Ed Wilson                            Track Coach
Ed graduated from Jackson Milton High School. At that time they didn’t have a track team, only football. He played running back for the team that was one of the best in the
country, but had a desire to compete in track. On his own, he sent his registration in for the meets without a coach to train him. The coach they had seemed to have no desire to help the kids, and that became a driving force for his desire to become a coach.
He attended Bowling Green State University after high school but was soon drafted in the the Army. He married and started a family after serving in the Army and studied parttime
at YSU and Kent while working at Republic Steel. He found out about a local track meet and started taking his kids and some neighborhood kids to the meet. They also went to the Jessie Owens Meet and Junior Olympics summer meets. More kids started showing up and eventually they were called “Wilson’s Kids”. After moving to Austintown, they became the Austintown Community Track Club.
He was offered an assistant coaching job at Fitch by Coach Mike Garcia and worked with Coach Garcia for 17 years. He also became focused on coaching field events and went on to be the throws coach at YSU for 7 years. He served as the Men’s Chair for the Lake Erie Association of USA Track and Field. He has been coaching and officiating track and field for over 45 years. In 2011, he was selected as one of the coaches to take the Senior Youth Team to the World Championships in Lillie, France where they won the World Championship. He coached 23 State Champions, 7 All-Americans and 3 Olympians.
Ed continues to coach to this day. He still believes that if any kid comes to him
and wants to learn, he will teach them. He often said, ”Once you’re my kid, you are my
kid for life”.
Burt Stellers                                                           Basketball 1988
Burt Stellers is a 1988 graduate who was a two-year starter on the basketball team. Under the direction and guidance from Head Coach Tom Fender and Assistant Coaches Steve Wash and Gary Conroy, Burt led the 1987-88 team – along with teammates Tom Eynon, Kevin Gump, Ron Strollo, Brian Beany, Bill Brooks, and Jerry Bruff – to a Steel Valley Championship while earning All-SVC recognition his junior and senior seasons after
leading the league in assists both seasons. He earned All-Northeast Ohio honors while being selected the team’s Most Valuable Player as a senior. He was selected as the
Falcon’s Best Defensive Player and honored with Howard Gigee Award following his junior season.
Burt set two school records which still stand. They are the single-season record for assists with 169 and 3-point percentage in a season at 61.9%. He also shares another school record for assists in a game with 14. His career total of 332 assists places him second on the all-time career list. He averaged 15.8 ppg his senior year and his career free throw percentage of 78.3% is fifth in school history.
He continued his playing career at Washington & Jefferson College and Baldwin
Wallace University where he earned four varsity letters. Burt also had a very successful
high school head coaching career in which he led Lowellville and Liberty to District
Burt resides in Green Township with his children Jessica and Jacob. He is a principal in
the Wellsville Local School District.
William E. Crawford, Jr.                                            Football 1959
William E. Crawford, Jr. was born in Youngstown.Ohio to William B. and Nora C. Crawford. His passion for football started when he was very young. He started playing in the
Volney Rogers Youth League for many years. He attended South High School for his freshman and sophomore year and brought his talent to their team. His family moved to
Austintown in 1957 and he played football for Austintown Fitch High School and was an All-Steel Valley Guard. He graduated from Fitch in 1959. In 2009, his football team was
inducted into the Austintown Fitch Hall of Fame. Following High School graduation, Bill attended Ohio University where he intended to continue his passion for football. A medical hurdle prevented him from taking the field and he returned home. He then attended Youngstown State University and was a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity. It was at YSU where he met the love of his life, Carol Langley. They married on October 6, 1962. They had two (2) sons, William E. Crawford and Scott P. Crawford. Bill was a wonderful role model for his two sons and he taught them the importance of working hard and respecting others.
Although Bill had a true love for football and watched it whenever he had the
opportunity, he shifted his competitive talents and passion to golf. If you could golf, you
were a friend of Bill’s.
The only other thing that might have been above football and golf were Bill’s grandkids:
Joey, Scotty and Kara. His grandchildren were his “all-stars”.
Bill served in the United States Army from 1962 to 1965. Bill loved this country.
Following his Honorable Discharge from service, Bill worked at Youngstown Sheet and
Tube until 1966 when he started his career at General Motors in Lordstown. He worked
at GM until his retirement in 2000. He retired as a supervisor, but no job was ever beneath
Bill passed away on January 3, 2014. If he were here today, he would be saying that he
does not deserve this induction into the Hall of Fame as an individual because it takes a
team effort to be victorious.
Rebecca Whetson Essenmacher                          Basketball / Softball 1994
Becky Whetson Essenmacher, Fitch Class of 1994, played one year of JV basketball and four years, each, of volleyball and softball. In volleyball, she was a 3-year letter winner and earned All-Steel Valley in her Junior year. She was a member of the District Championship
team in 1990 and the District Runner-Up in 1992 and 1993.
She was a 4-year letter winner in softball and earned All-Steel Valley honors in both her Junior and Senior years. Team awards included “Best Defensive Player” and “The Coach’s Award.” The team was District Champions in 1992 and 1994. In 1993, the softball team
was the State Runner-Up, for which she was inducted, along with the team to the Austintown Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
Becky went on to play softball, briefly, at Ohio University, but she spent most of her college career enjoying intramural softball and volleyball. She graduated from Ohio University in 1998 with a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with a major in marketing and a minor in interpersonal communication. After graduation, she continued to play in volleyball leagues in the Cleveland area, where she currently resides with her husband, Mike, a daughter and a son. Her parents and two sisters are Fitch graduates.
Leo Hawkins                                         Football / Basketball / Track / Wrestling1987
Leo Hawkins graduated from Austintown Fitch High School in 1987. While attending Fitch High School, he lettered nine times in four sports. Three letters were awarded for football and three for track. The other four letters were awarded in basketball and wrestling. Leo was captain of his football, track, and wrestling teams. His sophomore year he broke the sophomore rushing record.
During the 1986 football season, he broke records for yards rushing during a game, a season, and a career. He was named All-State in both football and wrestling. During
Leo’s junior year, he was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of his track team. Leo was awarded All-State, All-Northeastern Ohio, and All-Steel Valley Conference
(SVC). He was also named MVP of the North/South All-Star game and of the Mahoning County All-Star game. In 1986, he played on the Steel Valley Conference
championship team.
After high school, Leo attended and graduated from Youngstown State University
(YSU) with a degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Marketing. While playing football
at YSU, he played on the first undefeated team in YSU history. He also was a member
of the Ohio Valley Conference championship team and the 1991 National Championship
team. After his career at YSU, Leo was invited to tryout for the Cleveland Browns,
Cincinnati Bengals, and Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League and the
Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. He is a
United States Army veteran and works as a licensed boat captain. Leo is married with
five children and resides in Austin, Texas.
Rich Kemp                                          Track / Cross Country / Coach 1973
Richard Kempe attended Fitch High school and was an athlete from 1969-1973. A varsity member of two State Champion Cross Country Teams (1971 and 1972), he placed in the top 26 both years (26th and 21st). He was All-Steel Valley Conference (SVC) in 1971 and 1972 and a 3-year letter winner in both Cross Country and Track and Feld. Rich was the school record holder in the 880-yard run (1973) and District champion in the mile (1973).
Rich attended Mount Union College (1973-1977) and was a varsity member of the NCAA
National Champions in 1974 (Division III). He was a Division III Cross Country All-American in 1975 and OAC (Ohio Athletic Conference) Cross Country
Individual Champion in 1975. He held the Cross Country school record (1975). In track, he was the OAC 5,000 meter champion (1977) and he placed 7th in the 5000 meters (1977) National Meet. He was All-Conference in both Cross Country and Track and Field. He held 12 varsity letters in Cross Country, Indoor Track and Outdoor Track. Rich was Team Captain of both the Cross Country and Track Teams.
After graduation, he returned to Austintown as a teacher and coached from 1977
to 2012. In Cross Country, he was Assistant Boys and Girls (1977-1988), Head Girls
(1989-2010), Head Boys Coach (1998-2011) and Boys and Girls Middle School Head
Coach (1984-1997). Fitch Girls won 9 consecutive Mahoning County titles, 9
consecutive Regional Qualifiers and, in 1996 placed 7th in the State finals. With Fitch
Girls and Boys, his teams had over 20 Regional and State individual qualifiers. He was
selected District Coach of the Year for Girls Cross Country and Mahoning Valley
Coaches Association Coach of the Year for both Boys and Girls Cross Country several
times. Rich coached Fitch Boys Track and Field to 7 Mahoning County titles and 4
conference championships in 3 different conferences (Steel Valley, Federal League and
All American). Those teams had over 120 wins and team championships and Rich was
Federal League Coach of the Year in 2011. He coached over 100 Austintown teams
from 1977-2012, including 10 years of Middle School basketball.
Rich is married to Sue and has 2 sons and a daughter, all Fitch graduates. He is
currently a teacher at Sarasota County Schools.
Basketball Team 1980
1980 BASKETBALL TEAM, FRONT ROW: Tom Bielawski, Dan Stryuffeler, Bob Tinky,
Dan Dankovich, Gary Barber, and Scott McClain. BACK ROW: Coach Al Fraso, Steve
Hamrock, John Malsch, Dave Grist, Pete Popovich, Dave Smith, Mike Miller, Coach Ken
Ekis, and Coach Rich Denamen. (NOT PICTURED: Freshman Coach Tom
Fender, Manager/Statistician Bob Gugliotti, and Manager William Bell.
Linda Snovak-Rice                             Cross Country/Track/Basketball 1976
Linda Slovak graduated from Fitch in 1976. She was the first girl in the history of Fitch to receive an athletic scholarship. Linda ran track and played basketball for 4 years, and golf, 2 years. In 1975 as a junior, she placed 4th in the mile at the first Ohio State Track Meet for girls, with a time of 5:26.5, and qualified and competed in the 1976 Ohio State Track meet. Her mile track record of 5:23.8, stood for 21 years at Fitch. She was the 1975 and 1976 Steel Valley Conference or the mile run, and MVP for track for, 1974-1975, and 1975-1976. She ran cross-country and summer track for Arrow Track Club and earned her
scholarship in cross-country to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.
Linda played basketball for 4 years and was on District Champs 1979/80 varsity for 3 years. She earned the “Best Defensive Player” award for 1975-1976, and
was co-captain for the 1974-1975, and 1975-1976 basketball seasons. She was 2nd
highest scorer for the first steel valley conference girls basketball victory over Boardman
in 1976. Fitch defeated Boardman for the first time in 11 years.
Linda attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale on a cross country
scholarship and ran cross country for 4 years and 3 years in track. She was consistently
the 2nd fastest runner on the SIU team her freshman and sophomore years. She ran
her first marathon December of 1976 at the White Rock Marathon in Dallas Texas,
placing 2nd for women with a time for the 26 miles 385 yards at 3:13.22 (3 hours, 13 min
and 22 seconds). She earned her Bachelor’s in Physiology from S.I.U. in 1981.
She attended Mayo Clinic School of Health Related Sciences, in Rochester,
Minnesota and earned her physical therapy degree in May of 1984. She has worked the
last 32 years as a physical therapist both as a staff physical therapist, a self-employed
P.T. and in management. She currently works for Lifespan Therapy in a skilled nursing
facility in Indiana. She lives in Fortville, Indiana with her husband Steve Rice. Their
four grown children live in the midwest.
Wade Young, Jr.                               Baseball / Basketball 1952
Wade Young was born in Austintown in 1934. He lettered 2 years in baseball and 3 years in basketball during his high school career. He graduated in 1952 from Fitch after being named as the first Falcon on the first all-Steel Valley team in basketball and winning the
Paul Cline trophy for the outstanding student-athlete of 1952. After high school,  Wade was a consistent standout in the class B and AA leagues in Youngstown as a pitcher (mostly for Cherol Motors and Lowellville Falcon Foundry). He was signed to a minor league baseball contract by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1956 and sent to
their minor league club in Dublin, Georgia. Wade was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1958 and was sent to Germany where he played on the 7th Corps Championship Basketball team which went undefeated in 1958. He also played and managed the Straubing Black
Horses for the U.S. Army during 1958 and 1959 and coached a German high school basketball team in Straubing through an interpreter in order to build goodwill for the U.S. Military efforts.
Mr. Young is retired and resides in Canfield Ohio. His son Wade, daughter-in-law
Carol, and grand-children Andre and Bethany live in Twinsburg, Ohio.
Don Hernan                                   Wrestling 1974
In 1969 Don Hernan was the fourth string wingback on the Austintown Fitch freshman football team. One month later he found himself in the starting lineup at 98 lbs for the varsity wrestling team. By the end of that season he became the first freshman ever to win the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League Tournament.
Although Don came from a very athletic family he was not gifted with good speed, strength or size. What he lacked in physical talent he made up with hard work and
dedication. He and his work out partner (Mike Hardy) spent more time training during the off season than any of his team mates. They traveled great distances to compete against the best that they could find. He was a true student of the sport and developed a great
repertoire of wrestling techniques. Don developed a combination of finesse and flare that was very entertaining to watch. He was very influential in sharing his wrestling knowledge with his team mates.
Don was a four-time varsity wrestling letter winner. His career is highlighted with
being the first three-time Eastern Ohio Wrestling League Champion. He also won two
Steel Valley Conference Championships, and a sectional championship. During the off-season Don was a member of the USA team that competed against a team ofall-starss
from Russia. Don wrestled in the United States Wrestling Federation Ohio state
tournament finals and represented our state at their national tournament in Ames, Iowa.
Don Hernan and Tom Kingsley were team co-captains of the 1973-74. That team
was the first to win both the EOWL dual meet team championship and team tournament
championship. It was also the first team ever to win a sectional title.
Don continued his wrestling career at Youngstown State University where he
became a four time qualifier to the NCAA national championship tournament. He
enjoyed great success competing with and beating many national champions and
ranked athletes. He won or placed in many major college tournaments. In 1976, Don
won the Eastern Regional Olympic trials and went on to compete at the National
Olympic Trials in Cleveland, Ohio. He served as captain of the YSU wrestling team and
is now a member of the YSU hall of fame.
Later Don went on to a successful career coaching wrestling, football and track in
Texas and Ohio. He was instrumental in starting the football program at Youngstown
Christian School. He was helpful in developing many of our area’s wrestlers for national
competition. He then became a wrestling official and refereed fifteen national
championship wrestling tournaments including the US open.
Don was married to the late Susan Bradley. Between them they have two
children (Jeremy and Matthew) and three grandchildren.
Tom Hernan                                          Wrestling / Football 1972
Tom Hernan is a 1972 graduate of Austintown Fitch High School and a member of its initial wrestling team in 1968.
After his sophomore season he was the school’s first Leading Scorer, M.V.P, and B.A.G.B.U award winner. He had a Dual Meet record of 39-2-2 over three years. He
was Sectional Runner-up 1970, Sectional Champion 1971 and was a three time E.O.W.L. Runner-up. He was also a two year letterman in football for the Fitch Falcons under coaches Jim D’Eramo (1970) and Bob Price (1971). Tom was inducted into the National Honor Society in 1971.
After graduation Tom continued his wrestling as a varsity letterman at Kent State. He completed his wrestling at Youngstown State where he was captain and National Qualifier in 1975-76 seasons. Tom served as an assistant coach under Phil Resch
in 1974-75 and 1976-77 seasons that included Austintown Fitch H.O.F. members Mike Trgovac, Dave Gavalier, Dane Stilgenbauer and Rex Luckage.
In the early 1990’s he returned to coaching in Ohio. He spent one year as
assistant varsity football coach under Dave Hartman. During this time he started the
Ohio Youth Wrestling League at Austintown and served as its director for 3 years. Tom
has been teaching Mathematics at Madison High School. He continued coaching
football and wrestling and was named P.A.C. Wrestling Coach of the Year in 2005 and
Tom has been married since 1975 to his wife Paula (Pino), (1974 Fitch graduate). They
have two sons Jason and Joe, both were excellent wrestlers for Madison. Jason was a
1995 Josh Hephner Memorial Tournament Champion and Joe 1999 Ironman Champion
among their list of accomplishments. Tom and Paula also have three grandchildren.
Jarred, Peighton and Rory.
Baseball Team 1977
1977 BASEBALL TEAM, FRONT ROW: Joe King, Tim Pistone, Mike Narducci, Dan
Furlong, Mike Mazzone, and Jim Ruble. SECOND ROW: Jim Anthony, Mike McHenry,
Bob Jones, Jim Winterburn, Keith Hood, Dan Rohan, and Mark Ellis. BACK ROW:
Coach Richard Coppola, Mike Basista, Chip Furlong, Frank Gonzales, Al Gonzales,
Steve Corbett, Larry Wolf, and Dave Stryffeler. (NOT PICTURED: Assistant Coach
Robert Lahoski, Assistant Coach John Rorick, Manager Fred Michael, and Manager/
Statistician Bob Gugliotti.)
Ralph Iagulli                                     Football / Basketball 1939
Ralph earned three varsity letters in football and basketball. He was a co-captain of the first Championship football team at Fitch winning the Trumbull, Mahoning and
Columbiana League Title in 1938. In 1938-1939 his successful athletic career allowed him to win the P.O. Cline MVP athletic award at Fitch High School. On the gridiron,
he played both offense and defense and was recognized as the team’s leading tackler. On the offensive side, as a receiver, he was near perfection with missing only one pass for the entire season. Some of his proudest moments included playing football beside his brother Mark for 2 years. On the basketball court, the overall record while he played was 35-18 and he was the first sophomore to play varsity.
In his adult life he was a charter member, devoted volunteer and President of
The Touchdown Club. He lobbied successfully for the Senior Citizen pass for athletic
events and he was a football season ticket holder from 1966-2010. Even when the
stadium was expanded to the larger “home side” he refused to leave his original seat
and every Friday he would be one of the few Falcons sitting in the middle of the visiting
team’s fans. He also volunteered as a track official and, during basketball season, in the
concession stand. Ralph and his wife, Margie Chepke Iagulli, raised their children, Tom,
Pat, Bill and Margie to become successful athletes and outstanding coaches. His love
for participating and spectating Falcon sports was evident to all that knew him. He was
very proud to have been an Austintown Fitch Falcon athlete, graduate, and lifetime
resident. Ralph is remembered by so many as a Falcon Forever.
Ken Riefler                                               Football / Track 1976
Ken Riefler is a proud 1976 graduate of Austintown Fitch High School. He lettered in football in 1974 and 1975 and track in 1974, 75 and 76. He believes that many great team
mates deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Ken considers himself to be ok at football but the sport he truly loves is track and field. He was lucky enough to have great coaches like Mike Garcia, Ralph Roberts, John Thompson, Dick Hura and Jim Patti – to name a few. His accolades in track include: MVP in 1975 and 76; holder of records in the 100
and 220-yard dashes and the 880 yard relay (a record that held for over 30 years with relay members Mike Korda, Paul Markovsky, and Joe Koch); and participation in the
1976 State Track Meet along with the aforementioned 880-yard relay team. He thanks his brother Stan (class of 1971) for teaching me drive and determination.
He retired in 2011 after a 30 year career with General Motors and lives in Naples, Florida. GM gave him and his family opportunities to live in several states including Ohio, California and Indiana. He consults in the area of manufacturing management. He and his wife, Kathy have three great kids – all born in Youngstown, but now living in Indiana. His mother, Adeline Riefler, still lives in Austintown and, at the age of 88, is his source of inspiration.