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Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame East Boros Chapter to enshrine Class of 2015

Michael Love
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Bart Mele
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Billy Knight
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Dr. Laura (Furko) Miller
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Joseph Palchak

The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, East Boros Chapter, will induct the Class of 2015 on Oct. 8 at Edgewood Country Club.

This year’s class includes Ed Bednarick, football and boxing, East Allegheny; the late Curtis Bray, football, basketball and track, Gateway; John Johnson, baseball, Westinghouse Memorial, North Versailles native; and Billy Knight, basketball and athletic administration, Braddock.

Also in this year’s class is Bart Mele, football, baseball and coaching, Swissvale; Dr. Laura (Furko) Miller, soccer and athletic administration, Plum; Joseph Palchak, football, basketball and baseball, Trafford (now part of Penn-Trafford); and Dr. Chuck Thorne, basketball, volleyball and swimming, Penn Hills.

For more information on the hall of fame, visit paeastborosshof.com.

Over the next two weeks, Gateway Newspapers will profile this year’s inductees.

Billy Knight

The Braddock High School graduate was a high school basketball All-American and played in the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic before becoming an All-American at the University of Pittsburgh.

Knight played 11 seasons as a pro in the United States and one season in France. He played eight years with the Indiana Pacers and earned three all-star selections.

In recent years, Knight served as an NBA executive, first spending five years with the Pacers. He was the team’s senior vice president for basketball operations in charge of pro, college and international scouting and daily operations within the basketball department.

He then spent two years with the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies and drafted Pau Gasol, the 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year.

Knight served as executive vice president and general manager of the Atlanta Hawks from 2003 to 2008 and was responsible for all aspects of the Hawks’ basketball operations.

A consultant and motivational speaker, Knight also competes as a ranked tennis player.

He lives in Atlanta with his wife Danita. They have two adult daughters, Olivia and Erika.

Laura (Furko) Miller

The Plum graduate was a standout soccer player with the Mustangs and then at Penn State Behrend.

As a midfielder at Plum, she earned all-section honors all four years.

She helped Behrend win three straight Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference titles and earn an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Miller was named to the AMCC All-Conference team three time and was the AMCC MVP as a freshman.

A team captain her senior year, she broke the school’s record for career goals.

Miller earned her Masters and Doctorate degrees at the University of Southern Mississippi, and she currently is in her 10th year as an associate professor and program director of the sports management studies program at California University (Pa.).

Miller enjoys competing in half and full marathons.

She resides in South Fayette Township with her husband, Scott; daughter, Quinn; and son, Koda.

Joseph Palchak

Raised in Trafford and a student-athlete for the Trafford Tomahawks, Palchak went on to a hall-of-fame career at Division III Susquehanna (Pa.).

He lettered two years in basketball and football at Trafford, helping the Tomahawks to Ally-Faye-West conference football titles in 1966 and 1967. He also earned all-conference and All-Westmoreland County honors.

At Susquehanna, Palchak played fullback for four years. In 1970, he set single-game (225) and single-season (1,025) rushing records, becoming the first back in program history to rush for 1,000 yards.

The 1970 team beat Georgetown University in the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bowl and won the MAC championship.

Palchak earned All-American and Pennsylvania honors, was named the Northern MAC and team MVP and was inducted into the Susquehanna Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.

A member of the Susquehanna Board of Trustees, Palchak resides in Marshall, Mich., with his wife, Carolyn. They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Maureen; a son, Joseph David; and one grandchild, Jackson.

Bart Mele

The Swissvale native and Swissvale High School graduate lettered three years in football and four years in baseball.

Mele attended California (Pa.) and played baseball.

Upon graduation, Mele returned to Swissvale as a teacher and a coach,

He began as an assistant in baseball and football and eventually became the head coach in both sports.

As a head coach, Mele’s teams won three section championships in baseball and three conference football titles. He coached in four WPIAL football championship games, was selected the AA coach of the year in 1980 and had the school’s first undefeated and untied team in 1985.

Mele also had the opportunity to be an assistant coach at Penn Hills, Shady Side Academy and Franklin Regional.

He also coached two years as an assistant girls basketball coach at Shady Side Academy.

Mele retired after 30 years of teaching and coaching to spend more time with his son, Joe, and four grandchildren: Anna, Joey, Julia and Sophia.

Michael Love is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5825 or at [email protected].

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