Norwin inducts 14 into Hall of Fame

Doug Gulasy
| Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame recognized 14 standout players, coaches and teams from the history of the school district by inducting them as part of the Class of 2013 last week.

For their part, the inductees spent much of the ceremony at Stratigos Banquet Centre recognizing the people who helped them reach those heights.

“As I was preparing for the speech tonight, I started thinking about how is this night even possible?” said 1988 graduate Brian Cuturilo, a former star baseball player for Norwin. “I started thinking a lot about the years before my high school years and what it took to get to that point.

“I certainly thought about some of the accomplishments I was able to achieve, but I started thinking a lot more about the people who made it possible ... and I started writing notes down of all these different people I felt had a great influence on my life.”

Cuturilo spent the bulk of his 10-minute speech thanking five of those individuals, including his father, his former next-door neighbor and former football coach Randy Rovesti.

Thanksgiving was a common theme throughout the night, beginning with the first induction: the 1977 and 1978 WPIAL and PIAA champion girls volleyball teams.

Individual inductee Lori Duncan, speaking for the team, thanked former coach Sheron Watson for the job she did helping the Knights become champions.

“I've always been a firm believer that when one dream becomes real, a thousand others become possible,” Duncan said. “ ... What Sheron taught me, and I can speak for the group, is when you realize one dream, you can move forward into the next chapter of your life with so much confidence.”

Tammy Ditter Blackwood, speaking for the 1982 PIAA champion girls swimming team that was inducted, thanked coach Dave Rider.

“It was a significantly special year for Norwin swimming, which would have never happened had we not had the leadership and guidance and strength of a tremendous leader,” she said.

Individual inductees continued the theme of thanking others, with two-time WPIAL wrestling champion Dave Chomanics credited sparring matches with his sister for making him tough and track and field star Megan Duncan thanking her family for sitting through track and field meets that lasted anywhere from “three hours or three days.”

“If somebody in your family sits there for three hours to watch you run — my races only lasted a minute — that shows a lot of support and love,” said Megan Duncan, the niece of Lori Duncan.

Other highlights of the ceremony included:

• Former principal Ron Peduzzi, speaking for absent inductee Doug Arnold, attempted to “dispel the rumor” that former coach Rich Polczynski recruited Arnold from Clairton to Norwin. He recounted his first meeting with Arnold, which ended with a phone call to Polczynski.

“I said, ‘Rich, what do you need to help your basketball program?'” Peduzzi said. “He said, ‘I need a (6-foot-8 player) that can shoot the ball.' I said, ‘I've got him.' He said, ‘Aw, Mr. P,' (and) he hung up on me.”

• Coaching inductee Harry Hickle, who coached the 1977 WPIAL champion track and field team, recounted the early days of the program, which began in 1965.

“We started with the basics,” said Hickle, an assistant on that team. “Nobody ever ran track on that team before, and they were out there pretending they could. ... We told the hurdlers to try to go over those hurdles for us without falling down, and not too many of them fell.”

• Mitzi Frye-Hall, a WPIAL champion volleyball player who went on to play at Pitt, talked about the time she met former Heisman Trophy-winning running back Tony Dorsett in the lobby at Fitzgerald Field House.

“He turned around and said, ‘Hello there, young lady,'” she said. “I was very polite, and I said hello. I looked at the bulletin board, and he turned around again and said, ‘You don't know who I am, do you?'

“And I said: ‘But you don't know who I am. I'm Mitzi Frye, and I play volleyball for Norwin.'”

Other inductees honored at the ceremony included baseball standouts Fred Bertani and Randy Lease, football and wrestling star Mike Croyle and swimming standout Pat Shedlock.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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