Multi-sport star Shaul is headed to Hall

| Friday, April 23, 2010

Kittanning graduate Jamie Shaul is being inducted into the Armstrong County Sports Hall of Fame Sunday at Freeport's Laube Hall for his accomplishments in football.

But the 1982 graduate's athletic prowess went far beyond the gridiron.

In addition to leading a prolific offense as the Wildcats' star quarterback, Shaul was a hot-shooting guard for one of the best basketball teams in school history and was a shutdown pitcher for Kittanning's 1982 section champion baseball team.

"There are no accolades I'm looking for," said Shaul, who will join nine other new inductees in the Hall. "I'm honored to be recognized for my contributions and to be amongst these honorees. It's just a tremendous honor to be in with some of these guys."

His spot in the Hall is well deserved.

Growing up, Shaul's favorite sport was basketball. After he won some punt, pass and kick competitions, however, it was suggested to Shaul that he should put his strong arm to use on the football field.

"I had a love for basketball. I was just able to go out and play the sport," Shaul said. "Football wasn't really my first calling."

But even if his arrival was a little belated, Kittanning was grateful that he heard the pigskin calling eventually. Joining the team as a sophomore, Shaul spent one season as a backup before he inherited the starting job for his final two electric seasons.

As a junior, Shaul directed the highest-scoring offense in the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference and also led the conference in passing touchdowns and yards. He was all-conference for both of his seasons as a starter and still holds the record for longest touchdown pass in school history — though he'll admit that much of the credit for his 91-yard completion should be given to receiver Bill Atwood, considering it was a screen.

"I had good team members around me and good offensive linemen," Shaul said. "That group of guys we had, we worked well together."

Shaul was a part of even more successful group on the school's basketball team.

In 1982, as a senior guard, Shaul led the Wildcats in scoring and helped the team to its section title — one of just four section championships in Kittanning's spotty basketball history. Things got even better when the Wildcats won their opening round playoff game against Jeannette for the program's first playoff win in 57 years.

"We were just trying to play as hard as we could," Shaul said. "I look back on it now, and it was a great experience for all of us. It was great for the school."

The Wildcats won another section title that spring in baseball and, of course, Shaul had a big hand in it. He had an unblemished 8-0 pitching record that season.

"I think I had the best shot of doing anything (beyond school) with baseball as a pitcher," said Shaul, who continued playing baseball until his junior year at Westminster College. "But it kind of ended shorter than I had hoped because I had injured my elbow."

Shaul graduated from Westminster with a degree in computer information systems. He now works as a software developer and lives in the Baltimore suburb of Woodbine, Md.

And while his athletic career is over, he's looking forward to reliving the memories of his days on the fields, courts and diamonds of his hometown.

"I would hope I was what people in Kittanning would want an athlete to be," Shaul said. "I played to win, and I played hard."

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