The AK Valley Hall of Fame honors 10 inductees

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Saturday May 21, 2022 | 10:38 p.m


Bob White was a standout football player in Freeport for three years, later playing for Penn State and captaining the Nittany Lions for the 1986 national championship.

Through his successes on the field, he said he always understood that there were so many people who helped guide him.

“When I find myself in nature in these rare moments and positions like the one I’m in tonight, I stand alone up here,” said White, one of 10 greats who will be performing as part of the Class of 2021 on May 51 The All-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame Banquet was celebrated Saturday night at the Quality Inn in New Kensington.

“But spiritually, this is about more than just me. When I think about getting the call tonight about induction into this Hall of Fame and thinking about that award, it transcends all the wins and losses and all the ups and downs of the competition. Even though I find myself here in the room talking to different people, I get a strong reminder that this was about relationships.”

Relationships formed with family members, teachers, coaches, teammates and other mentors was a common theme that permeated the thoughts and memories of every initiate in this year’s class.

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Sharing the podium with White were other candidates Chris Como, Jeff Cortileso, Harry Crytzer, Robert Foster, Dianne Henry, Frank Phelps, Rich Kriston (posthumously), Terry Preece and Lizzie Suwala Sheaffer.

The group had its origins in December 2019 when the Class of 2020 was announced for anchoring.

Covid forced Hall of Fame officials to cancel the last two induction ceremonies, but the event returned this year, much to the excitement of many, including Hall of Fame chairman Larry Lutz.

“We are very pleased to be able to host this wonderful event again,” said Lutz. “We have 10 great candidates this year and we want to continue that for many years to come.”

This year’s group brings the total worshiped to 390 since first class in 1970.

Phelps, a Burrell athletics head coach or assistant for 42 years, recalled the many athletes he coached who made his passion for coaching so fulfilling.

“When (the Hall of Famer) honors me, it also honors the hard work of all the athletes I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. I wasn’t running,” said Phelps, who has led his girls relay teams to 12 WPIAL titles, including five straight from 2015-19.

“I’m so humbled to be part of an amazing group of athletes who have come from here in the Alle Kiski Valley.”

Phelps shared the opportunity to fill in for Burrell with former Bucs wrestling coach and current assistant Chris Como, who started the wrestling program en route to 15 consecutive team wrestling titles.

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Doug Kriston spoke on behalf of Rich, who was a football and wrestling standout at Fox Chapel in the early 1970s and passed away in 2013. Rich Kriston played football at Penn State and played in the 1973 Orange Bowl, 1974 Cotton Bowl, and 1975 Sugar Bowl.

“I think Rich would be humbled by and appreciate that honor,” Doug said of his brother, who became an assistant football and wrestling coach and also served as Pine-Richland’s athletic director.

“But he would never be someone who wants the limelight. It was all about everyone else. I just want to make sure I tell everyone what a great person he was, besides what a great athlete he was.”

At 94, Crytzer, a Freeport World War II veteran who played in three sports in baseball, football and basketball, is the second-oldest inductee of the AK Valley Hall of Fame at the time of his induction.

Dan Hawkins was 95 years old when he was inducted into the shrine in 2019.

Michael Love is a contributor to the Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael via email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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