October 17, 2011
San Antonio – Already champions and St. Mary’s University Hall of Famers, Leticia Morales-Bissaro and Stan Bonewitz will soon share another athletic achievement.
They are about to be enshrined together into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame.
Morales-Bissaro (B.A. ’86), a St. Mary’s icon from her days on the softball diamond, and Bonewitz (B.A. ’68), a baseball and basketball star for the Rattlers who went on to enjoy a legendary high school basketball coaching career, are part of the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2012, it was announced Monday during a press conference at the Dominion Country Club.
They join former San Antonio Spurs great Bruce Bowen, former NFL Pro Bowl player David Hill and Lt. Col. John Russell, a notable U.S. equestrian leader, in the comprising the latest class, which will be inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame during a tribute on Fri., Feb. 10, 2012 at the Alamodome.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” said Morales-Bissaro, who along with Bonewitz was a graduate of St. Gerard High School in San Antonio, of being part of the class. “It’s just a very prestigious award. When you win something like this, you can’t help but look back at your younger years and really reminisce on this.”
A legend in every sense of the word at St. Mary’s, Morales-Bissaro was the first St. Mary’s woman athlete inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame and remains the only female Rattler to have her jersey number retired. She was also inducted into the National Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
She took St. Mary’s to a national championship in softball in 1986, winning the NAIA national crown with a record-setting performance that has stood the test of time. She still holds numerous national tournament records, including most strikeouts (65), most complete games (8), most appearances (8) and most wins (7).
A four-time letter-winner, Morales-Bissaro finished with 667 career strikeouts from 1983-1986 and was the team’s Most Valuable Player all four years. She is now the Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at St. Mary’s, where her daughter, Maricela Bissaro, a sophomore, wears her mother’s temporarily unretired No. 24 for the softball team.
A high-school coaching legend in the state of Texas, Bonewitz won 708 games over his 36 years as a high school basketball coach. He led East Central High School of San Antonio to the Class 5A state championship and a perfect 35-0 record in 1994-1995.
A four-year baseball and basketball player at St. Mary’s in the 1960s, Bonewitz was best known for the creative style of play he instilled at East Central, where he coached for 24 seasons before retiring in 2005. Pressing on defense and running on offense, Bonewitz’s teams made a habit of running the opposition out of the gym.
As a player at St. Mary’s, Bonewitz was an impact performer from the start on the hardwood, averaging 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds as a freshman. But basketball wasn’t always his primary passion.
“I really enjoyed playing baseball,” said Bonewitz, who played for a pair of St. Mary’s Hall of Fame coaches, Ed Messbarger (basketball) and Elmer Kosub (baseball). “But coaching, I liked basketball. It’s more constant activity, more creativity. In baseball, I liked the crack of the bat. I watch it on television. But basketball, in our system they have a chance to improvise, be a little more creative. It made it fun for them, and I think today’s players have that ability.”
Clearly, so, too, did Bonewitz and Morales-Bissaro.