I just had a chance to review the top-10 list of Delone athletes and, while I cannot deny how great any of them are, I cannot help but want to mention my dear husband, Eric Staub, a 1985 graduate who was an amazing football and basketball player.
He continued playing football at Millersville University, where he was a standout player.
- MICHELLE STAUB, 1991 DELONE GRADUATE
I enjoyed the article on the best Squires in the history of Delone. Although your research seemed comprehensive, your analysis came up short. Your research overlooked and failed to mention one of the Squires' greatest two-sport athletes, James C. Smith.
Jim was an outstanding wrestler while at Delone. His senior year, he wrestled in the 180-pound class, only to miss an undefeated year by a few points to an old nemesis. Jim's wrestling story does not end there.
His coach, the late Jeff Ruby (former assistant football coach at Delone and head football coach at York High and Elizabethtown) entered Jim in the PCIAA state wrestling tournament in the heavyweight division. He weighed only 180 pounds for the tournament and gave away 50 to 75 pounds to his opponents.
Jim won the Pennsylvania Catholic Interscholastic Athletic Association state championship in the heavyweight division. Jim was the first state wrestling champion for the Delone Squires. Jim's athleticism did not end on the wrestling mats.
Jim played football for Delone Catholic High School, too. His hard-hitting style put fear and hesitation into any back that managed to get off the ground after being hit by Jim. In his junior year at Delone, Jim led the defensive attack during the second undefeated (9-0-0) season for John Gastley's Squires.
As a senior inside linebacker, Jim's play against teams from Bishop McDevitt, Carlisle, Chambersburg and Monsignor Bonner of Philadelphia earned him a place on the 1971 All Harrisburg Area Team. The Pennsylvania Big 33 selected Jim. He was voted co-captain of the Big 33 and excelled in the game, in which they beat Ohio.
The late John Gastley, former head coach at Delone (and South Central Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame inductee) stated, "Jim Smith was inarguably the best linebacker in the state of Pennsylvania and one of the top 25 best players in the country his senior year." Jim's stellar football career at Delone is legendary. Jim Smith, undoubtedly, was the best linebacker in the history of Delone Catholic High School.
In a time when there were no school enrollment classifications to separate teams into A to AAAA categories, Jim received statewide high school recognition for his football play. He was recruited and offered football scholarships by many major Division I colleges. Jim's choice was the University of Pittsburgh, where he was awarded a four-year scholarship for football.
Now I want to end the letter here, however, since in your article you didn't totally stick to the criteria for choosing the "Greatest Athletes" or the "Ten Best" that you stated in your footnotes. I trust you will indulge me awhile longer to tell you more about Jim Smith and his athletic career.
Jim started the second half of the Pitt/Penn State in his freshman year. His career at Pitt was extremely bright until fortune took a turn for the worst. Jim sustained a football-ending injury in his sophomore year. At the risk of permanent disabling damage, Jim stopped playing the game he loved. His need to compete made him look to another love, wrestling. He thought the mat would be less violent and he could still participate in a sport. Jim walked on and made the Pitt wrestling team. But fate was not kind to Jim; his football injury also prevented him from continuing to wrestle.
Jim graduated from Pitt. His degree has landed him in management. Today, he's been married 25 years to his wife, Laura, and has two children - Jonathon, a senior at Pitt, and Rachel, a freshman at Penn State.
I don't know whom you talked to during your research, interviews and round-table discussions, but I respectfully submit to you, you could have done a better job. You missed a real star and champion in Jim Smith. Oh yeah, I am sure by now you expect me to tell you that Jim Smith is my best friend. If you came to this conclusion already, I congratulate you, he is!
I would be pleased and so would many other people if you published an addendum to your "Greatest Athletes" story and included the "Best Linebacker in Delone's History" - James Clare Smith, No. 70, Class of the 1971 football season for the Delone Catholic High School Squires.
- RICK BUNTY
In reviewing your Greatest Athletes article for Delone Catholic, we were both surprised and disappointed that 1972 Delone Catholic graduate James C. Smith received no mention. The selected athletes are without question outstanding and very accomplished, but our inquiry is, was Jim Smith even a consideration? We cannot dispute the daunting task of your selection process based on the numerous outstanding athletes from Delone, but Jim at least deserves to be recognized for his historical contributions of athletic excellence as a Squire.
For many years, his framed photo was proudly displayed in Delone's lobby in recognition for his accomplishment as the school's first Pennsylvania state champion in wrestling. Currently, a banner is hanging in the school's gymnasium recognizing this same accomplishment.
An excellent middle linebacker, Jim was chosen as the co-captain of the 1972 Pennsylvania Big 33 team. Upon graduation, he received a full scholarship to play football at the University of Pittsburgh.
Not only was Jim one of the best athletes to ever don the black and the gold, but he was one of the school's best athletes in two different sports. We find it absolutely shocking that he was overlooked in this list, especially when one takes into consideration his outstanding success in both football and wrestling. He may not have made your list, but he is and will remain in our books as one of the greatest athletes from Delone Catholic High School.
- FAMILY OF JAMES C. SMITH