Jay Bowers, a West Islip resident for over 45 years, was recently selected to be inducted into The College of Holy Cross Athletic Hall of Fame for his excellence in cross country and track and field during his collegiate career. He, along with five others, will be honored at the annual Varsity Club Dinner on May 7.
Bowers, who graduated from Holy Cross in 1961, was the captain of the two-mile relay team that won the National AAU Championship in his senior season. He also went undefeated in 1961 in dual meets and set an individual record at Holy Cross for the 880-yard run with a time of 1:52.7 in 1960.
West Islip Patch caught up with Bowers to discuss his accomplishments:
West Islip Patch: What'd it mean to be inducted into the Holy Cross Athletic Hall of Fame?
Jay Bowers: It's a tremendous thrill, you know. I'm going up for my 50th reunion in June and they're going to have the induction ceremony next week and I'm honored and thrilled by it. When you compete in a sport, to be recognized that you excelled, it's a thrill. It truly is.
WIP: What was your most memorable moment at Holy Cross?
JB: I think when we won the national AAU indoor two-mile relay championship. Personally for me, because I was the captain. That and also when I won the New England championship.
WIP: How much sweeter was it to be the leader of a national championship?
JB: Well, the relay team was myself and three sophomores and after I graduated they had a couple more years of success. It was nice to bring them along. We used to run at Madison Square Garden. Now they only have one, but they used to have five meets and also two in Boston. When you went on the indoor track circuit it was a busy time. A lot of effort went into it, but also a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it.
WIP: When did you move to West Islip, and how have you become an important part of the community since?
JB: I moved to West Islip in 1966, so that’s about 45 years ago. My wife and I raised our five children. They all went to West Islip school. I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce. I practice law in the Village of Babylon as well. We’ve worked and lived in the community for 45 years, and raised our children here.
WIP: You were honored at graduation with the John C. Lawlor Medal for Holy Cross' top student-athlete. How much did excelling in academics as well mean to you?
JB: Quite a bit. That was a great honor I got at graduation. You actually went up and got your medal from the Bishop, so it was a very memorable moment for me during the graduation ceremony. I took my academics seriously. You're at school to learn, and I felt I had two obligations: one academic, and one athletic.
WIP: What did it mean to you to set records at Holy Cross, and do you know if any are still standing?
JB: None are still standing, that I know. I mean, time goes on, and people get better and faster and that’s good. That’s just how the process works. Not just at Holy Cross, but at every institution. That’s the way it should be. Did it mean a lot to me? Yes, it did. See, I had a full scholarship so it was room & board, books, everything. You always want to be worthy of that scholarship, because they’re paying the fee. To be able to, in effect, set a school record, was a good feeling for me because they had put their confidence in me and I was able to live up to it.
WIP: Well it sounds like they got quite a gentlemen out of their end of the deal.
JB: Well thank you. It’ll be a real honor when I go up on May 7th, and they have this big varsity club dinner and hundreds of people are there. It’ll be a night we’re not going to forget.