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North Penn Alumni Athletic Association Celebrates 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

Member+of+the+2008+and+2009+North+Penn+Girls%27+Water+Polo+team%2C+Colleen+Stiles%2C+speaks+on+behalf+of+the+two+teams+at+the+induction+ceremony
Member of the 2008 and 2009 North Penn Girls' Water Polo team, Colleen Stiles, speaks on behalf of the two teams at the induction ceremony

Member of the 2008 and 2009 North Penn Girls' Water Polo team, Colleen Stiles, speaks on behalf of the two teams at the induction ceremony

Member of the 2008 and 2009 North Penn Girls' Water Polo team, Colleen Stiles, speaks on behalf of the two teams at the induction ceremony

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TOWAMENCIN- As players, swimmers, and runners, they achieved All-American status, won state championships, and set school records. Now as parents, professionals, and community members, they raise families, thrive in their careers, and give back to their communities. Former North Penn athletes were celebrated on Saturday night when the North Penn Alumni Athletic Association inducted eight athletes and two teams into the North Penn High School Sports Hall of Fame. A prestigious honor, the Hall of Fame recognizes alumni who excelled in athletics during their time in high school, and who have gone on to find success in their adult lives as well.

Before inducting the first athlete, the NPAAA commended Brenda E. Robinson, from the class of 1974, who was inducted into the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame. As the first African-American woman to earn her wings of gold as a naval aviator, Robinson flew bomb disposal teams and passenger transport missions out of Guam, participated in both Gulf Wars, and amassed 115 carrier landings while transporting mail, cargo, and passengers to aircraft carriers. She had a long and rewarding aviation career and was incredibly honored to be decorated by North Penn High School.

In total, the NPAAA inducted eight athletes into the Sports Hall of Fame: Barbara Davis Cuthbert Burnett, Pat Thompson, Matt Henderson, Christopher Hasyn, Matt Krystopa, Jennifer Collins Vela, Mary Ann Kempf, and Nick Fanslau. Two teams, the 2006 and 2007 Boys’ Water Polo teams and the 2008 and 2009 Girls’ Water Polo teams, were inducted as well.

Many of the athletes grew up inspired by previous inductees, and now their names are permanently engraved on plaques right next to their inspirations in the halls of the high school.

“One of my first memories of North Penn High School was of the plaques by the gym. I would walk and see the Hall of Fame, and I thought it was pretty cool, and one day I would strive to get one. It’s awesome that it’s coming full circle,” stated Chris Hasyn, a tennis player from the class of 2008.

No great athlete becomes great alone, and a large part of any athlete’s success can be contributed to their coaches. All the inductees acknowledged the immense amount of time and energy their coaches spent on them.

“You did much more than teach me stroke technique, starts, and turns. You are role models that I looked up to, wanted to work hard for, and wanted to be like, which is still true to this day,” voiced swimmer Matt Krystopa to his coaches. Krystopa, class of 1992, is now a coach himself at North Penn Aquatic Club.

Sports played a vital role in the physical and character development of many of the inductees. Class of 2003 track and field athlete Matt Henderson demonstrated this through describing his personal struggles in high school with his father suffering from heart problems and consequently spending a great deal of time in the hospital.

“Track always kept me sane,” Henderson confessed.

A posthumous award was given to Mary Ann Kempf from the class of 1978 who excelled at lacrosse, field hockey, and basketball. Accepting the award on her behalf was her daughter Allison. Like most athletes, Kempf had a rather competitive nature.

“She would break your nose playing Pictionary,” according to her family.

Throughout the years, many things regarding North Penn athletics has changed, but a great deal has stayed the same. Because the inductees came from a range of classes, they were able to discuss some of the changes the high school athletic program has witnessed since they were students, but ultimately acknowledged that the important things remained the same.

“The games have changed, the rules and fields too, but those amazing feats that we accomplished, the championships we won, and the friendships we shared- those cannot be changed,” reflected Barbara Davis Cuthbert Burnett on her high school athletic career. Burnett, a field hockey, basketball, and softball player, graduated in 1959 when North Penn was very different, yet very similar, to the school today.

Along with the eight individual athletes, four state championship water polo teams were inducted into the Hall of Fame as well.

The 2006 Boys’ Water Polo team is the only water polo team to win a state title in their home pool, and the 2007 Boys’ Water Polo team defended that title, becoming the only one to win back to back state titles. Head Coach Brian Faikish thanked his wife and children, his mentors, the administration, and his then assistant coach Jason Grubb.

“These two teams had a career of 105 wins to 10 losses. [They] capped off the era of dominance in our sport,” stated Faikish on the boys’ success.

In addition, the 2008 and 2009 Girls’ Water Polo teams were commended for their accomplishments. Coached by Bill Bartle and assistant coached by Katie (Plewinski) Grunmeier, the girls saw tremendous success in the form of two state titles.

“Dedication, determination, and grit. The women standing behind me of the 2008 and 2009 state championship teams exemplify all these qualities and more,” Colleen Stiles, member of both teams, proclaimed.

Although the inductees’ athletic success is unparalleled, the true reason for their recognition lies in the type of adults they grew into. When talking about the Girls’ Water Polo teams, Bartle acknowledged this point.

“Now obviously we all want to talk about athletics and how well these girls performed, but more importantly, and I will say this about all inductees this evening, more importantly, what they’ve now done in life. And they all have become great professionals,” he conveyed.

“Two [of the girls] fairly soon will become psychiatrists. I think I had a lot to do with that to be honest,” Bartle jokingly added.

All of the inductees expressed gratitude to their parents for driving them to countless practices and keeping them well-fed, their coaches and administrators for mentoring them in both their athletic pursuits as well as in life, and their teammates for making the early practices, long hours, and late games enjoyable.

“I truly believe in the transformational power of sport. It goes beyond any court or field, and the happiness it can bring you and the lessons you can learn are immeasurable,” lacrosse player Jennifer Collins Vela from the class of 2005 expressed at the induction ceremony. Based on their accolades and dedication, the athletes inducted Saturday night feel the truth of that statement in an extraordinary way.

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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA
North Penn Alumni Athletic Association Celebrates 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees