The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


April 8, 2013

Hall of Famers deeply appreciative

CONNEAUT — The game of basketball has changed drastically from the 1980s, let alone from 1944 when Ashtabula County Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Carl Stokes was beginning his career at Deming.

“From the early ’80s, the game has changed,” inductee and St. John graduate Marianne Meola said in addressing the crowd at the 2013 ACBF Awards Dinner at the Conneaut Human Resource Center. “For a perimeter player, with the 3-point line, I would have had a higher scoring average. The shorts were short, they’re longer now.

“But the fundamentals of the game and the life lessons haven’t changed.”

Meola, who was one of the leaders of the “Davey’s Angels” teams under Dave Fowler, still uses those life lessons in her career as a district business administration vice president for banks in Florida.

“Those life lessons include the values of teamwork, respect and leadership,” she said. “Teamwork — I wouldn’t be here without those ‘Davey’s Angels’ teammates. What a year we had.

“Leadership — as a senior point guard (in 1981), I had to step up and be a leader. I had a great coach to learn from. Dave wouldn’t have called us angels. He taught us how to play hard and work.”

Inductee John Higgins, who spent 32 years as a coach before retiring, made a point of trying to teach those aspects to his athletes.

“As coaches, we stressed balance, teamwork and defense,” Higgins said in his speech. “We emphasized rebounds, assists, team steals and points — what we called team points.

“It was important to develop our athletes as players. It was more important to prepare them for life.”

Higgins went on to tell about a recent conversation he’d had with a Lakeside graduate. He had talked about how the game is more of a one-on-one game.

“He was playing with some older guys and he said, ‘the old guys play a different game,’” Higgins said. “The athletes have improved, but the game is suffering.”

There are, however, young players who still adhere to the values Meola learned as a player and Higgins had taught as a coach.

“Teamwork is the most important part of basketball,” ACBF Girls Player of the Year Natalie Thomas of Geneva said. “You can’t do anything unless the team is working together. It’s not about one single person. It’s all about the team.”

“I think basketball was a way for me to develop as a person,” Angie Zappitelli of Conneaut said. “I think it helped me mature more as a person than any other sport.”

“My goal in high school was to be a team player,” ACBF Boys Co-Player of the Year Tim Cross of Pymatuning Valley said. “(Being Co-Player of the Year) was a team accomplishment, not an individual accomplishment.

“My teammates created so many shots for me over the years. I just tried to do what it took to win. My teammates did a great job of helping me to do that.”

Carl McIlwain made a point to specifically address the young players in the crowd.

“I’d like to say to you younger people in the crowd working on making memories, practice, playhard, have fun and enjoy the game,” he said.

The overwhelming message delivered by the inductees, however, was one of thanks.

“I want to thank my coaches and teammates,” Kelly (Hitchcock) Emerine said, as she began to get tearful. “Most of all, I want to thank my parents.”

“It’s an honor to be recognized and remembered,” Tiffany Leonard said. “My parents were always there to support me.”    

The love of their sport was also conveyed.

“Though, I haven’t dribbled a ball in a lot of years, I still enjoy the game,” Meola said.

“Those were the best years of my life,” ACBF director Paul Stofan relayed in a message from Steve Hanek, who was unable to attend. “I loved basketball with a passion.”

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

Text Only
  • run VanHoy racing on

    Geneva track star Hailey VanHoy had a near unbelievable run of success during her final months running for the Eagles.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Danielle Zip-ing along

    Just minutes after Geneva’s Danielle Nicholson holed out on the 18th green at the Gray Course at Ohio State University during her freshman year to win the 2011 Division I state championship, the recruitment process of where she would go to college began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maruna headed for Mount

    LeeAnn Maruna never really expected to play collegiate golf. She was so taken aback when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t know how to respond. After all, the Grand Valley graduate had only been playing the game for a few years.

    July 23, 2014

  • Crate Late Models featured

    The Evergreen Lake Park Campground Crate Late Models, the premier class at Raceway 7, will be featured Friday night as they race for $1,000 to win.

    July 23, 2014

  • Norm He’s the Norm

    In the early part of the 20th century, as golf was taking off in popularity, it was not uncommon for boys to take up the game after becoming caddies.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don A Don McCormack column: The journey is what’s most important

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard over and over and over how it’s been a half-century since one of Cleveland’s big three professional sports teams have won a championship.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Murdick wins as Big Block Modifieds return

    The BRP Big Block Modifed Tour returned to Raceway 7 with 21 of the region’s fastest Modifieds turning out for the scheduled 35-lap event, the first for the Modifieds at the northeast Ohio speedplant since 2005, an event won by Todd Burley.

    July 21, 2014

  • Dale Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Chances for controlled waterfowl hunting

    Waterfowl hunters are invited to participate in special drawings for controlled hunting opportunities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. The drawing dates and times are as follows:

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingsville gets it done

    In a rematch of a previous softball clash between the Kingsville 9-10-year-olds and those from Conneaut, Kingsville had settled thing quickly and decisively in a mercy-rule triumph.

    July 20, 2014

  • TD Club golf A Chris Larick column: TD Club hopes to score

    Though its life was never seriously threatened, the Ashtabula County Touchdown Club has suffered in recent years.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

Little League All-Stars July 1 to 12
AP NASCAR Lastest News
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
AP Auto Racing Photos
West Side Shootout 2014
Ashtabula County at State Track Meet
Jefferson vs Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Regional Softball
District Track 2014
Jefferson District Softball Tournament
Bob Walters 50 Years
Geneva vs Perry Division II District Semifinal
Sports Week in Review May 12 to May 17
Sports Week in Review May 5 to May 10 2014
Sports Week in Review April 28 to May 3
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video