Norwin Hall of Fame to induct honorees
The Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame will induct its ninth annual class during homecoming weekend Sept. 21. Tickets are available for $35 each by contacting the athletic office at 724-861-3006 or Amy Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's a look at some of the inductees:
Thirty-three years after graduating from Norwin, 1984 grad Holly Peters still pauses, reverently, whenever she hears another song by the Rolling Stones. “I find it impossible to listen to the Rolling Stones and not be instantly transported back to my one-time second home, the Norwin High School swimming pool,” she said, from her Las Vegas home. “Thank you, Darci Bodnar (2009 HOF inductee), and your incessant love of the Rolling Stones. And thanks for your gigantic boom box.”
As a freshman, Peters was a member of the 200 medley relay team, finishing sixth in the WPIAL, and the 400 freestyle relay, which took home a third-place WPIAL finish.
One year later, her Knights were not only section champions, but brought back to Norwin a PIAA championship. Her 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams earned gold medals in the WPIAL championships, both setting WPIAL records. In the PIAA 200 medley relay (Darci Bodner, Lori Duggan, 2015 inductee Tammy Ditter and Peters) and 400 freestyle relay (Peters, Susie Susin, Tammy Ditter, Darci Bodner), each brought home PIAA gold medals, setting PIAA records in the process.
Her junior season included sixth-place finishes in the WPIAL in the 200 medley relay and the 100 freestyle, each a PIAA qualifier.
Peters concluded her stellar career with a seventh-place finish in the WPIAL 100 freestyle and a fifth-place showing in the 400 freestyle relay, both qualifying the state championships.
Peters swam for one season at Pitt, graduating in 1988 with a degree in communications. She spent six years in the banking field in Los Angeles, working in the trading room and in commercial real estate lending. Since then, she states proudly, her occupation became a stay-at-home mom. “My family,” she said, referring to her husband, Rob, and sons Alex, 19, Adam, 17, Evan, 14, and Jack, 10, “is my life.”
“This is an amazing honor to be inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame,” she said. “I am truly thankful to the committee and all those who supported me in making this happen. This honor has brought back so many memories of such a wonderful time in my life. That time played a big role in making me who I am today.”
Jennifer (Manik) Wright
With the Norwin girls soccer team from 1993-96, 1997 grad Jen (Manik) Wright) earned enough accolades to stretch end-to-end from goal to goal on the soccer field.
In those four seasons, she played every position except goalie, and her achievements make it appear she played all three positions at the same time.
Four-year starter, four-year letterwinner, two-year captain, 38 career goals (including a team-leading 21 as a junior), 30 career assists, four-time all-section first-team selection, three-time All-WPIAL first-team selection and, as a senior she received first-team all-state and regional All-American honors.
During her four years with the Knights, she was a member of three section championship teams. In 1995 her Knights were WPIAL quarterfinalists, and in 1996 they brought to Norwin WPIAL and PIAA championship trophies.
During her spring semester, Manik Wright was a member of the Knights track team, competing in the mile- and two-mile relay, 800- and 1,600-meters, and sprint relay events.
When Manik Wright's soccer career ended at Norwin, she took her game to Gannon, where she was a four-year starter and letterwinner, and captain in 2000. She earned all-conference honors three times, and was named to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Women's Soccer All-Academic team. She was the university's recipient of the Doc Beyer Award for outstanding achievement in scholarship and athletics.
At Gannon, Manik Wright earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education and a bachelor of science degree in special education. For 11 years she was an autistic support teacher, and now teaches first grade in the Clearfield Area School District
“When I received the news of being selected, I was snuggled on the couch with my newborn son, Patrick,” she said. “I was very honored and excited to receive the news and I was thrilled to be able to share the news with my husband, David, my 6-year-old son, Jacob, plus my parents, Gene and Bernie Manik, who still reside in North Huntingdon, who happened to be there to share the wonderful news.
“When Jacob understood the reason for our excitement, he said ‘it was awesome and I was famous.' ”
When, in a completely unplanned meeting in Irwin, he was asked to identify the wrestler he defeated to claim the 145-pound WPIAL title in 1965, Norwin grad Jay Tray glanced from side-to-side momentarily as he pondered the question, one that he had not been asked to answer in years. Only seconds passed before he confidently said, “Wayne Strawn from Washington.”
And that's 52 years after he won the title.
“I am honored to be part of this group of athletes selected for Norwin's Hall of Fame,” said Tray, a 1965 grad. “As athletes and students, those who have received this recognition have been well-rounded individuals, using their honed skills to represent the school district and community in assorted venues. As adults, we often have taken these same skills and applied them throughout our lives as spouses, parents, coaches, and community and organizational leaders.”
Tray was a three-year letterwinner, ending his career with a stellar 31-7 record. Competing at 133 pounds as a sophomore, Tray was 7-4. His junior year at 138 pounds ended as the result of a broken finger after his third match. He was 3-0 at the time he suffered the injury. In his WPIAL championship season, Tray was 21-3. In addition to the WPIAL crown, he recorded section and county titles, plus a fourth-place showing in the PIAA tournament.
Tray also was a three-year member of the football team, earning two letters as guard and linebacker. As a senior he received All-Foothills Conference and All-Westmoreland County Class AA Honorable Mention honors, in addition to having been named Norwin's Outstanding Football Player. He was also a catcher for the Norwin baseball team his senior year.
Tray received a football scholarship from Lycoming College, where he was a three-year letterwinner at linebacker. Upon graduation, he embarked on a 30-year career in public education with both the Norwin and Penn-Trafford school districts as a science teacher, assistant high school principal, elementary and middle school principal, administrative assistant to the superintendent, and track, cross country, and wrestling coach. .
Ask 1967 Norwin grad Bob Shrader about any one of his 312 wins (or 111 defeats) in 17 seasons as Norwin girls basketball coach, and he can describe the game in detail, including point totals for each player, by possession.
Eight section titles; five undefeated teams in section play; 15 WPIAL playoff appearances, including twice appearing in the semifinals (1979-80, 1980-81), when his Knights suffered one-point losses both years; four PIAA appearances, including when his best team, he said, lost to Altoona in the 1980-81 PIAA quarterfinals.
“I can replay some games in my head,” he laughed. “It's like having my own personal video-tape machine.”
Shrader, who also coached the Seton Hill women for six seasons, said he was never whistled for a technical foul in 1,692 quarters of high school basketball.
He coached Norwin to 92 tennis wins in five seasons, including going 66-0 in section matches. His 1981 doubles team of Bill Bailey and Dan Stewart (both 2012 inductees) were PIAA doubles champions. Plus, he racked up 62 wins in eight seasons as golf coach.
If you are adding his total varsity wins in all three sports, it's 466…not including 15 combined years coaching ninth-grade boys, middle school boys, and junior high girls.
As a senior in 1967, Shrader finished third in the WPIAL tennis singles tournament. He graduated from Thiel, where he played baseball for four years, since, he explained, Thiel did not have tennis courts. He retired in 2008 after spending 34½ years at Norwin, in both the social studies and guidance departments.
A 1957 North Huntingdon grad, Bob Vaughn earned eight varsity letters with the Bulldogs — three each in football and basketball and two in baseball — and twice received Westmoreland County honorable mention honors in football.
But the award of which he is most proud is having been selected as the Bulldogs Most Valuable Player in his senior season, in a vote by his teammates.
In baseball season, Vaughn was an outfielder on the Bulldogs' 1955 undefeated (8-0) section champions, and undefeated until the third round of the WPIAL playoffs, based on a report in the Irwin Standard. In their first playoff game, against Turtle Creek High School, played on the East McKeesport football field, North Huntingdon trailed by two runs in the top of the seventh inning until Vaughn connected for a two-run home run to tie the game. His Bulldogs scored three more runs that inning for the playoff win. (North Huntingdon lost 8-0 to New Kensington in the third round.) Vaughn led the Bulldogs with three home runs in 1955.
After his high school graduation, he received a degree in nutrition sciences from Penn State and spent 36 years with the department of agriculture, including two years in Buffalo with the food and drug administration.