Hall of Famers
Banquet set for tonight at Shenandoah Valley High School
the Jerry Wolman- Northern Anthracite chapter of the PA sports Hall of Fame is set to induct 12 new members.
The Jerry Wolman- Northern Anthracite Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame will induct 12 new members during its annual induction banquet this evening in the cafeteria of the Shenandoah Valley High School.
A social hour will be held starting at 4 p. m., with the banquet and ceremonies beginning at 5 p. m.
Here’s a look at this year’s inductees:
Acanfora is a 1957 graduate of Mahanoy City High School, where he lettered three years in football, four years in basketball and three years in track and field.
The Mahanoy City team MVP in 1956, Acanfora received academic and athletic scholarships to Rutgers University, where he played four years of football and two years of baseball. He helped Rutgers win the Middle Atlantic football championship in 1958 with an 8- 1 record, then go 8- 1 again in 1960.
Acanfora earned his master’s degree from Rutgers in 1962 and his doctorate degree from The Ohio State University in 1975. He spent most of his professional life as a physical education teacher and a football and baseball coach at the high school and collegiate level before retiring in 2000.
Acanfora was a teacher and coach at Edison Township High School in Edison, New Jersey, and Trinity High School in Shiremanstown; and served as a professor at Miami University, St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Campbell University, Elizabeth City State University and Virginia State University.
Jerry has been married to Nancy Smigo for 56 years. They reside in Raleigh, North Carolina, and have four children ( Frank, Brenda, Lisa, Amy Sue) and 10 grandchildren.
robert “Ben” Martin Blue
Blue is a 1961 graduate of Mahanoy Area High School, where he was a member of the first Golden Bears’ boys’ basketball team under the new jointure in 1959- 60.
A standout center/ forward, Blue helped that 195960 club complete an undefeated, 22- 0 regular season and capture the Northern Schuylkill League championship. The next season as a senior, Blue led the team in rebounding and averaged 14 points per game on a squad that lost in the opening round of the District 11 Class A playoffs. During his high school career Blue earned Area Five MVP, Lions Club MVP and Northern Schuylkill League second- team honors and was named “King Basketball” his senior year.
Blue went on to play basketball and earn his education degree at Bloomsburg State College. He was a business and computer science teacher at Tamaqua High School from 1965- 2001, where he served as a junior varsity basketball coach. He is active in the community playing volleyball, flag football, softball and basketball in YMCA and rec leagues.
Blue and his wife Carol are the parents of two daughters, Ally and Leslie, and five grandchildren. They reside in Barnesville.
Anthony “tony” Chatkiewicz
Chatkiewicz is a 1970 graduate of Shenandoah Valley High School, where he compiled seven varsity letters in football, basketball and track.
Chatkiewicz was the starting guard on the Blue Devils’ 1970 District 11 Class B championship team, and in football has the distinction of scoring the first- ever twopoint conversion for Shenandoah Valley. He recorded 17 solo tackles as a safety in a game against North Schuylkill. In track, Chatkiewicz set the school record in the 440- yard dash with a time of 54.6 seconds.
Chatkiewicz went on to Bloomsburg State College, where he earned his degree in secondary education/ business. He joined the faculty at North Schuylkill High School in 1974 and was a business teacher there for 37 ½ years until retiring in 2011.
Chatkiewicz has served as a head varsity basketball coach at Cardinal Brennan, Shenandoah Valley and North Schuylkill, earning Anthracite League Coach of the Year honors in 1982 at Brennan and RepublicanHerald Schuylkill League Coach of the Year honors in 1999 after guiding North Schuylkill to the District 11 Class AAA championship.
In 2006, he became an assistant track and field coach at North Schuylkill, a position he currently maintains. He has helped produce nine Schuylkill League champions, eight District 11 champions and 13 state qualifiers in girls’ high jump, girls’ triple jump, boys’ long jump and boys’ triple jump events.
Tony and his wife Mary are the parents of two children, Autumn Lea and Anthony, and reside in Catawissa.
suzanne shimkus Connely
A Mahanoy City native, Connely was a four- year starter in girls’ basketball at Marian High School from 1976- 80, excelling in the days before the 3- point shot and when the girls used a men’s basketball during games.
Connely finished her career with 2,182 points and more than 1,000 rebounds, breaking the school’s scoring record set by Ann Marie Kosciolek. She helped the Fillies to records of 19- 9, 23- 5, 37- 3 and 36- 1, winning two Schuylkill League and two District 11 Class AA titles and reaching the PIAA Eastern final in 1980.
Connely scored 50 points in a game and had two
30- point scoring nights in the same week. She was a Schuylkill League all- star three times and a District 11 all- star twice, earning firstteam honors from every newspaper in the region her junior and senior years. She was the Reading Eagle Anthracite Player of the Year in 1980 and was the alltime leading scorer in the lower Anthracite region at the time of her graduation.
Connely and her twin sister Lenore ( also a Hall of Fame inductee) were featured in the March 3, 1980, edition of Sports Illustrated magazine in the Faces in the Crowd section.
After high school, Connely went on to play at the University of Pitt- Johnstown, where she was a four- year starter and helped the team to records of 26- 4, 20- 3, 24- 2 and 25- 3. A 1,000- point scorer, she helped UPJ reach the Division III Final Four her freshman season and the NCAA quarterfinals as a senior.
Connely returned home to coach Marian’s girls’ program and was the Fillies head coach from 1987- 91. She has been employed by Schuylkill County for the past 30 years.
Suzanne is married to former Marian football and baseball coach Charles “Chink” Connely and the proud parent of two daughters, Rachel and Sarah. They reside in Hometown.
Gressens is a 1967 graduate of North Schuylkill High School, and was a three- year letterwinner in baseball and basketball at Ashland High School and North Schuylkill.
Gressens is known for serving as a coach and PIAA referee in basketball, baseball and softball. He managed the Ashland Dandees girls’ softball team ( 1968- 78), Northern Valley Legion baseball team and was a member of the Dick’s Tire Service men’s softball team that won the 1980 ASA Class B state championship.
Gressens was a coach and player agent for the Ashland Little League from 1985- 94 and was inducted into the Ashland Little League Wall of Fame in 2006.
Gressens has worked 36 years for the Schuylkill County courts and is a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Doug is married to his wife, Pam, for 42 years. They have two sons, Greg and Brent, and three granddaughters. They reside in Ashland.
Lynn Jones Minalda
Minalda is a 1985 graduate of Mahanoy Area High School, where she played varsity softball as a catcher. She went on to play one season of softball at East Stroudsburg University.
Minalda graduated from East Stroudsburg University with an education degree and has been a health/ physical education teacher at North Schuylkill Junior/ Senior High School for 28 years. While at North Schuylkill, she has served as athletic director, varsity softball coach, varsity swimming coach and assistant varsity soccer coach.
During her tenure as AD, North Schuylkill began varsity programs in girls’ soccer and girls’ volleyball, and coverage of an athletic trainer was instituted. She also developed a coaching handbook, coaching education and coach evaluation system.
Minalda is an American Red Cross swimming instructor and has taught children ages 4- 18 how to swim for the past 28 years. She is also a Red Cross instructor of first aid/ CPR for 20 years. She has been the master of ceremonies for the Schuylkill County Women’s Athletic Association Female Scholar- Athlete Banquet for the past 22 years.
Minalda is the co- director of religious education at Saint Terea of Calcutta Parish in Mahanoy City. Lynn and her husband John have two sons, Ian and Trevor, and reside in Ringtown.
Kelly Murray sajone
Sajone is a 2002 graduate of Shenandoah Valley High School, where she earned 10 varsity letters in basketball, softball and cross country and was selected for numerous all- star recognition. The consummate scholar- athlete, she was also a member of the National Honor Society, the school’s female scholarathlete and salutatorian of her senior class.
Sajone’s best sport was basketball, where she still holds the school’s all- time scoring mark for both boys and girls with 2,099 career points and holds school records for rebounds ( 1,299), blocked shots ( 440) and steals ( 478). She was a first- team All- State selection and named Player of the Year by the Reading Eagle, Hazleton Standard- Speaker and Pottsville Republican- Herald. She was also named All- Anthra- cite Player of the Year and was a Mcdonald’s All- American nominee.
Sajone was also a fouryear starter in softball, earning Standard- Speaker and Republican- Herald all- star recognition for three straight years. She was a two- year member of the Shenandoah Valley cross country team, also earning postseason accolades.
Upon graduation, Sajone went on to play one year of basketball at Lafayette Col
lege before her career ended due to injury. She earned her degree in education and returned to Shenandoah Val
ley as a secondary English teacher and coordinator of the gifted program.
The first female athlete to be inducted into the Shenandoah Valley Athletic Hall of Fame, she served as an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Shenandoah Valley from 2007- 12.
Kelly is married to fellow 2018 inductee Nick Sajone. They have two sons, Nico and Knox, and reside in Shenandoah Heights.
A 1998 graduate of Shenandoah Valley High School, Sajone excelled on the gridiron as a player and a coach, compiling 10 varsity
letters in his playing days in football, basketball and baseball.
Sajone is regarded as one of the greatest football players in school history, helping the Blue Devils win back- toback District 11 Class A championships in 1996- 97. He
led the Devils in tackles from his middle linebacker spot, and offense rushed for more than 3,400 yards from his fullback spot, making him the leading rusher in school history. His postseason acco
lades include numerous allstar recognitions, culminating in his selection as a second- team All- State
Sajone went on to play at Bucknell University, earning a letter as a linebacker. Upon graduating from Bucknell, Sajone returned to Shenandoah Valley as a football coach, serving as an assistant under Joe Ruth and then the Blue Devils’ head coach.
As the Shenandoah Valley head football coach, Sajone compiled a 60- 40 record in eight seasons, guiding the Blue Devils to the 2005 Anthracite Football League championship and the 2006 District 11 Class A championship. He was inducted into the Shenandoah Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 as both an athlete and football coach.
Sajone is currently the Director of Students at Pottsville Area High School after a long stint as a social studies teacher in the district. Nick and his wife, fellow Hall of Fame inductee Kelly, have two sons, Nico and Knox, and reside in Shenandoah Heights.
Lenore shimkus schell
The twin sister of fellow Hall of Fame inductee Suzanne Shimkus Connely, Lenore is a Mahanoy City native and 1980 Marian High School graduate who excelled in basketball for the Fillies.
Schell was a four- year starter as a playmaking point guard for the Fillies, scoring more than 1,600 career points.
During her four- year varsity career, Marian went 11518, winning two Schuylkill League titles, two District 11 Class AA crowns and reaching the 1980 PIAA Eastern final. She averaged 14 points per game as a junior and 17 points per game as a senior,
leading the Fillies in steals and assists.
Schell was a three- time Schuylkill League all- star and two- time District 11 allstar. She also played softball for the Fillies and graduated from Marian as a straight- A student.
Like her sister, Schell went on to play at the University of Pitt- Johnstown, where she was a four- year starter, a two- time American Women’s Sport Federation All- American and was inducted into the UPJ Athletic Hall of Fame. She scored 1,486 career points, ranking her second at the time in school history ( she’s currently seventh).
Schell is the director of provider operations for Dentaquest, one of the nation’s
leading suppliers of thirdparty dental insurance claims processing. Along with her professional career, Schell is a board member and the head of the marketing committee for Literacy Services of Wisconsin, a non- profit organization. She also spent many years as an assistant high school varsity girls’ basketball coach and junior high basketball coach.
She has been married to Dr. Joseph Schell, DDS, for 31 years, and the couple resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They have two grown children, Stephanie and Derek, who were All- State basketball players that earned full collegiate basketball scholarships.
Smith is a 1994 graduate of North Schuylkill, where he was an outstanding multisport athlete earning 12 varsity letters while starting all four years in football, wrestling and baseball.
In football, Smith excelled at quarterback and linebacker, earning all- league honors and passing for more than 1,000 yards as a senior. He was inducted into the North Schuylkill Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
Smith wrestled at 189 pounds and heavyweight for the Spartans. During his career he was a Schuylkill League and District 11 gold medalist, District 11 and Southeast Regional bronze medalist and a state qualifier. In baseball, Smith was an exceptional pitcher and center fielder. He is acknowledged in the Little League Hall of Fame Museum for pitching a perfect game in 1986.
Smith went on to attend Bloomsburg University, where he played tight end on the Huskies’ 1996 PSAC East championship squad. He graduated with a degree in exercise science and has worked in medical sales for the past 15 years. Smith is currently a territory manager with Terumo Medical. He remains active and physically fit, competing in trail runs, 10Ks and half- marathons.
Smith is married to Christina Hale and they are the parents of one daughter, Abigail, 8. They reside in Butler Township.
A 1974 graduate of Mahanoy Area High School, Stoffan excelled as a cross country runner for the Golden Bears.
At the time of his graduation, Stoffan held cross country school records for fastest course time ( 12: 03), most season points ( 194), most career points ( 322), best percentage of meets scored in, most first places in a season ( 12), most first places in a career ( 16), lowest average placing in a season ( 1.4), highest dual meet scoring average in a career ( 9.3) and the course records at Mahanoy Area, Weatherly and Panther Valley.
Stoffan is self- employed as a plumbing and heating contractor. He resides in Mahanoy City.
Weikel is a 1998 graduate of North Schuylkill, where she excelled in basketball and softball.
On the hardwood, Weikel was a three- year varsity player, helping the Spartans win two Schuylkill League championships, a District 11 championship and reach the 1997 PIAA Class AAA title game in Hershey.
A four- year starter at catcher, Weikel was one of the best softball players in Schuylkill League history, posting a career batting average of .520 with 26 doubles, nine triples, 22 home runs, 104 RBIS, 39 stolen bases and 93 runs scored. In her fouryear career, Weikel hit .421, .544, .484 and .612, batting cleanup in every game. She earned a bevy of awards, including first- team all
league catcher three times and Schuylkill League MVP her senior season.
Weikel studied business management and accounting classes at Mccann School of Business and worked several years as a bookkeeper for a local supermarket chain. In 2007 she purchased an established
local security company, formerly Dynamark Security, and expanded the company, now known as DM2 Security. The company has offices in Frackville and the Lehigh Valley. She also manages several other commercial real estate properties in the Lehigh Valley.
Weikel has coached youth sports for the past nine years and served on the boards for both the Junior Spartans Basketball League and Frackville Girls’ Softball League. She continues to play softball as part of the Moms for Make- A- Wish organization.
Weikel and her fiancé, Paul Olson, live in Fountain Springs with their two daughters, Hailey and Mallory.