Letter to the editor: Highlands should honor star athletes
School districts often recognize students’ and teams’ achievements in trophy cases or on gymnasium banners . Three individuals who grew up within the Highlands School District reached their sports’ highest level, and the district is remiss in not displaying recognition of their accomplishments:
• Cookie Gilchrist: American Football League All-Star four times, first 1,000-yard rusher in AFL history, AFL leading rusher twice and 1962 AFL MVP, set AFL single-game rushing record of 243 yards, member of the AFL All-Time Team and Buffalo Bills’ Wall of Fame.
• Dick Modzelewski: two-time All-American at the University of Maryland, 1952 Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s premier college lineman, NFL Pro Bowl selection 1964, set NFL record for 180 consecutive games played, elected to the College Football Hall of Fame and National Polish Sports Hall of Fame.
• Ed Modzelewski: All-American at the University of Maryland 1951, 1952 Sugar Bowl MVP, 1952 Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round draft choice, sixth overall pick in the NFL draft, 1953 Har-Brack football team co-WPIAL Class AAA champions.
A larger Highlands School District has never won a WPIAL football championship or produced any major college or professional athletes. This is an opportunity to inspire students that they, too, can reach their chosen profession’s highest levels. Isn’t that what school districts are supposed to do? A sign could be displayed on the stadium press box or scoreboard paid for by sponsors or donors so that the district bears no cost.
It’s never too late to do the right thing.
The writer, a 1980 Highlands High School graduate and sports historian, blogs at johnbaranowski.wordpress.com.