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Norwin inducts 2012 Hall of Fame class

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m.
Norwin Star
The PIAA champion 1973 Norwin boys cross country team and coach Ed Matko, an individual inductee, kneeling at right, were inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
This copy of the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, which previews Irwin’s 1954 WPIAL title game against Wampum and future Pitt basketball legend Don Hennon, was on display during the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame Induction. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Members of Irwin's WPIAL- and PIAA-winning basketball team gather around their state championship trophy and a newspaper clipping about the team during the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame Induction at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
1981 PIAA doubles champions Dan Stewart, at left, and Bill Bailey were inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Allan Bilinsky was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Dick Earnest was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Casey Harper was inducted as a contributor into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Al Leukhardt was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Coach Ed Matko was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Jay Murray was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Paul Naponick was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Coach Dave Rider was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Norwin Star
Tom Shrump, a 2011 inductee, holds up a Norwin Union varsity sweater from the 1930s. Shrump spoke on behalf of the 1924 Norwin Union football team, which was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star
Tom Butler played on and accepted on behalf of the 1948 Irwin basketball team that was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame at Stratigos Banquet Centre on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star

Across generations, sports and backgrounds, one common theme emerged from the 2012 inductees to the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame — family.

A class of 14 inductees were honored at this year's ceremony, held on Thursday, one night before Norwin's homecoming game, at Stratigos Banquet Centre in North Huntingdon.

Four teams, two coaches, a contributor and seven individual athletes received the honor in the hall's fourth year of existence, and nearly all focused on the topic of family. Some recognized their own, whether it was parents or spouses, and others described their teammates as family.

But perhaps the largest family recognized was the Norwin community at large, which was one large family to many of the inductees.

“It's all about love,” inductee Dick Earnest said. “It's about love of the district and of the people that are there for you.”

Inductee Jay Murray seconded that when he said: “The people you surround yourself with are who put in the position to succeed.”

Before athletics became the focus, the Norwin family shared a somber moment of silence for Lt. Col. Chris Raible, the U.S. Marine and Norwin graduate killed in action last month in Afghanistan.

The ceremony's first inductee, the 1924 Norwin Union football team that remains as Norwin's only unbeaten squad, was inducted by 2011 inductee Tom Shrump, whose father was a part of that team.

After briefly speaking about the team itself, Shrump showed off a Norwin letterman's sweater from the 1930s and encouraged community members that still own pieces of the district's athletic history to bring them to the Hall of Fame committee's attention to be displayed in the Norwin High School trophy case.

The focus on the district's past continued with the induction of two state championship basketball teams from Irwin, the 1948 and 1954 squads.

The remaining inductees all have been a part of the post-merger Norwin High School's history, including contributor Casey Harper, whose C. Harper Auto Group has been the title sponsor of the induction ceremonies for the hall's four years.

Paul Naponick kept the family theme going by joining his older brother John in the hall, while the induction ceremony was held on a special day for former swimming coach Dave Rider, who was celebrating his 43rd wedding anniversary last Thursday.

Other highlights of the ceremony included an “Odd Couple” reference by emcee Dan Miller when introducing former state doubles champions Bill Bailey and Dan Stewart, which was borne out by Bailey's brief, sincere acceptance speech and Stewart's colorful, humorous telling of their championship season.

Miller also received some friendly teasing himself for his Penn Hills roots, as two inductees — former pitcher Al Leukhardt and the 1973 boys cross country team — both suffered their only losses at the hands of Penn Hills.

Many of the inductees were multisport stars, such as former WPIAL hurdles champ Allan Bilinsky, while others went on to play at top colleges, including Earnest at Navy, Murray at Pitt and Leukhardt at Stanford.

“I want to thank my teachers at Norwin,” Leukhardt said. “They had me more prepared for Stanford than teammates and classmates of mine that went to private schools and boarding schools.”

The ties the inductees keep to the district were shown in the memorabilia on display, which included the sweater shown by Shrump, Leukhardt's letterman's jacket that he put on at the podium, and the state championship jacket put on by coach Ed Matko, who was the final inductee of the night and the only double inductee, as he led the 1973 cross country team, as well.

To see more photos from the induction ceremony or read full bios of the Hall of Fame inductees, visit www.YourNorwin.com.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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