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1995 inductees

  • Andrew O. Garcia
    Coach 1995

This transplanted Akronite is living legend in the town of Conneaut, OH. Andy Garcia first showed up in Conneaut in 1942 after earning his education degree from The University of Akron and, with exception of his service time during World War II, he has not strayed from his adopted community. Little wonder! Garcia has three keys to the city and the Conneaut High School gymnasium is named in his honor. After his hitch in the U.S. Army, Garcia returned to Conneaut High in 1946 and started coaching basketball. Twenty-two seasons later, Andy had compiled a record of 312 wins and 172 losses and amassed enough memories to last a lifetime. He was also Conneaut’s track coach for 15 years and sent at least one athlete to the state meet every year he coached. In 36 years as athletic director, Garcia was a builder. In 1942 Conneaut had only three sports – football, basketball and track. When Andy retired in 1978, the school had 13, eight boys’ sports and five for the girls. Garcia gave up the reign in basketball in 1968 and was immediately inducted into the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and the school gym was named after him. In 1979 he was inducted into the Ohio High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and in 1992 he was presented with the UA Sports Hall of Famers’ Achievement Award.

  • Ray Fowler
    Coach 1995

For the past 28 years, Ray Fowler has taught history at Springfield High School. For the past 17 years, he has been making history there, too. Fowler, the Spartans’ softball coach, heads one of the most successful high school sports programs in the state. Buoyed by one of the outstanding youth softball programs, which feeds the high school team, Fowler has guided the Spartans to a record eight Ohio Division I State Championships, including four in a row from 1992 thru ’95. Springfield defeated Ellet 7-0 this year in the championship game to complete a 31-1 season. Overall under Fowler, Springfield has won 381 games and lost just 61, a winning percentage of .862. And over the last four championship seasons Springfield has won 114 games and lost five. Under Fowler, Springfield also has won 13 league championships, 11 district championships and nine regional titles. Moreover, 30 of Fowler’s former players have received athletic grants in aid to continue their college careers, and several have followed his lead and are now coaching youngsters themselves in Springfield and elsewhere.

  • David Jacoby
    Powerlifting 1995

As a young man David Jacoby got used to doing the heavy chores, he shoveled coat and baled hay. After high school he got a job in a brick yard and today he is a dock worker for Yellow Freight Trucking in Richfield. He was strong and able to lift things. At the age of 24 this Stark County resident’s lifting ability led him into powerlifting under the guidance of Pep Wahl at The Body Builders Gym, Inc., of Akron. Three years late, in August, 1984, with 240 muscular pounds packed into his 5-10 frame, Jacoby astonished himself and the weightlifting world by capturing the first of eight U.S. National Powerlifting gold medals in the 242-pound division. Three months hence, in Dallas, TX, the former Sandy Valley High School wrestler, won the first of five world championships. Jacoby not only won the competition involving 25 countries, he won big by 130 pounds – hoisting 788 pounds from the squat, 501 pounds in the bench press and 771 pounds in the deadlift. After that first U.S. national title, Jacoby went on a tear winning in 1985 thru ’89 and then again in 1991 and ’92. Besides 1984, he captured the world championships in 1985, ’87, ’88 and 1991. In 1988, Jacoby was inducted into the Ohio Branch of the U.S. Powerlifting Federation Hall of Fame.

  • Ernie Kusnyer
    Basketball 1995

On the basketball courts at Kansas State University’s Ahearn Field house, Kusnyer’s reliability and free-spirited aggressiveness made him a fan favorite. The 6’5 ½ “ Firestone High School graduate captained the KSU Wildcats in 1973 when they won the Big Eight title for the second year in a row under coach Jack Hartman. “Kush” also earned All-Big Eight first team academic honors in his senior year. A three-year starter when freshmen were not eligible for varsity action, he finished his K-State career sixth in total points scored and in the top 10 in six other scoring categories. The Kansas City Boosters Club named him Player of the Year in 1973. Kusnyer’s college accomplishments caught the eye of pro scouts and he was drafted by both the NBA’s Kansas City Kings and the ABA’s San Diego Conquistadors. He went on to play professionally in Brazil, Israel and Europe. Locally, his talent was spotted early. As a junior at Firestone High School, Kusnyer was selected captain of the 1967-68 All-City basketball team by the Akron Beacon Journal which called him “the most complete player in the city.” Kusnyer joins his older brother Art, a Major League baseball veteran, who was inducted into the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

  • Jim Lash
    Football 1995

Jim Lash was fond of saying, “A pressure player would do something out of the ordinary. He would break up tight games.” Lash did that often for the Northwestern Wildcats, where he was a star wide receiver from 1970-72. Lash, a 6-foot-1, 192-pounder from Garfield High, caught 87 passes for 1,479 yards, a 17.2-yard career average, and scored six touchdowns at Northwestern. In his last game as a Wildcat, he posted a school-record 226 receiving yards against Michigan State in 1972. That year he was a first-team All-Big Ten choice and led Northwestern with 36 catches for 667 yards. One of his most memorable “pressure” plays beat Indiana. A Hoosier defensive back bobbled an overthrown pass, Lash caught it and sped 81 yards for the winning score. Lash, a Big Ten All-Academic choice as a sophomore, was chosen to play in the East-West Shrine and Hula Bowl post-season games. He attracted the attention of the Minnesota Vikings, who drafted him in the second round in 1973. Lash played four seasons with the Vikings and appeared in two Super Bowls. He caught one pass for nine yards against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII in 1974 and was in the starting lineup against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl IX in 1975. Lash closed his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers in 1977. For his NFL career, he caught 91 passes for 1,464 yards – a 16.1-yard average – and scored three touchdowns.

  • Donna Myers
    Bowling 1995

The majority of Myers’ numerous bowling awards were earned from the 1960s to the early 1980s, but a few years ago, at age 55, she carried the highest average in her career – 203. Myers has the distinction of being the first woman to win a local Senior Bowlers Association title which she accomplished in the 1991-92 season at Bories Bowland in a tournament that drew 80 men and six women. A native of Akron, she has a record of achievement that includes both individual and team honors in the area. She was inducted into the Tri-County Bowling Hall of Fame in 1986. Although she never bowled until she was 21, in just two years, under the guidance of Boris Mitseff of Bories Bowland, her average went from 130 to 180. In just five years she was named to the Beacon Journal All-Star Team for the first time. When her average neared 200 in the late 1960s, Myers joined the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour and competed for three seasons. Her best effort was a 12th place finish in Rochester, NY. She was named Bowler of the Year by the Akron Women’s Bowling Association five times and was a member of the AWBA’s all-star team 10 times. She has one perfect game and has rolled a 700 series 15 times in her career.

  • Joseph Papp
    Baseball, Football, Basketball 1995

It was Russ Beichly, Hall of Fame basketball coach at The University of Akron, who talked Joe Papp out of going to Duquesne but, it was UA football coach Paul Baldacci who got the benefit. After playing part of the 1942-43 basketball season under Beichly, Papp was off to World War II. At the war’s end, Papp returned to the UA campus in 1946 in time to help restart football, after three-years of inactivity. That season, Papp, a two-way end, caught enough passes from Hall of Famer Whitey Wahl to help the Zippers win five of nine contests. For his effort, Papp was voted first team All-Ohio Conference and second team All-Ohio. Papp said the honor came because of his “glue-fingered pass catching,” while the Akron Beacon Journal stated, “Papp had his day in the spotlight and went on to play two more seasons of football and three seasons of baseball for Beichly. Papp was inducted into UA’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.

  • Gloria Blanks Dingle
    Basketball 1995

As a high school sophomore, Gloria Blanks admits she couldn’t “walk and chew gum at the same time.” The gangly 6-foot-2 youth was cut from the Barberton High School girls team. From then on, she taught her opponents something about rejection, blocking hundreds of shots back in their faces during a career that made her one of the most honored female basketball players in area history. She made the Barberton team as a junior and led the Lady Magics to the Class AAA state championship game as a senior in 1979. They lost to St. Vincent-St. Mary despite her tournament-record 21 rebounds in the final. For the season, Blanks average 18 points and eight rebounds a game and was a second-team All-Ohioan. Blanks graduated to Malone College in Canton, where three times she was named All-America, twice by the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (Division III) and once by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. She was the AIAW’s Division III player of the year in 1982. In four seasons at Malone, Blanks scored 2,459 points, grabbed 1,257 rebounds and blocked 591 shots – all school records. She averaged 22 points a game for her career in helping Malone finish fifth in the AIAW playoffs in 1982 and reach the Final 16 of the NAIA championships in 1983.

  • Kay Piper
    Volleyball, Softball 1995

Athletes the caliber of Kay Piper emerge only about once a decade, if that. At The University of Akron between 1981 and 1985, Piper excelled in both volleyball and softball – earning four letters each. The versatile Piper was voted Most Valuable Player in volleyball in 1981, ’83 and’84. In 1983, while leading UA to a 47-18 record, she was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference honor squad and she repeated that honor in 1984. As a talented shortstop, Piper became UA’s only three-time All-American in women’s sports, including first team berths in 1983 and in 1984. Kay led the Zips in batting in 1983 with a .451 average and a .390 in ’84 when UA won 48 of 54 games. And when the Zip nine went 51-10 in 1985, Piper batted .446 and blasted 15 home runs to lead the nation’s NCAA II players. She also led the nation in RBI’s (54) and triples (9). Kay currently holds four individual game, six seasons and seven career records at UA. Her offensive output was greatly responsible for guiding UA to national runner-up finishes in 1984 and ’85 where she was voted All-Tournament both years. The laurels continued when Piper was selected as one of four collegiate players named to the U.S. National Team that toured Australia in 1985. In 1982 and again in 1985, Piper was voted the Caroline Pardee Female Athlete of the Year Award. This past February, UA inducted Kay into its Sports Hall of Fame.

  • Larry Poole·

Football 1995

When you talk about Kent State football’s heyday, you talk about the early 1970s. And when you talk about Kent in the early 1970s, you talk about Larry Poole. Poole, a running back from Garfield High, helped lead Kent State to its only Mid-American Conference football championship, in 1972. For the first of three consecutive seasons he led the Golden Flashes in rushing, gaining 588 yards on 126 carries and scoring five times. But Poole’s best was yet to come. He posted back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 1973 and ’74 and scored 31 touchdowns, including a school-record 18 in 1973. A two-time All-MAC first team pick, Poole’s 2,688 career rushing yards rank second on Kent’s list, and he holds Kent records for most career touchdowns (38) and most points scored in a season (108 in ’73) and in a career (228). Poole was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the ninth round of the 1975 NFL draft and played three seasons with the Browns and one for the Houston Oilers. He rushed for 588 NFL yards (4.4 average per carry) and scored five touchdowns, including three in one game against the Pittsburg Steelers in 1978.

  • Steve Craig·

Football 1995

No one better exemplified the student-athlete at Northwestern University in early 1970s than Akron’s Steve Craig. The 6-foot-3 230-pound tight end from Garfield High was as solid in the classroom as he was anchoring the Wildcats’ offensive line. On the field, Craig was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and led the Conference with 30 catches his senior season. For his career he caught 76 passes for 970 yards and 11 touchdowns – most ever by a Northwestern tight end. Moreover, Craig was just as visible as a blocker, an asset that especially drew the attention of pro scouts. Matching his on-field success, Craig was selected to the Big Ten All-Academic team three times. He posted a 3.3 grade point average while obtaining a degree in journalism and received the Big Ten Medal for proficiency in athletics and scholarship. Craig was a second-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 1974 and was signed by future Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Finks, then the Vikings’ general manager. Craig played for the Vikings from 1974-78 and appeared in two Super Bowls, in 1975 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and 1977 against the Oakland Raiders. In his NFL career he caught 18 passes for 172 yards (9.6 average) and one touchdown.

  • Mark Van Horn·

Football 1995

Offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of any football team. For the most part they go about the job at hand without much fanfare or notice. However, every once in a while, people do take account of the effort of those linemen expend and Mark Van Horn just happens to be one of those few. He joins the ranks of other University of Akron and Summit County Sports Hall of Famer linemen such as Earl Hensal, Andy Maluke, Dave Adolph and Tony Butowica. In 1973 one of the first recruits signed by Jim Dennison, the new UA head football coach, wads the 6-3, 235 pound Van Horn from Doylestown Chippewa High School. Van Horn became the starting left guard as a sophomore and never relinquished it the remaining three campaigns. He helped the Zip gridders compile a 7-4 record in 1975 and was tri-captain on UA’s most successful football team in its history in ’76 by finishing 10-3 and national runner-up in the NCAA II. Van Horn’s outstanding line play in 1976 helped him become the first UA lineman to be named a first team All-American in the NCAA II by the Associated Press. In 1989 Van Horn was honored with his induction into UA’s Sports Hall of Fame.​​

  • David K. Barnes·

Golf 1995

He stands alone as the only first team All-American in golf from The University of Akron. Dave Barnes earned that honor his junior season by firing consecutive rounds of 74, 78, 74, 74 in the 1976 NCAA II National Golf Championship at Avalon Country Club in Warren, OH. His 300 scored garnered him a fifth place finish in the individual standings. A four-year letterman under Head Coach Jim Hackett, Barnes also had the distinction of playing on four winning AU teams from 1974 thru 1977, in which all earned NCAA National Tournament berths. As a freshman Barnes was third on the team with a 78.6 stroke average. He improved to 76.9 as a sophomore, a career best 76.1 average as a junior and closed out his collegiate career with a 76.3. Barnes certainly played a major role in the Zip linksmen’s cause during his unprecedented achievement, but he admits he had lots of help. Joining Barnes on all four of those teams were boyhood pals Terry O’Rourke and Bob Heffleman. “They both made me a better golfer,” praised Barnes. “We have been playing together or against each other since we were 13.” Still active in local amateur golf, Barnes participated in 10 to 15 golf tournament a year. In 1992 he was inducted into UA’s Sports Hall of Fame.

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