By TONY LEODORA
For the past 12 years the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame has shined a very special spotlight on a group of very special people. The Community Coaches Honor Roll was added to the night’s lineup, honoring the “Legacy of Leadership” that has been an integral part of the Montgomery County sports scene.
Volunteer coaches, the ones who toil in relative anonymity, have been an added focus of the annual Induction Banquet that began 14 years ago. And it is a welcome addition.
Jim Davis, a Founding Father of the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame, saw the need to recognize volunteer coaches from across the county – the ones who build the foundation for the great success in sports that athletes enjoy on the high school level … the college level … and for a fortunate few, on the professional level. He pushed hard to add the Community
Coaches Honor Roll to the annual banquet agenda and has taken an active part in honoring them ever since.
He remembers his earliest coaches … and so do most other athletes. They are quick to credit the coaches who worked with them in their formative years. Those coaches are often the lifeblood of their communities.
With more than 140 years of service to the Montgomery County sports scene, four new members are being added to the Montgomery County Community Coaches Honor Roll tonight — Tuesday, November 24, 2015 — at Normandy Farm. It is a long-overdue display of recognition for these unselfish individuals.
Volunteer coaches Paul Collins, Lee Fryer, Gary Kane and Van Scott join the four inductees in the spotlight at the 14 th Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame Induction Banquet.
They join those already named for induction tonight in the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame: former Plymouth Whitemarsh High and Ursinus College basketball coach Al Angelos, Cheltenham High track and field coach Bob Beale, former Germantown Academy field hockey and lacrosse coach Virginia Hofmann and former Spring-Ford High wrestling coach Pat Nugent.
They also sit on the dais alongside Lifetime Achievement Award winner Steve Javie.
The four volunteer coaches bring to 43 the total of members in the Community Coaches Honor
Roll. They are being honored for their longtime commitment to the spirit of volunteerism in the county.
“Each year our committee is so impressed with the resumes of those who are nominated for the Community Coaches Honor Roll,” says committee chairman Tom Brady. “Not only have they given an incredible amount of their time each year, but they have done it for many years. It becomes a part of their lives and, in turn, they enrich the lives of so many others.”
This year’s quartet truly represents the best of a rare breed of volunteer coaches in Montgomery County.
It is safe to say that the youth sports scene in the greater Lansdale/North Penn area would be very different today if not for the efforts of Paul Collins.
In the world of coaching, he spent 20 years as a basketball coach in Montgomery Township. His willingness to work with children and his knowledge of the fundamentals of the game have been recognized by many throughout the years.
But it was in the world of the North Penn Valley Girls Softball Association that Collins really made his mark. For 22 years he has been president of this girls fast pitch softball organization.
And he has led it to a paramount position in girls softball throughout the region. The level of organization that Collins brings to the association can be seen just by going to the website – www.npvgsa.org.
It has Collins fingerprints all over it.
Lee Fryer is one of those individuals who always has to stay busy. The 40-hour work week is not enough for him.
Originally, his out-of- work involvement came as a slow pitch softball pitcher – incredibly adroit at the unlimited arc style of softball that was relatively unique to the Plymouth Township Adult Softball League.
But Fryer soon became more involved. First he organized a team. Then he organized the league. For more than 20 years he has served as commissioner of one of the more consistent and successful adult softball leagues in the area. And, if anyone thinks it is difficult organizing a sports league for children … just try organizing one for children who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and up.
As if all of the softball activity isn’t enough, Fryer also organizes a bowling league during the winter at Facenda Whitaker Lanes. He is always busy … doing for others.
Coaching Whitpain boys’ travel soccer and boys’ and girls’ basketball in the St. Helena’s CYO athletic program for more than 20 years should have been enough volunteer activity for anyone.
But Gary Kane had a vision many years ago.
This year the 11 th annual St. Helena’s CYO Memorial Invitational Varsity Basketball Tournament will bring the best 7 th and 8 th grade teams from throughout the Greater Philadelphia area to Blue Bell. And the tournament has been the pet project of Kane from its inception. It is widely regarded as the most prestigious grammar school tournament in the area.
The tournament originated in 2004 to honor John Burke, a deceased member of the St. Helena community who made significant contributions to St. Helena’s CYO.
It continues not only to honor other deceased members of St. Helena’s CYO community, but as an important event for St. Helena’s parish, bringing together hundreds of volunteers for a weekend of camaraderie, community service and outstanding basketball. Money raised from sponsors, admissions and food sales benefits many causes – including the St. Helena’s parish community, St. Helena’s CYO, families needing tuition assistance at St. Helena’s School and, important local organizations.
Nobody can claim more longevity than Van Scott. For half of a century, anybody who grew up playing baseball in Pottstown got to know Scott. He is the longest-tenured Babe Ruth and Little League coach in the area.
In fact, his association with Pottstown Little League goes back to the very beginning of the
organization. Along with his wife, Laura, they were founding members of Pottstown Little
League. Van served as the first league president, while Laura served on the League Board.
Van and Laura also served as Assistant District Administrators in District 23. In 1993 District 23 was split into three districts, with Van taking the District Administrator position for the newly formed District 27, and Laura assuming the Financial Coordinator position.
They retired in 2004 but continue to serve Pottstown baseball in many ways.
On September 17, 2005 the creation of the Laura & Van Scott Scholarship was announced at the annual league awards banquet. The scholarship recognizes the many contributions and years of service of Laura and Van Scott to the Little League programs of the Pottstown area.