The Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame is ready to induct a new class.
A total of 10 former standouts in various areas of athletics will be inducted April 29 at the New Englander. The social hour is set for 1:30 p.m., with dinner at 3 p.m.
The 2012 class includes Ronda Book Beery, Darren Berkley, Chuck Cuba, Wynn Hassan, Mike Kirkwood, Mike Latsko, Doug Peters, Phyllis Cournan-Racek, John Sarandrea and Lori Haswell Stelter. Mendall Altman and Eugene “Gabby” Kendra will receive induction into the Hall of Honor.
Tickets are available at the Lawrence County Historical Society or from any sports Hall of Fame board member. Tickets also can be purchased at Bucky Richards Barbershop at Westgate Plaza and Hyde Drug Store in Mahoningtown.
Following are the bios of the inductees:
RONDA BOOK BEERY
Beery starred in softball, basketball and track and field while competing at Mohawk. Beery graduated in 1989.
Beery played on four state championship softball teams (1981, 1983, 1986, 1989), while being named Lawrence County Softball Player of the Year. She played in three national tournaments as well.
On the basketball court, Beery was a four-year letter-winner, earning WPIAL honorable mention in 1988 and WPIAL second-team status in 1989.
Beery was a four-year letterwinner in track and field as well for the Lady Warriors. Her top event was the javelin. She won a WPIAL Class AA championship in 1989, while taking second place in 1988. Beery was a two-time state track qualifier, medaling each year. She earned sixth place in 1988 and fifth in 1989.
Beery earned a Division I athletic scholarship for track and field to Kent State University, where she was a two-year varsity letterwinner in the javelin.
She was third in the Mid-American Conference as a freshman and fifth as a sophomore.
Berkley graduated from Union High in 1989 and was a basketball standout for the Scotties. He was a three-year letterwinner, scoring 937 career points.
In his senior season, Berkley netted 579 points en route to first-team selection on the WPIAL Section 12 A-AA All-Star Team. Berkley holds Union’s all-time record for most consecutive free throws made and the mark for most career 3-pointers made.
Berkley went on to star at Houghton College for four years. He’s first on Houghton’s all-time list in career free-throw percentage (.840) and 3-pointers made (244), while ranking fifth all-time in scoring (1,508 points) and fourth in career assists (442).
Berkley played professionally with Mongolia and he toured internationally with Athletes in Action. In addition, Berkley played for the Washington Generals on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Following his playing days, Berkley got into coaching. He won two junior high championships at Fredericksburg Christian (Va.), while winning the conference championship three times and the conference tournament as the school’s varsity head coach. The three conference championships are a first for the program.
Berkley’s team reached the top five in the state of Virginia this year.
Cuba is a 1953 New Castle graduate and was voted a member of the WPIAL football team in 1953 as a tackle. He received a full scholarship to attend Virginia Tech, where he played both offense and defense and was a three-year starter.
Cuba was a member of the Hokies’ first undefeated team.
Following graduation from Virginia Tech, Cuba went on to become a teacher, football coach and an official.
Cuba was an assistant coach at Loudon High School in Leesburg (Va.) for two years and an assistant at Pulaski High in Pulaski (Va.) for two years. His first head coaching job came at Wytheville (Va.), where he roamed the sidelines for three seasons.
Cuba went on to start the football program at North Stokes High School (N.C.). He returned to New Castle in 1967 and spent 11 years as a member of Lindy Lauro’s staff, a number of those as the defensive coordinator. He retired from coaching in 1977.
Cuba remained involved with football through officiating for 32 years. He officiated basketball for both boys and girls for 50 years.
Hassan was a standout golfer and four-year letterman at Slippery Rock University. He graduated in 1991. He was an NCAA Division II All-American and Division II Academic All-American both in 1990.
In 1989, he was the individual champion in the Allegheny College Invitational, Ashland College Invitational and the Wooster College Invitational.
Hassan won the New Castle News Tournament in 1998 and 2001, while claiming the New Castle Country Club crown in 2001. He won the Sylvan Heights Club title as well in 1989.
Hassan qualified for the Sectional U.S. Open Championship at Brookline Country Club in 1995. He shares the course record with Sam Sneed at Tam O’Shanter Golf Club with a 65.
Kirkwood graduated from New Castle and Geneva College, where he was a standout baseball player as a catcher. In college, Kirkwood was a part-time catcher as a freshman and sophomore, before becoming a starter as a junior and senior. He served as the team’s captain as a junior and senior, being elected by his teammates.
Kirkwood is currently the baseball and golf coach at Neshannock. He began his head baseball coaching career in 1988, coaching the Lancers for all of that span except for a four-year stint at New Castle.
With the Lancers, Kirkwood is 241-132. He has 282 career wins. Neshannock has won nine section championships, three WPIAL titles (1991, 2004, 2011), a WPIAL runner-up (2010), a state crown (2004) and a state runner-up (1991).
Kirkwood took over as Neshannock’s golf coach in 2009, where he’s had equal success. Kirkwood has a 44-2 mark in that span on the links, with three section crowns, a pair of WPIAL championships and a third-place finish in 2009.
Kirkwood also coached junior high basketball for 20 years.
Latsko excelled in football at New Castle, graduating in 1983. He played baseball as well for the Red Hurricane.
Latsko was a quarterback and defensive back for New Castle. He threw for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. Latsko was known as a hard hitter on defense.
Latsko was New Castle’s all-time interception leader, pacing the ’Canes to the WPIAL championship game before falling to Ringgold, 6-3.
Many college teams came after Latsko, but he selected Penn State. Latsko primarily was a backup for Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions teams. He was a member of the 1987 national championship team that defeated Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.
Peters, who earned 10 varsity letters at Shenango in basketball, baseball and football, graduated in 1986.
Peters notched the program’s longest punt return with an 88-yard effort and the highest completion percentage (56.6 percent), in earning three letters in the sport.
In basketball, Peters posted 798 career points to rank 14th in school history. His 47.2 percent field-goal accuracy also ranks 14th in program annals. Peters is fifth in rebounds (552), fifth in assists (253) and sixth in steals (128) on the Wildcats’ all-time list.
Peters was offered Division I scholarships for both football and baseball. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals. In 1992, Peters appeared in the Royals’ Major League camp.
Peters played baseball collegiately at Indiana and was the Hoosiers’ Freshman of the Year.
Cournan-Racek excelled in track and field at Neshannock, graduating in 1973. She ran in the mile, the 880, the 440 and the 880-medley relay for the Lady Lancers.
Cournan-Racek graduated from Edinboro in 1977 and became head coach of Wilmington’s girls basketball team that year. The Lady Greyhounds knocked off Laurel in the first half of section play, marking the first time Wilmington ever had been tied for the section lead halfway through the season.
Wilmington topped the Lady Spartans in the rematch on Laurel’s home floor, 53-42, to capture the school’s first WPIAL section title. The Lady Greyhounds finished 9-1 in league play and won the crown by a game over the Lady Spartans.
Sarandrea experienced great success as a high school basketball head coach and collegiate assistant coach.
Sarandrea started out at St. Nicholas of Tolentine High School in the Bronx, N.Y., where he fashioned a 101-19 mark. He won a national championship as recognized by the USA Today and was the USA Today’s National Coach of the Year as well. In addition, Sarandrea produced two NBA draft picks while with St. Nicholas of Tolentine
Following his stint in New York, Sarandrea was hired as an assistant coach by Pitt. He was a recruiting coordinator, while helping guide the Panthers to two NCAA berths and an NIT appearance.
New Castle High was Sarandrea’s next stop and he posted a 304-109 mark during his tenure. Sarandrea’s teams won eight section championships, four WPIAL titles (1993, 1997, 1998, 1999), which is the most in quad-A history. The ’Canes’ three straight WPIAL crowns is the only such feat in quad-A history.
New Castle advanced to the WPIAL playoffs 14 straight years under Sarandrea, also a Class AAAA record. The ’Canes lost one WPIAL championship (2002) under Sarandrea, while reaching the state semifinals four times (’93, ’98, ’99, ’02). New Castle product David Young, who was coached by Sarandrea, was an NBA draft pick.
The ’Canes registered three 30-win seasons under Sarandrea (’98, ’99, ’02) and New Castle’s 27-game winning streak to open the 2001-2002 season is tied for the school record. This year’s ’Canes team tied the mark before falling to Montour in the second round of the state playoffs.
Eight times Sarandrea won section coach of the year honors and once was the Western Pennsylvania Coach of the Year (1998).
Sarandrea retired from coaching with a 405-138 overall record. He’s currently Superintendent for the Sharon Area School District.
LORI HASWELL STELTER
Stelter was a basketball standout at Mohawk, graduating in 1981.
As a four-year letterwinner with the Lady Warriors, Stelter tossed in 1,262 career points. She was WPIAL All-Section Second Team in 1978 and First Team in 1979, while leading Mohawk to the WPIAL Section 14-AA title 1978-1980.
Stelter notched a career scoring average of 19.4 points a game. She continued her basketball career collegiately at St. John Fisher College (N.Y.) before transferring to Slippery Rock University, where she graduated in 1985.
Stelter is coaching sixth-grade girls basketball at Mohawk.
In slo-pitch softball, Stelter participated on the Class B Co-Ed state championship team in 1990 and the regional champions squad in 1991. She was on the 1993 co-ed national championship team, while competing on the Christopher Columbus championship team in 1994 and 1995.