July 31, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - The family of Joseph J. Soltys, who served as the Sports Information Director at UConn from 1959-84 and passed away last November, has established an endowed scholarship at the University of Connecticut in the name of their parents.
The "Joseph J. and Elizabeth A. Soltys Scholarship" will be presented annually to an undergraduate student assistant in the UConn athletic communications office, who is interested in pursuing the field as a career.
The endowed scholarship is established through the University of Connecticut Foundation, Inc.
Joe Soltys, a native of Haydenville, Mass., was UConn's SID for 25 years after serving in the United States Navy during World War II and as sports editor for the Northampton (Mass.) Gazette. During his career, Soltys was part of some of the proudest moments in UConn athletic history as the Division of Athletics went through an incredible growth period. Among those achievements were the men's basketball team advancing to the NCAA Eastern Regional Final in 1964, three trips to the College World Series in 1965, 1972 and 1979 and the men's soccer team winning the NCAA Division I National Championship in 1981.
He worked a total of 272 consecutive men's basketball games at UConn, 173 consecutive football games and was on hand for 251 consecutive baseball games.
Soltys was also a member of the NCAA Public Relations Committee and was the leader in the New England Region in the establishment of the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America program. He also served as the statistician for the Yankee Conference in football, basketball and baseball.
He played a role in the startup of ESPN, assisting founder Bill Rasmussen with his early interactions with UConn.
"The entire University is very thankful to the Soltys family on the creation of this endowed scholarship," says UConn Director of Athletics Jeffrey Hathaway. "Joe was an important member of the Division of Athletics for many years and was part of many exciting moments in both the sports information field and our Division of Athletics. During my time as Director of Athletics, I always enjoyed visiting with Joe as he took his usual seat for men's and women's basketball games on the corner of the baseline at Gampel Pavilion. He was a special friend and a tremendous part of the UConn athletics family. Joe and Betsy were pillars of the UConn and Storrs community and their legacy will live on through this scholarship"
Elizabeth was a graduate of Framingham State College and was employed as a dietician. Joe and Elizabeth (Kearney) were married on Sept. 6, 1952. She was active in the Storrs community, including at St. Thomas Aquinas church, The League of Women Voters, the UConn League, the Benton Museum and in the Mansfield public schools which her children attended.
"Our parents thoroughly enjoyed being part of the UConn community and it's exciting to carry that on with the first endowed scholarship in sports information in their honor," said their son Mike Soltys, who is the Vice President for Communications at ESPN.
"I have great memories of helping dad out in his UConn office," said their daughter Anne Otto of Storrs. "I am excited our scholarship will help a student to contribute in sports information, as many in our family have done for nearly 60 years."
"Dad wanted to give a young person today, with an interest in sports information, the same kind of chance that was given to him when he was young and starting out in the field," said their daughter Judy DiCristofaro of Hingham, Mass.
Joe and Elizabeth left five grandchildren: Devin DiCristofaro, an English teacher and athletics leader at St. Gabriel's College, a kindergarten through 12th grade school in Bangkok, Thailand; Katie Soltys, a 2009 UConn graduate and a kindergarten teacher in Southington, Conn.; Sean Soltys, a senior at UConn and a student assistant in the Athletic Communications Office; Christie Soltys, a freshman at UConn; and Jason Soltys, an eighth-grader in Southington.