Multisport HOFer overcame severe eye injury
The fourth day of football practice, only four days into the student-athletes' transformation from contentious rivals to Quaker Valley teammates, Bill Sadd had an accident that would change his life.
Not catastrophically, but permanently.
A rising junior, Sadd had been a starter at Sewickley High the previous year and, following the merger with Leetsdale, was eager to impress. He was a Quaker now, and he was sowing his oats.
Then, on that Thursday in August 1956, Sadd was scurrying in the locker room when he fell, landing face-first on an equipment hook.
"I severed muscles in my right eye," he said recently.
"It was a very scary incident," said Joe Dobrick, coach of the then-newly formed squad. "He almost lost that eye."
The eye survived, but Sadd lost depth perception and gained double vision on the right side, conditions that endure today.
Although doctors barred him from football that season, Sadd returned as an athlete and distinguished himself well enough to be enshrined into the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame. He will be inducted the weekend of Sept. 28-30 along with three other former athletes, two coaches and a team.
Sadd is 72, retired and living in Fredericksburg, Texas, with his second wife, Pat. He has a son and two daughters and nine grandchildren. He will return for the hall of fame weekend, which will include a home football game against Steel Valley that Friday and a banquet midday Sunday.
It's not surprising that following two decades in the corporate world, Sadd became an educator. He was forced, in his mid-teens, to learn a lot about life, about himself. A traumatic injury will do that to a person with lofty aspirations, a strong will and intelligence.
"The eye healed quickly, but since 1956, I've lived basically using only my left eye," Sadd said. "I have vision in my right eye, but my brain has basically trained me to ignore it.
"I went back to football. Even though I didn't have depth perception, the football was so big, I could see it."
Sadd didn't have to catch it, though. He was a 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior who started at right guard and inside linebacker in 1957. Sadd was a co-captain for a 7-1 team that lost only to Beaver, 7-6, on a last-second play.
"He was a good, sound player," said Dobrick, who also will be enshrined in late September. "He played both ways."
The following spring, Sadd could have been a one-person track team. He was Quaker Valley's leading scorer, competing in the low and high hurdles, long jump, javelin, pole vault and shot put.
His specialty became the javelin. His throw of 166 feet, 10 inches was the best at the Allegheny County Championships in 1958, and endures as the third best in Quaker Valley history.
Though smallish, even at that time, Sadd did play football at Dartmouth College, but was more successful in track. He lettered for three years and was the team's best javelin thrower for two.
"The hurdles were much higher in college, so javelin it was," Sadd said.
After securing a bachelor's degree and a master's in business administration at Dartmouth, he was a corporate manager in the Boston area for 23 years. Sadd then switched to academia, becoming an assistant professor of management at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.
"That second career was a very satisfying 15 years," he said.
Since retiring in 2000, Sadd has become king of the road, his wife the queen. They've traveled the continental 48 states and, according to Bill, "half of Canada." He also is a local volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, a theater company, a community needs council, and at track meets.
This traveling man is eager to make that September excursion.
"I'll be in for that (induction) weekend. My brother, Tom, still lives in Sewickley, and I make the reunions. I love to return because Sewickley was a wonderful place to grow up."