2019 Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame Inductees

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Cheryl Bailey

Cheryl Bailey

Growing up as a student at Southwestern Central School, Cheryl Bailey did not have any officially recognized girls sports in which to participate.
That certainly didn’t derail her passion for them, however.
And when Title IX went into effect in 1972, she ran with the boys track team, which would ultimately change the trajectory of her career aspirations years later.
After continuing her track and field career at North Park College and Slippery Rock University, Bailey began an athletic odyssey that has earned her a place in the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. Joining her in the Class of 2019 are Tiffany Decker, Vince Gullo, Mike Lopriore, Bob Palcic, Mark Weaver, Jack Harper, Charles Johnston and Luella Kye.
These nine individuals will be formally inducted at the CSHOF’s 38th annual banquet Monday, Feb. 18, at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. The new honorees will bring the number of CSHOF inductees to 200. Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991.
So what did Bailey do since those humble athletic beginnings in the early 1970s? Consider the positions she’s held over the last 40 years:
Head coach, women’s soccer, Denison University, 1979-1988; head coach, women’s track & field, Denison University, 1981-1988; athletic director, Denison University, 1979-1990; senior associate athletic director, University of Wisconsin, 1990-2005; chairman, NCAA women’s soccer, 1987-1993; chairman, NCAA women’s basketball, 2001-2004; general manager U.S. women’s national soccer team, 2007-2011; and executive director National Women’s Professional Soccer League, 2012-2015.
That is quite an accomplished resume for someone who came from a humble athletic background as a teenager growing up in Chautauqua County.


Tiffany Decker

Tiffany Decker

How accomplished is Tiffany Decker, the trapshooter? Well, all one has to do is sit down with the three-ring binder that houses page after page of her accomplishments in the sport to get confirmation.
The New York State Amateur Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame did just that last year when it chose the Jamestown resident to be part of the Class of 2018.
“I was very honored and humbled to have been selected for this award,” Decker told The Post-Journal last year. “When I consider the previous recipients of the Hall of Fame award, I’m even more grateful for this recognition.”
Decker will be adding another “Hall” to her lengthy resume next month when she joins the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019. She will be joined by fellow inductees Cheryl Bailey, Vincent Gullo, Mike Lopriore, Bob Palcic, Mark Weaver, Charles Johnston, Jack Harper and Luella Kye. The Class of 2019 will be formally inducted at the CSHOF’s 38th annual banquet Monday, Feb. 18, at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. The new honorees will bring the number of CSHOF inductees to 200.
Currently a member of the Busti Trap Club, Decker began shooting in 1991 and quickly transitioned into competitive matches in 1993. That initial interest in the sport eventually grew into Decker’s participation in all of the major trap associations in the Southern Tier.
“I have shot the Warren County, Chautauqua County and New York-Penn trap leagues for many years,” she told the The Post-Journal. “Now I shoot registered targets in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida.”
And, not surprisingly, she’s almost always right on target, having earned New York State singles, handicap, doubles, all-around and overall titles spanning multiple years. Decker has also claimed berths on American Trap Association All-American teams multiple times and has also been a member of the all-state team where she has served as captain a host of times.
After initially hearing of her selection for the class of 2018, Decker waited months before getting the chance to head to the NYSATA headquarters in Cicero last July for the Hall of Fame ceremony.
“It was a special day for me and I felt privileged to accept the award. I would like to thank all my family and friends for all their support,” said Decker.
As all shooters know, one of the best parts of the trap season is that it mostly goes 365 days a year, irrespective of sunshine, rain or snow.
Given her success through the years, nothing seems to rain on Decker’s parade though the trapshooting ranks anyway.
Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. CSHOF members receive a $5 discount. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991. Tickets are also available at the Jamestown Cycle Shop, 10 Harrison St., Jamestown; Matt’s News, 93 E. 3rd St., Dunkirk; and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, 15 W. 3rd St., Jamestown.


Vinnie Gullo

Vinnie Gullo

Vince Gullo’s goal each year as coach of the Fredonia Central School baseball team is to make an extended run in the playoffs. In other words, to be playing in June.
In Gullo’s 17 years at the helm, that has happened with regularity, placing the Hillbillies among the top programs in the state.
Since taking over the program in 2002, Gullo has posted a 305-106-1 record: claimed nine Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association championships; 10 Section VI titles; five New York State Public High School Athletic Association; two NYSPHSAA Class B titles (2006 and 2013); earned four Post-Journal Coach of the Year awards (2006, 2009, 2013, 2016); coached seven All-Western New York players; and coached two state Class B Players of the Year.
Before he began his coaching career, the Fredonia native was a baseball, soccer and basketball player at Fredonia Central School, and he also played collegiately at SUNY Brockport.
All of that has earned Gullo inclusion in the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. Joining him in the Class of 2019 are Cheryl Bailey, Tiffany Decker, Mike Lopriore, Bob Palcic, Mark Weaver, Jack Harper, Charles Johnston and Luella Kye.
These nine individuals will be formally inducted at the CSHOF’s 38th annual banquet Monday, Feb. 18, at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. The new honorees will bring the number of CSHOF inductees to 200. Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991.


Jack Harper

Jack Harper

When Jack Harper is inducted posthumously into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame next month, it will mark the 27th baseball player to be so honored by the organization, which enshrined its first class 37 years ago.
To suggest Harper’s tenure on the diamond was quite an odyssey would be an understatement.
Starting his pro career in 1898, the Franklin, Pennsylvania native made his Major League debut on Sept. 18, 1989 and stayed in the “bigs” for eight seasons, pitching for the Cleveland Spiders (later the Indians) in 1899, the St. Louis Cardinals (1900-01), the St. Louis Browns (1902), the Cincinnati Reds (1903-06) and the Chicago Cubs (1906).
Along the way, Harper posted an 80-64 record that included 115 complete games, 10 shutouts, one save, 466 strikeouts and a 3.55 earned run average. His best season was in 1904 when he was 23-9 with a 2.30 ERA as member of the Reds. Among the batters he faced during his career were Honus Wagner, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers Joe Tinker, Willie Keeler, Hugh Jennings and Nap LaJoie, among others. He even broke in Branch Rickey Sr. as a catcher.
“My toughest game was a 10-inning affair with Joe McGinnity furnishing the opposition,” Harper told Post-Journal sports editor Frank Hyde in 1946. “That was in 1904. I had won my first nine games with the Cincinnati and Joe had won th his first 10 for the Giants. We were slated at the old Polo Grounds and the newspapers gave it a terrific play, booming up the fact two pitchers with 19 wins and no losses between them were to meet. The game drew 50,000 paid admissions, a record in New York up to that time.”
Off the field, Harper was the first Major League player to share in his own sale money, pressing a hard bargain and making it stick when he was put on the auction block by the Reds in 1906. He pitched part of the 1906 season with the Cubs, but after appearing in just one game he retired.
“I’ve never seen (Bob) Feller, but I did see Ted Williams,” Harper told Hyde. “That boy is a ballplayer. He held his own with the best we had in the old days. … Who was the greatest pitcher I ever saw? … Well, I’d have to go along with Christy Mathewson. My second greatest choice, if he behaved himself, would be Jack Powell, my St. Louis teammate.”
Upon his retirement, Harper operated the Rapid Transit Company in Jamestown until 1937, Harper Grill until 1945 and a gas station on Fairmount Avenue until he had to stop the lease because of failing health. He passed away in 1950.
Joining Harper in the Class of 2019 are Cheryl Bailey, Tiffany Decker, Vincent Gullo, Mike Lopriore, Bob Palcic, Mark Weaver, Charles Johnston and Luella Kye. The Class of 2019 will be formally inducted at the CSHOF’s 38th annual banquet Monday, Feb. 18, at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. The new honorees will bring the number of CSHOF inductees to 200. Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. CSHOF members receive a $5 discount. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991. Tickets are also available at the Jamestown Cycle Shop, 10 Harrison St., Jamestown; Matt’s News, 93 E. 3rd St., Dunkirk; and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, 15 W. 3rd St., Jamestown.


Charles Johnston

Charles Johnston

One wouldn’t have to look far to identify one of the most influential tennis coaches in the history of Chautauqua County.
The late Chuck Johnston, who coached at Fredonia Central School from 1962-1989, certainly has the credentials to carry that title, and he will posthumously join eight other honorees at the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame banquet early next year.
In posting a 374-47 record for the Hillbillies, Johnston also had seven undefeated seasons; and recorded 17 Chautauqua County Athletic Association championships and 13 Section VI crowns. In addition, he was named the New York State Coach of the Year in 1982; the National Coaches Association Northeast Coach of the Year in 1983; served as Section VI chairman from 1972-1985 and the CCAA chairman from 1970-1985; and was chosen to the Fredonia High School Wall of Fame and inducted into the Grape Belt Hall of Fame, both in 2003.
Joining Johnston in the Class of 2019 are Cheryl Bailey, Tiffany Decker, Vince Gullo, Mike Lopriore, Bob Palcic, Mark Weaver, Jack Harper and Luella Kye.
The 38th annual banquet is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 18, at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. The nine newest members of the CSHOF will bring the inductee total to 200 since the first class was enshrined in 1982.
Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991.


Luella Kye

Luella Kye

When Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inductee Luella Kye was playing semi-pro softball in the early 1950s for Koch’s Annies girls softball team — a fast-pitch traveling squad that played in Erie, Buffalo, Toronto and Cleveland — she left a lasting impression even when she made an out.
As legend has it, Kye, then in her early 20s, was stationed at first base. As she slid into second base on an attempted steal, she reached out and caught the ball thrown by the catcher, came up out of her slide, dropped the ball on second base and stole third.
She didn’t stay there for long — the umpire, of course, called her out — but that memory has served as a metaphor for the athletic career of the late Stockton native.
“Luella was a pioneer in Chautauqua County,” said Tammy Rea, a former player on two of Kye’s softball teams in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “She opened the doors for women and girls. If you knew Lu, you would know that she did not walk through those doors quietly. She barged through.”
Armed with that larger-than-life personality, Kye opened doors before and after Title IX and produced an athletic resume that has earned her a place in the CSHOF. The induction banquet will be held Feb. 18 at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club. Joining Kye in the Class of 2019 are Cheryl Bailey, Tiffany Decker, Vincent Gullo, Mike Lopriore, Bob Palcic, Mark Weaver, Jack Harper and Charles Johnston.
In addition to her prowess on those Koch’s team — she was a catcher on that squad from 1949-1953 — Kye was also a fine baseball player, playing for the Stockton men’s team in the Grape Belt League, the first female to ever do so.
But there’s more. Much more. Consider: Kye was the first certified female baseball umpire east of the Mississippi River, working games in Chautauqua County from 1961-1979; umpired county softball from 1977-82; served as president and umpire-in-chief for for the Pomfret-Fredonia men’s softball league from 1972-75; was the assignor for the Chautauqua Softball Umpires Association for years; was inducted into the Chautauqua County Umpires Hall of Fame in 1987; and worked more than 1,500 games in 22 years.
As a coach, she earned entry in the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame in 1993 after guiding teams in the Jamestown Recreation League, including the first ASA-sanctioned women’s team in 1979-80, and the Eden Fast-Pitch League; and guided Cassadaga Little League and Babe Ruth League softball teams to regionals. And, finally, she was a softball administrator, serving in many roles in the early 1980s, including co-organizer and commissioner of the Western New York Women’s Fast-Pitch Association in Eden.
“Luella was a larger-than-life personality,” Rea said.
Her athletic accomplishments — as an athlete, as an official and as an administrator — were vast as well, making her a worthy member of the CSHOF Class of 2019.
The new honorees will bring the number of inductees to 200. Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. CSHOF members receive a $5 discount. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991. Tickets are also available at the Jamestown Cycle Shop, 10 Harrison St., Jamestown; Matt’s News, 93 E. 3rd St., Dunkirk; and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, 15 W. 3rd St., Jamestown.


 

Mike Lopriore

Mike Lopriore

To suggest that Mike Lopriore’s athletic training resume is impressive, would be a huge understatement.
In fact, the Jamestown native’s list of accomplishments during a career that spanned nearly four decades puts him in the company of some of the biggest names and most iconic programs in professional and collegiate sports.
For example, did you know that the 1969 Jamestown High School graduate worked with, was the athletic trainer for or oversaw the rehabilitation of, among others: baseball Hall-of-Famers Sandy Koufax, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, Ozzie Smith and Roberto Alomar; NFL Hall-of-Famer Steve Largent; and heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe?
Did you know that Lopriore was a certified athletic trainer with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks (as the rehabilitation director), the New York Mets, the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers organizations?
And did you know the managers he worked with over the years included Tommy Lasorda, Buck Showalter, Bobby Valentine, Art Howe and Willie Randolph?
All of those accomplishments are certainly worthy of Lopriore earning inclusion in the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. Joining him in the Class of 2019 are Cheryl Bailey, Tiffany Decker, Vincent Gullo, Bob Palcic, Mark Weaver, Jack Harper, Charles Johnston and Luella Kye.
Beyond his work at the professional level, Lopriore also had extensive college experience, including a four-year stint as the head athletic trainer at the University of New Orleans; and served as co-coordinator of medical services for the 1990 NCAA Southeast Regional men’s basketball tournament at the Superdome. He also logged time as an athletic trainer at Jamestown Community College and Louisiana-Lafayette. Between his time in baseball and at the University of Orleans, Lopriore spent five years as the staff trainer at the Kenner Regional Medical Center in Kenner, La.
Lopriore began his career as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Louisiana-Lafayette (1977-79) and returned to the school as an assistant athletic trainer and physical education instructor from 1982-84. He later was named a gratis faculty member at the LSU medical school in New Orleans in 1997.
Lopriore earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sports medicine from Eastern Kentucky in 1976 and a master’s degree in secondary education and physical education from Louisiana-Lafayette in 1979.
The Class of 2019 will be formally inducted at the CSHOF’s 38th annual banquet Monday, Feb. 18, at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. The new honorees will bring the number of CSHOF inductees to 200. Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. CSHOF members receive a $5 discount. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991. Tickets are also available at the Jamestown Cycle Shop, 10 Harrison St., Jamestown; Matt’s News, 93 E. 3rd St., Dunkirk; and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, 15 W. 3rd St., Jamestown.


Bob Palcic

Bob Palcic

Bob Palcic will join an exclusive fraternity when he is inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in February.
The Gowanda native and Cardinal Mindszenty High School graduate certainly belongs.
Since graduating from Mindszenty in 1966 where he played for CSHOF inductee Bob Muscato, Palcic has had an amazing football odyssey that has included coaching stops at some of the highest profile college programs in the country, which led to a distinguished career calling the shots in the National Football League.
After high school, Palcic moved on to the University of Dayton where he played football. It was there that he realized that while he wasn’t good enough to play professionally he desperately wanted to become a coach. So he worked hard and enlisted the help of Dayton coaches like Tom Moore, Len Fontes, George Perles and John McVay. Between them, those men went on to earn 11 Super Bowl rings.
Beginning as a high school coach in Dayton, Palcic ultimately landed college jobs at the University of Dayton, Ball State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Arizona, USC, UCLA and SMU; spent two years in the CFL where he coached the Toronto Argonauts in two Grey Cup games, winning one; served coaching stints in the NFL with four different teams; and even was a consultant with a professional team in Slovenia.
Along the way, Palcic has mentored three Outland Trophy winners, including Joe Thomas, the former All-Pro tackle with the Cleveland Browns, and watched another tackle he had coached, Jonathan Ogden, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Toss in NFL stops in New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland and Atlanta and it’s clear that Palcic is well-respected within the game.
Palcic’s last collegiate coaching gig came in 2012 when he was an assistant for June Jones at Southern Methodist University. The team was good enough that year to earn a berth in the Hawaii Bowl.
But there’s more. During the 2013-14 season Palcic was a volunteer assistant at Dunkirk High School, and in 2015-16 he was a volunteer coach at a high school in Dayton. And in early 2017, he spent several months working with a professional team in Slovenia, helping during training camp, writing a playbook and helping coach a few games before returning to the United States.
Palcic still has his hands in the game he loves, doing reports on the country’s top high school players for a tech company that provides software and hardware for major colleges and the NFL. He also works some summer football camps.
Joining Palcic in the Class of 2019 are Cheryl Bailey, Tiffany Decker, Vince Gullo, Mike Lopriore, Mark Weaver, Jack Harper, Charles Johnston and Luella Kye.
These nine individuals will be formally inducted at the CSHOF’s 38th annual banquet Monday, Feb. 18, at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club. The new honorees will bring the number of CSHOF inductees to 200.
Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991.


Mark Weaver

Mark Weaver

Grandmaster is defined as a “title that is honorary in nature, meaning it does not confer rank, but rather distinguishes the individual as very highly revered in his school, system or style.”
There’s reason that Mark Weaver has that moniker in front of his name. In his 42-year involvement in martial arts, Weaver has built quite a resume, one that has landed him in multiple halls of fame for his prowess in the sport.
Did you know that Weaver, who works at Gustavus Adolphus Services in Jamestown:
Is a member of the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame (2015).
Is proficient in the disciplines of karate, Gung-Fu, Kunato, Ninjitsu, kickboxing, Shaolin, Yangshen, Kung-Fu; and has trained in Hapan, Singapore, Korea and Thailand.
Is founder/chief executive officer of Warrior Combat International.
Was the International Fellowship of Martial Arts Grandmaster of the Year in Asian Martial Arts (2016).
Was the recipient of the Action Magazine Martial Arts Hall of Fame Excellence in Teaching Award (2017).
Named in Who’s Who in Martial Arts.
Was named the USA Martial Arts Hall of Kung-Fu Master of the Year (2017).
Coached the U.S. National Martial Arts team (2015, 2018).
Is an 8th-degree black belt.
That’s quite a resume.
Well, Weaver is about to add another line to it — 2019 Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inductee. The banquet will be held Feb. 18 at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club. Joining Weaver in the inductee class are Cheryl Bailey, Tiffany Decker, Vincent Gullo, Luella Kye, Mike Lopriore, Bob Palcic, Jack Harper and Charles Johnston.
Tickets for the induction dinner are $50. CSHOF members receive a $5 discount. Reservations can be made by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991. Tickets are also available at the Jamestown Cycle Shop, 10 Harrison St., Jamestown; Matt’s News, 93 E. 3rd St., Dunkirk; and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, 15 W. 3rd St., Jamestown.