Hall of Fame Class of 2014

  • Heidi Blackwell (1980)

    During her years at Lyons Central School, Heidi Blackwell participated in five different sports. She was a member of the first Cross-County team at Lyons Central School in 7th grade and a member of the polar bear/indoor track team in 1979 and 1980. Heidi was on the Varsity track team in grades 9-12 and was co-captain her senior year. She was a member of the 1979 track team that went 11-0 and was invitational and sectional champions. She came in 1st place in both the Wayne County Championships and Sectional Qualifiers for the Mile Walk in 1979 and 1980. Heidi won the Section V, Class C Championship Mile Walk in 1979. She was also a member of the Mile Relay team that set a school record at 4:35.3.

    Heidi played right half-back for the Varsity Soccer team all four years in high school. She was co-captain her senior year. She played Varsity volleyball grades 10-12 and was co-captain her senior year. She was the leading server in 1979 and 1980 and the 1980 volleyball team placed 1st in the county tournament.

    After college, Heidi moved to Albany and resumed her love of running by participating in 5K races around New York State. She also fell in love with endurance cycling events-raising money for the Tour de Cure, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society. Her love of health and fitness eventually led to a full time career as a Personal Trainer/Group Fitness Instructor, a position she held for over 10 years. Today she divides her time between running, cycling, and kayaking and is currently training for her first half marathon in October. Heidi has worked for 13 years with the Department of Graduate Medical Education at Albany Medical Center, the last four years as its Assistant Director. She recently obtained her B.S. in Health Science/Health Education from Excelsior College, graduating with High Honors. She has a daughter who lives in Wyoming and a son who lives at home.

    Gene Comella (1965)

    Gene Comella was a 1965 Lyons High School graduate. During his high school career he earned eight varsity letters. He was a three-year varsity football starter and he received the Benny Jelamono Football Award as a Sophomore. The team was 12-3-1 during his junior and senior years and Gene won the American Legion Football Award his senior year. He was co-captain in football and baseball his senior year and was named All-Wayne Finger Lakes Football. Gene was Co-Athlete of the Year in 1965 with Peter Patanzo.

    After graduating from Lyons, Gene attended Bordentown Military Institute (BMI) in New Jersey, which was a very prestigious prep school. He was the starting fullback on an 8-0 team which won the Eastern Prep Championship in 1965. He was selected to the All-Prep Team.

    After graduating from BMI in 1966, he chose to attend Boston College over Syracuse. He was awarded a NCAA Scholarship to Boston College. He was the starting fullback on the 8-2 BC team in 1970. He was awarded the game ball for rushing 125 yards in a win over the University of Pittsburgh.

    Gene went on to be a very successful businessman. He was twice awarded District Manager of the Year for Chrysler Corporation, in 1972 and 1973. In 1987, he was named Most Improved Sales Perfomer for Winthrop Financial. In 1988, Gene had the idea that Boston and the suburbs needed a family-oriented food retailer where anyone could buy homemade Italian foods at a very affordable price. It has been very successful and today Gene and his sons run Comella’s Restaurant Group, which has 12 locations in the Boston area.

    Gene considers his four children his biggest accomplishment in life. Daughter Erin was a Division I soccer player at the University of Massachusetts and has run 12 marathons. Greg was the starting fullback for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. He was the first NFL player to graduate from Harvard Business School. Matt was a starting fullback at Northeastern and was drafted by the New York Jets. JP was a starting fullback for Boston College and drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Gene says the best gift of all is his 13 wonderful grandchildren.

    Matthew Herbst (1985)

    Matt Herbst was a two-sport athlete at Lyons, playing three years of varsity baseball under coach Rod Verkey and two years of varsity football under Coach Chuck Meyers. He started in the outfield all three years of baseball, earning First Team All-League his senior year. In football, Matt was one of only two underclassmen to start on defense his junior year. His senior year, he played inside linebacker and fullback.  Matt led the team in tackles and earned First Team All-League honors at linebacker and won the PUD award.

    He was also selected to play in the Eddie Meath All-Star game which was coached by fellow hall of famer and Ithaca alum Nick DerCola. After a year away from football studying at RIT, Matt decided to play college football, and the chance to play against his brother (Greg), were two goals worth pursuing. He transferred to Ithaca College with the help of Coach Chuck Meyers, and played on the JV team his first year. After an offseason of strength and agility tests and being evaluated by the coaches, Matt was selected to become a member of the Ithaca College Varsity Football Team. In 1987, Matt was the back-up at the strongside inside linebacker position and was able to play against Greg when Ithaca played St Lawrence University.

    In 1988, Matt became a starter and registered 70 tackles during the regular season. The NCAA Division III playoffs were another story. In four playoff games, Matt finished with 53 tackles and led the team in every game.  His most important contribution came in the first round against the defending national champion Wagner Seahawks. Matt had 14 tackles and two interceptions, the second coming with only 3:09 left in the game and Ithaca trailing by a touchdown.

    Ithaca went on to play in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, where they would bring home the Division III National Championship. Matt was encouraged by the coaches to come back for another year and proceeded to lead the team in tackles with 103, and to earn Honorary Defensive Captain, First Team ALL-ECAC, and Third Team Football Gazette All-America honors.

    After graduating from Ithaca College with a Physics degree, Matt enrolled at Albany College of Pharmacy and graduated in 1995 with a BS in Pharmacy. He has been a pharmacist since 1995 and in 2011 established Herbst Pharmacy, Inc. in Port Byron, NY.  Matt resides in Skaneateles, NY with his wife Julia and four children: Makenzi, Benny, Owen, and Kellen. To fulfill his continued desire for competitive sports, Matt has replaced his cleats with a pair of hockey skates and laces them up three days a week. 

    Danielle McCray (2003)

    Danielle McCray was a very accomplished athlete in high school and college. She earned varsity letters in volleyball, basketball, and track.

    Danielle played varsity volleyball in her junior and senior years. Her senior year, the team had a great season. They won their first six matches, lost to Wayne and then won fourteen straight matches to advance to Sectional finals. Along the way, the Lady Lions won their first league title since 1984, finishing the season undefeated in league play.  Danielle was named 1st Team All-County and League MVP. She was named to the Section V All-Tournament Team.

    Danielle played varsity basketball for four years. During that time, the team won four consecutive Wayne County Championship titles and Danielle was named MVP of the league three times. She was a 1st Team All-County selection all four years. The team’s overall record was 79-12. Danielle was named to the Section V All-Tournament Team three times, the All-Greater Rochester Super 15 two times, the Finger Lakes Fab Five 1st Team two times and the Class C All-State Team once. Danielle is the all-time Lady Lions leader for points in a single season with a total of 516 points. She is tied for first for points in a single game with 37 points against both Clyde-Savannah and North Rose-Wolcott.  Danielle is second on the list for career points at 1813.

    Danielle participated in varsity track for five years, starting in 8th grade. The team was Wayne County Champions all five years with 39 straight wins. They won the NYS title in 2000. Danielle holds the school record for high jump at 5’6”.  She was the Section V Class C high jump champion in 2001. Danielle participated in the NYS Tournament all five years. She was a member of the State Champion 4x100 relay team in 2000. Danielle was named Lyons Most Athletic Female her senior year.

    Danielle continued her athletic career, playing basketball at Genesee Community College. She tied the school record for defensive rebounds in a game at 14. She broke the GCC records for most blocked shots in a game (5 blocked shots, 3 times), most rebounds in a season (383) and most rebounds in a career (565). Danielle ranked 17th in the nation in field goal percentage (.550 in ’04-’05) and 7th in the nation in rebounds per game (12 in 2004-05). She was named to the GCC Tipoff Tournament and Cincinatti State Class All Tournament Teams. Danielle was named 1st Team All-Conference in 2004-2005 and 2nd Team All-District C Honors in 2004-05.

    After graduating from Genesee Community College, Danielle played one year for Division I Marist College, which was the 2006 regular season and tournament champion.

    Danielle is the proud mother of a son, two-year-old A’Karri Makhi. She recently accepted a new position as Supervisor of the Special Services Team at Hillside Childrens Center where she has been employed for eight years helping at-risk youth. Danielle is currently finishing up her degree in Community and Human Services.

    Frank Lisco

    Frank Lisco has been involved in athletics his whole life as a player, coach, and official. Frank attended Fort Plain Central School. He was a three-year varsity starter in soccer and was named as a 1st Team Mohawk Valley All-Star his junior and senior years. They were Section 2 A-B-C Champions in 1960 and he was Team MVP.

    Frank was a three-year starter in basketball and was named as a 1st Team Mohawk Valley All-Star his junior and senior years. He was also team MVP in his junior and senior years. Frank was also a three-year starter in baseball, named a first Team All-Star his junior and senior year and Team MVP as a senior. His senior year, Frank ran the third leg of the 880 relay team for track.

    Frank then continued his athletic career at SUNY Oswego. He played soccer for three years. In 1963, he was Team MVP and 2nd Team All SUNYAC. In 1964, he was All-SUNYAC 1st Team and All New York State Team.  Frank played guard in basketball for two years and the team was SUNYAC Champions in 1963-1964. Frank was a pitcher on the baseball team that was SUNYAC Champions in 1963 and 1965.  Frank graduated from SUNY Oswego in 1965 with a degree in Secondary Mathematics. Frank started his teaching career at Lyons in 1965.

    Frank coached junior high basketball and baseball for many years. He coached boys’ varsity basketball from 1966-1974, winning two Wayne County titles. He coached girls’ varsity basketball from 1985-1990.  He also coached girls’ volleyball from 1997-2001, taking them to the Sectional Finals in 2000 and 2001.  Frank’s real love was baseball.  He coached varsity baseball from 1988-2002. They won eleven Wayne County titles in 15 years. They played in the sectional finals in 1999 and 2000.  He revived American Legion baseball in Lyons after a 25-year absence, coaching for 14 years and winning 10 titles, which he believed greatly enhanced his high school program.

    Over Frank’s 35-year career, he coached 1062 contests with 732 wins and 330 loses. He was named to the SUNY Oswego Hall of Fame in 2008. Since retiring in 2001, Frank and his wife Sue moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina.  He works part-time at Whispering Pines Country Club in North Carolina.  They visit their son Frankie, who is a musician in Atlanta, Georgia. They also visit their daughter Andrea, who is a physical therapist in Victor, New York.

    Ron Wheat

    Ron Wheat was a math teacher at Lyons Central School District from 1968-2001. He also served as Dean of Students. He was named LCS Teacher of the Year in 1999 and 2001 and received the NYSUT Recognition Award in 1998.

    Ron coached football at various levels throughout his career. He coached modified for five years and was a varsity assistant for eight years, and Ron was varsity head coach for five years.

    But Ron’s real love was track.  He was involved in track in various capacities from 1969 to 2013.  He started in 1969 as Assistant Varsity Boys’ Coach for three years.  He then became the Head Varsity Boys’ Coach for the next nine years.  During this time the boys won four league titles, six division titles and five sectional titles.  From 1976-1980, the boys had a record of 39-1 in the league and 50-4 overall.

    For the next six years, Ron served as a track official.  In 1987, he returned to coaching as an assistant girls’ coach for one year.  In 1988, Ron took over as the girls’ head coach, a position he continued for the next 20 years, well after his retirement from teaching.  During his tenure, the girls won seven league titles (five in a row: 1999-2003 with 39 straight wins), 12 division titles, and two sectional titles. In 2000, the girls won the New York State title. Ron’s team had 12 state Champions (11 individuals and one relay team).

    Ron was recognized for his many contributions. He received the NYSPHSAA Coaching Award in 1982, the Wayne Finger Lakes Track Officials Award in 1984 and was named Section V Track Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2000. Ron returned to officiating rank from 2008 to 2013.

    Ron has been married to Mary Lou for 43 years. Mary Lou was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. They have two children, Kelly and Casey. Ron and Mary Lou divide their time between Lyons and their home in Lake Wales, Florida. 

    Finger Lakes Times 

    At the Finger Lakes Times, we are extremely honored and humbled that our Sports Department has been selected for inclusion in the Lyons Athletic Hall of Fame. It’s not often that you win an award like this simply for doing your job, but it’s also not often that a newspaper has the privilege of covering a sports program as outstanding as the one in the Lyons Central School District.

    Any mention of the FLT’s sports coverage has to begin with our former Sports Editor Norm Jollow, who began his career with what was then the Geneva Daily Times in 1955. When he retired in 1991, Norm had built the Times’ sports department into one of the most respected ones in the state for small-town newspapers, and a large part of that was expanded out beyond Geneva to include coverage of the sports teams from other nearby districts, including Lyons. Norm passed away in 2000, but his legacy lives on at the FLT, especially because three of the people he hired to cover sports for FLT are still at the newspaper. Former Sports Editor Mike Cutillo is now the paper’s Executive Editor; Alan Brignall, another former Sports Editor, is now the News Editor; and former Sports Writer Mike Hibbard is now the paper’s crime and courts reporter. They may not cover sports any longer, but those three are still passionate about the paper’s sports coverage, and they team up with current Sports Coordinator Greg McNall and Sports Writer Josh DeSain to give the FLT an unusual amount of knowledge about the local high school sports scene.

    Some of the other names who also have covered sports in recent decades at the FLT include Dick Patrick (who went on to USA Today), the late Tom Leo (who left the Times for the Syracuse Post-Standard), Charlie Hayes, Matt Dorney, Toni McNicholas (one of the first sportswriters in the state hired primarily to cover girls sports), Amy Faulkner, Elizabeth Foy, Rich Fyle, Jim Eichenhofer (who currently works for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans) and Joel Pinckney.

    The FLT’s coverage of local high school sports would not be what it is without outstanding photographs of those touchdown catches, clutch 3-pointers, and home runs. Current Chief Photographer Spencer Tulis carries on in the tradition of former great FLT photographers, a list that includes Art Foxall, Dale Duchesne, Seth Siditsky, Kathleen Lange and Michaele Boncaro.

    We would love to list some of the incredible players and great coaches in Lyons history here — including some of those who are joining our Sports Dept. as 2014 inductees — but there are way too many, and we know we’d forget some. So instead, we’ll close by saying, to all Lyons athletes and coaches: You keep playing, and we’ll keep chronicling your fantastic achievements.

    1990 - 1993 VARSITY GOLF TEAMS

    1990 Golf Team

    The varsity golf team finished the year 13-1 and was Wayne County Co-Champions. Dave Bastian was the MVP and qualified for the state tournament in Cornell as a freshman. The American Legion Citizenship Award was won by Chris Santelli.

    Members: Darryl Long, Joseph Amrose, Matt Bastian, Chris Santelli, David Bastian, Eric Wasser

    Coach: John DiSanto

    1991 Golf Team

    The 1991 team finished 13-1. In their 13 victories, they never gave up more than two points in any match. Darryl Long won all 14 of his matches and Matt Bastian was a State Tournament Alternate. Dave Bastian shot in the 30’s for 9 holes and was the medalist at the Wayne County tourney with a low of 83. Matt Bastian also qualified for the Section V tourney with an 84 at the Wayne County tournament.

    Members: Chris Santelli, Matt Bastian, Eric Wasser, David Bastian, Joe Amrose, Derek Sholly, Darryl Long, Coach Schott.

    1992 Golf Team

    The varsity golf team had another exceptional season, as they finished 14-0.  David Bastian, Matt Bastian, and Eric Wasser all qualified for the Section V tournament.

    Members: David Bastian, Matt Bastian, Darryl Long, Coach Schott, Chris Santelli, Derek Sholly, Brian Wasser, Casey Wheat and Eric Wasser

    1993 Golf Team

    The Lyons Golf team had another outstanding year, finishing the season 14-0 and winning the Wayne County League Title for the fourth consecutive year.  Outstanding individual play was led by David Bastian, Eric Wasser, and Chris Santelli, who all won 1st team all-star league honors and represented Wayne County at the Section V tournament.  David Bastian went on and qualified to represent Section V at NYSPHAA tournament at Cornell. 

    Members: Chris Santelli, Eric Wasser, Coach Schott, Casey Wheat, Brian Wasser, David Bastian, Andy Thoms, Mike Giddings