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.
GC coach Bell retired — sort of!
You can take the man out of coaching, but you can’t take coaching out of the man.
Former Grove City High football coach Jeff Bell has spent his first few months of retirement hearing the ping of a baseball ricocheting off an aluminum bat instead of clap of shoulder pads coming together.
“My grandson Maddox (Bell) and a few of his friends play on a traveling team, so I’m helping out with that,” said Bell, who retired as the Eagles’ football coach this past winter. “They’re a good group of kids to work with and this is a lot more enjoyable. It’s a lot less stress.
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THE TALENTED — albeit underachieving — Detroit Lions commence camp July 27 in Allen Park, Mich. as the National Football League prepares for the 2014 season.
Racing to fight cancer
Former Hickory High athlete Amanda Budzowski is on the run — the run to raise money to fight cancer.
Budzowski is part of Team in Training, an organization that has raised more than $1.4 billion for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since forming in 1988. Her division is known as IRONTEAM and she is currently training for the 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon in Mont Tremblant, Canada, in August.
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians need fast start after All-Star break
SO FAR, so good. I’m referring to the start of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians after the All-Star break on Friday night.
Both teams rallied to win. The Buccos beat the Colorado Joints — err, I mean Rockies — by coming from behind in the 8th inning. Since they legalized marijuana sales in that state, it gave new meaning to John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High.”
Rutters earn spot in national motocross event
The brother-sister racing duo of Elijah and Dannah Rutter of Mercer are set to travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete soon in the prestigious 33rd annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by AMSOIL at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
Elijah, 18, and Dannah, 16, earned a ticket to the event with their performances at qualifiers and then regionals and are among the top 5 percent of riders in the U.S. Overall, 20,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. competed and there are only 1,446 qualifying spots at nationals.
Notebook: Sharon football greats meet, reunite at inaugural golf scramble
Mid-July, with the temperature 80-plus degrees at Avalon at Buhl Country Club; however, it felt like a fall, football Friday.
The inaugural Sharon Football Boosters 4-man golf scramble took place recently, and served as a Who’s Who in the Tigers’ triumphant tradition.
SPORTVIEW: All is right with the world - LeBron has come home!
HAPPY DAYS are here again. The prodigal child has returned!
The announcement that “King James” is returning to Cleveland has created a level of euphoria not seen since the Browns won the city’s last major sport championship a couple of years ago.
What’s that? Oh, yeah — make that 50 years ago (1964).
Full text of LeBron's essay in SI
LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in an essay that he wrote for Sports Illustrated. The following is the full text of that essay.
Snyder, Gordon, Popatak named to All-State team
Grove City High’s David Gordon, Sharpsville’s Greg Popatak and Lakeview’s Logan Snyder recently were named to the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
Synder was selected 1st-Team in Class A as a designated-hitter, while Gordon was honorably-mentioned in Class AAA and Popatak similarly was honored in AA. Gordon gained his laurels as a pitcher; Popatak as a 3rd baseman.
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Little League Tournaments
Sharon won the District 2 Major Division (12-year-olds) Championship, while Greenville 9-10 and West Middlesex 11 teams notched tournament victories in recent action.
Hermitage Brennan Chiropractic won the Mercer County 14-under championship recently.
Following are game reports:
The First Tee of Sharon celebrates 15th anniversary
Professional golf star John Cook has received many honors and awards in his illustrious career, but probably none mean as much as those similar to the one he received Monday afternoon at The First Tee of Sharon.
During a special ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the local program, a permanent plaque was unveiled in his honor describing the contributions he has made to junior golf.
SPORTVIEW: John Cook here Monday for First Tee; other celebs on July 11
THE RETURN of Tiger Woods to a PGA event sparked a lot of interest this past week. The return of John Cook to Buhl Farm Golf Course Monday will do the same locally.
Cook, a standout on the Champions Tour and outstanding TV golf analyst, will conduct a clinic at 11 a.m. Monday at the course to help celebrate the 15th anniversary of The First Tee of Sharon program.
It is open to the public at no charge.
Hickory honors Tri-Athletes
Hickory High honored its 2013-14 tri-athletes in a recent ceremony, the latest installment in a program that began in 2003-04.
Fifty student-athletes (grades 9-12) were cited for having competed in at least one sport in the fall, winter and spring while maintaining a minimum B (85 percent) grade-point-average during the first three 9-week grading periods of the academic year.
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- GC coach Bell retired — sort of!