Shaler Area School District recognized six distinguished athletes by inducting them into the Athletic Hall of Fame for the class of 2016.
Since 2001, the Hall of Fame Committee has been evaluating each and every athlete and sports team that have been nominated for the hall of fame and, determining who is worthy of being inducted for that year.
For 2016, the committee has picked six athletes, representing a wide range of Shaler Area athletics.
Three of this year’s athletes were stars on the football field, coming from three different decades of football success.
Walter Brown, the oldest member of this year’s class, graduated from Shaler Area 1973. Brown was a multi-sport athlete who played football, wrestled and ran track and field. Brown then went on to have a successful football career at the University of Pittsburgh, including being a member of the 1976 national championship team.
Brandon Lehmeier, class of 2001, was a force on the football field and the wrestling mat. He racked up over 3,000 rushing yards and was named All-Conference in football. A WPIAL champion at the 189lb weight class, Brandon was elected an All-Conference wrestler while accumulating more than 100 wins over the course of his career.
Jesse Della Valle was a 2010 graduate of Shaler Area and a standout athlete in both football and basketball. Jesse’s senior year at Shaler included 1,600 all purpose yards and being named to the second team Quad-A all state. Della Valle had a excellent year and his assistant coach John Ehrentraut was once quoted saying. “His senior year, I think he was the best player in the [WPIAL] Quad-A.” He then went on to play football at Penn State which included being named special teams captain his senior year.
“Getting inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Shaler is something that I’m very proud of,” Della Valle said. “I can remember in high school always walking past that wall outside of the gym and reading about the former student athletes and what they had accomplished, and now to think I will be a part of that is something that’s very special to me.”
Sisters Jill and Olivia DiNucci graduated three years apart and both excelled in basketball.
Jill, class of 2006, had a very successful basketball career at Shaler Area including being the team’s leading scorer all four years. Olivia, was another star basketball player at Shaler Area who also ran track and field. She graduated in 2009. By the time they graduated, both were in the top 5 leading scorers in Shaler Area history.
The board also elected the first female golfer in Shaler Area history to this year’s Hall of Fame class.
Samantha Smyers graduated in 2010. Smyers made her mark on the boys golf team until her senior year when a separate girls team was formed. Smyers was a four year WPIAL Championship qualifier.
“I am truly honored to be nominated to the Shaler Area Athletic Hall of Fame,” Smyers said, “To be recognized, along with the other athletes in the 2016 induction class and those who have come before, was a very humbling experience.”
When asked what advice she could give to athletes who wish to be in her position, Smyers stressed the orientation of goals.
“Focus on what you want in life, whether it is academic or athletic oriented, and construct a plan to get you there! I really believe that anything is possible if you remain focused on what you want and put in 110% effort,” Smyers said.