A football coach who won four WPIAL titles, a basketball star who went on to win an NCAA championship at the University of North Carolina and a two-sport star who had her college number retired are three of the individuals who will be inducted this year into the WPIAL Hall of Fame.
The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League announced its 2014 class at a news conference this morning at the Heinz History Center. This is the eighth year for the WPIAL Hall of Fame and induction ceremonies will be June 6 at the Doubletree Hotel in Green Tree.
The football coach with four WPIAL championships is Don Yannessa, who won four in five years at Aliquippa. Dante Calabria was a basketball star at Blackhawk High School before going on to play in two Final Fours at North Carolina. Beth Friday was a basketball-soccer standout at Upper St. Clair who had her basketball number retired at Duquesne University.
Here are brief bios on the 2014 class.
Dante Calabria, Blackhawk class of 1992 – Scored 2,252 career points at Blackhawk and led team to 1992 state title. One of the top 3-point shooters in University of North Carolina history.
Ralph Cindrich, Avella class of 1967 – Was a standout football player who also made it to a PIAA championship match in wrestling twice. Played both sports at Pitt and then continued his football career in the NFL.
Shannon Davis, Sacred Heart class of 1989 – Was good enough in basketball to make the prestigious Parade All-American team as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Kelly Deep, Moon class of 1987 – Won an unprecedented four WPIAL and four PIAA doubles tennis championships. Her sister, Colleen, was her partner twice and Kelly also finished third in the PIAA mixed doubles tournament with her brother, Don.
Beth Friday, Upper St. Clair class of 1999 – A former Post-Gazette Athlete of the Year who was dominant as a basketball player and soccer goalkeeper. Had more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Duquesne.
Eric Kasperowicz, North Hills class of 1994 – As a quarterback, made Parade All-American team. Had 5,500 career yards passing, 1,369 rushing and had 20 career interceptions. Led North Hills to 1993 state title.
Mike Vernillo, Fort Cherry class of 2000 – Held the WPIAL football career rushing record for more than a decade with 7,646 yards. Ran for 424 yards in one game as a sophomore.
Bob Jacoby, Bishop Canevin football/softball – Coached 40 years in football and had a 230-170-7 record with one WPIAL title. Coached 30 years in softball and won two WPIAL titles and one PIAA championship.
Dave Meloni, Springdale soccer – Guided the Dynamos to nine WPIAL titles in 15 years in the 1960s and '70s and his teams once had a 72-game winning streak.
Tom Sankovich, Connellsville baseball – His 1989 team finished ranked No. 10 in the country by USA Today. Coached 20 years and had a 422-105 record with four WPIAL titles.
Don Yannessa, Aliquippa/Baldwin/Ambridge football – Built Aliquippa into prominence in the 1980s. Won four WPIAL titles and had a 142-44-5 record in 17 years with the Quips. All-time record was 249-137-7.
Beaver Falls football 1960 – The team’s quarterback was Joe Namath and the Tigers were WPIAL champions with a 9-0 record. They outscored opponents, 305-63.
Baldwin girls volleyball 1989 – A dominant team that won WPIAL and PIAA titles. The first team had a 51-0 match record and a record of 118-2 in games.
Arnold Galiffa, Donora class of 1945 – A terrific athlete who won 12 varsity letters in high school. He was part of WPIAL championship teams in football and basketball before going on to earn 11 varsity letters in football, baseball and basketball at West Point (Army).
Larry Maggi – Three time winner of Pennsylvania Wrestling Official of the Year. Has worked 26 PIAA regional finals, 18 WPIAL team tournament championships and the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic for 26 years.
Jon Vallina – A WPIAL board of control member and golf steering committee member for 12 years. Has served as president of the Pennsylvania Athletic Directors Association, and has won five WPIAL titles as Burgettstown’s boys golf coach.
Bill Suit – A former principal at Shaler High School, Suit was a WPIAL Board of Control member who died of cancer last year. He also served on the WPIAL Hall of Fame and scholarship committees and was the former race director of the Pittsburgh Cure Sarcoma 5K run.