Newest Hall class inducted
Women take center stage at banquet
DOWNINGTOWN >> It’s been around for nearly 150 years, so it’s easy to take for granted the impact West Chester University has had on Chester County athletics.
From West Chester Normal, to West Chester Teachers, to West Chester State and beyond, WCU’s contribution has been all-encompassing. And that point was brought home on Saturday evening during the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame’s yearly banquet at Downingtown Country Club.
“Sometimes, Chester County takes (WCU) for granted, but I never did,” said former women’s basketball coach Deirdre Kane. “It is a magical place.”
Exactly half of the 16 inductees for the 2016 class attended and/
or coached at West Chester. The ninth group enshrined since the 2008 debut was highlighted by Kane and Ronn Jenkins (diving), who is also a WCU coaching legend.
“I am overwhelmed and taken aback. I came to one other (CCSHOF) banquet prior to this and looked at the inductees and realized they only put heavy hitters in this hall of fame,” Jenkins said. “I am very humbled.
“I put in a great four years at West Chester. It was a small school, a total of 1,600 undergraduate students. Now it’s almost 10-times that number.
“I went to Bucknell for a few years after graduation, and when I can back here, I said I was going to stay three years. Since then I’ve watched the university and the town just bloom. Now I’ve been here 44 years. I never thought that would happen.”
The largest ever enshrined by the CCSHOF, the 2016 class also includes Danny Hale -- an All-Conference player in the 1960s who went on to win 40 of 53 games as WCU head coach from 1984-88 -- and former West Chester star athletes like Ramzee Stanton (basketball) and Catherine Walsh Hay (swimming), who went on coach Villa Maria to six state championships.
“Chester County is one of the strongest counties in Pennsylvania athletically,” Walsh Hay said.
“When I went to West Chester, I graduated in a class of 400, and I had teachers like Dick Yoder and many others who have been previously inducted into this hall of fame. We were given an education that was as good as any in the nation in physical education. We were well prepared to be teachers as well as coaches.”
In addition, the 2016 contingent features former Golden Rams students who also went on to local high school coaching excellence, like Renee Talley (Coatesville) and Jen O’Donnell (West Chester Henderson and East), who is also an internationally renowned lacrosse official.
“When I was hired, I was kind of an outsider because I did not attend West Chester,” said Kane, who won 447 games in 27 seasons. “But the work ethic and sense of tradition was there among the players before I cracked the whip once. That was handed down. The pride that the coaches, administrators and professors exhibited was unbelievable.
“I was born in South Philly, raised in New Jersey, went to college in Ohio and my first coaching job was in Maryland,” Kane continued. “But I never fully realized until today that Chester County is truly home.”
Former WCU student, teacher and administrator, Elinor Z. Taylor, was one of three people to be inducted posthumously. The others: drag racing legend Bill ‘Grumpy’ Jenkins and West Chester East/Wake Forest field hockey great, Maria Whitehead. Taylor was a key figure in support of women’s athletics prior to the implementation of Title IX.
The rest of the individual inductees included local basketball legends Tora Suber and Amanda Brown Streeter; W.C. Henderson field hockey and lacrosse coaching icon Kim Jackson; triathlete Kenneth Glah; and steeplechase trainer Jonathan Sheppard. And the Coatesville girls’ basketball team that won the 199394 state championship (and was coached by Talley) became the fourth team to be honored by the hall of fame.
In addition to the four teams, the all-time list of inductees is now up to 114 individuals, and one horse (Barbaro).
Hall of Fame looks to expand
Hall of Fame President Jerry Schneider acknowledged that the idea of honoring some true Chester County old-timers is gathering steam. A preliminary list of potential honorees include a bunch of local athletes from the late 19th and early 20th century who are long forgotten, including Joe Borden, who was a history-making pitcher from very early in professional baseball.
“We are thinking about finding a way to recognize some of the real old timers,” Schneider explained. “There are quite a few that played pro baseball or football and very few people are even aware of them.
“An example is Bordon, who played in the first National League game and pitched the first Major League no-hitter. He married into a West Chester family and is buried at Oaklands Cemetery.”
In 1875, Bordon notched pro baseball’s first no-hitter while playing for the Philadelphia White Stockings of the National Association. A year later, now playing with the Boston Red Caps, Bordon was the winning pitcher in the first National League game ever played. And on May 23 of that same season, Bordon was credited with Major League Baseball’s initial no-hitter.
In addition, the organization announced on Saturday the creation of the Richard B. Yoder High School Scholar-Athlete Award, where one male and one female from Chester County will annually receive a $1,000 college scholarship.
The 2016 Chester County Sports Hall of Fame class pose Saturday during their banquet at the Downingtown Country Club. Back row (left to right) Tora Suber, Ted Torrance, Ramzee Stanton, Deirdre Kane, Jen O’Donnell, Ronn Jenkins, Amanda Brown Streeter, Kenneth Glah, Front row: Susan Jenkins (for Bill ‘Grumpy’ Jenkins), Patti Whitehead (for Maria Whitehead), Renee Talley, Kim Jackson, Jonathan Sheppard and Catherine Walsh Hay.
The 1993-94 state championship Coatesville girls basketball team come together at the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame banquet at the Downingtown Country Club on Saturday.