Hampton announces latest class for Athletic Hall of Fame

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Saturday, July 9, 2022 | 10:01 AM


Former Hampton cross country coach Tom Tobin knows all about Halls of Fame.

He was a member of the first North Hills Athletic Hall of Fame class in 1995, and three years ago joined the WPIAL Hall of Fame as a part of North Hills’ dominant 1979 WPIAL and PIAA champion cross country team.

But when Tobin received a letter from the Hampton athletic department earlier this summer, he learned something just as special.

“It’s very much a surprise and an honor,” he said.

“This is equally special because it is as a coach rather than an athlete.”

Tobin is part of a coach-heavy six-man 2022 class for the Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame.

The other inductees include the winningest basketball coach in school history, a track standout from the mid-1960s and a beloved longtime football assistant coach who is one decade removed from heart transplant surgery.

The Class of 2022 will be honored at the Hampton homecoming football game Sept. 23. The Hall of Fame banquet will be held the following night at Treesdale.

John Harford, 73, figured his chances of making the Hall of Fame were slim to none. He had graduated more than a half-century ago, and memories of his athletic accomplishments had long faded into the past.

But some friends nominated him following a recent Hampton class reunion, and the former track and field standout learned the news while eating breakfast with old Hampton buddies during their weekly gathering at a local diner.

“One guy is on the Hall of Fame committee,” Harford said. “He doesn’t come every week, but he just popped in one day and he goes, ‘Hey. I got some good news for you. You made the Hall of Fame.’ I was kind of surprised because I gave up on it.”

Harford was a member of the first wrestling team at Hampton in the mid-1960s and was named the team MVP in 1966. He was better known as a track standout, winning a pair of conference pole vault titles back when the pole was made of aluminum rather than fiberglass and the landing pit was a “big pile of sawdust.”

“It was pretty primitive,” he said.

Steve Borgo is the other non-coach in the class. He was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and track). As a senior, in 1989-90, he was named the football MVP, the track MVP and the Hampton Athlete of the Year.

He said the highlight of his career was scoring four touchdowns against Fox Chapel in his final high school football game. Still, the induction was “a little surprising” for the father of current Hampton 1,000-rusher Brock Borgo, who will be a junior in the fall.

“I haven’t thought about it for years,” Steve Borgo said. “I’d had friends say ‘Why aren’t you in there?’ I just said, “Maybe someday I will be.’ And I guess I was lucky enough this year.”

The three other coaches joining Tobin are boys basketball coach Joe Lafko, who is 499-322 in 32 seasons, including the past 26 at Hampton; Dennis Fischer, a former softball and cross country coach and longtime school announcer; and Ron Gooden, a defensive line coach for the Talbots football team and heart transplant survivor.

Four coaches are the most in any class since the Hampton Hall of Fame was formed in 2001. They were perhaps overdue.

Prior to this year, there were never more than two in any class, and from 2011-19, there was only one coach inducted (Mike Nixon, 2015).

Tobin coached cross country in two stints, from the late 1980s until 2006 and again from 2007-10. He also worked as a distance coach for the track and field teams for nearly two decades.

“It gets you thinking a lot, since I received word (of the induction),” he said.

“I was thinking about all of the good people I have worked with over the years as a coach.

“When I think of all the good athletes I’ve had and I think of all of the good assistants that I’ve had, it really takes a village for a successful coach. No doubt about it.”

Top class

Here are the Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame inductees for the Class of 2022:

Steve Borgo — Football/basketball/track

Dennis Fischer — Coach (Cross country, softball)/announcer

Ron Gooden — Coach (Football)

John Harford — Football/wrestling/track

Joe Lafko — Coach (basketball)

Tom Tobin — Coach (Cross country, track)

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