Preble County Hall of Fame inducts 12th class

By Sydney L. Murray

May 26, 2014

The Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame inducted its twelfth class of athletes Sunday night, May 25, at the Preble County YMCA.

These athletes joined 175 other athletes already inducted in the 12 years since the Hall of Fame began.

The inductees included nine individuals and three teams.

President Mike Akers said the Hall of Fame exists to recognize athletes and those who have contributed to athletics in Preble County.

The Hall of Fame now includes 167 individuals and 20 teams.

Betty Brenner, 1969 Twin Valley North graduate, was the first person to be inducted. Brenner started playing softball in summer leagues in 1968 and still plays to this day for the Ohio Cardinals. With the Cardinals, she has won five world championships. She was inducted into the Southwest Ohio Softball Legends Hall of Fame in 2013.

Brenner said when she started, women’s sports weren’t important. She reminded the young people in attendance to remember the trailblazers that came before them.

“We were lucky to get a gym or a field, but we found a way to compete,” Brenner said.

Brian Ramsey was a 1984 graduate of Tri-County North, where he earned 10 varsity letters in baseball, basketball and football. After high school, he attended Ohio Northern University, where he earned four varsity letters in baseball.

Ramsey thanked his parents for taking him all over the country to play sports.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Ramsey said.

DaShayne Wadsworth was a 1986 graduate of Eaton High School. She lettered four years in basketball and two years in cross country. After high school, she attended Wright State University, where she received a full scholarship. She finished her high school career with more than 1,000 points.

Wadsworth said she went to school with a great group of people and then thanked her parents.

“It wouldn’t be possible without their support,” Wadsworth said. “They made a lot of sacrifices. They gave up a lot for me.”

Susan George was a 1988 Preble Shawnee graduate. George earned four varsity letters in softball and three in volleyball. She was one of the top pitchers in Ohio during her junior and senior years. She went on to play softball at Wright State University.

George thanked the Hall of Fame committee as well as her coach in high school, who she said was also a mentor to her when she became a coach. She also thanked her parents and mentioned how they would work on her pitching with her.

Mark Erslan was a 1988 graduate of Twin Valley South. He helped lead his basketball team to an 18-2 season during his senior year. After high school, he went to play at the University of Rio Grande where he scored 1,330 points as a three-year starter.

Erslan said the day brought back some great memories. He said he had many positive influences throughout his life and said his father first sparked his interest in basketball. He also said he had great teammates, and mentioned Dan Bassler, a fellow inductee.

Dan Bassler was also a 1988 Twin Valley South graduate. Bassler was a four-year starter in football. He also was a three-year starter for the basketball team and a four-year starter for the baseball team.

Bassler thanked the committee for recognizing someone who just wanted to play ball. He thanked his parents and coaches.

“Playing ball, to me, was just fun,” Bassler said.

Bassler also coached at Wright State University.

“I had such a great experience playing, I wanted everyone else to, too,” Bassler said.

Lettie Combs was a 1990 graduate from Preble Shawnee earned 11 varsity letters and played on seven league championship teams. She played basketball, volleyball and softball.

Combs thanked her parents and said they sacrificed a lot for her to play sports. She said her dad would pass the ball with her and her mom would drive her where she needed to go. She also thanked Preble Shawnee fans who would go to away games to cheer on the team.

Travis Miller was a 1991 graduate of National Trail. Miller played three sports and earned seven varsity letters: three in football, two in basketball and two in baseball. After high school, he went to play baseball at Kent State University and eventually pitched for the Minnesota Twins. Playing in the majors was a childhood dream of his.

Miller said his three older brothers and a cousin helped introduce him to baseball. He also thanked his coaches and his teammates.

“I was fortunate throughout my high school career to have great teammates,” Miller said.

Heather Eubanks was a 1993 graduate of National Trail. She competed in both track and cross country and became state champion in the 1,600-meter run in 1992. She went on to continue running at The Ohio State University, where she earned varsity letters.

Eubanks said she was surprised to learn she was selected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. She thanked the coaches she had over the years and the family and friends who supported her.

After the individual inductions, three teams were honored, starting with the 1960 West Alexandria Baseball team. The team won the Preble County and district championships, but lost in the regional finals. Team members included Dan Deeter, Tim Duffie, Tom Deeter, Jay Brixey, Jay Wright, Al De Villbiss, Manager Gary Gilbert, Coach Jess Curry, Dave Wright, Tim Worley, Art Curp, Dick Bruns, Kendall Toney, Jim Mobley and Ed Duffie.

The team thanked their coach and said he took the group and made them into a championship team.

“He could coach, he could teach, he could instruct,” a team spokesman said. “We were a bunch of lucky guys to play for such a great coach.”

The next team to be honored was the 1974 Preble Shawnee basketball team. The team finished the season 20-4 as regional runners-up. Team members included Tom Morris, Kenny Wysong, Greg Via, Tom Johnson, Dave Biggs, Dave McDaniel, Ritchie Longworth, Bill Neal, Sherman Perkins, Derek O’Banion, Lance Beam, John Gevedon, Mike Moore, Ken Ward, Steve Johnson, Coach Mike Akers and Coach Larry Banfield.

Mike Akers said this was the first time he was a varsity coach and said it was a season he would never forget.

“This group of kids is one I’ll never forget,” Akers said. “They liked to play.”

The last team to be recognized was the 1975 Eaton Wrestling Team. The team earned sixth place at the state meet. They were also sectional and district champions. Team members included Darrel Howe, Terry Gallimore, Bob Pieratt, Scott Vosler, Robin Bourne, Scott Sorrell, Mike Howe, Tim Gallimore, Dennis Knight, Bill Johnson, Rusty Meyers, Glen Findley, Terry Nickell, Dirk Crosier and Coach Sam Ridder.

The team showed a video with pictures from their 1975 season. Mike Howe spoke for the team and said wrestling was a life-changing sport for him. He also commended coach Ridder.