WPIAL Hall of Fame Class of 2015
Thursday, April 9, 2015 | 2:29 PM
Four athletes who would later go on to professional careers, several multi-sport athletes, four coaches who won nearly 40 WPIAL championships between them, an old-school baseball player whose son continued his Major League Baseball legacy and a team that won nine WPIAL and PIAA playoff games en route to a state basketball title by an average margin of victory of 25.8. Those are some of the headliners of the WPIAL Hall of Fame class of 2015.
The WPIAL held a news conference Thursday morning to announce its ninth annual class. You can watch the video stream archived here on MSA Sports. All inductees will be honored at a banquet June 12 at the Doubletree Hotel in Greentree.
A WPIAL Hall of Fame committee picks inductees in seven different categories – athlete, coach, team, official, Heritage Award, contributor and Courage Award.
The four athletes who enjoyed pro careers were Missie Bereotti, Jeff Christy, Paul Failla and Tom Tumulty. The four coaches are Joe Hamilton, Ed Olkowski, Corky Semler and Dave Warner. The major league player is Tito Francona, father of Cleveland Indians manager Tino Francona. The team in the midst of a late 80’s, early 90’s dynasty was the Penn Hills Indians 1990 girls basketball team
Here thumbnail sketches of the WPIAL 2015 Hall of Fame class.
MISSIE BERTEOTTI, UPPER ST. CLAIR
CLASS OF 1981
Berteotti was always into the swing of things. One of the best golfers ever from the WPIAL, Berteotti once tied for sixth place at the 1988 women’s U.S. Open. She was a dominant high school golfer at Upper St. Clair, winning back-to-back WPIAL championships in 1979-80 and a state championship in 1979. She went on to golf at the University of Miami. At the 1984 NCAA team championships, Berteotti was the medalist and led the Hurricanes to the NCAA title. She also won Pennsylvania State and Western Pennsylvania Amateur championships before spending 14 years on the LPGA tour. Besides her sixth-place finish at the U.S. Open, she also placed eighth at the 1988 LPGA championship and had other top 10 finishes.
JEFF CHRISTY, FREEPORT
CLASS OF 1987
Christy played center in the NFL for 10 seasons and made the Pro Bowl three times. But at Freeport High School, he was a Jeff of all trades, playing fullback, linebacker, punter and kicker. He was a tremendous all-around player, leading the WPIAL in scoring in 1985. His point total included five field goals. Christy finished his career with 2,482 rushing yards and 337 career points. He set a number of school records, including the longest field goal of 43 yards. He excelled in any sport. He tried track and field as a senior and won a WPIAL championship in the shot put and set a championship meet record in the event. He played varsity baseball as a freshman and sophomore at Freeport and hit .421 in those years. After becoming an offensive lineman at Pitt, Christy had a highly successful career in the NFL, won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was selected to the Pro Bowl three times.
PAUL FAILLA, NORTH ALLEGHENY
CLASS OF 1991
When Paul Failla was born, his father put a baseball in his bassinet. Eventually, a baseball and football became Paul’s favorite toys – and a diamond and a gridiron became his playgrounds. Failla went on to become a two-sport star at North Allegheny, was the Post-Gazette Athlete of the Year in 1991, and also played both sports in college. At North Allegheny in football, Failla was a quarterback who threw for 2,576 yards in a run-happy offense, rushed for 844 yards and won WPIAL and PIAA titles as a senior. In baseball, he was a top shortstop who was a three-year starter and hit .435 as a senior as well as being named Pennsylvania Player of the Year. He won two WPIAL baseball titles, and in his final two years at North Allegheny, the Tigers were 64-11-2 in football and baseball. Failla had a scholarship to Notre Dame, where he was both a football quarterback and a baseball shortstop for the Fighting Irish. He was taken by the California Angels in the third round of the 1994 Major League Baseball, and spent four years in the minors before going to IUP to play one year as the team’s quarterback. He also played quarterback in the Arena League and the XFL.
JOE LAFKO, FRAZIER
CLASS OF 1984
Maybe you know him these days as the highly-successful boys basketball coach at Hampton who has more than 400 wins. But let it be known that Lafko still holds the state high school record for career interceptions in football with 37. His record has stood for three decades. In the 1980s, Lafko was a terrific three-sport athlete at Frazier. Besides the state career record for interceptions, Lafko also had 22 interceptions in one season. And he caught 119 passes as a receiver for a team that played for the 1984 WPIAL Class A title. But he also was a star in basketball and baseball. He played for his father in basketball and scored 1,763 career points, including 54 in one game. In baseball, he played shortstop and hit .537 as a junior. After his days at Frazier, he played basketball and baseball at Westminster.
GINA NACCARATO, MONESSEN
CLASS OF 1996
Naccarato was only 5 feet 3 when she played for the Monessen girls basketball team. But as far as scorers go, no one in the history of the WPIAL stands taller. Naccarato finished her career as the WPIAL’s all-time leading scorer with 3,364 points. She is one of only nine players in the history of Pennsylvania girls basketball to score 3,000 points. She was a Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 selection four times, scored 57 points in one game and averaged 29.8 points for her 113-game high school career. But don’t forget that Naccarato also was an excellent soccer player. Her 158 career goals are still 10th-best in WPIAL history. She went on to play basketball at Duquesne University.
KAITLYN E. ORSTEIN FIFE, MOUNT LEBANON
CLASS OF 2004
In order to become classified as a high school All-American, a swimmer must achieve a certain time in an event. In her career at Mt. Lebanon, Orstein made All-American status 25 times in individual and relay events. She won a state championship in the 100 breaststroke four years in a row and twice won the 200 individual medley. She also won numerous WPIAL titles and finished her career with school records in six of the eight individual events. She went on to become a dominant swimmer at Washington & Jefferson College, where she was a 14-time NCAA Division III All-American. She won eight NCAA titles at W&J and held the NCAA Division III national record in the 200 IM for five years.
TOM TUMULTY, PENN HILLS HIGH SCHOOL
CLASS OF 1991
Twenty-five years ago, Penn Hills was the home of one of the top high school linebackers in the country. Tumulty was selected to the prestigious Parade All-American team as a senior at Penn Hills. A ferocious inside linebacker, Tumulty had more than 200 tackles in his final two years at Penn Hills, but also played tight end and caught 31 career passes for 572 yards. He was a Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 selection and the Class AAAA player of the year in 1990. And don’t forget, he was also a pretty fair baseball player, hitting .450 as a junior. But hitting on the football field was his favorite thing and he went on to play for the Pitt Panthers, where in 1991, he became only the sixth player in Pitt history to start his first game as a freshman. He finished his Pitt career as the school’s third all-time leading tackler, was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, became a starter and played in 31 games in three seasons before a knee injury forced him to retire.
JOE HAMILTON, FOOTBALL
As football coaches go, he was no average Joe. Hamilton was a head football coach in the WPIAL in six different decades and almost a half century. He spent 49 years coaching Midland, New Brighton, Hempfield and Blackhawk. Hamilton played at Beaver High School and Geneva College before becoming a head coach at Midland in 1966. But he is most known for his days at Blackhawk, where he was the coach from 1976 through 2014 before retiring as the second-winningest coach in WPIAL history with a record of 342-170-11. He is seventh on the state’s all-time win list. In 39 seasons at Blackhawk, Hamilton had a 280-142-7 record and made the WPIAL playoffs 19 times. He won four WPIAL championships and his teams played in a state championship game three different times.
ED OLKOWSKI, BASKETBALL
The guy known for his flat-top, crew cut was a cut above WPIAL basketball coaches. Olkowski started his career as a varsity assistant and JV coach at Midland High School in Beaver County before becoming head coach in 1967. He built the Leopards into a dynasty. In only 17 seasons (1967-84), he won seven WPIAL championships and four PIAA championships. He is one of only three boys basketball coaches to win at least seven WPIAL titles and four state championships. He won six WPIAL titles in a row from 1972-77 and his record was 322-96. Olkowski played high school sports at Beaver Falls before going on to play basketball and baseball at Slippery Rock University. He is a member of the Slippery Rock Hall of Fame.
CORKY SEMLER, SWIMMING
This man started as a used car salesman out of college. He eventually became a Rolls Royce among WPIAL swimming coaches. Semler was part of a WPIAL record relay team in 1970 when he swam at Gateway. Eight years later, he became North Allegheny’s coach. You need seven hands to count all of the WPIAL and PIAA championships he won. In 35 years as North Allegheny’s boys and girls coach before retiring in 2013, he won 26 WPIAL titles and nine PIAA championships. The boys team won nine WPIAL championship, including seven of eight from 2006-13, and three state titles. The girls team won 17 WPIAL titles, including seven in a row at one point and five in a row at another point. The girls also won six state championships. During his career, Semler coached 141 swimmers who made All-American status.
DAVE WARNER, BASKETBALL-CROSS COUNTRY
There were more than 500 reasons to like Warner as the girls basketball coach at Brentwood High School. He is one of only a handful of girls basketball coaches in WPIAL history to win more than 500 games. On top of that, he also won a PIAA cross country team championship with the Brentwood girls in 1975. But basketball is where his teams thrived. He coached the Spartans from 1973-97 and again from 1998-2005. His record was 536-239 and his team won 12 section championships. Warner won WPIAL titles in 1978 and 79’ and was runner-up seven other times. At one point, his teams made it to the title game five consecutive years. He won a state championship in 1982 and also was runner-up twice.
PENN HILLS GIRLS BASKETBALL – 1990
This should tell you enough about the talent on this team: Five of the girls ended up playing Division I college basketball and another Division I volleyball. And this should tell you a little more: Penn Hills won nine WPIAL and PIAA playoff games in the largest classification by an average of 25.8 points. Coach Bill Lind had other championship teams in his time at Penn Hills, but no team dominated like this. The team finished 32-1, with the only loss coming to a strong team from New York. Led by senior guards Jenine Joyce and Erin Maloy, Penn Hills romped to the WPIAL title, winning four games by an average of 31 points a game. The Indians went on to win the state championship with an 86-39 victory against Lancaster McCaskey. The 86 points ties for the most ever scored in a PIAA title game and the 47-point win is the second blowout in state championship history.
KISKI AREA FOOTBALL – 1971
The Cavaliers started the season with only two returning starters. They ended up with one of the most memorable seasons in the WPIAL. Coached by Dick Dilts, Kiski Area went 12-0, won a WPIAL title, finished ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 5 in the country in one poll. The Cavaliers held nine opponents to eight points or less and averaged 32 points a game, during an era where teams didn’t score many points. Larry Wilson rushed for well over 1,000 yards, lineman Mike Milito was a first-team all-state selection and made the Big 33 all-star game along with quarterback-defensive back Tom Giotto. Russ Clark was a stud lineman-linebacker.
TITO FRANCONA, NEW BRIGHTON
CLASS OF 1952
A few months after his high school graduation, Francona once played for a basketball all-star team in a game against the Harlem Globetrotters. But as an athlete, John Patsy Francona was no joke. Nicknamed Tito at a young age, he was a standout at New Brighton in three sports – football, basketball and baseball. In football, he was a halfback who also threw passes and was the team’s kicker. In football, he won one WPIAL title in 1951 and one co-championship in 1950 and was the leading scorer in Beaver County as a senior. He was on a section championship basketball team in 1951 and also was part of a section championship baseball team in 1952. Baseball was his best sport and he went on to play 15 seasons of Major League Baseball. He made the MLB All-Star Game once and hit .363 one year with the Cleveland Indians. He hit better than .300 three other times. Tito’s son, Terry, is a former manager of the Boston Red Sox and now the Cleveland Indians.
Crawford has been a loyal member of the WPIAL Wrestling Steering Committee for more than 25 years. During his time on the committee Howard never missed a wrestling committee meeting and always accepts match and tournament managerial assignments regardless of the travel distance involved. For many years, he has served the WPIAL as a game and site manager at district tournament contests in football, basketball and tennis. Crawford had a successful career as a teacher, wrestling coach and athletic director at Thomas Jefferson High School.
As a member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of women’s Officials, Ridilla officiated three (3) WPIAL basketball championship contests and two (2) PIAA championships. She is a Co-Founder of Basketball Officiating Basics which educates new and veteran officials on NFHS rules and mechanics via classroom sessions, on-court demonstrations and clinics. Currently Kathy serves as an evaluator of officials in the WPIAL. As a collegiate official, she works regularly in several major Division I basketball conferences and has participated in NCAA division I and NIT tournaments. An outstanding athlete, Ridilla played collegiately for Duquesne University and is a member of the Duquesne University Sports Hall of Fame.
JAIME VICK MORAN (POSTHUMOUS) and ELLEN TOY – Kiski Area
While coaching girls’ volleyball together at Kiski Area High School both were diagnosed with cancer in the 2009-2010 school year. Ellen Toy, the head coach, resigned in 2013 when her cancer returned. She underwent a gastrectomy having her stomach removed and returned as coach for 2014. The gastrectomy rendered her unable to do some of the more physical aspects of coaching volleyball. Although she won’t be coaching next fall, Ellen expects to stay connected with the sport. Last summer with her husband she traveled to California and met members of the U.S. women’s volleyball team and also served as a virtual coach to the team during the FIVB World Grand Prix in 2013.
Jaime Vick Moran, the assistant volleyball coach, was first diagnosed with lymphatic leukemia at 14. She fought the leukemia off every time. However, she couldn’t win the battle against graft-versus-host-disease and passed away at the young age of 28 in August, 2012 of an infection following a bone marrow transplant. A remarkable person, Jaime was a star basketball player at Kiski Area and Saint Vincent college while battling the disease. Jaime was a special person who touched many kids while teaching math and coaching at Kiski Area.
Ms. Moran and Ms. Toy inspired Kiski Area’s “Jam the Gym” volleyball event with the support of their families. “Jam the Gym” is a volleyball triple header -Two high school matches and one college match that benefits multiple cancer charities celebrated it’s fifth anniversary in September 2014. Ellen’s strength and Jaime’s legacy through their courageous battle with cancer has taught all who knew them, to “never give up”.
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