Loyalsock’s Insinger inducted into PA Hall
They put professional and college legends into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and there’s room for high school guys, too.
Longtime Loyalsock High School basketball coach Ron Insinger went in with the Class of 2017 Saturday night at the Genetti, part of a group that included pro football figures Bob Sanders, Art Rooney Jr., Joe Walton, and former New Hampshire college football coach Bill Bowes of Lock Haven High School.
Insinger was to join last year, along with the late Larry Kelley, the Yale Heisman Trophy winner from Williamsport High School, but was unable to attend the ceremony.
“I’m just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary work ethic,” said Insinger. “I’ve never had a player go to the NBA, or even a big Division I career. My players have been what I call blue-collar workers and it’s what I am. I’m thrilled they considered me an inductee.”
Insinger came to Loyalsock fresh out of Lock Haven University, where he roomed with future Penn State head basketball coach Bruce Parkhill. Insinger said Parkhill offered him a spot on his staff when he was at William & Mary before coming to PSU, but Insinger decided the job security of high school and some local property ownership presented a more stable future.
“I was 22 when I came to Loyalsock, hired to be a Phys. Ed. teacher, and they asked me to be a coach. And every 22-year old coach needs a mentor,” said Insinger. “When this journey began, I didn’t know what the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame was. But put this up there with the gym at Loyalsock being named after me, it’s two memorable nights.”
Insinger is the state leader in boys basketball coaching victories with 852 in 41 years. He’s won 19 District 4 titles, reached the PIAA semifinals three times, and his team was the 1993 Class A runner-up. He’s one of two coaches in state history with more than 900 games, having also coached some girls basketball.
“I’ve made up my mind that when it becomes a job, when I’m looking at the clock for practices and lose the enthusiasm and excitement, I’ll step away,” said Insinger. “It hasn’t happened yet.
“Several years ago, I was the head soccer cash and I’d pray for rain in the afternoon so there’d be no practices. It became a job,” said Insinger. “When that happens in basketball, the door won’t hit me on the butt on the way out.”
Saturday’s banquet was hosted by the West Branch Valley Chapter of the Hall of Fame.
Other inductees besides Rooney, Sanders, Walton, and Bowes were Sheila Murphy, Wil Robinson, Gerald “Jerry” Conboy, Michael Payton, and Joe Egresitz. The three deceased members were Robert “Red” Worrell, Dick Harter and Sam Jethroe.
Bowes, the former Lock Haven High School and Penn State player, coached football at the University of New Hampshire for 27 years. His 175 wins are the most in Yankee Conference history and top 25 in FCS history. Bowes was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
Sanders, who played football at Cathedral Prep in Erie, played eight seasons in the NFL, was a two-time First Team All-Pro with the Indianapolis Colts and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
Rooney is the second son of Art Rooney Sr., the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rooney Jr. worked with the Steelers from 1961-87 and he oversaw the teams scouting department from 1966-87.
Murphy was a field hockey and softball coach at Neshaminy High School. She coached field hockey for 19 seasons, winning two state titles in 1983 and 1990 while compiling a record of 259-52-29 while her softball record is 140-63.
Robinson was a high school All-American at Laurel Highlands, leading the team to the 1968 state championship and finishing his career with 1,841 points. He attended West Virginia University and holds the highest scoring average in program history (29.4).
Conboy was a longtime basketball coach with stops at South Hills Catholic and Point Park College. At South Hills, he amassed a record of 203-46 with two state titles. Then at Point Park, he had 305 wins including 14 consecutive NAIA District 18 playoffs, 12 Championship wins, two district championships and three NAIA National Tournaments.
Payton was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015 as the former Marshall quarterback won the Walter Payton Award in 1992 and he was the first player to earn National Player of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year awards.
Egresitz played on two undefeated John Harris High School teams and was a key contributor on the Gettysburg College 1966 University Lambert Cup team.
Worrell was a first-team National High School All-America for football at Centerville High School and played one season before his untimely death at Penn State, which named its spring offensive award after him.
Harter played basketball at the University of Pennsylvania for three years and eventually became the head coach at Penn. He also coached at Penn State and Rider and went on to be Chuck Daly’s top assistant with the Detroit Pistons and he was the first coach of the Charlotte Hornets.
Jethroe was a center fielder in the Negro League and Major League Baseball. He was the fifth African-American in history to play in the major leagues and was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1950 with the Boston Braves.
The state hall began in 1963 with a class that included Connie Mack, Arnold Palmer, and Stan Musial.
Other inductees with area ties include Walter Levine (1974), Carl Stotz (1975), Tommy Richardson (1975), Carl DePasqua (1977), Hubert Jack (1977), Harold Stebbins (1981), Russell Houk (1982), Charles Blackburn (1983), John Egli (1993), Jack Losch (1993), Red Grange (1994), Thomas Vargo (1995), Harry Fry (1995), Ed Ott (1996), Frank Girardi (1998), Creighton Hale (1998), Ralph Baker (1999), Tom O’Malley (2002), Hal Spooner (2010), and Gray Simons (2015).