In Waverly High School’s storied athletic history, numerous athletes have made a tremendous impact in the world of sports and beyond.
On Dec. 27, a banquet luncheon was held honoring the fourth class of Waverly High School Athletic Hall of Fame inductees. It was an opportunity for those being inducted to speak and share their memories.
The following story includes parts of their speeches and memories. Full biographies ran in the Dec. 25, 2019 edition of the News Watchman. Those were also printed for those attending the luncheon and the Waverly Holiday Classic games that night where the actual induction ceremony took place.
The individual inductees for this year include Mark King, Verlin “Cookie” Kritzwiser, Mike Oyer, Lisa Shoemaker and Paul Skinner. A section on each inductee follows. Historical information and statistics were compiled by Randy Heath. A story on the induction of the 1989 football team ran in the Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 edition of the News Watchman. A story about the community award honorees is also included in this edition.
Lisa Shoemaker Easterday was a pioneer in the female sports world for Waverly. She and her teammates were among the first female athletes in school history. She participated in the first seven sectional volleyball, basketball and softball sectionals in the history of girls sports and her teams won them all. She was a member of the first ever All-Southeastern Ohio Athletic League basketball and softball teams and a First Team selection in both. The 1977 volleyball team was undefeated and the 1980 softball team was the first-ever at Waverly to win a district title.
“This is a special day, not just for me, but for all of the inductees. I want to make sure I thank everyone who had a hand in making this possible. I would like to acknowledge four VIPs in the house, including my mom (Joy Shoemaker), my dad (Ron Shoemaker), and my brothers Steve and John. I call them my VIPs because let’s face it. It was a little bit of genetics and a whole lot of environment why I am standing here today. Others with me are Steve’s wife Angela, my friend Marsha, my son Nick and the best part of me for the past 34 and a half years, my husband Dan,” said Easterday.
“Soon after Willie (Hobbs) called me to give me the news that I was going to receive this recognition, I started thinking about my past and how much my Waverly days had meant to me. I sat down one day, gathered my thoughts and I wrote a letter to my younger self, a young Lisa Shoemaker. I would like to share it with you.”
You may not realize it yet, but your entire life will revolve around the world of sports.
You will play countless sandlot games with your neighbors and brothers. You will play competitively in high school and for a short time in college. You will always be a fan of the game that is in season. You will coach, marry a coach, and raise a son, who you guessed it, becomes a coach.
It is crystal clear your love for athletics will define you. That is okay because as you play out your game of life, sports will be good to you. You will reap the valuable life lessons and priceless memories will be plenty.
As fate would have it, in 1968, your family will move to Waverly. You will be in the third grade and unaware of the prized memories that will follow. Your lives will be changed forever. Immediately you will become ingrained in Waverly and Waverly will become ingrained in you. Your dad will become the principal of the high school. Your mom will become an elementary secretary for the next 43 years. John, Steve and yourself will enroll in Waverly City Schools as East Vikings. You all three will leave a lot of blood sweat and tears on that East blacktop and ball fields.
As the five of you settle into a small brick house by the cemetery, you will bring with you more than just your belongings. You will bring a passion for athletics. You will even name your dog O.J. Simpson. No wonder that dog was always on the run.
Not only will Waverly be a place where you make lifelong friends, it is also where your competitive athletic career will begin. As you begin this journey, please keep in mind that in the 1970s girls sports will not fully be evolved. Opportunities will be somewhat limited. Junior high will consist of a few volleyball games, played with nine players on each side, one track meet, and no basketball team to be a part of.
As you enter high school, there will be no three-point line or small women’s ball. AAU, club and travel teams won’t exist. Post-season tournaments won’t begin until your sophomore year and fast pitch softball until your senior year.
These shortcomings won’t deter you. It will be the little things that matter the most. Not the stats, but the team will be your focus. You will love uniform day, picture day, the practices, locker room laughs, the fans, bus trips, team dinners at the club, old gym, new gym and the great people that surround you.
Talented teammates, who are even better people, will be by your side. Coaches Vicki Penn Chadwick and Mary Gecowets will teach and inspire you. Mrs. G. will go the extra mile for you and your teammates. Teachers Tom Monroe, Gabby Smith, Carroll Hawhee and Steve Crace will provide support and guidance. Yes, the hilarious, infamous and mostly true Steve Crace stories will live on forever.
As the years turn into decades, you will not remember all of the scores and details of each season. There will be a few memories both on and off the court that will never leave you. Your teams advancing to regional action in volleyball, softball and back-to-back years in basketball. The excitement of running on the floor at UD (University of Dayton) Arena. Your team scoring 126 points in a single game with your friend and teammate Candy (Pfeifer) scoring a record 59 points. Listening to sportscaster Jimmy Crum announce on the late news that he was coming Waverly way to do a feature story on your 1977 basketball team. Jimmy Crum returning to speak at your senior banquet and present you with a special award. The blizzard of 78 playing complete havoc with your senior basketball season. Your close relationship with the entire Gecowets family. You and your teammates babysitting Brad, Matt and Mandy, and your impromtu visits demanding Ron’s famous homemade Polish pizza.
Just a side note: If you haven’t tried Ron’s pizza, you need to.
Undoubtedly, the most thrilling memory of all ... 15 minutes of silence that will seem like 15 hours ending with a standing ovation and shouts of joy. Your friend and bus driver, Maple Maynard, will have backed the team bus down the notorious Rosemount Hill in the middle of an ice storm. From that day forward, Maple will be tagged your team MVP.
Lisa, you are not going to believe how privileged you are inducted into the Waverly Sports Hall of Fame as a team member and as an individual. As you stand at the podium on that special Hall of Fame day, make it known to all that your still feel the overwhelming emotions you felt 41 years ago the final time you took off the orange and black. What you would have given for just five more minutes.
Signed, Lisa Shoemaker Easterday
Mark King moved to Waverly as a sophomore and completed his high school sports career as a Waverly High School graduate. King was on the 1985 football team that finished 8-2, which was Waverly’s first winning season in 16 years.
He decided to play baseball in his senior year after being on the track team during the two previous years. King hit so well that he tied the school record for home runs with 14 and was on a team that finished 21-8 as the district runner-up. He was First Team All-Ohio in baseball.
King was also an All-Ohio tackle and continued his football playing career at Henderson State University. As a teacher and coach in Arkansas, King became a state champion football coach in 2017 after leading Foreman, Arkansas to a state title. Two years earlier, the team had finished with a 1-9 record.
“First of all, I would like to thank the committee. This a great honor. I can still remember in 1983 that my dad told me we were moving to Ohio. I didn’t know anything about Ohio,” said King. “I was a southern boy. I was born in Arkansas. We moved around in Louisiana and Texas. We moved to Ohio. It was hands down the best thing that ever happened to me. I would not be where I am at today if I hadn’t moved to Waverly.”
King talked about the impact that the late Waverly football coach, Ed Bolin, had on his life.
“I’m not much of a public speaker. I can tell you about the impact that people here had on my life. One man is very special — Coach Bolin molded me into the man I am today. I truly believe that. I am a football coach because of him,” said King.
“It didn’t start out real well for me. I was playing summer baseball. We went to Trimble to play in a tournament. We forgot that coach came from there and we were doing some things we weren’t supposed to do out in the parking lot.
“We get back to Waverly and two-a-days are about to start. Coach Bolin pulled me into his office and said, ‘King, Go get your dad and come back.’ It was that day that he cared so much about me and his players that changed me and the way I look at things. That’s why I decided to become a football coach.”
Another impactful coach was Tom Monroe, who was the head baseball coach at that time.
“I played baseball for Coach Monroe. The values I learned from Coach Bolin and Coach Monroe really changed my life. That’s why I am a successful coach today. I try to do and be the coach that Ed was as a father figure. That’s what we are,” said King.
“My time here was a great time. This place is special for me. I call it home. I follow the Waverly Tigers. For the past several years, I get on the phone and call Matt Snodgrass and he gives me an update every Friday night. Whether I am on the road or not, I call and check. It is an honor for me to start that tradition with the 1985 team when we went 8-2. This a great honor. I won a state championship (as a coach). This is by far a much greater honor than doing that. Thank you very much.”
In the late 1960s, Portsmouth Notre Dame was one of the most dominant football teams in the area. Ed Miller was the coach for the Titans, making them a power before moving on to Wheelersburg to start their tradition.
Paul Skinner, a 1969 graduate, had three older brothers who played quarterback for the Tigers, before he took the starting job.
On Oct. 4, 1968, Notre Dame came to Waverly. Notre Dame had won 36 games in a row. They were the Class A state champions from the year before and were ranked No. 1 in the state on Oct. 3, 1968.
On Oct. 4, Skinner, who quarterbacked the team and passed for 1,000-some yards, helped Waverly to an 8-0 victory of Notre Dame. That ended the 36-game Notre Dame winning streak, which had started after a 6-0 loss to Waverly in 1964. The Tigers finished 10-0 that year as Skinner became the first Waverly quarterback to surpass 1,000 yards passing. Skinner also made an impact on the basketball court during his senior year. The combined record of the football and basketball teams was 26-2 that year.
“I had the benefit of growing up and seeing Waverly under Coach Hawhee and the other coaches who build a program. They always got close, but in very few times, they could compete with Notre Dame. That was the challenge that laid ahead for any Waverly football program back then,” said Skinner.
“I had that opportunity finally. I had a brother a year ahead of me who played quarterback. So I played in his shadow for a year. I did start a game when he was a senior. Then I completed my senior year and we never lost. That year was when Notre Dame came to town. They were a favorite by one to two touchdowns. They hadn’t lost in three years. Chuck Ealey was the quarterback at Notre Dame during that streak. He went on to become the winningest college, high school, and professional coach in history. He has never lost in his programs.”
During his speech, Skinner showed off a game ball that he had in his possession that had been autographed by the Tigers. He donated that fooball to be added to the trophy case as a memento from that season.
“I would like to acknowledge my 1969 teammates Randy Kalfs, who is no longer with us, Doug Clark, Dwayne Johnson, Rick Foill, and Danny Devito. The basketball team: Dave Reisinger, Bob Fout, Denny Thompson, Phil Miller and Ted Downing, who recently passed, were some of my teammates that established the records that we did,” said Skinner. “The coaches were instrumental. Orval Arnett was a great basketball teacher. Dave Francis, an Ohio State Buckeye fullback, was our coach for two of my years. That’s when Tom Redman came to town and that’s when things really did change for me. He was the coach during our 10-0 run. The next year he went 9-0-1 and then left Waverly. He literally never lost at Waverly.”
Carroll Hawhee was Skinner’s basketball coach.
“I was fortunate to play basketball on a couple of great teams. Dave and I played with Denny and Phil Miller both, who were all-state selections later on. We certainly were the benefit of Coach Hawhee’s instructions over the length of his career,” said Skinner.
“The one perk that we had as basketball players was that when you got to be one of the starting five, you got to ride in Doc Allen’s car. We appreciate and cherish those 10 to 12 trips we took during the basketball season, especially on wintry roads around the state, even to Akron. He drove us to Akron for a tournament and we spent the night. It was a big thrill for small town athletes to go away and spend the night somewhere back then,” said Skinner.
“Karl (Schmitt) was always in the hallway of the locker room after the game handing out Schmitt orange juice. We stockpiled those for the week. Those little cartons of orange juice got us through the week. Karl was a great benefactor to the program in the years I was playing sports.”
Skinner, who traveled with his wife and daughter from California to attend the Dec. 27 induction, finished with a piece of advice he received during this high school athletic career.
“Coach Redman told me to just focus on the little things that you can control on every play. Don’t worry about anything else. The big things will take care of themselves,” said Skinner. “That is advice that I’ve found very useful over the years.
Cookie Kritzwiser was the starting third baseman in Waverly’s run to the state baseball title in 1954. In five of the six tournament games, he got a hit. Kritzwiser attended a Kansas City Athletics tryout and hit two doubles that day. But he opted to stay in Waverly rather than heading to Arkansas to play Class A baseball.
Kritzwiser has been involved with Waverly City Schools practically his whole life, including driving a bus for 48 years. He also mows grass and has coached high school softball the past 20 years, serving 10 years as the head coach.
“What an honor — I appreciate it. It all started back in the 50s. We didn’t have buses to travel in. We had Karl Schmitt, Doc Allen, Hawhee’s old station wagon that broke down about half the time on the road, and Charlie Schrader,” said Kritzwiser. “That’s the way we traveled. We had some great times and great memories.”
Kritzwiser said the basketball team went to the regional tournament in 1952 and 1953. In 1954, they made it to the district final round and were preparing to go to the third straight regional tournament.
“But we were playing a tough team from Ross County in Bourneville (Twin High School). Hawhee said, ‘They have a tough team. We’ve got to compete and stay with them.’ At the end of regulation, we were all tied. We went to one overtime. At the end of one overtime, we were tied. We went to two overtimes. We were tied. We went to three overtimes,” said Kritzwiser.
“They had Mr. Ross County on that team, and we were all afraid of him because what of a shot he was. I’m glad to have Ron Shoemaker here (today), because he was Mr. Ross County. Wayne Smithson passed to Scotty Owens at half court as time was running out — nothing but net. We beat them and went to the third regional tournament in a row.”
In baseball, it was also the third regional tournament appearance for the group.
“We went to our third regional tournament. Then we won the state tournament. I wish we could get another state tournament team,” said Kritzwiser. “After we won that (state tournament), I can still see Doc Allen throwing money in the air. He must have had a whole handful of $20 bills. He was saying, ‘We won the state. We won the state’.”
When the team was coming back from winning the state title, they were greeted on Divide Hill by the sheriff’s department and fire department.
“They met us on Divide Hill. We went down the old road, down 104 and into Piketon. All of the sirens were going,” said Kritzwiser. “People were probably shocked when they heard all of that noise coming around. We had a great time. They put us on top of the fire truck and paraded all around. What a good time we did have.”
Kritzwiser served as the Waverly Athletic Boosters Club President in the 1960s and 1970s. Kritzwiser was instrumental in helping raise money to fund the downtown gymnasium. The original plan was to only have the balcony on one side. But the Superindent at the time, John R. Teichert, came to Kritzwiser and asked if the boosters could help raise funds to complete the right side of the gymnasium to match the left side. The boosters needed to come up with $50,000.
“So we hit the trail, me Doc Allen, Coach Arnett and Coach Hawhee. We hit the businesses and the bank. We got our $50,000 plus $7,000. The old locker rooms in the stadium needed some work, so the $7,000 went into there,” said Kritzwiser. “That’s what our arena looks like now, which is very nice.”
Kritzwiser began helping with the Waverly High School girls softball program in 2000 when Tom Monroe served briefly as the head coach. After Monroe gave it up, Kritzwiser became the head coach for the next 10 years. Then his son, Greg, became the head coach with Cookie serving as an assistant. Kritzwiser has continued as an assistant with Scott Hayes, who is the current head coach.
“I wanted the girls to learn the fundamentals of the game. It has been a great time. I’m still helping. In the last eight years we’ve gone to the district, and two years ago, we went to the regionals,” said Kritzwiser. “It has been a great honor. I appreciate everything for the Waverly schools. I’m glad to be a Tiger and I’ll always be a Tiger ... for a few more years, I hope. Just pray for me. I’ve been blessed. Thank you.”
Mike Oyer joined the Waverly High School varsity basketball team as a sophomore during the 1970-71 season, which was one year after the Tigers had advanced to the state tournament. Three returning starters from that state team remained, and although they didn’t make it back to the state tournament, he made quite an impact.
With Oyer on the team, the Tigers completed Southeastern Ohio Athletic League play at 41-1 over a three year span, going 62-7 overall. In his sophomore year, the Tigers finished 22-2 and lost in the regional final. In his junior year, they went back to the regional tournament and finished 21-3. During Oyer’s senior year, the Tigers lost in the district round, playing in the “toughest” district in the state. Oyer finished his high school career with numerous accolades and had scored 909 points in three years. He went on to play college basketball for four years at Eastern Kentucky, paying just $50 for his education as a result of the scholarship.
Oyer had numerous thank yous to share.
“I see a lot of familiar faces. Thank you all for coming. I would like to recognize my family. I want to thank the Waverly High School Hall of Fame committee and administration for this honor. I want to congratulate my other Hall of Fame honorees,” said Oyer.
“I would like to give a special thanks to Gus Schmitt for helping me develop my athletic skills playing together in the backyard and over at East Elementary. Some of you may remember the big crowds that gathered at East. I would look out my window. When I saw the cars start coming, I knew there would be games. There would be as many as 50 kids over there waiting their turn to play.”
Oyer mentioned numerous adults who impacted him during his teenage years, including Dr. John Allen, Bud Schmitt (father of Gus Schmitt), Jeff Schmitt (older brother of Gus), Carroll Hawhee, Orval Arnett and Cecil Hewlett.
“I want to share this honor with my coaches and teammates. I was blessed to come along in a very exciting period in Waverly athletics. In my freshman year, the basketball team had gone to state and the football team had finished an undefeated season,” said Oyer.
“I was coached by one of the greatest high school coaches of all time by Carroll Hawhee and got to play on some outstanding teams with outstanding athletes — John Shoemaker, Ed Thompson, Phil Miller and Rick Eblin. These were all great teammates. I could not have achieved what I did without them.”
Oyer said Cecil Hewlett was his encouragement for working toward getting his basketball scholarship.
“It was because of his (Hewlett’s) encouragement that I ran, lifted weights, jumped rope, and worked out during the summer. That made me the athlete I became. I owe Cecil Hewlett so much. He died in a tragic accident not that long ago. A few months before that, I ran into him in the grocery store. We hugged and talked. I will always remember that,” said Oyer.
“Once again, I’m extremely proud and humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you all.”