Chester County Sports Hall of Fame

 

Coatesville legends head new class of Chester County Sports Hall of Fame inductees


Former Coatesville boys basketball head coach Jim “Scoogie” Smith was named Wednesday as a member of the 2017 class entering the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame. Smith won over 300 games and a state title in his career. - Digital First Media File

By Neil Geoghegan,

COATESVILLE >> The only city in Chester County has a long, rich tradition in athletics, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that more than a third of the 2017 class of the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame has a connection to Coatesville.

 
Arlen Harris runs the ball for Downingtown against West Chester Henderson in 1996. Harris is included in the newest crop of Chester County Sports Hall of Fame entrants. Digital First Media File

The organization’s 10th group of inductees is headlined by the coach-player combo of James ‘Scoogie’ Smith and John Allen, who helped deliver Coatesville’s only boys’ state basketball title back in 2001. The list also includes yet another member of the Joe family, and Andy Toth, who was born in Coatesville but starred on the basketball court in West Chester.

“I think it had to do with the Lukens Steel Company, and the families they brought to Coatesville,” said CCSHOF President Jerry Schneider. “All of them were hungry kids, raised in good families from different ethnic backgrounds, and that made for some great athletes.

“Coatesville has a great tradition in almost every sport.”

In addition to Coatesville, the 2017 class draws heavily from fertile areas of past classes, including West Chester University (Ralph Tamm, Joe Iezzi and Robert Reese) and the coaching ranks (Cyrus Jones and Becky Desmond). Add in Downingtown football star Arlen Harris, umpire Scott Graham and the 1985 state champion boys’ basketball team from Bishop Shanahan, and you have a well-rounded group.

“I like this class – although all of them are special,” Schneider said.

The banquet will take place on Nov. 11 at Downingtown Country Club.

Here is a closer look at the inductees:

CYRUS JONES – The head track and field coach at Lincoln University for 34 years, Jones guided the Lions to 17 national championships. The LU men’s program dominated NCAA Division III under his tutelage with a total of 13 titles (seven indoor and six outdoor). Since the inception of the NCAA championships, Jones teams finished in the top-five 22 times. The women’s program added four crowns (three indoor, one outdoor). Jones was named the Division III coach of the year six times and had helped produce more than 300 All-Americans.

BECKY DESMOND – A tennis coach in the Downingtown School District for 52 years from 1961-2014, Desmond’s teams won 15 Ches-Mont league championships. The tennis courts at Downingtown West are named in her honor and she authored a book on coaching for the United States Tennis Association. Desmond was named the coach of the year by the U.S. Professional Tennis Registry in 2003 and was later inducted into their hall of fame. A two-time Daily Local News and USTA Middle States Coach of the Year, Desmond was honored as the USPTA National Coach of the Year in 2003.

JOHN JOE – A member of Coatesville’s legendary football family, Joe was a multiple sport star at Scott High School. He was a two-way all-conference tackle in 1954 and was the Ches-Mont champion in the shot put and discus. He went on to be a three-time captain and four-year starter at Lycoming, and was a two-time All-American as a fullback and linebacker. Drafted by the New England Patriots, his playing career was cut short due to injury. He went on to teach and coach various sports at numerous high schools, including Devon Prep, for the next five decades.

JAMES ‘SCOOGIE’ SMITH – As the head boys’ basketball coach at Coatesville, Smith led his hometown high school to the PIAA 4A State Championship in 2001. The Red Raiders also won eight consecutive Ches-Mont crowns, two District 1 titles and a regional championship under Smith. He mentored future NBA star Richard ‘Rip’ Hamilton as well as fellow 2017 CCSHOF inductee John Allen. Smith amassed over 300 career wins and was named the All-Area Coach of the Year five times. Earlier in his career, Smith was the head coach at Devon Prep and the Coatesville girls’ basketball team.

JOHN ALLEN -- The all-time leading scorer at Coatesville High School (2,372 points), Allen averaged 26 points per game as a senior to lead the Raiders to a PIAA State Championship in 2001. He was named a Parade and USA Today All-American and was a two-time All-State pick. At Seton Hall, Allen was a four-year starter and finished 15th in career scoring (1,466), sixth in starts (111) and fourth in minutes played (3,821). Allen went on to play professionally in Europe for seven years and was inducted into the Coatesville Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. He is currently the Assistant Athletic Director at Phoenixville High School.

ANDY TOTH – A Coatesville native, Toth led West Chester High School to a pair of Ches-Mont basketball crowns in the mid-1960s. He once scored 51 points in a game, which is Ches-Mont record that still stands. He played collegiately at Cheyney State and helped lead the Wolves to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. He was taken by the New York Knicks in the 10th round of the 1971 NBA Draft. Toth also played in the West Chester Adult Baseball League and was renowned as a skilled pool player.

SCOTT GRAHAM – A respected baseball umpire for nearly four decades, Graham presently works for five collegiate conferences, including the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and the American East. In 1996, Graham was selected to work the NCAA Division I College World Series, and became the first rookie to work the plate. He has been a crew chief for many years and was selected as an NCAA National Umpire Evaluator. In high school he was the catcher for future major leaguer Jon Matlack at West Chester High School, and went on to play at North Carolina. He entered the Bill Kinnamon Umpire School in 1975 and by 1976 was working the Class A Florida State League.

JOE IEZZI – A West Chester University graduate, Iezzi was the head athletic trainer at Cheyney (1976-85), Philadelphia Textile (1985-88) and the Downingtown School District (1988-2013). Along the way, Iezzi served as a trainer for five NCAA Final Fours and 21 PIAA State Championships. In addition, he worked for the US Olympic Training Center and with American athletes at the Olympic Festival, World Games and the Goodwill Games. Iezzi has been inducted into the halls of fame at the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (2009), Cheyney University (2012), the Trainer’s Society (2007) and Philadelphia University (2014). He now works for the NFL as an ATC concussion spotter.

RALPH TAMM – A star offensive lineman at West Chester University, Tamm went on to play for 10-years in the NFL for six teams. Tamm was an All-PSAC performer at WCU and began his pro career in 1990 with the Cleveland Browns. He also played with the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, and won Super Bowl rings with the Washington Redskins (1991) and San Francisco 49ers (1994). In all, he played in 121 games and made 31 starts. He was inducted into the WCU Football Hall of Fame and is currently an NFL Player Agent.

ARLEN HARRIS – A standout running back at Downingtown High School from 1994-98, Harris led the Whippets to three Ches-Mont titles and the 1996 PIAA Championship. In the state title game, Harris broke Tony Dorsett’s scoring and rushing record. He was a Parade All-American, the Big 33 Game MVP, Ches-Mont MVP and a two-time All-State selection. At the University of Virginia, Harris played in four bowl games and was the MVP of the Senior Bowl all-star game. He played in the NFL for five seasons including stints with the St. Louis Rams, the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons.

ROBERT REESE – The athletic director at West Chester for 19 years from 1960-79, the Rams won eight national championship during his tenure, including the 1961 men’s soccer title and the 1969 women’s basketball crown. Pioneering women’s coaches Carol Eckman, Vonnie Gros and Mimi Greenwood were all on Reese’s staff. Before becoming AD, Reese was the head coach in cross country and gymnastics, and was an assistant in football, basketball and baseball. He was inducted into WCU Athletic Hall of Fame and the trophy room at WCU’s Hollinger Field House is named in his honor. Reese passed away in 1980.

BISHOP SHANAHAN 1985 BOYS’ BASKETBALL TEAM – The Eagles captured the Class AA State Championship under longtime head coach Pete Bruni. Bishop Shanahan topped Johnstown’s Bishop McCort, 52-46, in the title game to cap a 22-3 season. The Eagles finished the season with 17 consecutive wins, and won the Southern Chester County League crown along the way. In the state playoffs, Shanahan held its first four opponents to an average of 47 points a game to advance to the final. In the title game, Kevin Conahan led the way with 17 points, and Mike O’Malley added 11 points. It was Bruni’s 24th season as head coach. Over a two-season period, the Eagles were 53-8 and were two-time undefeated league champs.

HISTORIC MEMBERS ALSO ANNOUNCED

The Chester County Sports Hall of Fame will also add an additional 11 individuals and one team as part of the organization’s 10th Anniversary Historic Member Induction. The ceremony for athletes from the late 1980s and early 1900s will take place at noon on Sept. 15 at Timothy’s West Chester.



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