It doesn't feel like 47 years ago that
several of us with Ed Romance met with the late John Quigge, the
"father" of the Lehigh Valley Chapter. Subsequently, John introduced us
to Harvey Harmon, former University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers coach
and at that time, the national executive director of the Hall of Fame.
Out of these contacts, Ed and the rest of us decided to form a Chapter
now to develop membership; it didn't happen overnight. However, those of
you who knew Ed Romance and the late Bill Jones and his close friend,
the late Eddie Nahas, then sales manager of Kaier's Brewery in Mahanoy
City, It didn't take long for 100 charter members to make application
and receive our Charter (#25).
The first scholar-athlete banquet was held on January 20, 1962, at the
Necho-Allen Hotel. The speaker was Harry Stuhldreher, quarterback of the
Immortal Four horsemen of Notre Dame.
Nineteen Schuylkill County high schools were represented at this event.
School coaches and principals sent their outstanding scholar-athletes to
represent their high school. From this group, George Garrett, of
Pottsville High School, was selected as the first Scholar-Athlete of
Schuylkill County. Incidentally, George was our principal speaker at our
1979 banquet. He was, then, Lieutenant Commander George Garrett, a Naval
Academy graduate with three years of varsity football.
Since this first scholar-athlete banquet, approximately 597
scholar-athletes have been honored by their schools and the Schuylkill
Chapter #25 Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. We are proud of this
relationship between the County schools and the Chapter along with the
National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.
From attendance of about 300 at this first banquet, at the Necho Allen
Hotel, we ultimately moved to larger facilities to accommodate the
average attendance of 400-450 yearly.
One of our proud accomplishments has been that of inviting six freshman
from each school to attend our banquet. These freshmen are selected by
the coaches and principals with the hope that these young men will be
impressed by the accomplishments of the current scholar-athletes.
In addition, each scholar-athlete receives a blue blazer with the Hall
of Fame insignia. A member of the Chapter is also honored for
outstanding service to the scholar-athlete concept.
We are grateful to many people who have made our Chapter a success: the
members of the Chapter; the Schuylkill County commissioners; coaches,
principals, superintendents; the press and radio; our advertisers; our
freshmen sponsors; our speakers; our selection committee; our patrons;
and many, many more.
While 39 years seems to be a long time ago-don't believe it. We have
enjoyed every year preparing for our Annual Banquet and listening to our
members describe the background of the scholar-athletes and then turning
to the Inside cover of our program and reading what Mr. Charles Klein,
principal of Bethlehem High School, contributed to the First Annual
Awards Dinner of the Lehigh Chapter. We have reprinted this excerpt from
Mr. Klein's talk in every program since 1962. Thanks Mr. Klein.
"Football has given me everything. Football exposed me to our Flower of
America - Our Young People. Some people say the younger generation can't
be controlled - a person who says that is a 'Monday Morning Quarterback'
and never says anything good about anybody." Do you agree with this
quote??? If you do, you agree with Harry Stuhldreher, as he spoke to the
first scholar-athlete banquet in the Necho Allen Hotel on Saturday,
January 20, 1962. "Young people will respond to proper leadership. No
Investment can compare with the one we make in younger people." "When
you pay your tribute here, you are doing an All-American job."
- Walter Jones