Athletic Hall of Fame 2004

Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2004

Seated from left to right: Matt Thiry, Darrin Chapin, Jackie Beavers, Bill Thorne and Rand Gradishar. Standing from left to right: Renea Ackerman, Craig Kuszmaul, Andrea Kyser and Tracy Lynn Dawson. Jack Christein, Ray Sweeney, Jr. and Ward Vesey not pictured.


Renea Ackerman

Renea was the girls varsity basketball coach for twenty-one years with an outstanding record of 383 wins and 87 losses. Her teams garnered many honors including fifteen league championships, eight regional appearances, four regional finals and one state semi-final. She was the Trumbull County Coach of the year for a record eight times. In 1999 Renea was named the All Ohio Coach of the Year. The Tribune-Chronicle honored her by naming her the Coach of the Century. She will be inducted into the Warren Hall of Fame this October as the first female member. After thirty years in education, Renea retired from Champion Schools. Her promotion of Champion Athletics and positive influence on the students of Champion is second to none. She resides in Champion with her husband, Ed, and daughter, Amber Jo.

Renea is being presented tonight by long-time friend and coach, Channing Jackson.


Jackie Beavers

Jackie is a 1995 graduate of Champion High School. As a high school athlete Jackie lettered all 4 years in both softball and basketball. She holds all the Champion softball pitching records. Her many high school honors include First Team All-Ohio her sophomore, junior, and senior years. As a junior and senior she was named a High School All-American. In her junior year the softball team won the state softball championship. During her high school career Jackie pitched 22 no hitters and pitched 221 innings without giving up an earned run. In basketball Jackie scored over 900 points in her career and received All-Ohio Honorable Mention her senior year. Jackie received a full athletic scholarship to the University of Tennessee. She is currently an assistant varsity softball coach and pitching coach for the University at Buffalo in New York.

Jackie is being presented tonight by her father, Ed Beavers.

Darrin Chapin

Darrin is a 1984 graduate of Champion High School. As a high school athlete, Darrin lettered three years in both football and basketball. He was an outstanding quarterback for the Flashes football team and still holds the single game passing record of 279 yards. Darrin was the point guard for the high school basketball team where he average 11 points and 7 assists per game. He lettered all four years in baseball. As a high school baseball pitcher, Darrin led his team to three league championships. He received All-Ohio honors in baseball his senior year. Darrin was drafted into New York Yankees major league baseball organization and advanced steadily through the Yankees farm system and was a solid AAA relief pitcher for half a decade. He pitched three games for the New York Yankees in 1991 and one game with the Philadephia Phillies in 1992. Darrin lives in Warren with his wife, Liz, and five children, Justin, Ryan, Tyler, Zachary, and Nadia.



Jack Christein

Jack Christein graduated from Champion Schools in 1943. During his high school career he lettered all four years in basketball, baseball, and track. In 1942 Jack set a school record by scoring 40 points in a single game. He held this record for 58 years. He was selected for All-Ohio basketball honors his sophomore year. After high school, Jack continued playing basketball for Youngstown State University. His love of athletics, especially basketball, continued throughout his lifetime. He was a dedicated athlete and coach. From 1950 to 1960 he was both the Boys Varsity Basketball Assistant Coach and the Boys JV Coach. He also coached high school baseball, softball, track, and golf. From 1980 to 1990 he was the coach of the junior high girls basketball team and guided his players through three undefeated seasons. As Champions Junior High School Principal, he dedicated his life to helping young men and women achieve their personal goals. Jack was a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and veteran of World War II. He is survived by his wife, Jane, and four children, Joann, John Paul, Julie, and Jill.

Jack is being presented tonight by his brother, Dave Christein. His wife, Jane, is accepting the honor for her late husband.

Randy Gradishar

Randy is a 1970 graduate of Champion High School. During his high school athletic career, Randy lettered all three years in both football and basketball. In basketball he was the leading rebounder for three years and the second leading scorer for two years, receiving All-League and All-County honors. Randy still holds the high school records for most blocked shots (44), single game rebounds (26), and most career rebounds (817). As a high school football player, Randy received many honors including All-League, All-County, and the Star Helmet Award. Randy continued his football career as a member of The Ohio State University football team, coached by the legendary Woody Hayes who said, Randy was the best defensive player I ever coached at Ohio State. He was inducted into the Ohio State Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. As an inside middle linebacker for the Denver Broncos, Randy earned seven Pro Bowl appearances and was First-Team All-Pro five times and Defensive Player of the Year, 1978. Randy led the famous Orange Crush defense to Super Bowl XII in 1977. He is ranked as the Broncos all-time leader in tackles with 2,049. He was inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 1989. Randy has always been involved with various community projects and activities. He is currently Corporate Communications Director of the Phil Long Dealerships in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Also, Randy is President of the Phil Long Community Fund. In May of this year Randy and several NFL coaches went to Baghdad and Kuwait visiting our US military troops; encouraging them and congratulating them for all they are doing to promote freedom and peace in the Middle East. Randy and his wife, Beth, live in Littleton, Colorado. He has three grown children; Paige, Meredith, and Mark.

Randy is being presented by his former high school football coach, Al Carrino.

Craig Kuszmaul

Craig is a 1971 graduate of Champion High School. As a high school athlete, Craig lettered in track two years and in basketball three years. Craig still holds the high school record for most points in a single season at 577 points (senior year). During Craigs senior year the basketball team coached by Roger Rogos was the State Runner-up in AA(1971). Craig received 2nd Team All-Ohio honors and earned a four year basketball scholarship to North Carolina State. N.C. State won the ACC Championships in 1973 and 1974. In 1974 N.C. State went on to win the NCAA Tournament against Marquette. Craig has taught Industrial Arts/Vocational Education for the past 29 years and currently resides in Smithfield, North Carolina with his wife, Becky, and and their three children, Whitney, Hunter, and Benton.

Craig is being presented by his sister, Lisa Kuszmaul Aldridge.

Andrea Kyser McLane

Andrea is a 1986 graduate of Champion High School. Andrea lettered three years in softball and volleyball and four years in basketball. Andrea holds several school records including most season rebounds (399) and the total career points scored, (1977). During her senior year she was named First Team All-Ohio. She received the honor of being Trumbull Countys leading scorer for three years in a row. In December, 1999, Andrea was named the Tribune Chronicle Trumbull County Girls Basketball Player of the Century. As a member of the Flashes Basketball team under Coach Renea Ackerman, Andrea played in three consecutive regional playoffs. After high school, Andrea received a basketball scholarship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She later graduated from The Ohio State University and is currently employed by the accounting firm of Sheridan, Barton, Vasko, and Co. Andrea lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Michael, and their son, Alex.

Andrea is being presented by her former coach, Renea Ackerman.

Tracey Lynn Dawson

Tracey is a 1990 graduate of Champion High School and during her career lettered all four years in both basketball and softball. As a softball player, Tracey was named first team All-League all four years. As a member of Champions Girls Basketball team Tracey set many records including the most points scored in one game (40), most rebounds in one game (27), and most career rebounds (1,281). Her high school basketball team under Coach Ackerman won four consecutive league titles and were the Regional Runner-ups three years in a row. After high school, Tracey became a member of the Kent State Flashes where she continued her illustrious basketball career by becoming Kents number one career rebounder (990) and number two career scorer (2,066 points/18.1 average). Tracey was inducted into the Kent State Hall of Fame in 2004. Tracey teaches in Jefferson Schools and lives in Farmdale with her husband, Len, and their two children, Brooke, and Zachary.

Tracey is being presented by Coach Renea Ackerman.



Ray Sweeney, Jr.

As a teacher, coach, and Athletic Director, Ray Sweeney devoted his entire professional life to Champion Schools. During his coaching career from 1945 to 1964, he coached three sports including basketball, track, and baseball. His basketball team won five TIA titles from 1950 to 1957. He was Youngstown State Universitys first basketball coach from 1935-40.
Ray was an outstanding high school athlete, lettering nine times at Youngstown South. During his career at Westminster College he excelled in four sports: football, basketball, track, and baseball.

Ray was inducted into the Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1979 the Champion Athletic Club named the high schools baseball field, Ray Sweeney Field, in his honor.
Ray and his wife, Adaline, were supporters of Champion Athletics long after his retirement from Champion Schools. They are survived by two children, Ray III and Barbara. Adaline passed away in 1982.

Ray is being presented by his long-time friend, Al Lopez. His grandson, Scott Williamson, is accepting this honor on behalf of his grandfather.

Matt Thiry

Matt Thiry graduated from Champion in 1992. He lettered four years in two sports, football and track. Matt participated in the state track meet his junior and senior year, finishing first in the 200 meter dash for Division II his senior year. He also was the state runner up in the 100 meter dash. He was the Division II Regional champion for two years in both the 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash. As of June, 2004 Matt continues to hold the Boys Division II record in the 200 meter dash with a time of 21.2 set in 1992 at District finals. Matt was also honored as the TAC-8 MVP for three years in a row.

During his senior football season, Matt scored 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,268 yards in 127 carries. Matt received second team All-Ohio honors. He was awarded an athletic scholarship to the University of Akron, where he played wide receiver for four years. Matt currently works for the Anheuser-Busch Co. and resides in Akron, Ohio.
Matt is being presented by his father, Richard Thiry.

Bill Thorne

Bill Thorne was Champion High Schools baseball coach for twenty-six years from 1968 to 1994. During this time his teams compiled an impressive 398 -168 record and were league Champs or Co-Champs for 14 of those years. His teams won eleven sectional championships and were district champs twice. In 1971 the Flashes won the regional championship and made it to the State Semi-Finals. Bill was a three time Trumbull County Coaches Association Coach of the Year. During his career at Champion High School Bill also coached football and cross country. His positive influence on the students and athletes of Champion Schools and his devotion to Champion athletics will long be remembered and appreciated. Bill retired from Champion Schools in 1995 and is currently teaching Career Based Intervention in Lakeview Schools. He and his wife, Kris, reside in Cortland and have one son, E.J.

Bill is being presented tonight by Larry Jackson.

Ward Vesey

Ward graduated from Champion High School in 1922. As a high school athlete, Ward was a member of Champions first varsity basketball team. He became a member of the Champion Board of Education, a position he held for 16 years. He was an umpire for girls softball and boys baseball. As a former graduate and lifetime community member, Ward Vesey has spent much of his time promoting Champion Schools and its athletic programs.
Ward worked for Republic Steel for 42 years. He also worked as a realtor and a member of the Champion Volunteer Fire Department. He was a Life Deacon in the Champion Christian Church.

It is interesting to note that when Ward was younger, he accompanied his mother as she drove a horse drawn school bus.

Ward is 102 years old and will be celebrating his 103rd birthday in January. Ward and his late wife, Marian, had ten children, seven of whom are surviving. He continues to live in Champion.

Ward is being presented tonight by his son, Jerry Vesey.

updated: 2011-01-14





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