There are great things to be said for somebody who’s Mercer County born-and-bred.
Those who live here are of hearty stock, hard-working, tough as nails, with an inate athletic ability and championship attitude that’s made a name for all of western Pennsylvania.
The bloodlines of champions can be traced here, and among them are the members of the Mercer County Hall of Fame.
The hall added another stellar class to its honor roll during its induction ceremony Saturday at Park Inn by Radisson in Shenango Township.
Bill Bestwick, Doug Butler, Bob Gruber, Blasé Iorio, Andrea Jackson, Sue McLaughlin, Phil O’Mahen, Dave Palmer, Rande Stottlemyer, Mary Jo (Vodenichar) Staunch, and the late Steve Klaric and Joe McMullen, were honored by the world’s oldest local hall of fame.
But, as the hall’s longtime emcee and cajoler Lanny Frattare would say, there was no doubt whose star was shining brightest on this night as Marlin Jackson, a Super Bowl champion with the Indianpolis Colts who came of age in Sharon, brought down the house with an inspiring speech.
Jackson, who was raised in a broken home said he found “the grace of God in my life through sports.”
As a child, he remembered struggling emotionally inside and having trouble dealing with things until he stepped onto a football field.
“You’re an entire different person on the field,” people would tell him, Jackson said.
He spoke about the importance his Mercer County roots mean to him.
“To come from Quinby Street and play at Sharon High School for Jim Wildman,” he remembered. “Sharon was in my heart.”
Athletes with western Pennsylvania roots are similar.
“We’re all cut from the same cloth, we’re the same breed,” he said.
Football and the blessings it bestowed upon him have made him successful in life.
“You can see how it was much more than a game for me,” he said.
“It warms my heart to be in a room” with folks from the Shenango Valley, he said.
“It’s so important to me, where I come from,” he said. “How awesome is that!”
Jackson spoke to a packed house that was warmed up by jokes by Frattare, who again mused about the choice of chicken instead of steak at the dinner, although this year’s “Chicken Hall of Fame” was somewhat different than the birds of year’s past.
Following Frattare, longtime Sharon High tennis and swimming coach and otherwise notable booster of Shenango Valley Athletics Sue McLaughlin spoke for this year’s inductees.
McLaughlin remembered in “poring over” the biographies of previous years’ inductees and said she “secretly” hoped that a day like Saturday would come, when she joined the ranks of the hall.
“What an honor it is to be here tonight, representing our community, who made us into the adults we are today, and becoming part of the world’s oldest local hall of fame, with such illustrious Hall of Fame members,” she said. “On behalf of the class of 2013, thank you for this wonderful, humbling honor; something that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. We look forward to continuing to set a good example and being a proper role model.”
There are great things to be said for somebody who’s Mercer County born-and-bred.
Roundup: Wilmington track teams sweep WM
ä Wilmington 98, West Middlesex 51 — At West Middlesex, the visiting Greyhounds gave the Big Reds their first home, dual-meet loss in approximately 4 seasons according to Middlesex mentor Ed Pikna.
Cooper (400, 800, distance- and mile-relay legs), jumper Perrine and sprinter Scott (100, 200) gave the Greyhounds the giddy-up by winning multiple events.
HIGH SCHOOL SPRING SPORTS ROUNDUP
Baseball, softball and tennis teams were in action Monday as the nice weather allowed for high school spring sports action that has been limited so far by rain, snow and windy conditions.
Players relent, agree to play for reinstated football coach
Minnesota State University-Mankato's football team has ended its boycott of reinstated head coach Todd Hoffner, who successfully fought child pornography charges and other misconduct accusations that removed him from the job for 20 months.
Hickory track coaches near finish line
While the Shenango Valley lionizes legendary gridiron greats and hardwood heroes, the sport of track & field at Hickory High has resonated its relevance throughout District 10 and commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
For the better part of the last 3 decades that was due, to a great extent, to the efforts of Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak.
More than 200 dual-meet victories combined between the girls’ and boys’ programs, 9 district championships (7 girls, 2 boys), 2 statewide runners-up berths and another pair of 3rd-place finishes, culminating in the Lady Hornets’ 2012 PIAA Class AA championship.
Their collective resumé would be envied by any coach, regardless of sport. Which makes this recent revelation regrettable: Dzuricsko and Slezak simultaneously will step down at this season’s conclusion.
SPORTVIEW: Cavaliers are example of how an owner impacts a team
WHEN LEBRON James vacated Cleveland for South Beach a few years ago, angry Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert declared that the Cavaliers would win an NBA championship before James and the Miami Heat.
How’s that working out, Dan?
Miami is seeking a third straight title this postseason while the Cavaliers are headed for the golf courses. Pretty sad.
Roundup: Trojans, Hounds win team titles at WM Invitational
Wilmington High girls and Greenville boys dominated the annual Big Red Track & Field Invitational Thursday afternoon in West Middlesex.
A half-dozen girls’ and 7 boys’ teams competed.
Wilmington overwhelmed the female field, as the Lady Greyhounds garnered almost twice as many points as runner-up Lakeview (236-5 to 133.5).
Roundup: WM diamondmen edge Reynolds, 6-4
ä West Middlesex 6, Reynolds 4 — At Transfer, the Big Reds snapped a 4-all tie by plating a run in the 4th inning and another in the 7th in a 2-run win over the Raiders.
Mark Colella earned the mound win in a relief appearance for WM. No pitching stats were submitted.
Roundup: Hickory, Wilmington softball teams win
Paced by Chelsea Marriott’s muscle, Hickory High hammered 4 home runs Saturday afternoon en route to a 19-1 rout of Sharon.
At Wengler, Marriott mauled 2- and 3-run round-trippers to right-center and straightaway center field, respectively. Her Lady Hornets’ teammates Hannah Gallagher and Morgan McBride mustered 3-run bombs, also.
Fired coach in Mankato unjustly accused of visiting porn sites
Minnesota State University-Mankato officials wrongly accused former football coach Todd Hoffner of viewing pornography sites on his work computer before firing him last May, a state arbitrator has disclosed.
Roundup: Hickory track coaches to step down following season
Hickory High track & field co-head coaches Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak announced they will step down at the season’s conclusion.
Dzuricsko and Slezak, who led the Lady Hornets to the 2012 PIAA Class AA crown, jointly made the announcement via e-mail late Wednesday.
Roundup: Devil diamondmen roll past Sharon
An old-school baseball bromide states that, early in any season, pitching is always ahead of hitting. However Sharpsville shunned that axiom Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Devils banged 15 hits, and Sharpsville short-circuited Sharon, 16-4, in 5 innings.
Roundup: Hounds, Hornets notch track sweeps
ä Wilmington 116, Reynolds 44 — At New Wilmington, the host Lady Hounds were led by Rikki Brumbaugh (4x8, 4x4 relay legs, 400- and 800-meter runs); Hannah Drake (long, triple jumps, 4x4 relay); Allison Baldwin (4x8 and 4x4 relay legs); Lexi Brumbaugh (1600-, 3200-meter runs, distance-relay leg), and Tessa Sikora (high jump, 200-meter dash, sprint-relay anchor).
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians fans looking for big things this year
LIFE IS GOOD if you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cleveland Indians. At least for now!
Heading into Saturday, both teams were 3-1 and looking pretty sharp. Since both made the playoffs last year, there are high expectations for both clubs. But in baseball, every year is a new season and there are no guarantees.
Still, it’s always nice when your favorite teams get off to a good start. In too many seasons, Pittsburgh and Cleveland fans were only talking about the NFL draft because hopes were bleak for their baseball teams.
Hickory's Arbanas 1st team All-State; KC's Hood 3rd team
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Teams from the WPIAL won three of the four PIAA girls basketball championships this year, and southwestern Pennsylvania is turning out to be just as dominant when it comes to postseason honors.
Pittsburgh-area programs produced seven of the eight major award winners on this season’s Sports Writers Pennsylvania High School Girls Basketball All-State Team, including all four players of the year.
WM's Staunch named 2nd team All-State
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Finishing on the winning side in a championship game — or coming mighty, mighty close — scored plenty of points with the panel that selected Pennsylvania’s all-state boys’ basketball team.
Especially when it came time to choose those — whether players or coaches — who claimed the top individual awards.
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- Roundup: Wilmington track teams sweep WM