Athletic Hall of Fame

Defining "Greatness"

On Saturday, September 28, 2019, we celebrated athletic greatness and dedication to the Rice athletic tradition.

After months of planning and preparation, seven new Rice Memorial Hall of Fame nominees were inducted into the prestigious Class of 2019. The Hall of Fame Committee represents a range of both Cathedral and Rice Memorial High School graduates, coaches, faculty, our principal and athletic director, all of whom share our school’s values of tradition, character and Christian ideals.

The selection process begins with soliciting suggestions for potential inductees from alumni, coaches, family and friends of Cathedral and Rice Memorial. Nominees must have graduated from either school in good standing and have graduated from Rice for at least ten years, or have a strong relationship with either school. The quality of “greatness” is key. The Committee defines GREATNESS as striving to be an outstanding athlete or coach, or exhibiting strong personal dedication to Rice athletics. All nominees are kept on the perpetual candidates’ list and reviewed every two years.

The Committee looks carefully at each nominee. It is always difficult to choose a small group from the many eligible candidates. The Hall of Fame Committee is very proud to have chosen a truly superb Class of 2019.

Our pride shines on these seven inductees, and we are thankful for the contributions they have made to our school over the years. These individuals uphold the high standards that are used to select candidates for the Rice-Cathedral High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

2019 Rice-Cathedral Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

List of 6 items.

  • George Commo '68

    The name, and voice, of George Commo is synonymous with Vermont sports. Whether the games occurred on the high school, college, or professional level, George Commo was there to make the call and witness some of the best games and athletes in the Green Mountain State. 

    George was a “Little Indian,” graduating from Rice in 1968.  While not a member of Rice athletic teams, he still participated as the all important “super fan” and edited the sports section of the Tower Echoes yearbook.  Before the 12th man or 6th man was identified in popular sports to highlight the importance of the crowd, George embodied that role for a number of Rice teams.

    Being a sports broadcaster came as naturally to George as breathing. He started as a child, imitating the great announcers of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  When he came to Rice and his voice changed, people encouraged George to go into sports broadcasting. Following college, George started at FM93 in Colchester and then became the sports anchor for TV22 in 1974.  While at TV22, George did his first play-by-play work calling UVM’s first ever trip to the ECAC Division I tournament in 1976. For the next 18 years, George worked as the play-by-play announcer for the hockey Cats, sharing the game exploits of many Vermont greats including current Rice coaches Jerry Tarrant (HoF) and Aaron Miller.  George also called many seasons of Catamount basketball, baseball, and soccer as well as Vermont high school tournament games with football, basketball, hockey, and baseball. 

    In the fall of 1998, George moved to WDEV Radio in Waterbury becoming the voice of Norwich University hockey which he continues to this day. He also served as the voice of Norwich football and covered stock car racing.  During this time, Chittenden County radio did not cover high school sports as extensively as it once had so George created Vermont Broadcast Sports. In 2008, VSB joined forces with Northeast Sports Network and Commo served as primary play-by-play voice and advertising sales representative. Eric Berry, owner of NSN, said “George's golden voice epitomizes all that is good with high school sports.  His soothing way of telling the story of every game and of each great play is one of the many characteristics of his style in broadcast.  Above all that, George is a tremendous person and friend. He is a legend to all of us who have ever been associated to high school sports.” While at NSN, George has called virtually every high school and college sport played, including VPA tournaments in football, soccer, hockey, baseball, and lacrosse. 

    Throughout his storied career, George has been honored as VT Sportscaster of the Year and Associated Press VT Play-by Play Award Winner multiple times as well as receiving the ECAC-SIDA Media Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a member of the VPA Hall of Fame, VT Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Norwich University Athletic Hall of Fame, and now the Cathedral/Rice Athletic Hall of Fame.

    George lives with his wife, Dot, in Burlington. They have three sons, Kevin, Anthony, and Jack.
  • John '74 and Sheila Riley '82 Pijanowski

    The Mission Statement at Rice Memorial High School identifies three pillars: love learning, seek God, and serve others; John (‘74) and Sheila (‘82) Riley Pijanowski have proven the embodiment of what it means to serve others.

    John played JV baseball and JV basketball during his time as a Little Indian, but he didn’t get much further than that as a player. However as a fan, he was everywhere the teams went, rarely missing games. He is also incredibly proud that his class won Stunt Nite three times. Sheila wasn’t really involved with sports as an athlete, but couldn’t help but support her friends and classmates as they won any number of titles. But once they became parents, and wanted their daughters to have a Rice education, their pride in the green and white seemed to grow.

    Daughters Emily ‘09 and Hayley ‘16 have countless stories about growing up and attending Rice athletic functions. Trips to Bill Hammond Gymnasium and then, in a good year (and there were many good years) to Patrick Gym, were a regular occurrence. Once Emily started attending Rice, Sheila and Pij were all in. They helped feed athletic teams on bus trips and worked in the snack shack for football games. Once basketball rolled around, they were always at Rice, working concessions, making sure there was plenty of food when other parents were covering concessions, and then working concessions for CYO games, recognizing that CYO concessions brought in additional revenue to support Rice athletic programs. Long time Track and Field coach, Mark McKenna ‘78 credits their dedication as a reason for the ability for Track and Field to purchase much needed throwing equipment. 

    For the next 11 years, the Pijanowskis were a fixture at Rice sporting events. Pij manning the grill or being a super fan and Sheila working in the snack shack and checking on the score.  It didn’t matter whether one of their daughters was playing or not, they felt that sports were an opportunity for students and that all students deserved the opportunity. Former Rice principal, Msgr. Bourgeois noted “Their roles in Rice athletics were not in coaching or playing. Instead, they have been two of the greatest supporters of Rice athletes for as long as I have known them.”  Former Athletic Director Mari Goodridge Miller said “I always knew I could count on Sheila and Pij to help out. Even with their commitments to their parents, they were here for our students.”

    Hall of Fame coach, John Wooden, once said “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” There is no doubt that the many little things that these two Little Indians did, helped make big things happen for many Green Knights. 
  • Jeffrey Royer '80

    Rice has produced many incredible athletes over the years, one of them being Jeff Royer. His work in cross-country, hockey, and baseball demonstrates not only his leadership on the athletic field, but his determination and commitment to his teammates.

    His cross-country career was outstanding. Voted MVP by his teammates, Royer was made the team captain in his junior year. That same year, he was the number one runner on the team, finished second at districts, and finished fourteenth at the state meet for Division I. He was named to the All-State First Team before going on to run in the prestigious New England Championship meet.

    Coach RJ Noonan describes Jeff as hard-working, dedicated and a great competitor. He recounts a race in Essex when Jeff fell on a slippery hill and nearly gave up as his competition went running by him. RJ watched as Jeff made a conscious choice to turn around and keep running, finishing with one of his best times. RJ jokes that he may not have made a lot of money teaching at Rice, but there are certain students who made him feel rich. Jeff, who he calls his “$10,000 man,” was one of them.

    Jeff’s hockey career is no less amazing. Despite an interesting skating style that earned him the nickname “Dipsy Doodle,” Jeff was leading team scorer for two years straight and as a senior, was the second highest scorer in the state, earning him a spot on the All-State Division I First Team.

    His baseball career, though less decorated, cannot be forgotten. He was an outfielder on the Rice baseball team, which placed second statewide in his junior year.

    Jeff didn't stop after high school, either. He has run the Vermont City Marathon three times and the illustrious Boston Marathon twice, with his fastest time being an incredible 3:03:54. Jeff has always found a way to share his love of sports, coaching for Burlington youth soccer, baseball and hockey programs while juggling his career as an engineer for Collins Aerospace. He also volunteers his time with Camp Ta-Kum-Ta and as a Eucharistic Minister at St. John Vianney in South Burlington. Jeff and his wife, a fellow Rice alum from the Class of 1981, Sheila McCormack Royer are proud parents of three sons, JJ, Thomas and Matt.
  • Joe Larkin '96

    Every so often, we encounter an athlete who has had an excellent athletic career and has also shown other talents, such as leadership and dedication that followed him into adulthood.  Joe Larkin is such a person.
    Football played a very important part of his developing years at Rice.  He played with great heart and strong skills. Gary Provost coached Joe for four years and said, “Joe was a two-way starter at halfback and middle linebacker. He was truly our stud that we went to whenever we needed a big play, whether a crucial first down or a blitz to stop the opponent’s drive. Joe was one of the toughest players I have ever coached. In terms of leadership, Joe was THE best leader I have ever coached at Rice.”
    Joe was selected First Team All-State Football on offense and defense in 1995.  He was selected as Rice’s MVP and Defensive MVP at the end of the 1995 season. A very memorable game against BHS for Joe in his senior year was when he had 14 tackles, caused five fumbles and recovered two.  On offense, he rushed for 121 yards as Rice won, 14-12.
    After graduating from Rice, Joe did a post grad year at Exeter to enhance his goal of playing college football. He met his goal and played football for Amherst for four years. In 2000, he received the Amherst College Football Coaches’ Award, which recognized the player who contributed the most to the team during the season, taking into account things such as sportsmanship, dedication, character, and contribution to the team.
    From football, Joe transitioned to hockey, where he contributed to Rice winning State Championships in 1993 and 1994. 
    From hockey, Joe moved into the baseball season. The team was struggling for success on the field.  Joe’s commitment, work ethic, and passion for the game was a tremendous example for his teammates, especially the young underclassmen.  Joe finished his baseball career by being named to the all Metro Baseball Team, finishing the season with a .396 batting average.
    By graduation, Joe was elected to the National Honor Society, served on the Student Council, had been a class president, was chosen as the 1996 Male Athlete of the Year, and had the culminating achievement of being Mr. Rice in 1996.
    After graduating from Amherst College, Joe continued to contribute and give back to his country and his alma mater. He joined the Vermont Air National Guard for six years, becoming an officer.  Giving back to Rice, he has served on the Rice School Board for six years and was Chairman of the Board for three years.
    On the sports field, Joe has coached in the Rice Football program for 15 years, while the team has won two State Championships (2004 and 2012, both teams going 11-0). He was the defensive coach for many years, having switched recently to coaching the offense. 
    Joe is married to Jennifer (Robinson ’95), and they are the proud parents of three daughters (Kate, Ellie, and Anna).  Joe works in the family real estate and development business in Burlington.
  • Michael Kimball '05

    The Class of 2005 had many fine and outstanding athletes. One of the foremost of that group was Michael Kimball who had many great accomplishments during his four years at Rice.

    Baseball had to be his primary sport.  Starting out as a pitcher in his freshman year, he threw a shutout against South Burlington, the eventual State Champion. After four years, Michael had won 16 games (only Jamie Merchant '99 has won more, with a record of 26-3).  Michael also played the outfield and showed himself to be quite a hitter. Michael Pearo, his coach, said, "Michael was the kind of player who pushed himself to excel, whether it was in athletics or academics. It was a joy coaching him."  Michael was voted Second Team All-State his junior year and First Team his senior year, and he participated as a pitcher in the North-South Senior All-Star game, gaining a save.

    Michael also had an illustrious football career, as he pushed himself to excel. The Rice Varsity was 0-8 his freshman year; 6-3 his sophomore year; 7-2 his junior year; and 11-0 his senior year when they were crowned 2004 Division III State Champs. Michael played quarterback, defensive back, and was captain his senior year.  Honors he received were: Division III First Team QB and BurlingtonFree Press All State Team honorable mention because he completed 18 TDs and over 1,000 yards passing! Tony Brice, head football coach at Rice, said in 2004, "Michael Kimball was a lot more than a caretaker in our offense.  He was a team player and leader. He kept everyone in line in the huddle. He was like a coach on the field."

    Michael also participated in Varsity Hockey as a freshman. He skipped his sophomore and junior years to focus on his baseball career, but he played again his senior year when the team went all the way to the State Semi-Finals. At graduation, Michael was recognized as an outstanding student and was named the 2005 Rice Scholar-Athlete.

    Michael has been married to his wife, Jessica, for six years, and they have two young boys, Declan and Braden. The family lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, where Mike recently became a partner at the marketing and media company Consociate Media. He also serves as the Vice President of the Virginia Wineries Association.
  • Jonathon Goldberg '09

    “There is a destiny that makes us brothers
    None goes his way alone.
    All that we send into the lives of others,
    Comes back into our own.”  
    -Edwin Markham
    A Florida native, Jonathon Goldberg transferred to Rice Memorial for his sophomore year in 2006 and had an immediate impact on the Boys’ Varsity Basketball program when he assumed the role of starting point guard and eventually team captain. During Jon’s career at Rice, the boys won the Division I title in 2007 and 2009 and were finalists in 2008. 

    Jon’s basketball accolades are many. In high school he garnered attention as a varsity starter, was repeatedly listed on the VBCA “Dream Dozen” for top players in Vermont, and was recognized by many organizations for his athletic skills and sportsmanship. He received recognition from the Vermont Association of Sportswriters and Sportscasters, played in the “North/South” game, represented Vermont in the Twin State Classic playing against the best seniors from New Hampshire, and was acknowledged as one of the best players in New England.

    Following high school Jon attended St Lawrence University where he played basketball for two years before transferring to Emerson College in Boston.  Jon was recognized for his leadership skills at Emerson and was named team captain his junior year. He garnered more awards when he was recognized for his basketball skills in the NEWMAC conference but also for his tremendous leadership and academic commitment. As a senior, Jon was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Male Student Athlete, as well as being named to the NEWMAC and GNAC Academic teams. Maintaining his commitment to social causes and civic responsibility which was fostered at home and at Rice, Jon was co-founder and coordinator of the Big Brother and Dream Team programs at Emerson. 

    Jon started graduate school at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he worked with the women’s basketball program.  Following graduation, he stayed with the program as a coach where he works in all facets of the Division I program. From Coach Derek Trono: “Coach Pecor and I have coached at the high school level for over 16 years and without a doubt, Jon is the smartest player we’ve ever coached. To say he was an extension of the coaching staff while playing is an understatement. It shows now as he’s coaching at the Division I collegiate level.”

    Jon lives in Chattanooga, TN but remains close with his parents, PJ and Les Goldberg, and his sister Katie, and her husband Tyler Loxley.

Rice Memorial High School