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Ding-A-Lings Sports Club honors state champ Nolf with commemorative sign

| Friday, April 11, 2014, 12:02 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Kittanning wrestler Jason Nolf stands in front of a sign paid for and posted by the Rural Valley-based Ding-A-Lings Sports Club to commemorate his three state championships and 176-1 high school record. The sign is located at the Yatesboro ball field in Cowanshannock Township and can be seen from Pa. Route 85 entering Rural Valley.
Louis B. Ruediger
Kittanning wrestler Jason Nolf stands in front of a sign posted in Yatesboro that acknowledges his achievements. Ding A Ling Sports Club members are Larry Pompelia, Justin Elkin, Bob Polinsky, John Serbin and Doss Buckley pictured with Nolf on Thursday, April 10, 2014.

Drivers cruising down Pa. Route 85 near Rural Valley might have noticed a bright new piece of signage along their route.

Along a fence at the Yatesboro ball field in Cowanshannock Township, a 4-by-8 foot sign commemorating the high school career of three-time state champion wrestler Jason Nolf stands, courtesy of Rural Valley's Ding-A-Lings Sports Club.

The sign, which lists the years of Nolf's state titles (2011, '13 and '14) along with his career record of 176-1, was paid for by the club to honor a hometown athlete who has been associated with the club since his elementary school years.

“I think it's pretty cool. The Ding-A-Lings have done a lot for me, and this is great of them,” Nolf said.

Though he went to high school at Kittanning, Nolf hails from the Yatesboro area, which led to his connection with the club.

The Ding-A-Lings have provided more than $300,000 in their 45-year existence to support athletes and facilities in the Rural Valley area, and their financial backing helped carry Nolf from his early career to being a Penn State recruit.

“(Jason) came and read a letter to us when he was about 9 years old and just a short, little guy, and we gave him a couple hundred bucks to go to a tournament,” Ding-A-Lings president Larry Pompelia said. “He came back and told us he won everything. Then the next year, he came back to us, he went and won everything again.

“And it hasn't stopped since.”

Nolf said he's appreciative of what the club has done for him through the years, which has been much more than one sign along his hometown's main road.

“If I ever needed anything for travel expenses or anything for wrestling, they've been there,” Nolf said. “They've always helped me out with anything, pretty much.”

This isn't the first time the Ding-A-Lings have gone out of their way to honor top high school athletic achievements. After now-closed Shannock Valley won the PIAA's Class AA girls volleyball championship, the club paid for a similar sign to commemorate the victory.

Some of the club's other charitable work dates back to its early days, when it led a fundraising drive to pay for a scoreboard at the old Shannock Valley football field.

The club also has a scholarship program that has awarded $57,000 to students from Shannock Valley, the short-lived Armstrong East and West Shamokin.

“The whole purpose of our club is to help youth sports in our community,” Pompelia said. “We ran the idea (for the sign) past the club, and everyone thought it was a good idea. So we had Genesis Screens in Dayton put it together for us, and we put it up a couple of weeks ago.”

“There have been a lot of great athletes to come from this area over the years. Bob Pellegrini was a (UPI) Lineman of the Year winner at Maryland in the 50's. Ronnie Shoop played in the majors with the Tigers.

“(Nolf's) numbers already speak for themselves, and he's going off to Penn State, where he'll probably keep beating people.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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