Ralph Roberts Football / Track 1959
Ralph was born in Youngstown and moved to Austintown in 1950. He enrolled in Austintown Schools and was involved for the next 46 years as a student, athlete,
teacher, and coach.
He was a three-year letterman in Track, running the 100 and 200-yard dashes, a member of the 800-yard relay, and pole vaulted under the leadership of Coach Cecil Duffett. He was a two-year letterman in Football playing fullback and linebacker.
He was a member of the first Falcon Team to win the Steel Valley Conference Championship in 1958. He was named to the Second Team All-SVC in his senior year. Ralph is honored to join two other members of the backfield (Jim Pontuti and
Bill Martin) in the Austintown Hall of Fame. He will always remember the great influence
of his coaches: Frank Harbol, Bo Valot, Bob Roth, Bob Burns, Ace Federovich, and Mike Garcia.
Upon graduating from Fitch, Ralph attended Mount Union College where he excelled in football. He started every game from his freshman hear through his senior year – breaking man records including, total career yardage (7th now), punt return yardage (still 1st), and kickoff return yardage (still 1st). As a senior, Ralph was named First All-Ohio Conference, 3rd Team Division 3 All-American, and First Team Methodist All-American. In 1968, Ralph was inducted into Mount Union College Hall of Fame.
After graduation from Mount Union, Ralph taught math at Fitch High for the next
33 years. In addition to teaching, he coached football from 1963 to 1980, but his true
love became track where head coach Mike Garcia and Ralph build a track dynasty from
1968 to 1991. In 1992, Ralph became head coach and continued the Austintown Fitch
track tradition until he retired in 1996. He officiated football, basketball, and volleyball.
He was selected to officiate high school state playoff games in football and basketball.
and he ran the major track meets at Fitch until his retirement.
Ralph has been married to his wife, Rita, for 48 years and has three children.
Gary Miller Football 1968
Gary first played football at the age of 8 with the West Side Colts, and he is a member of the West Colts Hall of Fame. During his junior and senior years at Fitch, he was
recognized by the All-Steel Valley Conference for offense and defense and was chosen as Defensive Captain by Headhunter, five times. Gary attended Youngstown State
University and played football for two years under Coach Dike Beede.
Football was his first love, but other interests included track, concert choir, and acting in the school plays. Gary learned to fly planes and received his pilot’s license while
still in high school.
While attending YSU, he was drafted and served in Vietnam. He was with the 74th Recon Airplane Company in Phu Loi, and he received two combat Air Medals for 50 combat missions. After returning from Vietnam, he bicycled through Europe on route to the 1972 Olympics.
He has been married to his wife, Jean since 1982 when he moved to California.
He was employed in the elevator business for 21 years. Then he transferred to State
Elevator Inspector for 14 years and is now retired.
Ed Kohl Baseball / Football 1975
Ed was born and raised in Austintown. His brothers, Ron and Gary, are Austintown Athletic Hall of Fame inductees. He played for the West Side Colts in 1969 under
Wally Ford, Sr. At Austintown Middle School, in 8th grade, he played both basketball and football under Jerry Raupach.
While at Fitch, he played as a Freshman and ran a 99-yard punt return. In the 1973 season, he started as a Falcon back in 1974 he was named All-Steel Valley Defensive Back. In his Senior year, he was named Co-Captain. He had 16 tackles
against Warren Western Reserve in his Junior year and scored a defensive touchdown in both his Junior and Senior years – each over 55 yards. Ed also played basketball in his
Freshman and Sophomore years.
He played Falcon baseball for four years, lettering for three. He was All-Steel Valley Conference Catcher in both his Junior and Senior years. In 1973, he was the first
Falcon lead-off batter at the new Fitch Field; now named Coppola Field, in honor of
Coach Rich Coppola. In his Junior year (1974), the Falcons were District Champs for
the first time, and Ed hit 7 triples (still a record).
After his Senior year, he was awarded a scholarship to Youngstown State University where he played with his brother, Ron, under Coach Dom Rosselli. Starting as catcher both his Freshman and Sophomore years, he caught for 6 pitchers including
Boardman’s Dave Dravecky (Pirates/Giants/Padres).
Ed played local Youngstown Class B and Class AA Baseball. On 1978 he won
the Class AA Batting Title with a .490 average, and he stole 33 bases (still a record). He
played in the Youngstown AA League from 1976 through 1984. In 1980 he hit for the
Cycle in AA.
Today he works as a Journeyman Carpenter in the Youngstown Area, is married
to his wife Pam, and has four children.
Jenni Grossi Lassonde Golf 1999
Jenni’s parents, John and Cathy Maiorana Grossi are Fitch graduates. Her father introduced her to golf when she was seven. The family’s love for golf began with Jenni’s
grandfather whose motto was, It’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive.”
Jenni began playing golf at the Mill Creek Park Par-3 course in the Saturday morning Junior League. As a preteen, she played at various local courses and in the
Cleveland area in the North Coast Junior Tour. Together, she and her dad won a few father-child scrambles. She often practiced in open fields near Fitch, and she received
instruction from teaching professional, Ted Ossoff, Jr.
Jennie lettered four years on the Fitch golf team which qualified for the state tournament in three of those four years. As a freshman, she qualified for 2nd Team All-State honors, placing 9th. She placed in the top 13 the next two years and missed qualifying by one stroke as a senior. She was named “Student-Athlete of the Week, by Channel 33 and also made the All-Steel Valley Conference Team for four seasons. Coach Dominic Vechiarelli played a leading role in her success.
Jenni was a member of the dance line, speech team. National Honor Society, was a class officer, and valedictorian. She earned a B.S. Degree in Biology at Youngstown State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2003. She played on the traveling team for the Penguins throughout her college career. The YSU team won their first Horizon League Women’s Golf title in 2003. Jenni placed third overall. Jenni received a Master of Occupational Therapy degree from the Medical College of Ohio in 2005. She has worked at St. ElizabethHospital, The Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, and she currently works for the Mahoning County Educational Service Center. She and her husband, Paul, have a son.
Jim Calhoun Football 1974
Jim Calhoun began playing football at the age of ten with the Austintown Wildcats, and then, when they became the Austintown Little Falcons, he played at the ages of 12 and
13. At Fitch, he played guard and sometimes linebacker. In his senior year, he was named to the All-Steel Valley Conference First Team at guard. He was the only Fitch player to make the 1st team that year. Seven players made the 2nd team, however. He graded out at 92% against Canton Glen Oak.
Jim went on to play at West Liberty State College where he started at guard in his freshman and sophomore years. He earned Honorable Mention at guard. In his junior
year, he was moved to the linebacker position and went on to lead the conference in tackles, averaging over 16 stops per game. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in his senior year. Jim received Honorable Mention All-American and was awarded the Dapper Dan Award for the Defensive Player of the Year.
After college, he played semi-pro football for the Youngstown Hard Hats for one
year. He continued to play football into his 40’s with the Youngstown Touch Football
League and Jim also played softball. In 1992, he was named Play of the Year in both
Jim is the oldest of four. His three brothers are Fitch graduates. He and his wife,
Barbara, reside in Boardman. They have one son. Jim worked in the steel industry for
34 years until its closing in 2012.
Girls Bowling Team 2003
GIRLS 2003 BOWLING TEAM, FRONT ROW: Shannon Hannis, Grace Sciarra, and
Angela Protain. MIDDLE ROW: Brenda Bungard, Stacey; Miller, Andrea Lucente, and
Staci Balkan. BACK ROW: Coaches Bob Lucente and Teri Heafke.
Boys Bowling Team 2002
BOYS BOWLING TEAM 2002, FRONT ROW: Greg Heaven, Josh Schall, Dan Clips,
and Josh Solomon. MIDDLE ROW: Greyson Nolder, Pat Reed, Tony Balkan, and Tom
Kloss. BACK ROW: Coaches Bob Ozias and Bruce Boyd.
Boys Bowling Team 2003
BOYS BOWLING TEAM 2003, FRONT ROW: Josh Schall, Gary Lapushansky, Dan
Clips, and Tony Balkan. BACK ROW: Coach Bruce Boyd, Greyson Nolder, Pat Reed,
Josh Solomon, Tom Kloss, and Coach Art Bergquist.
Joe Hammond Track 1974
Joe Hammond was a passionate athlete his younger years and, later, a passionate coach. He had a great balance of skill and ability to guide others. He’s main concern was for the overall development of the athletes whom he coached, modeling and encouraging the respectful and self-empowered behavior.
He continued to compete in the Senior’s Division until the last year of his life. Despite a terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, he was on the field coaching during the last month of his life. He was truly dedicated.
He was honored by the Coaching Federation for his extensive contribution to, not only Fitch athletes, but those at Boardman and Canfield High Schools. He was
competitive, but more important to him, was providing the opportunity to teach pole
vaulting to anyone who displayed an interest. Never showing a preference for any of his
athletes, he demonstrated fairness in his coaching. He led many athletes to state-level
successes. He was so proud when some earned scholarships to prominent colleges for
their pole vault skills.
Joe was caring and supportive on and off the field. A loving husband, father, and friend to many. His legacy is the kindness and love he showed to all people who crossed his path. His family deeply appreciates this Hall of Fame honor.
Dan Smolak Football / Track 1972
Dan graduated from Fitch in 1972 and was a member of the Track and Football teams. During his senior year, Dan set four records in track: the 12 yard high hurdles
(14.6), the 180 yard low hurdles (19.8), the high jump (6’5 1/2”), and the shuttle hurdle relay (59.9). He also amassed a record 325 points during that year and was voted track
MVP., Fitch MVP (All Sports), and Most Outstanding Athlete (All Sports). He received the H.J. Ludt Personal Achievement Trophy. Dan played football in his senior year and, in his first game, he intercepted two passes.
After graduation, he went to Mount Union College and was twice Ohio AthleticConference High Jump Champion.
Dan played in the Youngstown Touch Football League for 12 years and was a member of two undefeated squads (Jackets Lounge). He also played rugby for 11 years for the Youngstown Rugby Club. He was twice on their 7’s Team that won the Ohio Championship.
Dan is a 35-year member of Laborer’s Local 125 from which he retired at the end
of 2003. His last 20 years there, he was s Supervisor for Marci and Gaffney, Inc. He now works for Thomas Fok and Associates as a consultant. A life-long Austintown resident, Dan and his wife, Karen, have a son who is a Fitch graduate.
Joe Mastro Golf 1973
Joseph A. Mastro, a 1973 Austintown Fitch graduate, was passionate about baseball and golf at a very early age. From the backyards of Norquest Boulevard and playgrounds of
IHM, to the community fields of Libbee and Russell, his athletic talents grew as a pitcher for Holly Beverage Co., leading his team to district and regional playoffs. He started
swinging a golf club at four; and, at 15, he won the division crown at the Prestwick Course in Cortland. As a champion of the 15-year-old group, he scored 73-70-143 over the Mahoning Country Club Course. He tied Hubbard’s great senior, Al Tribby, with a two-over par 73 in the Class AAA Sectional Tournament. At 17, Joe led the field to qualify for
the National Public Links at Candywood. He rallied to win the Class “A” Championship at the Henry Stambaugh Park and Recreation District Junior Golf Match Play Tournament.
At Fitch, Mastro was named the coaches’ “Athlete of the Week.” His winning led
to the “All-Steel Valley Conference Team” status for the sophomore, junior, and senior
seasons. He had a 37.1 average as a junior and was ranked in the top 15 among Ohio
Joe attended Youngstown State University, worked at General Fireproofing, and then joined Polaris Technologies where he remains employed. He continues to reside in
Ken Baker Football / Track 1963
The track team, led by Coach Jim D’Eramo in the spring of ’62, was the first to
win the Steel Valley Conference title.Ken, as a junior, won both the shot put and discus
throws, setting a new mark in the shot put for the SVC meet as well as capturing the
record for Austintown Fitch High School. Also, in the spring of 1962, Bob Winterburn
became the football coach. That fall, the Falcons defeated Hubbard 34-8 while playing on
the Eagle’s field. Fitch completed their season with 7 wins and 2 losses with the Hubbard game seen as the turning point. After that victory, the 6 games were Falcon wins. Fitch
and Hubbard shared the Steel Valley Championship. Ken was Co-Captain of the team holding the positions of an offensive and defensive end, and long snapper. Fitch then
landed six of eleven first team players, including Ken, on the All-Steel Valley Conference Team. Ken was recruited by the University of Toledo, and he played defensive end during his freshman year.
In the spring of ’63, Austintown Fitch continued to be strong in track and field. In the 51st Annual Mahoning County Meet, Ken won both shot and discus, setting a new mark in the shot put. Fitch also retained the SVC track title with Ken repeating his previous ear’s performance by winning both the discus and shot put. Ken broke his own shot put record.
At the close of his senior yer, Ken was awarded the P.O.Cline Trophy, given to
the outstanding athlete.During this same period, Ken earned recognition for his four
straight years of perfect attendance and earned his Eagle Scout rank.
Ken and his wife, Catherine, have two children and five grandchildren. He
worked for forty years as a tool and die maker/supervisor with the Steel City Corporation
in Austintown. Currently, he is employed at Ajax/Tocco in Warren.
Bethany Benyo Carlson Gymnastics 1991
Bethany Benyo Carlson is a 1991 Austintown Fitch graduate. Her parents and brothers are all Fitch Alumni. Her gymnastic career began at the age of five when she was
selected to join the competitive training team at Youngstown Gymnastics Center. Between the ages of 5 to 13, Bethany was on the competitive team and qualified for many state
and national competitions. She was selected to the National Junior Elite Training Team; and, at the age of 12, Bethany represented Ohio in the National AAU Junior Olympics.
In 1987, Bethany joined the Falcon Gymnastic Team.
The chance to be part of a team and represent her school was an exciting experience She was a 4-year varsity letter winner, 4-year state qualifier, and a 3-year nominee to the
District Ohio Team. She was one of the first girls to qualify for the District Team and compete at the state level as a freshman. She competed in All-Around and placed on the podium for several events. In her senior year, she was one of four selected to represent Ohio in the National High School Gymnastic Competition.
She was offered an athletic scholarship to Bowling Green State University. She
competed for two years – specializing on the uneven bars and vault. She represented
BGSU at the Mid-American Conference Championships both years. Due to an increase
in career-ending injuries, she chose to return home and finish her degree at Youngstown State University.
Bethany went on to teach and begin her administrative career in the Columbus
City Schools from 1997 to 2007. While there, she attended Ohio State University and
Ashland University receiving a Masters in School Administration.
Dick Kenney Athletic Director / Football 1971
Dick is a 1971 Austintown Fitch graduate. His athletic career began as a member of the “undefeated, untied, and unscored upon” Freshman Football Team. A highlight of his
high school career was being selected to the All-Steel Valley Conference Football 1st Teams a Middle Guard. Most important, however, were the continuing friendships that
He went on to attend Kent State University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in mathematics. Dick also played on the KSU rugby team for
four years winning the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship in his senior year. During 29 years of service at Fitch, dick served a mathematics teacher, football and
wrestling coach, assistant athletic director, and athletic director from 1989 to 2005. He
also continued his education earning two masters degrees: Master Teacher in Mathematics from Youngstown State University and Sports Administration from KSU.
As Athletic Director, Dick was responsible for the administration of seventy high
school and middle school teams. Duties ranged from personnel supervision to site
preparation He is proud of the Austintown Fitch Athletic Department’s reputation of
having outstanding coaches, producing quality student-athletes and teams, and a facility
second to none. Under his direction, many league and Ohio High School Athletic
Association contests and tournaments were held at Fitch. In addition, state recognized
local events such as the Hephner Memorial Wrestling Tournament and the Optimist
Track and Field Meet highlighted each year.
Since retirement, Dick has worked as a Parking Coordinator for Motorcycle, “Bike
Nights” at Quaker Steak and Lube and has played a stand-in stand double in a movie.
He also worked part-time in Event Security for the Corelli Centre. A Certified
Performance Enhancement Specialist, he was employed as a personal trainer for
Creekside Health and Fitness Center in Boardman. Dick is a member of the Eastern
Ohio Wrestling League (EOWL) Hall of Fame and is a 2013 inductee into the Ohio
Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (OIAAA) Hall of Fame. Dick has three
daughters and two step-children. He and his wife, Lori, live in Stuart, Florida.