'Charlie's Boys' still recall school days
Denny Douds gazed around a ballroom at the Embassy Suites in Moon and marveled at the turnout.
"A lot of schools have tried to do this. A lot of schools wonder how we do it," said Douds, an Indiana, Pa., native and the long-time football coach at East Stroudsburg, with the most victories of anyone in the NCAA Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
Douds was among a large contingent of former Slippery Rock players who made up the 50-year reunion Saturday of former coach Chuck Godlasky's tenure at the Rock in the 1960s. His 1962 team went 9-1 and won the championship of the state teachers' schools, which later evolved into the PSAC.
They call themselves "Charlie's Boys," these 60-somethings who arrive from all over to reminisce and reconnect.
"It just means a lot to these guys. It means a lot to me. I look forward to coming and seeing these guys," said Tony Daniels, of Oak Hill, Va., a former high-ranking official at the FBI Academy for training.
"There's no sport like football for promoting and instilling camaraderie," said Daniels, whose brother Joe is quarterbacks coach at Ohio State, where former Jeannette High School star Terrelle Pryor is the starter. "This is just a unique group of guys. We built this, and it started with Charlie."
Jerry Bejbl, of DeKalb, Ill., one of the event's organizers, was proud to see so many of his former teammates take part.
"That's chemistry, and it's still here 50 years later," he said.
Godlasky and current Slippery Rock coach George Mihalik also were in attendance, as this special group paid tribute to their college playing days by eating, drinking and pondering past photos and memories.
"The stories get better," Bejbl said. "Football was the catalyst. We knew how to sweat together. It evolved into this respect, and it hasn't ended. It's still here."
If you can't beat 'em
For California (Pa.), the hiring of a women's basketball coach to succeed Heather Kearney went as far as the guy whose team knocked the Vulcans from the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Mark Swasey, who led New Hampshire-based Franklin Pierce to the Division II title game last season after his team defeated California, 88-73, in the semifinals, recently was hired to fill the vacancy left when Kearney took an assistant's job at Appalachian State. There, she rejoins another former California coach, Darcie Vincent.
"These fine players deserve a great coach, so we looked for the very best. In Mark Swasey, I believe we found what we were looking for," California president Angelo Armenti Jr. said.
Swasey was named Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) East Region and Northeast-10 Conference coach of the year and will be inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in October.
Elsewhere, Kamela Gissendanner, a former Penn State and Clairton High School basketball star, will join the women's coaching staff at St. Francis (Pa.) next season. She fills a vacancy created by the resignation of former assistant Crystal Horton. Gissendanner, who last season led the European professional Kvinnenligaen League in scoring (22 ppg.) while playing for Gimle of Norway, joins the staff of St. Francis coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl, another former Penn State star.
Newly named Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson finalized his staff by adding two of his former assistants at Iowa State. Cody Sanderson, Cael Sanderson's brother, along with Casey Cunningham will make the move to Happy Valley. Cael Sanderson recently was named to succeed Troy Sunderland, whose contract was not renewed.
West Virginia hired Bryan Fitzpatrick as coordinator of speed and skill development under director of strength and conditioning Mike Joseph. Fitzpatrick served as assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Minnesota Vikings last year after spending three seasons as assistant strength and conditioning coach and assistant speed development coach at Penn State.
Duquesne assistant women's soccer coach Natalie Cocchi has resigned to take a similar position at Louisville.
Shippensburg named Jeff Michaels as its acting athletics director, succeeding Roberta Page, who resigned to take over as director of championships for the NCAA. Michaels formerly served as associate athletics director at Shippensburg and assistant athletics director at Slippery Rock.
The California (Pa.) football team, which has advanced to two consecutive national semifinals games, is ranked in a tie for No. 4 by Lindy's magazine in its preseason poll of NCAA Division II teams. Indiana (Pa.) is ranked No. 19, Edinboro is ranked No. 21 and Seton Hill is ranked in a tie for No. 22.
Edinboro is ranked No. 5 by The Sporting News in its preseason Division II poll, while California (Pa.) is ranked No. 13, Seton Hill is ranked No. 21 and Indiana is ranked No. 22.
In Division III, Washington & Jefferson is ranked No. 13 by The Sporting News and No. 17 by Lindy's.
Washington & Jefferson will induct five new members into its Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 30. They are Tom Coughlin, swimming; Jack McElravy, track and field; Jim Pareso, wrestling; Ryan Silvis, football, track and field; and Kelly (Wiltz) Williams, volleyball.