First class athletes
Warwick Hall of Fame opens with nine local legends; Male inducted exactly 20 years after his death
Tuesday began as a somber anniversary for John Male Jr.
His father, the star running back from Warwick High School’s 1967 championship team, died Aug. 12, 1994, at the age of 44.
“I was feeling down,” said the son, who was 19 when he lost his dad. “We were best friends, and to lose someone so early in life was tough. Then I got a call from Ryan Landis telling me that he is in the first class of Warwick’s Hall of Fame. It instantly picked me up, and I started to remember all the great times and memories.”
Landis, Warwick’s current athletic director, was busy making this and eight other phone calls Tuesday after a committee of 10 announced the first class of the school district’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Joining Male Sr. in the new hall are Meg Abele Garrett, Dave Althouse, Bob Derr, Jack Hurd, Terry Kauffman, Ed Nixdorf, Jessica Rose Shellenberger and Julie Welk Bennett.
“There was no doubt these nine would get in early,” Landis said.
The Hall of Fame Committee, which operates independently of the school district and does not use any tax dollars, began accepting nominations from the community June 19. More than 60 suggestions were received by the July 16 deadline. Through a process of good-natured debate and healthy discussion, Landis said, the pool was narrowed to a top 18 list. A final vote concluded the first class of nine Monday night.
Meg Abele Garrett
She is the leading scorer in Warwick girls basketball history with 2,180 points. Playing from 1999 to 2003, she led the league in scoring during her sophomore through senior years. She also led Warwick in blocked shots, steals, rebounds and points her junior and senior seasons. She was a First Team L-L All-Star for three seasons, a 90-plus percent free throw shooter, and 45 percent from three-point range. Meg received a scholarship to play at Iona University, where she played for two seasons before transferring to Philadelphia University. She was All-Conference both years at Philadelphia.
Warwick’s boys basketball coach from 1975 to 1990, winning eight section titles, three league titles, and one district title. He won 75 percent of the games he coached (332-112) and 69 consecutive league games in the 1980s. He was named L-L Coach of the Year five times, and in 2005 was inducted into the PA Sports Hall of Fame.
As an athlete, he was the 1967 wrestling sectionals champion for Warwick. He was also a member of that year’s championship football team.
As a coach, he has more than 500 wins in field hockey, including 14 section titles, 11 league titles, six district titles, and three state championships. During this time, he has coached 34 First Team All-State players and 11 All-Americans. He was inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame in 2011.
He is also one of top wrestling officials in the nation, having refereed 10 Division One National Championships.
He is the leading scorer in Warwick boys basketball history with 2,160 points from 1985 through ‘88. During his senior year, he averaged 29 points and 15 rebounds and was named First Team All-State. He was a member of four section championships and led Warwick to consecutive league titles. He received a full-ride scholarship to LaSalle University. In 1999, he joined the Philly Big 5 Hall of Fame. The following year, he was inducted to the LaSalle Hall of Fame. His 1,693 points puts him at 9th all-time in LaSalle history.
As an athlete, he was Warwick’s 1963 sectional champion in wrestling, and a starting lineman on Warwick’s Conference of Roses championship football team in 1962.
As Warwick’s softball coach from 1982 to 1991, he went 105-72.
He was also the district’s athletic director from 1991 to 2005, and was named 2003 Region V AD of the Year.
In 2013, he was one of four inductees into the inaugural L-L League Athletic Hall of Fame.
John Male Sr.
This football star ran for 157 yards in the 1967 county championship to beat Manheim Central. He led the county in touchdowns in both his junior and senior years, scoring a combined 39 TDs, averaging two per game. He was nominated to the Big 33 team and played Division One football at Mississippi State. Warwick currently has a scholarship named after him.
As an athlete, he was Warwick’s first state champion in the 1600 (known as “the mile” today). He set the Warwick record for the 1600 in 1966, a record still intact almost 50 years later. He was co-captain of the football and basketball teams as well. He was winner of the Bernie Rider Outstanding Senior Male in 1963.
As a track coach for 33 seasons, he has coached a state champion (Ganne Way) and eight of the current record holders. As a cross country coach, in his 29 years with middle and high school, he has a record of 559-166. His girls team won the L-L title in 2008 and 2009, as well as a District title in 2009. He was named L-L Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2009. He never had a losing season as a cross country coach.
Jessica Rose Shellenberger
This 1999 grad won nine letters at Warwick. She was a winner of the 1999 Grosh Scholarship and the Julie Oakes Scholarship. In field hockey, she was an L-L First Team All-Star for three years and All-State her junior and senior years. She was Warwick’s first All-American (senior year). She attended Michigan on a full scholarship and was a member of the 2001 Division One National Field Hockey Team. In 2006, she was named the Keystone Games’ Female Athlete of the Year.
In soccer, she was a member of Warwick’s section and league championship team during her senior year.
Currently, she is Donegal’s field hockey coach, where her teams have won five section titles. Her overall record is 179-48-8.
Julie Welk Bennett
She set the school record for every single jumping event in track during the early 1980s. She held all of these records for at least 10 years, and continues to hold the school record in the 100 hurdles, high jump and triple jump. She was Warwick’s first female athlete to win an individual state title (triple jump). She was also winner of the 1981 Grosh Scholarship.
Four of the inductees are player/coach combinations, in that Althouse coached Hurd, and Derr coached Shellenberger.
“It was a fun and fair process,” Landis said of the first class selection, adding that the committee is not disclosing the candidates who did not make the first cut. Next year’s class will most likely be a little smaller, and the committee is urging patience for anyone who may feel slighted.
He said he does expect to hear some friendly debate on the street, not about the eligibility of this first class, but in regard to others who are eligible.
“You’ll always get some of that,” he said. “That’s the nature of sports. “We just have to remind people that it’s an ongoing process.”
While Landis is on the selection committee, he did not vote on the inductees.
“As athletic director, I am overseeing and directing this process,” he explained. “However, I am a non-voting member of the committee due to a possible conflict of interest. We have current coaches which I have to evaluate yearly that are nominated.”
Rick Dombach, Class of 1975 and current president of the Warwick Alumni Association, is one of the voting members. He said they were given a 10-page list of nominees and asked to select 12-15, then they got together to vote for the first class.
“The surprising outcome,” he said, “was the top nine nominees were selected by all on the committee.”
A few nominees discussed did not meet the eligibility of five years since graduation. Philadelphia Union soccer player Andrew Wenger, for instance, will be eligible for the first time next year. Emily Cameron, seven-time state gold medalist in swimming, also fits into this category.
“One of the beauties of a committee is that everyone has a slightly different opinion regarding what they value,” Landis added.
The selection committee, which was kept secret until this week, is made up of (in addition to Landis and Dombach) Lisa Himes, John Beck principal; Bruce Morgan, Record Express sports editor; Timothy Quinn, school board president; Tom Clausen, retired teacher and former coach and athlete; Jessica Hoenich, former athletic trainer and athlete; Brenda Reedy, retired athletic department secretary; Mike Brown, physical education teacher and former coach; and Fred Cummins, former high school principal.
To showcase Hall of Fame members, the committee plans to purchase a large screen TV and connect to a computer that will run a continual slide show profiling each person.
“This will prevent a future issue with space, be attractive to visitors, and allow us to update the information as needed,” Landis said.
So, now that the news of the first class is out, it’s time for the community to celebrate. An official ceremony is planned for the Sept. 5 football game against Garden Spot. There will be a pre-game reception in the middle school cafeteria that Friday. Sandwiches and sides will be available from 5 to 5:30 p.m., with a ceremony following in the cafeteria leading up the football game. There will also be a ceremony at half-time.
The cost of the dinner is $8, and checks can be made payable to “Athletic Hall of Fame” and sent to the AD’s office. Space is limited.
Landis said most of the living inductees are expected to attend the ceremony, with the possible exception of Julie Welk Bennett, who lives in Georgia.