Alumni Fall-Winter Sports Highlights

Alumni Fall-Winter Sports Highlights

Deck the ‘Halls’
Halls of Fame Honor Red Tornadoes

In October, McCaskey Alumni were honored by both the Lancaster County Sports Hall of Fame and the J.P. McCaskey High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

On the evening of October 13, at the Eden Resort, the Lancaster County Sports Hall of Fame (LCSHOF) presented its George W. Kirchner Award to Patricia Hofman Meiser ’65. The Kirchner Award, a recognition of lifetime achievement, was once referred to by Lancaster Newspapers writer Bill Fisher as “the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a local sports figure.”

Meiser is recognized as a “Title IX trailblazer” with a career in collegiate athletics that has thrived for 44 years. Having played on the McCaskey field hockey, basketball and tennis teams, she continued her tennis career at West Chester University, from which she graduated in 1969. In 1971, she received her master’s degree in education from Penn State University where she would soon become the head women’s basketball coach and transform the team into one of the Top 20 programs in the nation. She awarded Penn State’s first women’s basketball scholarship and steered the program into full Title IX compliancy. Since then, she has successfully taken on athletic director roles at the University of Connecticut and the University of Hartford.

On the same evening as Meiser’s recognition was given, a new Kenneth G. Stoudt Volunteer Award was presented to Robert Diller ’66.

Photography has been Bob Diller’s lifelong hobby, and he has donated much of his time over many decades to photographing youth, high school and collegiate sports in Lancaster County. He donates his photos to teams, coaches and players to help them remember their athletic accomplishments. He is a familiar face at Lancaster-Lebanon League sporting events. According to his biography in the LCSHOF program, “as a 1966 McCaskey graduate, he often favors the Tornadoes and its athletic teams.” While a student at McCaskey, Diller lettered in tennis and soccer. He is a retired Armstrong employee, an Army veteran, a grandparent, and remains a skilled tennis player.

In the late afternoon of October 14, 2022, prior to McCaskey’s Homecoming Game against Cedar Crest, the McCaskey Athletic Department held its 2022 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in the Shultz Transportation Gymnasium at J.P. McCaskey High School. Emceed by SDOL Athletic Director Jon Mitchell, the event honored the following new inductees:

1992 State Champion 1600 Relay:
Jenny Ladson ’93
Ann Cross ‘93
Florine Holmes Downing ’93
Rhasheda Bailey ’96

The 4×400 relay was a major factor in McCaskey’s 1992 and 1993 Girls State Championship teams. In May of 1992 at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, the 4×400 quartet “burned the track,” according to the McCaskey athletic department.

Jenny Ladson, Ann Cross, Florine Holmes, and Rhasheda Bailey looped the track in 3:57.7 seconds, which was a new school record and 1.30 seconds faster than the Cheltenham High School team. More amazingly, they bettered their gold medal performance from just one week prior at the District III championships by 4.2 seconds.

On the same day, Ladson, Holmes and Bailey won another state title as members the 4×100 relay, winning it with a time of :47.83. Bailey, who had won the gold medal for the 200-meter dash at the District III meet, performed admirably, coming in second in the 200-meter dash and third in the 100-meter dash.

The following year, Ladson won gold in the 200, 400 and Triple Jump at the district meet, and matched these placements at states, with the exception of the Triple Jump, in which she earned second place. In the 300-meter hurdles, Cross took home the gold from the L-L League meet, winning third place at districts and fourth place at states for the same event. Meanwhile, Holmes and Ladson finished their McCaskey careers having earned six varsity letters each. With All-American status at Odessa Junior College in Odessa, TX, an injury prevented Ladson from competing in the 1996 Summer Olympics, for which she qualified.

Darlene Downer Rose ’68 pioneered McCaskey girls’ athletics in the era before the passage of Title IX, participating in track-and-field, gymnastics, and field hockey. During her senior year, she medaled at the PIAA State championships (as she had in her junior season) and won gold in the Vault and Floor exercise at the Lancaster City-County High School championships. She became a two-time champion in the All-Around at the same event. At West Chester State College, from which she graduated in 1972, Rose captained the Womens’ gymnastics team and, in 1979, earned her MAT in Physical Education. The same year, in Greenville, NC, she opened Rose’s Gymnastics Training Center with her husband, a business that spawned numerous offshoots and launched her successful career as a gymnastics coach.

For all three of his McCaskey years, Carl Frederick ’76 received varsity letters in track-and-field and football, captaining both teams his senior year. Also that year, he won silver medals for both the shot put and the discus at the Lancaster-Lebanon League championships, maintaining his discus placement at at the District II championships. He became a three-time All-PSAC discus honoree at Millersville University, where he also continued to compete in the shot put and hammer throw. For his senior year, he captained the university’s track-and-field team. In 1980, he began a coaching career as McCaskey football coach Norbie Danz’s assistant. He would soon become the head football coach at Wheatland Junior High, winning a section title his second year. He served as a McCaskey guidance counselor for 30 years.

In 1940, the valedictorian of the McCaskey Class of 1942 and daughter to a local Phys Ed teacher and YMCA swimming director, Marilyn Globisch Smith ’42 set the world record in the 50-yard breaststroke. During her competitive years, she also set numerous Middle Atlantic States records and, like another famed McCaskey alum, Barney Ewell ’38, was prevented from competing in the Olympics for which she qualified, due to World War II preempting the 1944 summer games. In 1948, she married Thomas Smith, who she met while attending Penn State. The couple settled in Lancaster where they had two children. In 1973, their daughter, Claudia Smith Holtry, won the first PIAA Girls State Tennis Championship.


For Groff, Hockey Sticks
Longtime Field Hockey Coach Receives Coach of the Year Award

At the Lancaster-Lebanon League Banquet in November, Meagan Groff ’03 received the Section 4 Coach of the Year Award for field hockey. She began coaching field hockey at McCaskey in 2006, three years after her graduation, and has continued for 17 years.

Groff began her McCaskey field hockey coaching career while studying history and education at Millersville University. Though she did not play field hockey for Millersville, she had been a standout player on the McCaskey team.

“I really enjoyed the camaraderie we all had as a team,” Groff recently told the McCaskey Alumni Association, “and how we always had each other’s backs.”

Groff was a member of the McCaskey field hockey team at a time when the players themselves contributed much to the growth of the field hockey program.

“Hockey can be an expensive sport, and we didn’t have the finances to do everything we wanted to,” Groff remembers, “so we did a lot of fundraising for the team.”

Following her graduation from Millersville, Groff received her masters degree from Puerto Rico’s Turabo University. Starting in the 2008-2009 school year, she became a McCaskey Social Studies teacher, a role she continues into the present at McCaskey East.

Shaped by ‘Kraft’
McCaskey Community Mourns Coach Gordie Kraft ’58

The McCaskey Alumni Association works daily to note the passing of McCaskey graduates so that they can be chronicled for readers in the back pages of the Alumni Vidette. From time-to-time, a grief resonates with particular strength through the alumni community with the death of a McCaskey icon. Gordie Kraft ’58 is a case in point.

On March 4, Gordie Kraft passed away from lung cancer at the age of 82. His wife of more than 60 years and fellow McCaskey graduate, Yvonne Leggett Kraft ’59, had died just three months prior, and his lung cancer diagnosis had come only three weeks before his passing.

The McCaskey Alumni Association has received numerous messages from graduates who say Kraft, a legendary McCaskey educator and coach, helped to shape their lives positively.

Kraft’s long career in athletics began while he was a McCaskey student on the track, swimming, and football teams. As a linebacker and center, he helped to lead the 1957 football squad to a Central Penn football championship. His senior year, he scored a gold medal at the state championship swim meet, swimming a leg for the victorious 200 freestyle relay team.

Matriculating at Franklin & Marshall College, he continued as a three-sport athlete, captaining the track and football teams. In 1962, he was recognized as F&M’s Senior Athlete of the Year. That same year, he began a legendary 35-year career as a McCaskey teacher and coach.

For nearly all of those 35 years, Kraft served as McCaskey’s assistant football coach. Meanwhile, for 28 seasons, he was the head track coach for the boys, leading them to countless section, league and district championships, 19 undefeated seasons, and second place finishes at five state championships. His girls won four District III titles and two state championships. He also served for three seasons as McCaskey’s head swimming coach.