Baldwin hall-of-famers lauded for athletic prowess
Baldwin High School celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014-15.
As a tribute to the Baldwin-Whitehall School District milestone, the South Hills Record is featuring the top athletes in school history.
The Baldwin-Whitehall Athletic Boosters Association sponsors the Baldwin Sports Hall of Fame.
A total of 150 individuals have been inducted into the hall of fame — ironically 75 who graduated from 1947 to 1985, and 75 more from 1985 through 2015, which ties in with the district’s 75th anniversary.
Also, the all-time winningest coach in school history is Paul Hindes, another hall of fame inductee (2001) for his remarkable coaching success in three sports — basketball, softball and volleyball.
Hindes is credited with achieving more than 750 wins during his brilliant coaching career.
“The most cherished memories were really not the championship games,” he said. “The most meaningful experiences occurred at practice where athletes struggled in the daily grind to meet the highest standards and expectations. Those kids set individual and team goals and paid the price every day to work to get better and be the best they could possibly be.
“The real magic happened as they achieved their goals and you could see the light bulb go on and the pieces coming together. In those moments, you knew that they knew they had earned the real inner self-confidence and belief that would carry over to the championship journey, and more importantly to the rest of their lives. Those were powerful experiences.”
There have been 34 WPIAL team championships in school history at Baldwin, along with nine state titles. Six teams have finished as state runners-up.
The first 75 individuals listed in the hall of fame are as follows (the year indicates their graduation date or, if they are not a Baldwin High School graduate, the year of their hall-of-fame induction):
1947 — Robert Dean (football)
1950 — Thomas Wagner (football)
1952 — Orrin Hatch (men’s basketball)
1952 — Bernard Schmidt (football)
1953 — Paul Wilcox (men’s basketball)
1954 — Richard Bercik (football)
1954 — John King (football)
1954 — Bob Scrabis (football)
1954 — Eugene Zuzak (football)
1955 — Art Gob (track/football)
1955 — Gary Greaves (football)
1955 — Lee Shaffer (men’s basketball)
1957 — Jim Burnett (track)
1957 — Sam Colella (football)
1958 — Andy Timura (football)
1962 — Ray Parzik (football)
1963 — John Schmidt (football)
1964 — Robert Longo (football)
1964 — Geoffrey Riley (track)
1965 — Charles Cullison (golf)
1966 — Jack Kuhn (wrestling)
1966 — Jim Massero (golf)
1967 — Bob Kuhn (wrestling)
1967 — John Ludwig (swimming)
1967 — Tom Ludwig (swimming)
1967 — Willie Rigney (track)
1967 — Ned Steele (swimming)
1967 — Dee Taylor (swimming)
1967 — John Wozniak (football)
1968 — Gary Demar (track)
1968 — Bill Donovan (football)
1968 — John Pangle (baseball)
1968 — Alan Shaefer (football)
1968 — Bob Schmidt (track)
1969 — Harry Hamilton (swimming)
1970 — Dan Batista (baseball)
1970 — Gary Gittings (track)
1970 — Ed Marstellar (track)
1970 — Mickey Martin (men’s basketball)
1970 — Jim Montgomery (track)
1970 — Dave Wannstedt (football)
1971 — Jock Michelson (football)
1971 — Bernie O’Keefe (men’s basketball)
1971 — Joe Slowik (football)
1972 — Jack Garrow (diving)
1972 — Ron Simkiw (track)
1973 — Don Gambridge (men’s basketball)
1973 — Phil Nerone (baseball)
1973 — Kim Ruppen (women’s tennis)
1974 — Scott Brinker (wrestling)
1974 — Patricia Bucklew (women’s basketball)
1975 — Jim Cox (hockey)
1976 — David Buckley (football)
1976 — Eric Joseph (track)
1976 — Quinito Loreti (football)
1976 — Ed Scheuermann (men’s basketball)
1976 — Ron Webster (golf)
1977 — Wayne DiBartola (football)
1977 — Regis O’Keefe (men’s basketball)
1978 — George Kachulis (men’s basketball)
1978 — Ken Murawski (football)
1981 — Susan Amey (track)
1982 — Renee Baumann (gymnastics)
1982 — Marsha Lang (track)
1982 — Todd Sherwin (men’s basketball)
1982 — Coleen Snyder (cross country)
1982 — Mike Wilcox (men’s basketball)
1983 — Anthony Anderson (track)
1983 — Vida Kernich Komer (women’s volleyball, basketball)
1983 — Tammy Donnelly Slusser (cross country, track)
1984 — Kim Calderone (gymnastics)
1984 — Lisa Husar (track)
1985 — Edie Bargar (softball)
1985 — Todd Evans (wrestling)
The second set of 75 individuals listed in the hall of fame are as follows:
1985 — Chris Layton (track)
1985 — Ann Daube (track)
1986 — Michelle Gerdes (softball)
1986 — Glenn Page (football)
1987 — Olga Cambest (women’s volleyball)
1987 — Karen Fetsko (women’s volleyball)
1988 — Jen Gneuhs (softball)
1988 — Karen Kovach (gymnastics)
1988 — Art Walker (track, football)
1988 — Tom Wuchenich (cross country)
1989 — Joe Ciaffoni (football)
1989 — Bill Erdos (wrestling coach)
1989 — Alan Roberts (track)
1989 — Diane Wilds (women’s volleyball)
1990 — Lou Angelo (track)
1990 — Julie Fernacz (women’s volleyball)
1990 — Brian Gelzheiser (football, baseball)
1990 — Sue Reiff (women’s volleyball)
1990 — Carole Zajac (cross country, track)
1991 — Bob Carlsen (service award)
1991 — Michele Cline (softball)
1991 — Josh Deakin (track)
1991 — Laurie Flynn (women’s volleyball)
1991 — Kelly Kovach (softball, women’s volleyball)
1991 — Eric Vaupel (track)
1992 — Bob Johnson (track)
1992 — Nino Legeza (men’s soccer)
1992 — Laura McDavitt (gymnastics)
1993 — Damon Denson (football)
1993 — Tom Damiani (track)
1993 — John Dowling (track)
1993 — Lori Frisco (women’s volleyball)
1993 — Dave Gealey (men’s volleyball)
1993 — Mark Himes (men’s volleyball)
1993 — Abby Slovonic (women’s volleyball)
1994 — Greg Pack (men’s volleyball)
1995 — Jason Fennell (baseball)
1995 — Jen Pafford (women’s volleyball)
1995 — Bob Sacunas (men’s swimming)
1996 — Jen Flynn (softball, women’s volleyball)
1996 — Fred Hock (men’s volleyball)
1996 — Dave Petras (track)
1996 — Bob Reynolds (track)
1996 — Matt Tamborino (men’s volleyball)
1996 — Kristie Veith (women’s volleyball)
1997 — Jason Biernacki (track)
1997 — Mark Bridge (track)
1997 — Beth Collett (softball)
1997 — Maria Lanzi (softball)
1997 — Andrew Latowski (golf)
1997 — Katie Leaf (softball, women’s volleyball)
1997 — Kelly McCann (softball)
1998 — Mary DeFrancesco (gymnastics)
1998 — Dick Devine (wrestling service award)
1998 — Lauren Larson (gymnastics)
1998 — Mark Samagola (men’s volleyball)
1999 — Becky Galati (women’s volleyball)
1999 — Mackenzie Gurcak (track)
2000 — Mandy Altomari (women’s volleyball)
2001 — Ashley Green (women’s volleyball)
2001 — Jackie Rodgers (track)
2001 — Ryan Sheehan (track)
2001 — Erin Trageser (women’s volleyball)
2001 — Katie Barker (women’s volleyball)
2002 — Dan Mazzocco (cross country, track)
2003 — Chuck McKinney (track coach)
2004 — Jessica Dignon (softball)
2004 — Tawnya Storino (women’s volleyball)
2005 — Paul Black (track and volleyball service award)
2005 — Paul Roth (track coach)
2005 — Ron Walter (track)
2006 — Reuben Jolo (men’s soccer)
2006 — Jason Pinkston (football)
2006 — Ray Toomey (swimming)
2013 — Jim Stanko (golf coach)
Vince Sortino has been Baldwin’s athletic director since 2006, and has worked in the school district since 1989.
“I am so proud to be a part of the athletic history of Baldwin High School, both present and past,” said Sortino, who was named Region IV athletic administrator of the year by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association in 2015. “We have so many athletes that have gone on to have great successes in both athletics and in the professional work place.
“I have always believed that athletics is a great training ground to all of life’s challenges. I look forward to honoring all of our future hall of fame athletes.”
There have been 10 athletes inducted into the hall of fame in multiple sports:
They are Gob (track/football), Kernich Komer (volleyball/basketball), Donnelly Slusser (cross country/track), Walker (track/football), Gelzheiser (football/baseball), Zajac (cross country/track), Kovach (softball/volleyball), Jen Flynn (softball/volleyball), Leaf (softball/volleyball) and Mazzocco (cross country/track).
There have been 15 WPIAL champion relay units in the Baldwin track and field program, led off by the women’s 1,600 relayers in 1982 and 1984, and the women’s 3,200 relayers in 1984.
Samantha Johns, Beth Boscia, Husar, Susan Black and Denise Navoney were the Baldwin runners back then.
The 1992 Lady Highlanders’ 800-meter relay unit, consisting of Val Baughman, Rachel Beam, Erin Collavo and Mickey McVay, also is in the hall of fame.
There are five WPIAL titlists in the hall of fame in the men’s 1,600 (1985, 1996, 2007) and 3,200 (2006, 2007) relay events.
The runners on those units were:
1985 — Bill Conway, Jim Farmer, Pat Sentner, Layton.
1996 — Nate Andrulonis, Jim Baughman, Frank Bruno, Chuck Pruss.
2006 — David Adley, T.J. Hobart, Mike Meade, Chris Wolfe.
2007 — Adley, Brandon Hahn, Hobart, Wolfe.
The Highlanders’ distance medley relay unit of Mark Best, Jeff Conroy, Mazzocco and Sheehan captured a state indoor championship in 2001.
Hindes, who has been inducted into the WPIAL, Western Chapter Pennsylvania Sports and Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches halls of fame, was not one to keep track of wins and losses.
However, he won 16 WPIAL championships while coaching at Baldwin — eight in softball, five in girls’ volleyball and three in girls’ basketball. Hindes also reeled in three PIAA championships in girls’ volleyball.
“Little ol’ Millie (Hindes’ wife, Mary Kay) reminded me recently that this is my 10th year in retirement from the district,” Hindes said. “It’s hard to believe. We attended the 75th anniversary banquet celebration and thoroughly enjoyed it, along with the visions of some wonderful experiences from the past that it generated.
“From me, a heartfelt thank-you to the students and athletes at Baldwin for filling my professional career with great people, exciting experiences and cherished memories. As you get older, those memories become more vivid, more meaningful, more significant and more appreciated … not done yet.”
The distinguished former Baldwin coach said there are three questions he is asked most often.
Do you enjoy retirement?
What did you teach and coach?
“My answer (to this question) has always been the same — kids. I used social studies and my favorite class, marriage and family, along with coaching to teach kids about life.
“I learned from Jim Slovonic just how important it is to have a mission statement that clearly defined your purpose. It was pretty simple: Introduce students and athletes to their potential, and help them plan and prepare for their future. It helped keep the focus on knowing exactly what you were doing and why you were doing it. There were certainly people who didn’t understand or maybe even believe in what you were doing, but it didn’t matter because that mission created an inner belief that you were doing the right things for the kids.”
Why are you still involved with the district?
“There are two significant reasons for that. The students and athletes at Baldwin were so good to my family, my parents and to me.
“Also, George Aiken was the first principal at Harrison Middle School, and he selected a staff to open the building and I was a member of that great group of young teachers. At Christmas (time), George gave Dave Thorn and me a box of flies he had tied, along with a promise to teach us all about fly fishing. He kept his promise, and the only thing he asked in return was to pass it on, or pay it forward.
“Chuck McKinney and I started a fly fishing club at the high school that in 1993 became Family Tyes. It is because of those two experiences that you feel obligated and motivated to give something back.”
Stanko, one of the the most recent hall of fame inductees, is a “Baldwin man.”
Stanko taught fifth- and sixth-graders in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District for 32 years — 19 at Rolling Hills Elementary and 13 at Whitehall Elementary. He retired from teaching in 1997, but continued to coach until 2013. He also established the indoor golf room at Wallace Building.
“I went to Baldwin from kindergarten through high school. I’m just as proud as what I did as a teacher as what I did as a golf coach,” Stanko said. “I’m very proud to be in the hall of fame, especially as a golf coach. You don’t get much recognition in certain sports, both as a player and a coach. That was pretty nice. I enjoyed the ceremony. It was kind of special.”
When Stanko was inducted into the hall in 2013, he had accumulated a 376-107 career coaching record that included eight section championships, 10 section runner-up finishes and two WPIAL champions.
“I think of all the great coaches I talked to when I first got my job — I thought of them right away,” Stanko said. “I was very fortunate to know people like that.
“And I coached a lot of good kids, including two WPIAL champions (Andy Latowski and Zach Taylor).”
After a storied high school career, Kelly Kovach Schoenley, a 1991 Baldwin graduate, went on to an accomplished softball career at Michigan. She is now head coach of the Ohio State softball program.
“I am extremely proud to be among the teams honored in the (Baldwin) Hall of Fame because it reminds me of those journeys of those championship seasons,” she said. “It is less about the award and more about the people we had those championship runs with.
“I was lucky enough to come through at a time with some amazing people. I stay in touch with all of those girls and am bonded with their families. Every one of us feels those days of striving for excellence on the court and field made us better and more prepared for experiences we would encounter later in life — as businesswomen, spouses and mothers, among other things. I treasure all those moments and the people involved.”
Kovach Schoenley’s older sister, Karen (Kovach) Krieger, had an outstanding gymnastics career with the Lady Highlanders. She is a 1988 Baldwin graduate.
Krieger currently owns Premier Gym and Cheer, and was a longtime head coach of the Baldwin gymnastics program.
One of the earliest inductees into the Baldwin Hall of Fame was Gambridge, a 6-foot-8 forward on the Highlanders’ basketball team who continued his career at Duquesne University.
Gambridge is a 1973 Baldwin graduate.
“It was quite an honor (and unexpected) to not only be named to the hall of fame, but to be named to the inaugural class,” Gambridge said. “With honorees such as Orrin Hatch and Dave Wannstedt heading that class, I was fortunate to be included with so many terrific athletes.”
Gambridge, who is employed as a financial services specialist at State Farm Insurance, capped his senior year at Baldwin by being selected to play in the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic.
“Back then, this was the biggest postseason all-star game in the country,” Gambridge said. “To follow fellow standout Baldwin players like Mickey Martin and Bernie O’Keefe was truly an honor.
“There were some really great games against so many teams that had so much talent back then. Our section and the WPIAL were so good, and only one team from each section would move on to the playoffs. There was never a game you could count as a ‘W’ when you looked at the schedule.”
Gambridge has been able to “stay in the game” as a basketball official, both at the high school (28 years) and college (24 years) level.
“Refereeing has allowed me to continue to be a part of the game for a long time, and hopefully along the way I was able to give something back to the game,” Gambridge said. “Anyone who ever saw me play was certainly surprised when I first walked into a gym with my stripes … and let’s just leave it at that.
“The game has certainly changed (since the 1970s). When I played, we wore short shorts, high socks, or ‘floppy socks,’ like Pete Maravich. You wore even numbers on your jersey at home and odd numbers when you played on the road. There was no 3-point shot, you weren’t allowed to dunk, and most everyone shot 75 percent or better from the free-throw line. Wow, am I old; but very fortunate. What a great time to grow up!”
Hobart, 24, is a 2009 Baldwin graduate and one of the top distance runners in school history. He was a four-time All-American and a state runner-up twice.
Hobart was inducted as a member of WPIAL-winning 3,200-meter relay units, along with David Adley, Mike Meade and Chris Wolfe in 2006, and Adley, Brandon Hahn and Wolfe in 2007.
“When I think of being in the hall of fame, I think of those that accompany me in there. They have been trememdous friends of mine,” Hobart said. “I’m always nostalgic to think of the journey we went through together to achieve success as a team and individually.
Hobart continued his career at the University of Virginia, and currently is employed as a trauma and reconstruction representative for an orthopedic device company in Baltimore, Md.
“My fondest memories from my high school career were those I shared with my teammates,” he said. “The races mainly blend together. A few stand out more than others, but for the most part the memories that stand out were those I shared with some of my best friends.”
One of the biggest influences in Hobart’s sensational running career was Rich Wright, co-head coach of the Baldwin cross country program and an assistant coach in the track and field program.
??Mr. Wright played an enormous role in my high school success,” Hobart said. “He has a passion for running like I have never seen in anyone about anything. He wants to see his runners succeed on and off the track and will do anything for them.
“He has been a huge role model for me and has helped shape me into the person I’ve become and a person that I aspire to be like.”
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or email@example.com.