EATON — The Eaton Athletic Hall of Fame enshrined four new members — Thomas Ferriell, Rob Decker, Jane Harris, Dorothy (Fudge) Stoltz — during a special ceremony last December, including its first female athlete and female coach.
Inducted was an athletic class that includes three individual athletes and a coach, all graduates of Eaton High School. The induction class consists of individual inductees who graduated in 1954, 1966, 1968 and 1969, respectively.
Each individual athlete had a brush with athletic competition at the collegiate level and the coach made numerous trips to state competitions with her athletes.
The first female coach to ever be inducted in the Eaton Community Schools Hall of Fame is a 1954 Eaton High School graduate — Dorothy (Fudge) Stoltz.
Stoltz is an unparalleled coach, who has an exhaustive list of achievements as a founder and coach of GAA, Junior Olympics and varsity athletics at Eaton Schools. Stoltz has been an advocate and pioneer for female athletics at Eaton Schools and in the state of Ohio. After graduation from Eaton High School, she majored in physical education and health at Ohio University.
“Upon graduating from OU, Stoltz was hired by Eaton Schools as a teacher. During her first year as a teacher at Eaton, she was specifically told by her principal, ‘Do not try to start a girls’ athletic program here.’ Well, Dorothy outlasted that principal and many others,” Silvers said. “During her tenure at Eaton, Dorothy met her husband Dean. She became a guidance counselor. She not only started a women’s athletic program at Eaton, she still coaches for the Eaton High School varsity track and field program. Actually, with the exception of her time at Ohio University, Dorothy Fudge Stoltz has been a student or employee of Eaton Schools since she was in first grade. She has touched many lives.”
Ferriell, a local proprietor of the The Red Mule graduated in 1966. He has a sizable list of achievements as a basketball and football player. After graduation, Ferriell went on to play collegiate basketball.
Decker has raised his family of three children with his wife Debbie. All three of Rob’s children were student-athletes for Eaton Schools. He now follows his grandchildren in their athletic endeavors as Eaton Eagles. Decker, an exceptional athlete, has an extensive list of achievements at the state level as a football player.
The final individual athlete inducted in the 2016 Eaton Community Schools Hall of Fame was 1969 Eaton High School graduate Jane Harris. Harris is the first female inductee of the Eaton Community Schools Hall of Fame. Harris was brought to the committee’s attention by her coach, Dorothy Stoltz. Stoltz speaks of Harris, also known as “Dimples,” in glowing terms, not only as an athlete, but as a person. Harris was an all-around athlete who excelled in all aspects of Eaton High School athletics. Her interest in athletics evolved into a potential career. She entered Bowling Green State University in the fall of 1969 as a physical education major. Unfortunately, Harris’ life was cut short in the summer of 1970 by an automobile accident.
“In previous decades, extra curricular activities were a luxury to schools not a mainstay, primarily due to the Great Depression, WW II and the Korean War. During the 1950s, however, participation in extracurricular activities such as sports grew. In the 1960’s sports helped students form a bond during times of political unrest in the U.S. and the Vietnam War,” Eaton wrestling coach and Hall of Fame executive committee member Mark Silvers said.
“During the late 1960s local schools sponsored the GAA for their female athletes. No local varsity sports were offered for female athletes at that time. Junior Olympics was an option for those girls and coaches interested in competing at a higher level in track. The OHSAA did not recognize women’s sports at that time and Title IX was not yet in place. Two of our inductees today worked within the constraints of female athletics in the 1960’s. Their success helped break barriers for future female athletes at Eaton.”
The 2016 executive committee is currently made up of previous Eaton state coaches, Vanessa Garrett (volleyball), Richard McCollum (track), and Mark Silvers (wrestling). The committee also consists of one Dixon Israel graduate, Bob Whitesell and two Eaton graduates Pete Ferriell and David Wilson.
“Dorothy Stoltz, another state coach, is also a member of this committee, but we forcefully put her on hiatus this year so she could be inducted. We met early and behind her back to choose this induction class without her knowledge,” Silvers, who served as emcee of the event said. “She was certainly surprised and a little aggravated at our announcement.”
The mission of this committee is to recognize the most outstanding athletes, coaches and teams who have performed at the varsity level for Dixon-Israel or Eaton High Schools.
“Local athletes made close ties with each other, and also represented their school to the local community. These ties bled into the community, and the result has been widespread, deeply felt, and developed into a strong sense of pride in our schools. This bond and pride continues today,” Silvers said.
“We can see the reflection of our community’s pride when we walk through the halls of our new Eaton Community Schools’ buildings and athletic complex. As we sit in this performing arts center, we see first hand the result of our community pride and affection. This affection stemmed in large part from those opportunities we had to part take in or cheer on our exceptional athletes and teams. The Performing Arts Center and athletic complex was paid for entirely by private donations from alumni and community members.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH