Hall of Famers

Ban­quet set for tonight at Shenan­doah Val­ley High School

The Republican Herald - - SPORTS -

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:

Jerry Acan­fora

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.

Dou­glas Gressens

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.

Ni­cholas sajone

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.

Howie smith

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.

Mark stof­fan

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.

Wendy Mont­gomery


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.

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