The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives around the world since 2020, delaying the 19th launch of the 19th Blair County Sports Hall of Fame.
But for all the honorees and their families, who were eventually recognized Saturday night at the Blair County Convention Center, the wait paid off.
“I am immensely blessed to be recognized by the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame,” said Tawney Nardozza Schmitt, a five-time District 6 swimming champion at Hollidaysburg High School, which has become a 19-time swimmer for all Americans in Indiana. University of Pennsylvania and in 2007 entered the IUP Athletic Hall of Fame.Swimming is a very demanding sport and participation in swimming motivated me to achieve.
“Tonight, this honor brings my career to the final chapter,” added Nardozza Schmitt, who has won six championships at the Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference at the IUP.
Nardozza was one of five individuals recognized at this year’s event and two of them were awarded posthumously.
Blaard Hall longtime former Bellwood-Antis High School football coach John Hayes and world-famous jet ski champion Eric Malone joined Nardozze on Saturday as individuals.
Two posthumous inaugurations were former Catholic Bishop Guilfoyle and outstanding University of Mississippi basketball representative Eddie Miller and 15-time National Hot Rod Association champion John Lingenfelter.
Julie Roseborough, who is currently celebrating her 56th season as a girls’ athletic trainer at Bellwood-Antis, has awarded Hall a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 1970 Bishop Guilfoyle boys’ basketball team, which won the Pennsylvania Catholic Inter-Athletic Association’s Class A state championship, was also recognized, as were the last two Hall scholarship winners – current high school students Bailey Garver of Claysburg-Kimmel and Parker Gregg of Central.
Pittsburgh TV sports personality Stan Savran once again served as the event’s moderator, and former college and professional quarterback Doug Flutie was honored.
Eddie Miller’s son, Patrick, accepted the award for introducing his late father, and Patrick’s speech evoked more frivolity among the audience than any other.
Patrick remembered his father’s greater sense of humor and his emphasis on developing personal relationships and friendships before individual success.
Patrick was shocked by the audience as he talked about his father’s memories of using the priest’s friend’s parish in Oxford, a young lady, to hold a party – among the invited members of the University of Mississippi – while the priest was out of town.
“My father had a big smile and a contagious laugh,” Patrick Miller said. “His days at Ole Miss were some of the best days of his life.
“He valued friendships and relationships more than anything else,” Patrick said of his father, who died earlier this year at the age of 75.I would like to thank the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame committee for introducing Eddie. This is a first-class event. “
Hayes has won 323 games during his famous 48-year coaching career, spending the last 38 seasons at Bellwood-Antis after training the top 10 with neighboring rival Blue Devils Tyrone.
Like every other Saturday at Hall, Hayes praised his companions and called his wife Victoria, with whom he shared 52 years of marriage, “my rock and the wind under my wings.”
Under Hayes’ leadership, Bellwood’s football program has become one of the most successful in the state and remains so to this day.
“Thanks are due to many others, including my coaching teams, school boards and the great support of our community, but the success we had as a program became expected and consistently implemented, and the most important element of that success was the players themselves,” said Hayes.
A native of Hollidaysburg, Malone became the most successful professional in the International Jet Sports Boating Association competition, winning 43 titles in his career – including eight IJSBA world titles (seven professional, one amateur) between 1995 and 2010.
Malone recognized his father Gene and his late mother Bonnie as two of the biggest factors in his success.
“My mother helped me navigate my personal and professional life and my father was my number one fan and mechanic,” Malone said. “I am extremely honored to have been a member of the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame, but you will not become an eight-time world champion without the support of many people – including my coaches, teachers and my family. “
John Lingenfelter died at the age of 58 in 2003 as a result of injuries he had suffered the year before at the NHRA. A native of East Freedom, he became famous worldwide as one of the most prolific riders, engine designers and motorsport modifiers.
Lingenfelter’s brother Charles accepted the award for inauguration.
“John was a modest man, but he had a hot desire to excel in everything he did,” said Charles Lingenfelter. “John would feel overwhelmed by his choice for the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame, and it is an honor for members of John’s family – many of whom still live in Blair County – to have been introduced. “
Roseborough started a girls’ athletics program at Bellwood-Antis and also coached school boys’ and girls’ running teams and field hockey teams for many years.
“There are people I’ve trained who are now 70 years old and people I’m training now who are still teenagers,” Roseborough said. “I had the honor of training hundreds of girls and I love them all. “