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Star athletes to join Norwin Hall of Fame

| Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
2017 Norwn Hall of Fame inductee Bob Montrose
Submitted
2017 Norwn Hall of Fame inductee Bob Montrose

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 akerr@norwinsd.org.

Holly Peters, Jennifer (Manik) wright, Jay Tray, Bob Shrader and Robert Vaughn were profiled last week. Bill Zollner, the 1959 wrestling team and the 1985 and ‘86 girls volleyball teams also will be inducted.

Here's a look at some of the other inductees:

Bob Montrose

In an era when few, if any, scholastic athletes were elevated to varsity status as freshmen, 1959 grad Bob Montrose was the exception, rather than the rule.

During the 1955-56 Irwin Black Knights basketball season, Montrose got the call from coach Lyman Stough (2009 inductee) to suit up with the varsity. In the 12 years of Irwin High School Basketball, only three freshman were moved up to the junior varsity and/or the varsity level, noted former Norwin player, assistant coach, head coach, Norwin basketball historian, and 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Tom Shrump.

Fortunately for Stough, Montrose did not have far to go for practice. He lived next door to Irwin High School.

In his three seasons with the Black Knights and one with the Norwin Knights (during the first year of the Irwin/North Huntingdon jointure in 1958-59), Montrose, who passed away in 2014, scored 883 points in his scholastic career, including 486 (in three seasons) with Irwin and 397 as a senior with Norwin.

Montrose earned first team all-section and all-county honors during both his junior and senior seasons. As a junior he received All-WPIAL Class B honors.

As a senior he was named Norwin's Most Valuable Player. Upon graduation he was offered a scholarship to a small college, his wife, Kathy Behr Montrose, recalls, but he turned down the opportunity.

Montrose, who was chosen as Norwin's May King in the first year of the Norwin merger, was described as “fast as a deer” with a unique natural quick first step, often causing officials to call unwarranted traveling violations against him.

Montrose retired in 1996 after serving as an expediter for the reproduction printing department at the Westinghouse Energy Center in Monroeville. He had learned the printing trade at Norwin Printing and at McKee Press in Jeannette, prior to accepting a position with Westinghouse in 1972. Bob and Kathy, a 1964 Norwin grad, married in 1970.

“When I was notified that Bob was voted to be inducted into the 2017 Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame, my first thought was how blessed and grateful I was to have this honor bestowed on him,” Kathy Montrose said. “As we watched the development of the Hall of Fame, he said he never thought he was worthy to receive this honor. He said he never broke any records like other athletes.”

Ryan Obeldobel

A two-time team captain and Norwin's all-time leader in assists, kills,and blocks for a setter, 2015 grad Ryan Obeldobel led the Knights to the WPIAL and PIAA championship games in 2005. He was an All-WPIAL selection in 2004 and ‘05 — he was named the WPIAL MVP in 2005 — and earned all-state honors both seasons, including being named to the PIAA first team in ‘05.

But, he admitted, his volleyball career began as his interest in basketball waned as a freshman.

As Obeldobel described his introduction to volleyball, then-coach Mike Feorene saw the 6-foot-2 Obeldobel on the basketball court, thought he would be a good fit for volleyball, and invited him to tryouts the following week.

On that first day of tryouts, “Coach Feorene walked over to me, looked at my hands, and informed me that I would be the setter and his initial feeling was that I'd turn into a pretty good one,” Obeldobel recalls, proudly noting that Feorene's prediction was fulfilled. Feorene, Obeldobel's coach during his freshman and sophomore seasons, next instructed the players to go to their positions on the court for an informal scrimmage. Having no knowledge about volleyball positions, Obeldobel first asked about the number of players on a court during a game. His next inquiry, he recalls, ended up being an important one for his athletic career at Norwin. “(Besides a breed of dog) what exactly is a setter?”

The sport became a nearly year-round activity. While in college, Obeldobel coached a Pittsburgh Elite team for one season. He received a degree in accounting from Juniata in 2009. Obeldobel is an audit project leader with BNY Mellon, and resides in Pittsburgh's North Hills.

“Being selected to the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame is truly an honor,” Obeldobel said, adding that “the times I spent playing volleyball with Coach (Al) Warden and the great guys we had on the team represent some of the best memories of my life. This selection would not have been possible without the incredible support I've received from so many people, none more important than my parents (Mark and Sue).”

Shannon Abraham

There are no WPIAL events in which one runner is the only competitor on the track but, as 2010 grad Shannon Abraham admits, “Even if I was running alone, I think I still would have been stressed to the point of a nervous breakdown,” she chuckled.

Imagine, then, how Westmoreland County competitors felt after seeing Abraham line up and sprint across finish lines in front of them, considering she amassed 13 gold, one silver, and two bronze medals in Westmoreland County Coaches Association meets.

But her achievements went higher. To the top of the WPIAL podium.

Admittedly a “ball of stress” prior to her races, Abraham was “extremely excited, overwhelmed with joy, and definitely relieved” after winning the WPIAL 400 meters event as a sophomore in 2008, a race for which she said she had been training for two years. “Winning my first WPIAL 400 meters was something I knew I would never forget.”

One year later, as she toed the starting line for the WPIAL 400 meters final as a junior, the stress returned. “I am a very competitive person and put a lot of pressure on myself to win a second year in a row,” she said. “Knowing I won the first time I competed in the WPIAL 400 meters, I would have never forgiven myself if I didn't win the second time. I was in better shape training-wise and, even though I was never very confident in myself, I at least knew what to expect the second time. It was very important to me to win the race, which definitely made me a mental case preparing it!”

As a senior, Abraham finished fourth in the 400, her 1,600 relay team was second.

She also won three golds as a member of the 1,600 relay team and a silver medal with the 400 relay team.

At the PIAA championships, she earned one fourth- and two fifth-place medals, in addition to two fifths- and a sixth-place finish with her 1,600 relay teammates.

As a senior she was awarded Norwin's Kass Kovalchek Award as the school's top all-around senior athlete.

Abraham was a four-year member of Duquesne's track team, where she recorded fifth- and fourth-place finishes in the 400. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration, majoring in finance, with a minor in information systems management. Currently residing in Columbus, where she had been employed as a valuation analyst, Abraham was recently named as president of a fulfillment company.

“When I received the phone call telling me that I was elected into the Hall of Fame I was shocked,” she said. “Having seen other Norwin athletes elected into the Hall of Fame, there was never a thought in my mind that one day that would be me. I am an extremely competitive person, however, my competitiveness was at its highest during my track career, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to always be at my best. Excelling in my track career was by far one of the most important things to me during high school, and knowing that my hard work was also recognized by others, allowing me to be elected into the Hall of Fame, has brought me so much joy and excitement.”

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