The 53rd Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame Banquet is scheduled for Sunday, May 1 with 12 new members set for enshrinement during ceremonies at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Center, 7440 South Avenue, Boardman.
The class was originally to be installed on May 3, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of induction ceremonies in both 2020 and 2021. Former Ohio State University and NFL quarterback, and current YSU assistant football coach, Mike Tomczak will serve as guest speaker.
This year’s class includes Phil Annarella (football, posthumous), Mike Banks (basketball), Andrew Bushey (baseball), Sandra DePizzo (bowling), Jim Evans (sports media), Tim Filipovich (basketball), Denise Gorski (contribution to sports), Tim Joyce (basketball), Joe McHenry (all-sports award), Rick Shepas (football), John Turco (football) and John Zebroski (golf).
Gorski is the longtime Boardman Schools teacher and track and field coach who spent 35 years (1977-2013) in the classroom and had a very successful, five-decade run as a Spartans coach, administrator and teacher.
She added director of athletics (October 2013 to June 2019) duties to her impressive resume upon her retirement, spending a total of 41+ years in the Boardman school system.
Born December 26, 1955, she is a 1973 graduate of Cuyahoga Falls High School where she earned letters as a member of the Black Tigers’ volleyball, basketball and softball teams (1971-73).
She earned her undergraduate degree in physical education from Kent State University in 1977, later earning her MA in sports science from Ashland University.
Upon her arrival at BHS (she was a physical education-adapted PE teacher for 35 years from 1977-2013), she first served as assistant girl’s track coach (1978-81) for four years, was an assistant girls basketball coach (1978-79) for two seasons, head girl’s hoop coach in 1980 and the Spartans’ head girl’s golf coach for five years.
She took over as head girl’s track coach in 1982, a position she held for 32 years before giving up the reins after the 2014 campaign.
Her long list of accomplishments in track alone includes 16 Mahoning County championships, 12 Steel Valley Conference titles, nine District crowns and nine District runner-up finishes.
Under her direction, Spartan athletes qualified for 53 events at the state meet with 26 earning all-Ohio honors in those events.
She molded two state champions in Laurie Gomez Henes and Amber Bland with Gomez Henes winning the 1600 meter run (5:54.90) in both 1987 and 1988 (5:53.39), also winning the 3200 meter run (10:48.58) in the latter year.
Her best 1600 meter time scholastically was 4:48.58, turned in at the Arcadia Invitational while her best 3200 clocking was 10:28.8. She was also the Midwest Meet of Champions titlist in the 1600 meter run.
Bland, who also starred on the BHS girls’ basketball team, was a state champion in the high jump after clearing 5’9” at the 2001 state meet.
Gorski also developed a state runner-up in Adriane Blewitt, who finished second in the discus in 1998 with a toss of 145’ 10” (her career-best effort was 153’ 5’).
She had four athletes-relay teams place third at state, including Heather Nordgren (1993, discus – 141’ 4”), Bland (2002, 100 meter dash – 12.26), the 4 x 800 relay team (2003) of Brittany Durkin, Sarah Grabert, Jessie Moore and Monica Cuevas (9:11.38) and in 2003, Cuevas (2:13.08) in the 800 meter run.
She developed five performers that finished fourth overall, including Liz Linsley (1985, discus – 125’ 9”), Nordgren (1992, discus – 133’ 7”), Cuevas (2002, 800 meter run – 2:14.47), Alison Brager (2002, pole vault – 10’ 6” and again in 2003, 10’ 8”) and Bland (2002, high jump – 5’ 6”).
Her fifth-place finishers included individuals Tammy Crockett (1983, 100 meter dash – 12.36) and Valerie Hood (2010, discus – 128’ 8”), and two 4 x 800 meter relay teams, the first in 1986 (9:32.3, consisting of Gomez, Myssi Trigg, Jennifer DePietro and Tracie Thomas) and again in 2002 (9:24.26, made up of Durkin, Gina Mavrikis, Grabert and Cuevas).Sixth-place all-state performers included Nordgren (1993, shot put – 39’ ¼”), Blewitt (1998, shot put – 41’ 0”) and Moore (2004, 800 meter run – 2:16.02) while two student-athletes finished seventh, including Breanne Romeo (2006, 400 meter dash – 58.03 with a career best 56.46 effort outside state competition) and Valerie Hood (2010, shot put – 40’ 2½”).
Two others finished eighth, including Nordgren (1992, shot put – 39’ 2½”) and the Spartans’ 2001, 4 x 800 relay team of Durkin, Mavrikis, Grabert and Cuevas (9:36.39).
Among her many awards, she was selected as the Fred Dafler Career State “Coach of the Year” for women’s track in 2001, was honored as the District I “Coach of the Year” on four separate occasions and was elected to the OATCCC Hall of Fame where she was the 2009 Ed Barker Award recipient, which is presented to those for their contributions to cross country and track and field across the state of Ohio.
For 10 years (1993-2002) she served as OATCCC District I representative, also serving as secretary for the organization from 2002-05.
Selected as a coach for the Ohio Senior All-Star team for the Midwest Meet of Champions on three separate occasions (1996-98), she was chosen Ohio women’s head coach in 1998.
For her leadership and contributions to the Mahoning Valley, she was a 2015 Athena Award nominee.
Currently retired, she and husband, Dan, a former BHS boys basketball coach, reside in Poland.
Individual tickets are $60 each, tables of eight $480 and further information can be obtained by calling 330-506-6774, or by visiting the organization’s website at www.thecurbstonecoaches.org.
This article is republished with permission of the Boardman News.