Cecconi to receive WPIAL Heritage Award
The Monongahela Valley's rich athletic history will again be recognized when the seventh annual WPIAL Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony take place June 7 at the Green Tree Doubletree Hotel.
Donora High School's multisport star Louis “Bimbo” Cecconi will receive the Heritage Award, which is given to an individual who made an impact many years ago.
Seven other athletes to be inducted along with Cecconi are Trinity High School's Elaine Sobansky Blackhurst (track & field, basketball), Aliquippa's Sean Gilbert (football), Hopewell's Christa Harmotto (volleyball), McGuffey's Jeremy Hunter (wrestling), West Allegheny's Tyler Palko (football), Butler's Megan Schnur (soccer, track & field), and Mt. Lebanon's Jack Waltz (tennis/deceased).
Four retired coaches — North Catholic's Don Barth (boys' basketball), Aliquippa's Donna Richey (girls' basketball), and football coaches Jack McCurry (North Hills) and the late Lindy Lauro (New Castle) — will be inducted.
The contest official inductee is Don “Woody” Woodward (football, baseball, basketball, and softball).
Jack Fullen will be inducted as a contributor for his tireless work as WPIAL Board of Control President.
Honored teams include the undefeated 1983 Mt. Alvernia High School WPIAL and PIAA Class A champion girls' basketball team and the undefeated 1996 Quaker Valley WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA champion boys' soccer team.
Pine Richland High School baseball coach Kurt Wolfe, who is battling cancer, will receive the Courage Award.
Cecconi becomes the second consecutive local athletic standout to receive the Heritage Award.
Denbo multisport star Robert “Red” Worrell, a 1957 graduate of Centerville High School who was a standout football running back for one year at Penn State before dying tragically in an accident, received the honor in 2012.
Cecconi was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame in 1964.
The 85-year-old Cecconi starred in football, basketball and baseball. He was a part of three WPIAL championship football teams, and the quarterback and defensive back of Donora's 1945 undefeated football team. That squad was one of the honored teams at the Second Annual WPIAL Hall of Fame Banquet in 2008.
At the University of Pittsburgh, Cecconi was a four-year starting quarterback and halfback as well as a basketball standout.
He was the football team's captain his senior year and finished as the Panthers' career passing leader at the time with 1,403 yards and was third in total offense with 3,781 yards.
Cecconi was named to the All-Time Pitt Football Team 1900-1970. He also recorded three interceptions against Penn State in 1949 and tossed a then school-record, 82-yard touchdown pass in 1948 against Marquette to fellow Donora native Nick DeRosa.
After serving two years in the Army, Cecconi was a successful scholastic football and basketball head coach at Sharpsburg High School and also coached collegiate football at Pitt two different times (1958-66, 1969-72) and at Indiana State University.
Steve Russell, general chairman of the Mon Valley Hall of Fame who accompanied Cecconi at the 2011 state induction at Trevose, said Cecconi's demeanor and athletic prowess are everlasting.
“Bimbo Cecconi is one of the finest gentleman athletes you could ever meet,” said the local sports author and historian. The athletic ability he had in that compact body still amazes people even after his great performances were some 60 years ago.”
Cost for the 2013 WPIAL Hall of Fame Banquet is $40. Registration outside the hotel ballroom begins at 5:30 p.m. with a 6 p.m. reception followed by the 7 p.m. dinner. Reservations forms with contact information can be found at the Hall of Fame section of the WPIAL website www.wpial.org. Deadline is May 30. Tickets will not be sold at the door.
Bruce Wald is a freelance writer.