Bucks Chapter of PA Sports Hall of Fame welcomes new inductees

by Joan Hellyer

Standout high school, college and professional athletes and coaches recently joined an elite Bucks County group.

Members of the county’s chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame welcomed 15 inductees to their ranks during an April 11th ceremony in Lower Southampton.

The inductees include Central Bucks East’s Tara Schmucker and the late Lisa Laskow Adams, Central Bucks West’s Linda Nixon, Council Rock’s Marybeth Freeman, Bobby Hill and Maureen Flynn Martin, Neshaminy’s Cindy Daeche Curley, Jack Dunn and Bob Grupp, Pennsbury’s Shayne “Kip” Kiefer and Donna Runyon and Karl Kremser of the former Woodrow Wilson High School (now Harry S. Truman High School) in Bristol Township.

The chapter also inducted Miki DeBaise, a three-sport athlete at Arcadia University (formerly Beaver College) and longtime tennis coach at the Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn, the late Fred Lening, a professional bowler from the Yardley area and the late Lilyan Wright, a Temple University graduate and the founder of the women’s athletic program at The College of New Jersey (the former Trenton State College.)

The county’s Sports Hall of Fame mission is to recognize athletes and coaches who have brought “pride and distinction” to Bucks. The chapter has inducted 156 athletes and coaches since its inception in 2009.

The Class of 2019 “is exceptional in all phases of athletic endeavor,” the chapter’s executive committee members said. All the inductees had a support system they depended on along the way, said Bobby Hill, a champion soccer player and wrestler at Council Rock in the mid-1980s.

“They have given us a pat on the back and sometimes a kick in the butt,” Bobby said during the ceremony at Brookside Manor at Somerton Springs.
Tara Schmucker played lacrosse, field hockey, basketball at CB East High School in the 1990s.

She was an all-American in lacrosse while at CB East. Tara went on to play lacrosse at Vanderbilt University, and then returned to CB East to serve as the head girls’ lacrosse coach. She also has coached lacrosse at CB West.

Linda Nixon played field hockey, basketball and tennis at CB West High School. She was on the field hockey, basketball, tennis, softball and swimming teams at Ursinus College.

Linda also played on the US National Field Hockey Touring Team. She has been the field hockey coach for more than 50 years at Springfield High School in Montgomery County.

Lisa Laskow Adams played three sports at CB East in the mid-1970s, including the school’s championship lacrosse and swimming teams.

“Athletics came as easy to her as breathing,” her daughter Kylie said while accepting her mother’s induction awards.

Lisa was grateful for Title IV, which leveled the playing field for female athletes beginning in the 1970s, her daughter said.

Shortly before her death in 2017, Lisa went with family members to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Women’s March. She made the trek “to stand up for what she believed in,” her daughter said.

“She has been quietly marching with women all along and breaking barriers.”

Lilyan Wright was one of those women who broke barriers for others, said Pat Toner, the field hockey coach at CB South High School. Pat, a Trenton State graduate and vice president of the chapter, accepted the induction awards for her former teacher.

“She impacted all of us,” Pat said. “We were lucky to have her at the College of New Jersey. She cared about us.”

Lilyan was hard not on her athletes, but students training to be physical education teachers, she said.

Pat recalled one time Lilyan sent her students out in the snow to play field hockey. The students were in shorts and the teacher was bundled up in a coat.

“‘It’s not that bad,’” Pat recalled Liliyan saying. “‘You just have to stop thinking about it.’”

The students called her “Tiger Lil.”

“The world is a little less happy without her,” Pat said.

PHOTO CAPS: 1. CB West inductee, Linda Nixon

2. Lisa Laskow Adams

3. Lilyan Wright were inducted posthumously.