East Athletic Hall of Fame inducts the Class of 2017
November 27, 2017
In January of 2015 Dave Martin, Fred Belchikoff, Bill Sheppard and John Valore were on their way to the funeral of Virginia ‘Ginny’ Whitaker, a long-standing former Athletic Director for Cherry Hill East. In the midst of discussion, the men decided it was ridiculous that Cherry Hill East did not have an Athletic Hall of Fame to commemorate the accomplishments of student athletes who worked to make the school a better place.
“We’re going to get this done,” said Belchikoff at the time.
Belchikoff, Bob Hennefer, Peg Jordan, Beff Mancini, Tony Mancini, Dave Martin, Rick Santarone, Pierce Pelouze, Sue Schooley, Bill Sheppard, Will Tickner, John Valore and Kelly Young now meet once every month starting in January until June to discuss potential inductees.
“I was able to get in touch with every head coach from 1967… and they made their nominations, the committee looked at the nominations, and we made our choices,” said Belchikoff.
On Saturday, November 25, the Cherry Hill East Athletic Hall of Fame hosted its third annual induction ceremony at the Indian Springs Country Club and inducted 13 former students, as well as 3 former faculty members.
Below you can find profiles and pictures of each inductee, as well as excerpts from the speeches given at Saturday’s ceremony.
Erin Halpin (Ford) (‘87)
Erin Halpin entered East as primarily a soccer player, but left as one of the most memorable track stars in the school’s history.
In the off-season of soccer Mr. Lee Troutman encouraged Halpin to join track in order to stay in shape. Troutman, still a teacher at East today, instilled a lot about teamwork in Halpin that she still carries with her. In fact, Halpin still holds onto a motivational card that Troutman gave her in high school.
In track, Halpin won the high jump competition at the Pennsauken Relays, Pennsauken Open, the Olympic Conference Championships and the Group IV Sectional Championships. Halpin set the South Jersey record of 5-10, and set records at multiple meets throughout her senior year. Halpin was named to the All South Jersey Girls’ Track Team for two consecutive years and won a silver medal at the Junior National Olympics in 1986.
Halpin attended the University of Connecticut on a full track scholarship and currently lives in Medford, New Jersey.
“I had a seamless transition from high school to college… Cherry Hill East is just truly top notch,” said Halpin.
Kristin Kisselbach (Balogh) (‘90)
Kristin Kisselbach was coached by Mr. Bill Sheppard as a swimmer at East.
“I’m more proud of [Kisselbach and teammates] today than I was when they were students,” said Sheppard during his own induction speech.
While reluctant about awards ceremonies, Kisselbach was honored to be inducted and reunited with the faculty and students of East. Kisselbach remarked about how great it was to see her favorite teachers, such as Mr. George Jackson, who taught commercial art at East for 34 years and attended Saturday’s ceremony.
Kisselback attended the University of North Carolina, where she was on the swim team, and currently lives in California with her family.
Gary Kranzley (‘72)
Gary Kranzley was one of the students in 1969 who persuaded East faculty to start a swim team at East. The East team went on to become undefeated that season and won the State Championship for the seven years after that. In his junior year, Kranzley set an Eastern Swimming Championship record in his event, which stood for almost a decade. Kranzley ranked third in the United States in the 50-yard freestyle event while he attended East and won four gold medals in New Jersey State Championships three years in a row.
Kranzley attended the University of Maryland on a full swimming scholarship, but was paralyzed after an accident in his freshman year. Kranzley went on to become a swim coach at Cherry Valley Swim Club for several years.
Kranzley passed away in 2000 and his wife, Pat Morris, spoke at the induction on his behalf.
Mike Meyer (‘79)
Mike Meyer played football for East and in his junior year East won the Group IV Conference Title. In his senior year, Meyer was named the Courier Post Defensive Player of the Year, Philadelphia Inquirer 1st Team All Area, All Group IV Football Team, All South Jersey Football Team and All State Football Team.
“I’m honored, I’m humbled and I’m touched to stand here in front of so many people, teachers, and faculty who once threatened to throw me out of school,” said Meyer during his induction speech.
Meyer went on to play football for the University of Arizona, where he saw substantial playing time as a freshman and started as a sophomore until suffering from a career-ending back injury.
Meyer now lives in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, with his family.
Bruce Miller (‘82)
Bruce Miller started high school as a freshman who needed to get in shape for football. He was told by his coaches to join the track team.
“We hated Bruce because he made it look so easy,” said members of the induction committee of Miller’s successful track and field career.
Miller was the first runner to make the All South Jersey Runner Team and took second in the New Jersey Group IV Cross Country State Championship. His first mile race as a freshman was run in under five minutes and he also enjoyed the longer runs he did as a member of the cross country team.
“I wanted to thank my coaches and teammates for all those years of running around Cherry Hill,” said Miller.
Jared Morris (‘94)
Jared Morris was a member of East’s varsity tennis team for four years. As a freshman, East won the state tournament and was runner-up twice. Morris won the All South Jersey, All State, and South Jersey Player of the Year as a Cougar.
“I began to miss the competitive spirit and camaraderie of being part of a team,” said Morris of choosing to pick up tennis again later in life.
Today, Morris still plays up to three times a week and coaches his son’s tennis team.
After high school, Morris attended Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where he was a four-year starter on the varsity tennis team.
“I always think back to my tough matches to help me navigate life,” said Morris.
Judy Neutze (Baur) (‘74)
Judy Neutze was one of the best gymnasts ever to walk the halls of East. She was the New Jersey Gymnastics All-Around State Champion three years straight and even captained the team to three straight state championships.
“We won everything, and it sure was fun,” Neutze said, reflecting on her years at East.
Neutze went on to Penn State, where she would be a part of the National Championship Cheerleading Squad which is credited with introducing the chant “We Are — Penn State!”
Neutze currently resides in Lexington, Virginia, with her husband Tom and is a proud grandmother.
Lisa Neutze (Crawford) (‘77)
As a high school gymnast, Lisa Neutze placed first in New Jersey in the All-Around Gymnastics Competition and in her first three years, was ranked sixth in the Junior Nationals and 20th in the National Elites.
Neutze attended West Virginia University on a full gymnastics scholarship and was the first WVU gymnast to go to nationals.
Neutze is currently living in San Diego, California, with her husband, a fellow East graduate, and her sons.
Neutze was unable to attend Saturday’s ceremony; however, her sister, Judy Neutze, another 2017 inductee, was able to accept on her behalf.
John Nicholoson (‘76)
John Nicholoson was a multi-sport athlete at East and member of the seventh graduating class. He was not only First Team All-Conference in soccer, but he was First Team All-Conference in baseball as well.
Nicholoson said that “it really meant something to play a varsity sport. [He] always [has] been proud of what [he] accomplished in soccer and baseball at Cherry Hill East.”
Nicholoson now lives in Audobon, New Jersey, with his wife Kathy and is the proud father of two daughters, Lauren and Sarah.
Patty Owens (‘81)
Patty Owens was a star athlete in both hockey and lacrosse at East under Coach Sue Schooley. Owens was a player on the State Championship hockey team in 1979 and was captain of both the hockey and lacrosse teams as a senior at East. Owens was All-South Jersey Honorable Mention in lacrosse her sophomore year, as well as All-South Jersey First Team in her Senior Year. Owens was selected to play for the team at the Junior Olympics and in her junior and senior years, she was All-Group IV first team in both hockey and lacrosse.
Owens went on to play both sports at Princeton, where she was All-Ivy for lacrosse and was captain in her senior year for both hockey and lacrosse. Owens went on to be a member of the US lacrosse team.
Larry Price (‘81)
Larry Price played both football and baseball during his time at East. In football, Price led the team to a conference championship and was selected to the All-Conference, All-Group IV and All-South Jersey teams.
“I don’t think people realize… how much the coaches mean to a person,” said Price.
In the beginning of his East football career, Price was given advice from fellow 2017 inductee Mike Meyer.
“Get in there, don’t screw up, and don’t fumble,” said Meyer to Price during a particularly high-stress game.
As a baseball player, Price led the team to two conference championships and in his senior year was named to the All-Conference, All Group IV and All-South Jersey teams. In his senior year Price pitched two no-hitters.
Price attended the University of South Carolina on a full baseball scholarship, where he pitched in two College World Series.
Price now lives in Eagle, Idaho, with his wife.
Rocco Santaguida (‘77)
Rocco Santaguida transferred to Cherry Hill East in 1976 and started on the varsity basketball team for two years. He finished his high school career just 19 points shy of 1,000. He was even the first East basketball player to be named to the All State Team.
Santaguida went on to play at Monmouth University on a full scholarship. Believe it or not, he played against an NBA legend in his college days, Patrick Ewing.
Santaguida still resides in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, with his wife Karen and is the proud father of two children, Joseph and Ava.
Ed Johnsen (Equipment Manager)
Ed Johnsen began working for the Cherry Hill Board of Education in 1966 and became the Equipment Manager for the Athletic Department in 1976.
Johnsen served the entire building for decades and made an impact on many students during his time at East.
“Ed talked me off the ledge so many times in his office before games,” said Larry Price, fellow 2017 inductee.
Many coaches also appreciated the work Johnsen did to keep East sports running smoothly.
“Every coach at East relied on Ed and he never let us down,” said Coach Bill Sheppard.
Johnsen, a former athlete himself, played baseball in Babe Ruth and Garden State League and was awarded MVP and All-Star. He was inducted into the East Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and retired the same year.
“I considered myself the luckiest man to be associated with the athletic programs at Cherry Hill East,” said Johnsen.
Dave Martin (Baseball Coach)
The baseball field that currently resides behind Cherry Hill East is named after former coach, Dave Martin.
In his playing days, Martin pitched at Gloucester Catholic and eventually Southern Illinois University, where he would face (and lose to) Philadelphia legend Mike Schmidt in the College World Series of his senior year.
Martin says that “baseball was always in [his] blood.”
Martin stays involved with the East baseball program to this day as a volunteer assistant coach.
William Sheppard “Shep” (Boys Swim Coach)
“This award is very special to me and one that I will never forget,” said Coach Bill Sheppard in accepting his induction into East’s Hall of Fame.
Sheppard taught Health and Physical Education at East for 38 years and coached boys’ and girls’ bowling, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ swimming, golf and baseball. His swim teams won 15 conference championships, 10 sectional championships, and 6 state championships. Over 20 of Sheppard’s swimmers were named to the High School All American Team.
Sheppard remains involved in the lives of many of his swimmers, including the ones inducted alongside him on Saturday.
“Being the swim coach at East was the highlight of my career,” said Sheppard.
Kristel Haesler (Ellis) (‘99)
“I remembered thinking… these are huge shoes to fill at this school,” said Kristel Haesler about entering East as a freshman in 1995.
During Haesler’s time at East, she swam under the direction of Coach Bill Sheppard and was a member of the New Jersey State Championship Swim Team.
“The best part about swimming at East was that it was an amazing team sport… at East [swimming] wasn’t an individual sport,” said Haesler.
Haesler won the New Jersey State Team Champion Individual in multiple events and relays for Cherry Hill East from 1996 through 1999.
“Those swimming years at East definitely changed my life,” said Haesler.
Haesler went on to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara on a full swimming scholarship, and now lives in San Diego, CA, with her family.