Eight new members were inducted into the City League Hall of Fame last night at a banquet and ceremony at The Pinnacle in Maumee.
Added to the City League's list of all-time great athletes/contributors in the 18th annual induction were Erica Adams (Notre Dame Academy tennis, 1987 graduate), Fred Beier (St. John's Jesuit, football coach), Dawn (Eidson) Burks (Rogers track, 1989), Dr. Crystal Ellis (Libbey coach, distinguished citizen), Mark Kerr (Waite wrestling/football, 1987), Don Pinciotti (Central Catholic football/baseball, 1940), Frank Pizza (Libbey football, 1943, posthumous), Dick Strahm (Libbey football, 1952).
Adams, the daughter of CL Hall of Famer Bunk Adams (Macomber basketball, Scott coach), was a four-time all-league tennis player and two-time CL player of the year, winning the Class AAA state singles championship as a senior. She continued her career at Purdue University, where she was All-Big Ten four times. She turned professional in 1992 and won six titles in either singles or doubles in a five-year career, which included a top 200 ranking and two Grand Slam appearances.
Beier, a graduate of Fremont St. Joseph High School, came to St. John's in 1966 and served for 14 years as an assistant coach. In 1980, he became the school's second head coach, posting a 119-54-2 record over 18 seasons. In that span his Titan teams won eight league titles and made five trips to the state playoffs.
Burks, a gifted runner at an early age, won the 400-meter dash at a national meet in San Diego when she was 13 years old. Over four track seasons competing for Rogers, she won 12 individual or relay league championships, and three times was voted the outstanding performer at the CL championship meet. She was a five-time regional champion and placed at the state meet five times. She attended Penn State University, where she competed in track and cross country. She later served four years as head girls track coach at Central Catholic.
Ellis, a native of Springfield, O., was the first African-American basketball player at Bowling Green State University, and was picked as the Falcons' MVP in 1956. He began his teaching career in Toledo Public Schools in 1969, and became head basketball coach at Libbey, winning a league championship in his first season (1970) and a district title in 1972. After more than 20 years as an educator and administrator, Ellis became TPS superintendent in 1991 and served five years at that post.
Kerr, one of Waite's greatest athletes ever, won three varsity letters in football and three more in wrestling. As a junior in 1986, he became Waite's first state wrestling champion, winning the 175-pound division. As a senior, he was an all-league linebacker in football. He moved on as a wrestler to Syracuse University, where he became an NCAA champion in 1992, winning at 190 pounds. He was a World Cup champion and Goodwill Games silver medalist in 1994, and won silver at the Pan-American Games in 1996, when he was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. at 220 pounds. He later moved on to Ultimate Fighting, winning the heavyweight championship.
Pinciotti excelled in football and baseball at Central, starring as an all-league fullback in 1939 and earning a spot in the Ohio All-Star game, He also made all-league in baseball. He moved on to the University of Dayton, where he played three years of varsity football and baseball. Dayton named him a first-team fullback on its All-Century team, and he was an all-conference catcher in baseball in 1947. Later, he played both professional football (Detriot Lions) and baseball (Chicago White Sox).
The late Pizza was a football standout on Libbey teams that won 19 straight games in the early 1940s. The 1942 team was City League champion, a co-champion in the state polls. At the University of Toledo he became a starting tackle as a freshman, and later played professionally in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and in the All-American League with the Buffalo Bisons before injuries ended his career. Pizza, an attorney, served as City of Toledo law director for 10 years. He died earlier this year.
Strahm made his first football mark at Libbey, quarterbacking the 1951 league championship team. He played two seasons at the University of Toledo and, after posting a 70-19-1 record as coach at three high schools, became defensive coordinator at UT in 1970. In his first two seasons with the Rockets, UT continued its 35-game winning streak, and his defense was ranked first in the NCAA in total defense in 1970 and '71. After two years as an assistant at Kansas State, he came to the University of Findlay, where his teams went 183-64-5 and made 12 playoff appearances in 24 seasons. The Oilers won four NAIA national championships and he was named NAIA national coach of the year four times.