Mary Evanco was a ground breaking athlete at Bennett H.S. who excelled in three sports during the pre-Title IX era of 1972 – 1976. This was quite an achievement for a time when there were no all girls interscholastic teams funded by the Board of Education in the Buffalo Public High Schools until her senior year.
Mary broke a barrier by becoming the first girl to make Bennett’s all male cross country team in her sophomore year. She was one of the top girl runners in the city and was the first and only girl to make All-High from Bennett in 1974 by finishing in 2nd place in the entire city among girls.
Mary also played two seasons of basketball. In her freshman year Mary was a contributing forward on an “unrecognized” team, with the only undefeated season in the school (12 – 0). In her senior year, she again played as a forward on the basketball team. This was part of the girls sports program, and she earned a varsity letter for basketball. This team went on to win the Buffalo City Championship against East H.S.
Mary also played volleyball for two seasons in the girls sports program. she led Bennett to an undefeated season and the League 1 championship for the City of Buffalo in December 1975. For that she earned another varsity letter and the Buffalo Evening News “Girl Athlete of the Week”. She began playing in junior high school at PS #22 and was on the winning team at several annual Erie County Tournaments, including years when Bennett had no team. She played on many “mens power teams” during high school with men who were at a collegiate or older level. Mary received a full academic/athletic scholarship to attend SUNY at Buffalo (the first year that SUNY schools offered women athletic scholarships). After college Mary continued to play and was a member of the bronze medal Western New York Empire State volleyball team in 1981 . Mary was awarded Bennett’s “Outstanding Female Athlete Award” in 1976.
Academically, Mary finished 11th in a class of over 500 students, and won numerous awards while at Bennett, including Bennett’s “Mathematics Award” at graduation. She was a member of the National Honor Society and a New York State Regents Scholarship winner.
After graduation from college, Mary continued long distance running, including road races and one full marathon.
Teresa participated on 8 varsity squads at Bennett from her sophomore year through graduation, 2 volleyball, 3 swimming, and 3 girls track teams. Of these 8 teams, amazingly, 7 of them won the city championship in their sport. Individual accomplishments include All-High awards in swimming for the 100 yard breaststroke and the 1 60 medley relay. The times of 1 :1 9.1 for the breast stroke and 1 :41 .7 for the relay were both city records.
In track, Teresa was All-High in the 880 yard run, the 2 Mile relay, and the high jump. Played a large role with 3 undefeated track teams, Teresa set city records again in the 880 run with a 2:30.5 clocking, and the high jump with a leap of 5’4″. Her effort in the high jump earned her a place in the N.Y. State track meet in 1 981 , representing Section VI. Teresa was voted “Outstanding Female Athlete” at Bennett in 1981.
After high school, Teresa attended Alfred U. and Canisius College. She continued her athletic career by participating in volleyball and track in college
Leslie accomplished a rare achievement in high school by being a 4 sport star athlete. Leslie spent her Fall seasons at Bennett as a volleyball player all 4 years, was a swimmer in the winter season her first two years and switched to basketball her final two years. In the Spring season Leslie was a 4 year standout in softball. In volleyball, Leslie was a two year All-High performer, leading scorer and team MVP. In basketball Leslie was again team MVP and rose to 2nd team “All-High” status. In softball, Leslie shined brightest as a pitcher/center fielder, and selected as 1st team “All-High” her junior and senior years. At graduation Leslie received the “Irene Stern Wilkinson Award” for being the outstanding female athlete of her class. Upon graduation, Leslie attended Canisius College. She began her college softball career as a “walk-on”, but was soon given a partial scholarship for the remaining time there. Leslie had an outstanding career at Canisius, ranking high on their all- time list in several offensive categories. Leslie rose to the level of “All MMC” as a center fielder in her senior year, and was inducted into the Canisius College Sports Hall Of Fame. Leslie now resides in Henderson, NV.
Kris was a rare athlete for any era of sports. A four year athlete in all three of her sports, she played volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring.
That translates to being on a team every day for the entire four years of her high school career. For her efforts Kris was chosen “female athlete of the year” in 1982. The softball teams she played on had a combined record of 32 wins and 12 losses. The four basketball squads had a combined record of 25 wins, 17 losses. Her specialty was volleyball, where her teams had a combined record of 43 wins and 5 losses. The Lady Tigers captured the city volleyball titles in 1980 and 1981. kris twice was chosen team “MVP” of her volleyball team, including the 1981 team that finished undefeated with a 12 win, 0 loss record.
After high school Kris attended Florida State and South Carolina Universities, before finishing her BA and MA degrees in Education at Buffalo State College. Today Kris is in her 16th year as a teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools. The mother of two sons and one daughter, Kris enjoys her time assisting in coaching volleyball.
Kim was a well-rounded student while at Bennett. She was a class officer, on the prom committee and stage crew among her many activities. Yet she still found time to be on an athletic team all three sport seasons, all four years at Bennett. Kim was named “Most Athletic Female” in her senior year. The fall sports season found Kim playing volleyball, where she was team captain and an “All-High” selection in her senior year. Her specialty skill was in “serving” the ball. During the winter season Kim was on the basketball squad for three years, and the swimming squad her senior year. There she qualified for the finals at the All-High swim trials. The spring season saw Kim playing her most proficient sport, softball. She was team “co-MVP” and an All-High selection, alternating between pitcher and shortstop positions. She once recorded 1 6 strikeouts in a game, and participated in a post season All Star game following her senior season.
After high school Kim attended Hilbert College, where she continued her athletic career playing volleyball and softball. Kim earned a BA and MA degree from Hilbert College in Elementary Education, and is presently a 3rd grade teacher in the Clarence School District. Kim is the mother of 4 boys.