2014 Athletic HOF Inductees
One of the beautiful things about sports is that you don’t have to be an athlete to like it and sometimes, sports can touch your life in a way you least expect.
Our enshrinee was an art teacher who came from Brooklyn, NY. Little did he or anyone else realize 43 years ago when he first set foot in the school’s hallways that he would letter all award certificates for athletes at Aquinas for the next four decades. He also won the OHSAA state award for service to Ohio High School athletes in 2001.
But the head of the art department at St. Thomas Aquinas developed something that today is as recognizable as McDonald’s Golden Arches. The script ‘AQUINAS’ has adorned countless T-shirts, sweaters and ballcaps. It is emblazoned on gold football helmets here and on the gym floor you are sitting on tonight. It has appeared in and on newspapers, magazines, banners and flags.
Aside from the Summa Theologica seal of Truth, Scholarship and Excellence, the script ‘AQUINAS’ is the most recognizable image of this school, and this man is the one responsible for creating it. We lost ‘Mr. Lit’ in 2011, but Val Litwinow has scripted on his canvas an historical image that will live forever!
Our next enshrinee had to fill the shoes of a previous quarterback who had taken Aquinas to a state football championship the previous year. Suddenly, the backup who inherited a veteran roster was the new kid on the block.
But our enshrinee rose to the occasion leading the Knights to a 10-0 regular season in 1985 and back to Columbus to play in the Division IV state football final a second consecutive year. He lettered both in football and track and was named to The Repository’s All Star squad. Under the tutelage of Coach Goodchild, he matured into the leader St. Thomas needed. Now the director of Outpatient Clinical Services at the Akron General Health System and a father of five.
Our next enshrinee was the only three-year letter winner from his class. Not only was he All-County, All NE Inland and All-Ohio Honorable Mention in football from 1984 to 1985, he was also the Aquinas team captain on Academic Challenge his sophomore, junior and senior years. He was part of a football program that during his time here went 31-6-1 and 25-1-1 in football his junior and senior seasons when St. Thomas won a state football championship and finished as state runner-up the following year.
He writes that he was ‘ a small part of hard working football teams composed of unselfish individuals who all played an equal part in achieving the success that we experienced without individual heroes.” Words for any high school athlete to live by!
He and his wife currently have two children at Aquinas and one more on the way.
Greg was his class Valedictorian in 1987. He was also a member of the Knights’ state championship football team in 1984 and the only 10-0 Aquinas football team in school history the following season in 1985. That squad finished as a state runner-up.
At St. Thomas, our enshrinee was First Team All-County and won All-Diocesan honors his senior year. He went on to star at Brown University where he started 40 consecutive games and was a four year letter winner. He earned All-Ivy League honors in 1989 and was an All American in 1990.
Our enshrinee would play six seasons of professional football for the Detroit Lions of the NFL and for Calgary and Hamilton of the Canadian Football League. He entered business with his brother Garin in 1996 and is now a chief marketing officer for his company in Tempe, AZ.
He began his coaching career in 2002 as a defensive coordinator at Valley Christian High School which won a state championship in 2005. He would win a second state title in 2011 at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, AZ. Over 14 seasons, he has a coaching record of 104 victories and 33 losses.
He claims today that his proudest accomplishment has been shaping the large number of young men’s lives as a coach and mentor.
He was a three-year letter winner in football, First Team All-County as a junior, and First Team All-County and All-Ohio his senior year.
Following graduation from Aquinas, our enshrinee went on to play at the University of Louisville for coaching guru Howard Schnellenberger. He was a four year letter winner and three year starter for the Cardinals. He was named Offensive Player of the week four times, and Most Outstanding Lineman in 1993.
The next stop for our enshrinee was the NFL where he played three seasons for the Indianapolis Colts and one with the Miami Dolphins. He would later play center for an NFL European Team in Germany and was part of the team that won the NFL Europe Bowl in 1998.
Following his football career, he entered private business and coaching in Ft. Lauderdale, FLA. The high school he is coaching at is none other than St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale. The Raiders are a national power, having won eight state titles. Our inductee has coached the defensive line the last four of those years that Aquinas won the state title. And St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida currently has the most Division I college football players and more players playing in the NFL than any other high school in the country.
Our next enshrinee lettered all four years at Aquinas in softball, two years in volleyball and one year in swimming. She was a First Team selection to the Northeast Ohio Fast Pitch Coaches’ Association squad in 1989, the Knights’ defensive softball Most Valuable Player in 1988 and 1989, a Knightliners’ Scholar Athlete in 1990 and team MVP of her softball team in 1991.
A graduate of Ohio Northern University, she is now a pharmacy district manager.
She took to the water at an early age and set sail on a brilliant swimming career! At age 5, she competed at the North Canton YMCA in synchronized swimming and competitive swimming and diving from 1980-1989.
At Aquinas, she focused strictly on diving, but also on wherever Coach Dave Courter needed her. She won four letters from 1989-1992 and was named All-County three times. She was a Cleveland State Viking invitational finalist in 1990-91, a C.T. Branin Natatorium champion in 1991 and a Northeast Ohio district champion in diving.
Our enshrinee was named All-Ohio and an All-American while being named St. Thomas Most Valuable Player in 1991. She was named Girls’ Diver of the Year by the Greater Canton Aquatics Association and was the Knightliners’ Scholar Athlete Award winner in 1992. She held the diving record here at Aquinas from 1991 through 2001. She was an honor student in high school and earned a full scholarship to dive at Ohio University where she competed from 1992 through 1996.
After competing, our enshrinee went into coaching for the Massillon Tiger Sharks from 1998 to 2006. During that time, she coached two state finalists and in 2012, she was inducted into the Greater Canton Aquatics Hall of Fame along with fellow St. Thomas alum and Hall of Famer, Jason Bing. Today, she is still teaching in the Massillon School District.
Diving head first into all she has accomplished in her life.
Anthony lettered in three different sports at St. Thomas. He earned three letters in wrestling and won the Coaches Award his junior season. In baseball, our enshrinee earned four letters and pitched a 1-hitter. He won the Coaches Award his senior year.
But the game of football is where this athlete made his biggest impact, and what an impact it was! A three-year letter winner, he averaged 13 tackles per game, caused nine fumbles in nine games in 1992, recorded five sacks and intercepted two passes from his linebacker position. He was also voted his team’s Most Valuable Player.
Our enshrinee was named First Team All-County by the Repository, Beacon Journal and Alliance Review as well as All NE-Ohio Inland as a senior. Following graduation from Aquinas, he was taken ill and couldn’t finish the year at Walsh University. Upon recovery, he took a tuition waiver and went on to play football at Huron University in South Dakota.
He would become a computer science major attending Walsh, Huron and Malone Universities. He has coached both baseball and football and assisted Andy Hawkins in baseball at Aquinas for 15 seasons. And today, he provides workshops on debt settlement and mortgages.
No discussion of boys’ soccer at St. Thomas can leave out the name of our next enshrinee. In 1998, he was named third team all Ohio by the Ohio Coaches Association and First Team all district by the Greater Akron Coaches’ Association. He was also a first team Tri-County Soccer League selection.
In 1999, he was named Aquinas’ soccer MVP, and again was all state, all district and the Tri-County Soccer League Player of the Year. That same year, our enshrinee was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of American and Adidas All-East Regional Team. He remains this school’s all-time leading scorer with 57 career goals.
On the basketball floor, he was the Knights’ Defensive Player of the Year in 1998-99 as St. Thomas won a district championship. And in 1999-2000, he won the Coaches Award, defensive play of the year again and had the team’s best foul shooting percentage while being named Honorable Mention All-County. Overall, he earned four letters in soccer and three in basketball.
Alyssa was one of the top girls’ soccer players in school history. Winning four letters, she was First Team All-Conference and All-County as a freshman along with Honorable Mention All-Ohio.
Her sophomore season, she was Offensive Player of the Year, All-County, All-District and Second Team All-Ohio. As a junior, our enshrinee was again All-County as well as Stark County Player of the Year and First Team All-Ohio. And finally as a senior, she was the Knights’ team MVP, All-County, All District and All-Ohio.
She says her greatest memory of Aquinas is “always knowing you were part of a family. Being able to be part of a community was a great experience. It molded me into who I am today, and taught me how to be disciplined and to stand up for what I believe in.”
A graduate of Avila University, she now lives and works in Kansas City, MO. She played two years for the Kansas City Courage Women’s Soccer Team and was named a 2014 WPSL All Star.