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Seton-La Salle grad a former two-sport star

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Beth Wertz-Brubach
point park university athletics
Beth Wertz-Brubach

Any time she was on the basketball court, Beth Wertz-Brubach was a star. And when she walked onto the softball diamond? Same thing. Star.

But which was her true favorite sport, the one that comes to mind first when she reflects on her athletic career?

“It's kind of funny,” said Wertz-Brubach, a 1983 Seton-La Salle High School graduate. “When I played basketball, my favorite sport was basketball. When I played softball, it was softball. They're honestly both my favorite.”

It's only fitting that Wertz-Brubach, a Brookline native, will be inducted Sept. 27 into Point Park University's Pioneer Hall of Fame in both sports.

“I was totally shocked,” she said of finding out she had been selected. “Point Park was such an awesome time in my life. I'm a city girl from the South Hills; getting to go to school in my favorite city, to live down there, to play both of my favorite sports down there, I met my husband down there, it was special. Now this, it's a tremendous honor. It's just amazing.”

Wertz-Brubach was a standout two-sport athlete during her Seton-La Salle days, helping guide the Lady Rebels basketball team to the WPIAL Class AA title in 1983.

She ended up at what was then known as Point Park College — then a much smaller institution — looking to make an impact in both sports. And she did just that from 1983-87.

On the basketball court, the 5-foot-6 guard/forward was one of the team's best players during one of the program's golden eras.

Point Park's softball program, however, was in the very early stages of its existence. But just like she was on the court, Wertz-Brubach was a star player on the diamond as well.

In basketball, Wertz-Brubach helped to lead the Lady Pioneers to three NAIA District 18 playoff appearances, including the district championship during the 1983-84 season.

“She had a terrific feel for the game and was a really consummate team player,” said Luke Ruppel, Point Park's coach during Wertz-Brubach's sophomore and junior seasons and who nominated her for the Hall of Fame. “She understood the team concept and had a lot of different dimensions to her game. We could interchange her in a lot of different positions on the court, and she would excel.”

She also had a knack for coming through in the clutch, said her former coach.

“When the game was on the line, Beth wanted the ball, and I wasn't afraid to let her have it,” Ruppel said.

Wertz-Brubach racked up some eye-opening statistics, including 974 career points (13th in school history), 549 rebounds (16th) and 387 assists (third).

She averaged 11.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, and remains one of only two players in program history with more than 900 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.

“It's not just one aspect of her game that was special; she was multi-dimensional,” Ruppel said. “Then you take her off the floor, and she's a special human being. She was terrific in the locker room. When things got tough, Beth could make you laugh, and in a good way. She's the total package. I can't say enough good things about her. She was just a joy to coach.”

On the softball field, Wertz-Brubach, a catcher/outfielder, was a four-year NAIA District 18 first-team all-star selection for a team that only began play two years before she arrived.

Lisa Patterson was a softball teammate of Wertz-Brubach's during the local product's first three seasons with the team, then became an assistant coach for her senior year.

“Her work ethic and athleticism were amazing,” said Patterson, who is now Point Park University's director of alumni relations. “As a catcher, she had real good skills behind the plate, and she really handled the pitching staff well. And with the bat, she was a very good doubles and singles hitter. She saw the ball well and always got on-base.”

Patterson also praises Wertz-Brubach's leadership, calling her “fun to play with, very much a team player, and a supporter on-and-off the field.

“I just couldn't be more proud for her, especially because in the era when we played, the program was just beginning, and there weren't a whole lot of female two-sport athlees. I'm glad she's getting the recognition she deserves.”

Beyond the on-court and on-field accomplishments are the many memories Wertz-Brubach made as a student-athlete which stand out just as much.

“I just remember it was a special time,” she said. “In basketball, we played in a bunch of different gyms. We didn't have a home gym. We'd drive in these vans to practices and to games, and that helped us grow closer as a team and bond together. I made a lot of special friends.

“Softball, it was the same thing, driving to different fields. I had four (softball) coaches in my four years there, but the teammates I had were special people and we stuck together.

“I'm proud that I played both sports there. It's a special place, and I felt I was able to have a positive impact and help the programs grow somewhat.”

These days, Wertz-Brubach lives in Cranberry Township and works in merchandising. She and her husband, Larry, have two grown children, Jessica, 24, and Tyler, 22.

Her parents, Jim and Mary Lou Wertz, still live in Brookline and plan join her at the induction banquet. That will make the honor all the more special.

“My parents are my biggest supporters, and always have been,” Wertz-Brubach said. “When I was little, I played on a boys' baseball team, and that was during a time when it wasn't so cool to do that, but my parents supported it. The supported me in everything I did.

“It will be great to share the evening with them. I think it will be really emotional.”

It will become official when she's inducted into the Pioneer Hall of Fame at a banquet at Point Park's Lawrence Hall.

Joining her will be Baldwin graduate Gavin Prosser (basketball, 2004-2007) and Shaler product Dennis Colamarino (baseball, 1987-89).

The Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1973, then re-launched in 2000 with a mission of “recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of (Point Park) student-athletes, coaches and administrators.”

For additional information, visit the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame website at PointPark.edu/athletics/halloffame.

Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.

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