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Sports Turkey Talking

Thanksgiving is the time of year when families gather far and near It’s been a tradition since 1620 that includes a feast of plenty, There’re many hugs for those we hold dear and football teams for which to cheer, Pause and reflect those memories great, enjoy the day, and celebrate!

If your family’s Thanksgiving is anything like ours, there will be lots of stories filling the day, many of which may reflect on past sports accomplishments and events. As time moves on, often those sports memories and accomplishments have undergone some embellishment from what may have taken place.

Those moments of individual fame may best be summed up by American artist Andy Warhol’s attributed 1968 utterance, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

While fame may be fleeting for some, while attending the annual West Branch Valley Chapter Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame awards banquet earlier this month, I was once again reminded of the rich tradition of sports excellence achieved by so many athletes right here in our own backyard.

Since 1974, the organization fulfilled its purpose to perpetuate the memory of individuals who have brought lasting fame and recognition to our area through their achievements in athletics. This year, ten deserving individuals were added to those rolls of honor. Those so honored included:

Dominick Bragalone – Two-time PIAA Player of the Year at South Williamsport. He rushed for a state record 4,704 yards (second-most in U.S. high school history) and scored 67 touchdowns in 2014. During his high school three-year career, he rushed for 8,749 yards and set a state record with 129 touchdowns. During his collegiate career at Lehigh University, he was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year in 2015, was a four-time First-team All-Patriot League running back, Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, and gained First-team All-American honors in 2017.

D.J. Flick – A standout athlete at Montgomery High School, played seven seasons in the Canadian Football League with Ottawa, Hamilton, and Saskatchewan, earning three divisional All-Star honors, and helping Saskatchewan win the 2007 Grey Cup. At Slippery Rock University, he was the conference’s Rookie of the Year in 1998, a two-time PSAC First Team receiver, and two-time All-American receiver and kick returner.

Carter “Butch’ Giles – The Montoursville native ‘stole the show’ sporting a much-too-small high school letter jacket to the dais. A two-time honorable mention all-state offensive lineman, he was the West Branch Conference’s Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1983-84. As a wrestler, he was a two-time state qualifier with a career 74-8 record. He earned three letters as a defensive tackle at Rutgers University.

Tina Martin – The Williamsport High School product was a two-time basketball Division II All-American at Lock Haven University and finished her career as the school’s all-time scoring leader. In 23 years as a head NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach, she posted a 408-238 record in 21 years at the University of Delaware that included three conference tournament titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances.

Christa Matlack – Lead South Williamsport to the 2006 state soccer title and a two-time all-state selection. She set a Lycoming County record with 176 goals during her high school career. At Bucknell University, she was a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year, a three-time All-Patriot League pick, and the first player in team history to garner NSCAA Scholar All-American honors, doing so twice.

Mark Molesky – Montoursville’s all-time leading scorer in boys’ basketball with 1,697 career points. Earned three all-conference honors and two honorable mention all-state honors. At Lycoming College, he led the Warriors in scoring three times and was a first-team all-MAC selection in 1978, averaging 19.3 points per game. He was a PIAA basketball official for 35 years and softball for 20 years, umpiring a state final in 1992.

Dick Rhoades – Compiled a career record of 399-116-9 in 35 years as a high school wrestling coach, including 32 years at Bald Eagle Area. Named 1999 Wrestling USA and USA Today National Wrestling Coach of the Year. Was District VI Coach of the Year 14 times and PIAA Coach of the Year twice. Was NAIA All-American at 137 pounds for Lock Haven University in 1966.

Heidi (Loudenslager) Russell – Pitched Old Lycoming Little League to two state and one regional title, as well as runner-up honors in the 1987 Senior Little League World Series. Led Williamsport team to the 1990 Big League Softball World Series title. At Williamsport High School, pitched team to 1987 and 1989 state championships. She was a First-Team All-PSAC selection at Kutztown University in 1991, setting a school record with a 1.19 ERA.

Von Walker – An all-state football and baseball player at Central Mountain High School, during which time he broke 14 school records. At Penn State, he earned the 2014 Walk-On of the Year award and became one of only eight two-time football team captains in school history. He played in three bowl games, including the 2016 Rose Bowl, and earned two Academic All-Big 10 honors in 2014 and 2016.

David Scott – (Deceased Inductee) – As a teenager, he pitched in Williamsport’s City Fastpitch Softball league and went on to pitching fame as an adult. He was elected to the National Softball Hall of Fame in 2005. His pitching exploits include the U.S. team in the Pan American Games, the American Softball Association national championship, the ISF World Championships, and the Olympic Committee Softball Sportsman of the Year. From 1979-96, he compiled a pitching record of 595-151.

Enjoy the holiday’s food, fun, and fellowship!