Four former athletes were inducted into the 2009 Bears Hall of Fame during Saturday’s Alumni Weekend activities at SUNY Potsdam. The mid-day luncheon ceremony featured the induction of Brian Austin ’01, Jack Bissetta ’79, Tom Carvotta ’77, and Michael John Spencer ’79.
Brian Austin, chosen as an All-American lacrosse player in 2001, was also the SUNYAC’s Player of the Year that year. A first-team All-SUNYAC member in both ’00 and ’01, Austin was also an Empire League All-Conference member in ’99 and ’98. He concluded his four-year career at Potsdam with a total of 88 goals and 104 assists for a 192-point tally.
After leaving Potsdam, Austin helped start a family owned business in Syracuse. In 2004 he moved to Baltimore, MD where he has lived for the past five years. Austin is currently a sales professional having recently started his own business there.
Jack Bissetta, a four-year varsity basketball player, was a member of three SUNYAC championship or co-championship teams. He was also a player on both the 1978 NCAA East Regional team and the 1979 NCAA East Regional team that advanced to the final-four. In 93 career games he scored 659 points, grabbed 206 rebounds and passed out 164 assists.
Since 1996 Bissetta has lived in Greenville, SC where he is a general contractor and owner of both John Bissetta Enterprises and Foam & Coating Systems. Jack and his wife Julie have one child, Tristan Albert Bissetta.
Tom Carvotta, named an All-American swimmer in 1976, was a four-year member of the Bears swim team. A team co-captain in 75-76 and a tri-captain in 76-77, Carvotta’s ’77 Bears won the SUNYAC Conference Title and went on to finish 15th at the NCAA Championship. Prior to college, Carvotta was a standout swimmer at West Irondequoit HS.
Following graduation Carvotta was a swimming coach at New Hartford Central. After that he taught at Utica Catholic then Brookfield Central. In 1985 he started Carvotta Construction. After managing MacGregors Grill and Tap Room from 1995 to 2005, Carvotta is now a general contractor in Utica. In 2007 Carvotta returned to competitive swimming and recently competed in the 2009 US Masters.
Mike Spencer, an All-American swimmer in both 1976 and 1978, received the SUNYAC’s Auburn Award in 1979. Mike was a four-time SUNYAC champion in 100-Yard Butterfly. Also a member of Potsdam’s ‘77 SUNYAC Championship team, Spencer’s 800-Yard Relay team earned All-American status in 1976.
With a degree in Computer Science from Potsdam, Spencer held several programming and IT positions before his current employment at Red Hat Corp in Raleigh, NC. Active in competitive swimming, Spencer was a certified NYS Swim Official in the Binghamton area. He joined the Raleigh Area Masters in 2008 and regularly competes in the Southeast. Spencer and his wife, the former Dorothy Peckham ('79), have three children - Paul, Ericka and Jonathan.