ShareThis Page
News

Mid-Mon Valley Sports Hall of Fame Peters was football, gymnastics standout

| Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is the fifth in a series on the Mid Mon Valley Sports Hall of Famers who will be honored at the annual banquet Friday at The Willow Room.

Football and gymnastics aren't supposed to mix.

Don't tell Belle Vernon's Don Peters.

Peters was a two-way gridder for two years at Bellmar High under Bap Manzini and started on Belle Vernon Area's first team under Jimmy Russell in 1965.

"I was a 155-pound center on offense and inside linebacker on defense," he recalled. "It was a different world back then.

Gymnastics, however, was the sport where Peters made a name for himself.

Peters won the state title on the pommel horse and was on a four-member state championship team that included football teammate Bruce Vannucci, Dan Warbutton and Joe Fedorchak.

Peters never expected to return as a state titlist.

"I wasn't that good," he said. "I got lucky because the two guys better than me both fell."

Peters, however, was a good enough gymnast to start for four years at West Chester University and captain the Golden Rams during his senior year.

After college, Peters turned to coaching in Pennsylvania gymnastic clubs in Downington and Philadelphia and the the highly respected Grossfield School of Gym-nastics in Milford, Conn.

In 1979, Peters took over as head coach and executive director at SCATS Gymnastics in Long Beach, Calif., which is the oldest private gymnastics school in the country.

"We had 300 kids when I started there," he said. "Now we have 1,500."

Inducted in the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1991, Peters has an impressive gymnastics resume:

- He coached the first U.S. Olympic team to win a team medal (silver) and all-around gold in 1984.

- He coached the first American (Marcia Fredericks) to win a gold medal in the World Championships.

- He is the only United States coach to ever place five gymnasts on the same OIympic team.

- He developed 59 U.S. National team members, 22 U.S. World Championship team members and nine U.S. Olympians.

- He served as head coach for the U.S. team for eight years (1980-88).

- He was a four-time USA Gymnastics Coach of the Year.

- He coached gymnasts in World Championships in 1974, '78. '79, '81, '83, '85, '87, '97 and 2005.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me