Football serves as career choice for Fox Chapel Hall inductee Kabala

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Friday, May 24, 2019 | 7:01 PM


This is the fifth in a series of profiles of the 2019 Fox Chapel Sports Hall of Fame inductees. The banquet will be June 8 at Harmar House. For more information, contact Jim Perry at [email protected]

Dann Kabala, a 1997 Fox Chapel graduate, was a four-sport athlete during his high school career.

He was a three-year letterwinner in football who helped the Foxes to their first WPIAL playoff appearance in 13 years. In his senior year, he made first-team all-conference at wide receiver. He also was captain.

He lettered three times in track, once in baseball and was on the varsity basketball team for two years.

“I remember the excitement of making the playoffs in football and winning a playoff game against Mt. Lebanon,” Kabala said. “Seeing what a winning football program can do for a community led me to a career in football. My involvement in football taught me that hard work and commitment to a team can lead to great things.

“I vividly remember our August training camps at Cal (Pa.). That remains the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It taught me that no matter how hard the task, if you set a goal and work hard, you can accomplish anything.

“I still talk to my coach, Joe Naunchik, a few times a year, and I have a great relationship with Todd Massack and Jim Angelo from our team. Our defensive coordinator my junior year was Todd Orlando, who is now the defensive coordinator at the University of Texas. Being in the same field, we speak a few times a year. I have a great relationship with the legendary John Panos, who is still the athletic trainer and assistant AD at Fox Chapel, and Jeremy Bennett, who coached basketball there for a few years.”

After high school, Kabala attended Johns Hopkins, where he finished his freshman season ranked eighth in the country in kickoff return average. He then transferred to Indiana, where he received a degree in kinesiology. He later received a master’s degree in business from Pitt.

After that, he spent two years working in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars and has spent the last 13 years working in college football.

He is the director of high school relations for the Penn State football team. Kabala has helped sign more 300 student athletes to Division I scholarships, including NFL players James Conner, Tyler Boyd, LeSean McCoy, Brian O’Neill and Nate Peterman.

He and his wife of nine years, Becky, live in State College.

“During the first Fox Chapel Hall of Fame banquet in 1997, I won the first-ever Shirley Campbell scholarship. I told the audience back then that I hoped to represent them well so that some day I could come back as an inductee,” Kabala said. “This was a goal of mine, and it feels great to accomplish this goal. My sister, Theresa Thompson, was inducted years ago. She was always my biggest competitor, and I always strove to be as great as her. It is an honor to be inducted in the same hall of fame as her. I’m also honored to be inducted with this great group of people — some of whom I looked up to when I was growing up.

“All the lessons that sports and my coaches taught me back then are the cornerstones of how I live my life every day: hard work, sacrifice, compete.”

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