ShareThis Page

Umberger honored to be inducted

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:54 p.m.
Plum Advance Leader
R.J. Umberger, an alternate captain with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, was inducted into the Plum High School Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 8, 2012. Submitted photo

R.J. Umberger produced two of the greatest seasons in the history of high school ice hockey in western Pennsylvania, as he dominated during his freshman and sophomore years at Plum.

He scored 108 goals over 48 games in two seasons, and he powered the Mustangs to the 1998 WPIHL championship with a game-winning overtime goal against Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

Umberger, who has played eight season in the NHL with Philadelphia and Columbus, moved away after that sophomore season to pursue his dream of one day playing professionally.

Thursday night, he comes home, and his career at Plum — and his accomplishments at the collegiate, international and professional levels — will be celebrated, as he, along with eight other Plum athletic greats, receive induction in to the Plum High School Sports Hall of Fame.

“This is special,” Umberger said. “My high school years were very important and influential. I had a great time at Plum, and it's been great to look back and reflect on many of the memories.”

Umberger will join Rob Carter, Matt Cassidy, Joe Ionta, Jill Markowski-Kiss, John Moses, Marty Scarano, Scott Urch and Cara Yannotti-Clayton, in the Class of 2012 which will be inducted during a banquet and ceremony at Edgewood Country Club.

Umberger was voted into the hall of fame by the committee a couple of years ago, but because of his commitment to the NHL and the early part of its season, he hasn't been able to attend the early-November banquet.

With the ongoing labor troubles between the owners and players continuing, it freed Umberger to be able to attend.

His ability to attend was confirmed and finalized on Oct. 30.

“Obviously, I want to be playing hockey, but (the lockout) allows me to make the event,” Umberger said. “I thought it would be several years down the road until I could make it. I am looking forward to enjoying a great night.”

Umberger, who had his Mustangs No. 20 jersey retired by the Plum hockey program in 2006, said it is a great honor to be in the hall of fame.

“There have been tremendous athletes throughout the history of Plum in a number of different sports,” he said.

Umberger would've graduated from Plum in 2000, the same year fellow 2012 inductee Cara Yannotti-Clayton accepted her high school diploma.

“I remember Cara being a great athlete. She was a gifted soccer player,” Umberger said.

Umberger took classes and graduated from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., while in the USA National Team Developmental Program. He played in college at Ohio State, and he scored 58 goals and added 71 assists in 112 games with the Buckeyes over three seasons.

After his freshman season with the Buckeyes, Umberger was selected 16th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He was unable to reach a deal with Vancouver, and when he finally made his NHL debut in 2005, he was wearing a Philadelphia Flyers jersey.

Umberger later was traded to Columbus, and he completed his fourth season with the Blue Jackets last spring.

The Columbus alternate captain has 143 goals and 171 assists for 314 points in 551 NHL games. He scored 14 goals in 26 playoff games for the Blue Jackets during his first season with the team in 2009.

Umberger saw his 288-straight-game iron-man streak end this past season when he missed five games because of a concussion.

Weightlifting, cardio and conditioning have been a part of his fitness regimen during the lockout, and he also is staying in shape by skating with the Ohio State team three to four days a week.

Umberger said he, like every other NHL player, wants to get a new deal done soon.

“I just want to let (fans young and old) know I understand they are disappointed there is no hockey,” he said. “It's a game, but it also is a business. We're just trying to get a deal done that is fare and makes sense.”

Rob Carter – Class of 1993

Carter was a three-year starter at wide receiver for the Mustangs football team.

He earned all-conference honorable-mention recognition as a sophomore, and he was a first-team selection as a junior and a senior.

A captain his senior season, Carter finished his varsity career with 90 catches for 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns.

In addition to football, Carter was a three-year letterman in basketball, and he ended his career as the school's all-time assists leader.

He earned four letters in track, where he placed fifth at WPIALs in the 400 meters and was a member of the school-record-holding 4x400 relay team in 1991 with past hall-of-fame inductee Jim Rumbaugh.

Carter received a full scholarship to Villanova University, where he was a four-year letterman at wide receiver.

During his freshman and sophomore years, he had a streak of 16 consecutive games with a catch. As a senior, he helped lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs.

Carter lives in Haverton, Pa, and runs youth sports programs in suburban Philadelphia.

Matt Cassidy – Class of 2002

Cassidy was a multisport athlete at Plum, where he earned three varsity letters in football and baseball and four in wrestling.

He played running back, safety and kicked off for the Mustangs football team.

As a captain his senior year, he rushed for 1,158 yards, scored 15 touchdowns, and was chosen to play in the Foothills Football Classic.

Cassidy set school records with 326 yards in a game and 15 career interceptions. He was an all-conference first-team selection as a defensive back in 2000 and 2001.

He was an all-section pick in 2001 and 2002 as an outfielder for the baseball team, and he batted .435 with 16 stolen bases as a junior.

Cassidy had his greatest success on the wrestling mat, where he held a 109-23 career record, won section titles from 2000 to 2002 and was a WPIAL and Southwest Regional champion in 2001 and 2002. The three-year team captain finished fourth at states as a junior.

He capped his Plum wrestling career by winning the 189-pound AAA state title in 2002.

Cassidy competed in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic as a senior.

He accepted an athletic scholarship to Lehigh University, where he was a four-year letterman and served as a captain as a senior. Cassidy qualified for the NCAA tournament twice and was an EIWA champion in 2006.

He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, East Boros Chapter, in 2011.

Joe Ionta – 1979 to present

Ionta has coached student-athletes in the Plum School District for more than three decades.

Although he served as an assistant varsity basketball coach for 15 years, his greatest influence among the Plum athletes has been in the Plum cross country and track and field programs. He has coached both programs since 1979.

He has witnessed Plum athletes receive section titles as well as participate in the WPIAL and state championship meets.

With the help of parents and alumni athletes, Ionta was influential in organizing the Running Mustangs Alumni Association. Each year, this organization gives four $1,000 scholarships to senior student-athletes.

For six years, the Running Mustangs has sponsored the Stampede In the Park event at Boyce Park in the month of July. To date, $100,000 has been raised for Leukemia cancer research.

As a recent retiree of the Plum School District, he continues to coach the Mustangs track and cross country teams

Jill Markowski-Kiss – Class of 1999

Markowski-Kiss was captain of the Plum varsity girls basketball team her junior and senior seasons, and she became the fourth female in Plum history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau. She finished with a school-record 1,201 points.

Markowski-Kiss also holds the school record for steals with 382.

She was selected to the 1999 east suburban High School Super Team by the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, East Boros Chapter, and she participated in the Roundball Classic and Cager Classic all-star games.

Markowski-Kiss also won MVP honors for several in-season tournaments, including those at Burrell, Seneca Valley and Hopewell high schools.

Basketball honors for Markowski-Kiss began several years before high school. At the AAU level, her team won a national tournament in the 12-year-old division, and she was named to the all-tournament team.

She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2003, and she is a kindergarten teacher at Holiday Park Elementary School in the Plum Borough School District.

Markowski-Kiss re- turned to the Mustangs girls basketball program and served four years as a junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant.

Cara Yannotti-Clayton – Class of 2000

Yannotti-Clayton earned 10 varsity letters in three sports at Plum. She was a four-time letter winner in soccer and served as captain her senior year.

She holds the all-time scoring record with 117 career goals and is the all-time single-season scoring leader with 43.

Yannotti-Clayton earned all-section honors three times. She was named to the All-WPIAL team and was the Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year as a senior. During her senior year, she was voted most athletic in the Class of 2000, and she received the U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar-Athlete Award.

Yannotti-Clayton also ran varsity track and field for four years and indoor track for two years. She earned six letters during those seasons and currently holds the school's indoor and outdoor long jump record.

Yannotti-Clayton re- ceived a soccer scholarship to Slippery Rock University, and she played on the first women's team to make the NCAA Division II playoffs.

She ranks in the top 10 for career assists, goals and points, and she holds the Slippery Rock and PSAC record for goals scored in a single game with five.

Yannotti-Clayton was a PSAC scholar-athlete in 2002 and 2003 and also was an academic All-American.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in education and a minor in psychology.

Yannotti-Clayton resides in Plum Borough.

Marty Scarano – Class of 1974

The 2012-13 academic year marks the 13th season Scarano has served as the athletic director at the University of New Hampshire.

He helped UNH become a top-20 athletic department in the country in a U.S. News and World Report college athletic ranking.

In 2007, Scarano was named the All-American Football Foundation Athletic Director of the Year for the Football Championship Subdivision.

He also was awarded the National Association of College Directors of Athletics' AD of the Year award for the FCS.

Scarano also has been active in the leadership of UNH's three major conferences and was the chair of the executive committees for Atlantic 10 football, Hockey East and America East from 2003 to 2007.

He chaired the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey committee in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons and currently is on the America East Executive Council.

Scarano also held the athletic director job at Colorado College from July 1996 through June 2000, and during his tenure there, Colorado College was ranked among the top 20 Division III programs in the Sears Cup national standings.

Before his time at Colorado College, Scarano, a 1978 Penn State graduate, worked for 13 years at Colgate University, where he served as assistant director of athletics, director of physical education, associate director and senior associate director.

John Moses – Class of 1983

Moses enjoyed success in wrestling and football at Plum High School. He earned three varsity letters in each sport, and he captain both sports as a senior.

In his senior year, Moses helped the Plum wrestling team finish the season as section champions (11-3-1), and the football team garnered the section title and was a WPIAL regional semifinalist (10-2).

Individually on the mat, Moses finished 73-13-1, won two section championships, and captured titles at the California State University and Eastern Area tournaments. Regionally, he won third- and fourth-place medals, and he finished fourth at states as a senior.

Moses owns the fastest pin in Plum history at nine seconds.

On the gridiron, he played linebacker and offensive guard, and he earned conference and state recognition.

Through his success in athletics and academics, Moses received several scholarship opportunities, and he selected West Virginia University to play football.

In his four-year career with the Mountaineers, the team was ranked as high as No. 4 in the country, finished in the top 20 nationally twice, won two bowl games and beat Penn State for the first time in 25 years.

Scott Urch - Class of 1983

Urch was a key member of the Mustangs football team in 1982, and he was named all-conference and honorable mention all-state.

He graduated third in his class and attended the University of Virginia on a football scholarship.

Urch played four years and earned two varsity letters, as well as being named to the ACC Honor Roll in 1984, 1986 and 1987 and Academic All-ACC in 1983 and 1986.

He received a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys in 1987, and he played three games that same year with the New York Giants during the NFL players strike.

Urch graduated from medical school at Temple University in Philadelphia and then completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Virginia in 1998.

He completed a sports-medicine fellowship in Indianapolis in 1999 and began his practice that same year, focusing on the care of athletes.

Urch served as the team physician for the Virginia Military Institute from 1999 to 2006 and as a team physician for Virginia Teach from 2002 to 2006.

He currently is the team physician at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and he assists in that capacity at Purdue University.

He has published more than 20 articles in orthopaedic journals and given more than 70 presentations at state, national and international meetings relating to the care of knee injuries.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.