Nativity to induct 9th Hall of Fame class Sunday

Mar. 10—POTTSVILLE — Nativity BVM High School will induct the ninth class into its Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony Sunday in the high school gymnasium.

Five individuals, one coach and the 1959 Nativity football team are this year's inductees. The day begins with lunch at 1 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 2:15 p.m.

Here's a look at this year's inductees:

Kevin Cuff

Cuff was a 2004 Nativity graduate, participating in football, basketball and track and field.

The son of Don and Cathy Cuff, Pottsville, Kevin shined the brightest on the basketball court. A four-year starter, Cuff scored 1,795 career points and remains the school's all-time leading scorer. He led the Hilltoppers to the District 11 and PIAA playoffs four straight years, earning Class A All-State first-team honors and Pottsville Republican and Reading Eagle first-team honors as a junior and senior.

Cuff continued his athletic career as a member of the Susquehanna University men's basketball team, scoring more than 1,000 career points and earning first-team All-Landmark Conference honors as a junior and senior. He graduated with a BS degree in Chemistry.

Cuff resides in Collegeville with his wife, Kelly, and their two children, Declan and Carter. He is the principal owner of Alliance Surgical.

Angela Kuperavage Kelly

Kelly earned 12 varsity letters during her Nativity career, excelling in volleyball, basketball and softball before graduating in 2008.

The daughter of Vince and Karen Kuperavage, Port Carbon, Angela earned most of her accolades in volleyball. She was a three-time Schuylkill League Division III first-team selection after earning honorable mention honors as a freshman. She was named to the Republican Herald All-Area team and District 11 all-star team as a sophomore and junior. As a senior in 2007, Kelly was the District 11 Class A Most Valuable Player, Republican Herald All-Area and Reading Eagle All-Anthracite Player of the Year and was named to the All-State Class A team.

Kelly also excelled on the basketball court, helping the Golden Girls win the PIAA Class A state championship in 2005. She twice earned Pottsville Republican All-Area honorable mention honors. In softball, she was named Republican Herald All-Area honorable mention in 2007 and second team in 2008.

Kelly went on to attend Lebanon Valley College, where she received a BS in Accounting and Business Administration. She furthered her education at Villanova University, receiving a Masters of Accounting and Professional Consultancy. She is employed as assurance senior manager at Baker Tilly US, LLP.

Kelly resides in Harrisburg with her husband, Garrett, and child, Cameron.

Lauren Marshall Kleckner

A 1999 Nativity graduate, Kleckner participated and lettered in basketball and track and field and was a member of Nativity's 1999 PIAA Class A state championship basketball team.

The daughter of Alvin and Pinkey Marshall, Pottsville, Lauren was a four-year starter in basketball, scoring more than 1,000 career points and compiling 469 assists. During her tenure the Golden Girls won three Schuylkill League titles, two District 11 Class A crowns and the 1999 state championship.

Kleckner also qualified for the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg in the discus. One of her proudest achievements was being named Nativity's female scholar-athlete.

After graduating from Nativity, Kleckner attended Holy Cross, where she graduated in 2003 with a BA in Psychology. She then proceeded to Suffolk University Law School from which she graduated in 2006 with a Juris Doctorate.

Today, Kleckner serves as the associate vice provost and special assistant to the provost at Villanova University and helps to manage a family-owned business, Kleckner Contracting with her husband. Prior to that, she practiced Elderlaw and Estate Planning with the Margolis & Bloom Law Firm in Boston.

Kleckner's community involvement includes: board member and treasurer for the Harleysville Eagles Youth Football Association, board member for The James J. and Mary Edith Rhoades Foundation and coach for the Souderton Area Girls' Lacrosse Association. She also donates her time to teach religious education at Corpus Christi Church.

Lauren and her husband, Keith, reside with their three children, Marshall, Nora and Christian, in Harleysville.

Ronald Koscil

Koscil was a 1971 graduate from Nativity, where he participated in football, basketball, baseball and track.

The son of Stephen and Amelia Koscil, Minersville, Koscil rushed for 687 yards and was the rushing leader in 1969. He scored two touchdowns versus Bethlehem Catholic. Reading Eagle sportswriter Sam Procopio called him "an outstanding and talented back." He was named All-County defensive back and Who's Who to Watch in Eastern PA as a halfback in 1970.

Koscil's speed helped him lead the county in the 440-yard dash at 51.9 seconds. He placed second at the state championships in the 440 and the 220-yard dash.

Koscil enjoyed sports and continued playing baseball in his adult years. He was a member of the Lykens/Wiconisco team in the Twilight League in the Harrisburg Eastern Shore League and batted .300. He also coached baseball at Railway Park.

For 40 years, Koscil has been a member of the Local 524 Pipefitters and Welders. He also serves his parish, volunteering as an usher for weekend masses.

Koscil resides in Pottsville and is the father of two children and grandfather of three.

Lindsey Smith Wonchalk

Wonchalk graduated from Nativity in 2003 after participating in volleyball, basketball and track and field and being named the school's female scholar-athlete.

The daughter of Harold and Mary Lou Smith, Palo Alto, Lindsey helped the Golden Girls' volleyball team win three District 11 championships. In basketball, she was a member of Nativity's 2000 Schuylkill League, District 11 and PIAA Class A state championship squad and helped the Golden Girls win District 11 titles and reach the state finals in 2001 and 2002.

Wonchalk's main accomplishments came in track, as she's one of the most decorated track and field athletes in Nativity history.

In her four years at Nativity, she garnered 108 first-place finishes, 33 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in Schuylkill League competitions.

Among her accomplishments: In 2001, she was a member of the all-star shuttle-hurdle team that set a school record. Wonchalk excelled in the javelin, setting the school record in 2002 en route to winning Schuylkill League and District 11 titles and placing fourth at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

As a senior in 2003, she was the Schuylkill League and District 11 champion in the javelin, discus and high jump and won a silver medal in the javelin at states. She was the district champion in the discus in 2002 and earned several other league and district medals in those field events.

Her athletic achievements earned her a place on the University of Richmond's track and field Team. During her tenure, Wonchalk set the Atlantic 10 record with a throw of 154 feet. She was ranked in the top 20 of collegiate throwers among NCAA Division I freshmen.

She earned All-Conference honors after placing second at the A-10 Championships. During her freshmen year, she was also named the Atlantic 10 "Rookie of the Week" three consecutive weeks.

While in college, Wonchalk added shot put to her achievements, setting the Richmond indoor record with a throw of 45 feet, 5 inches, a mark that still stands today.

Wonchalk graduated from Richmond with a BA in Criminal Justice and currently is serving as a regional director for REDCO, working with the intellectual disability community. She resides in Pottsville with her husband, Joseph, and her two children, Jaxson and Kane.

Coach Lee Strause

Strause is one of the most successful coaches in Nativity sports history, coaching cross country and basketball.

The son of Harold and Phyllis Strause, Lee graduated from Penn State University with a BS in Secondary Education and became a math teacher at Nativity. He assisted in coaching the boys' basketball team from 1974-98 and was part of the coaching staff of Nativity's 1996 District 11 championship team.

Strause's greatest role was coach of the cross country team from 1974-2010. In his years as coach, the boys' team compiled a 214-139 record with 10 division championships, one league championship, two district runner-up titles and two teams qualifying for state meets.

During this time, five individuals were league champions and one was a district champion. A total of 18 individuals qualified for the state meet with an overall 35 times representing the school at PIAA cross country meets.

Strause's girls' teams compiled a record of 197-81 with nine division championships, three league championships, three league runner-up titles, two district championships, one district runner-up title and three teams qualifying for the state meet.

One individual was league champion and one was district champion. Thirteen different individuals qualified for states during his tenure with an overall 36 times representing the school at state cross country meets.

Strause is currently retired and lives in Port Carbon. He is the proud father of Courtney and Lee Allen and grandfather of Alyson.

1959 Nativity football team

Nativity BVM High School had only been in existence for four years when the football team had its first championship season.

"Nativity compiled its best record in history," sportswriter Ronnie Christ reported in the Pottsville Republican. "The Hilltoppers won seven games and lost three, the best record since Nativity appeared on the football scene in 1955."

Nativity won the championship of the Anthracite Catholic League and the newly-formed Anthracite Catholic Football Conference, where it was undefeated in competition with Shenandoah Catholic, Shamokin Lourdes and Mount Carmel Catholic.

George Pavalko, an All-American guard at Villanova University, was head coach. Assistant coach Joe Wapinsky was backfield coach, while George Repella, who taught English at Nativity, was also an assistant coach.

County-wide, among Catholic and public schools, Pavalko's Green and Gold scored a 7-3 overall record, tallying 231 points in 10 games. Nativity was outpaced only by the 9-1 record of coach John Gurski's Battlin' Miners of Minersville.

Nativity's 60-0 rout over Shenandoah Catholic was the highest scoring game of any team in the county.

For the first time, Nativity beat powerful St. Matthew's of Conshohocken 13-7 on a last-second touchdown by halfback Danny Savage in the East Penn Catholic League. The Hilltoppers also edged out Notre Dame-Green Pond by the same score.

Nativity's other wins came over Marian (19-0), St. Pius X of Pottstown (26-13), Lourdes (32-0) and Mount Carmel Catholic (47-6). The Hilltoppers lost to Reading Central Catholic (35-7), Allentown Central Catholic (20-6) and Bishop Kendrick (31-8).

Halfback Vito Galle racked up 50 points, placing sixth among running backs in Schuylkill County. Running backs Fred Miller and Savage were also among the top individual scorers in the county, according to the Pottsville Republican.

Savage, Miller and tackle Tom Murphy were named to the South Team for the 22nd annual Dream Game, played at Mahanoy City. Marty Brennan, Mike Matas, Miller and Galle were named to the Anthracite Catholic League All-Star Team.

In the East Penn Catholic League, which included Allentown and Reading, Nativity was the only squad to place three players on the league's All-East Team — end and co-captain Matas, guard Brennan and center Ron Devlin. The Republican Herald reported that "Brennan was cited for his outstanding offensive play, his spirit and his aggressiveness. Matas was ranked as one of the league's top offensive ends. Devlin was a two-way man, but received special mention for his defensive work."

The 1960 Ave Maria yearbook lists the following as members and coaches of this championship team: Seniors (Class of 1960): Charles Bartholomew, Marty Brennan, Dan Dauksis, Ron Devlin, Joe Eckley, Vito Galle, Bernie Marchowsky, Mike Matas, Jack McCready, Mel Melochick, Fred Miller, Tom Murphy, Jack Petruncio, Dan Savage and Francis Socko. Juniors and others: Bernie Apshago, Norbert Breslin, Jim Coleman, Jack Hummel, Jim Joyce, Steve Kowalick, Charles Moran, Joe Mulqueen, Tom Noga, John Whalen and Mike Yourey. Team managers were Louis DiNunzio, Russ Farne and Joe Gries.

Coaches included George Pavalko, head coach, and George Repella and Joe Wapinsky as assistant coaches.

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