 15 years.

In addition to Saracino’s overwhelming presence at Wilkes, she made a name for herself in the community as well. In 1976, she played a crucial role in establishing the Kingston Softball League and became the league’s first commissioner.

In 1995, she was inducted into the Wilkes University Athletic Hall of Fame. Twenty-one years later, she was inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame as well.

“My family takes tremendous pride in our mother’s induction into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame,” said Maria Saracino Mooney, the daughter of the late Doris Saracino. “We are very proud to have our mother’s memorabilia and her legacy on display for many people to see.”

Despite Dorie’s petite stature of just over four feet tall, the impact she left on women’s athletics was quite the opposite. She opened doors at Wilkes University and in the community before the implementation of Title IX, the law that forces equality in education and athletics for women.

“She loved educating, coaching and empowering countless women,” Mooney said proudly. “She was able to help pave the way so women had every opportunity that men had to participate in sports.”

With the relocation of the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame, the memorabilia for these two alumna can be founded in the display case at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport.

Prior to the relocation, the Sports Hall of Fame’s artifacts were held in Ashley Furniture Home Store. However, Martin noted how they didn’t want any artifacts to get damaged and were on the search for a new location.

Upon talking with Carl Beardsley, the Executive Director of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport, Martin noted that Beardsley was “glowingly enthusiastic” about putting sports memorabilia in the display that was not in use.

After one month of collecting the artifacts and designing the case structure, the display was unveiled to the public on Oct. 25.

After moving locations, Martin noted the significance of where the display is in the airport, stating, “It’s where people enter, exit and congregate. Over 330,000 people go through those doors per year, and we would be happy to hit just a fraction of that.”

The display case is centrally located in the airport, being adjacent to TSA and visible from all angles on the floor.

With the new display case finished, Martin emphasizes how monumental of an accomplishment this was. After shuttling representatives of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame to the airport to see their accomplishment, he noted the positive feedback that he received.

“We’re not just representing our area alone – we want to take it to the state level,” said Martin. “We are experiencing it as it unfolds.”