We caught up with some of the YAIAA athletes who were a part of our 22-week series, The Greatest Athletes, and asked them about their memories and reflections from the world of athletics.
Red Lion (1975)
What was one of your earliest sports memories? When I was maybe 8, my mom and dad took me to the junior Olympics and put me in four events, maybe the 50 (yard dash) and 100 and long and high jumps and I won all the events against different athletes from all over the state. It was my first real experience of competition. It was all pretty scary as a little kid going up and competing against kids from all over the place who you didn't know, didn't know whether they trained or were just going up and doing the same thing you were, just going to have some fun.
What was a moment from your high school or college career that stands out most vividly? I can think of two and both happened at Hanover. We were playing them in football and we had a pretty long winning streak and I was the punter, but I didn't punt. We ran a fake and I took the ball 60 or 70 yards for a touchdown and beat them at the end of the game. Then we were running in the Sonny Sheppard Relays and running the 880. I remember that field where the track went behind the bleachers and it kind of got dark for a handoff and our guy fell at the handoff. Each guy runs a 220 and I got the baton and everybody else was getting ready to make the turn and go around and I got the baton probably 80 yards behind and I passed everybody and we won the relay.
Who was your biggest influence in athletics growing up and why? My father, because he was an athlete and he was a coach. He was always there and coached us but never pushed us, always guided us in the right direction. He taught us between right and wrong on the athletic field and in life. I remember I was a pitcher in Little League baseball and my dad ran the program. I did pretty well and my team was probably undefeated and I probably didn't give up many runs as a pitcher and one game we were winning like 26-0 and I gave up a couple of runs and I went crazy, threw my glove over the backstop. He took me out of the game and took me home and gave me a scolding and I got in trouble because of my attitude. I learned when things don't go your way to keep your poise and calm down and don't lose control. I learned that as an 8- or 9-year-old kid from my dad putting it to me.
DONNA MCLAIN VITACCO
Eastern York (1980)
How did sports change your life? Without running at the level I did, I probably never would have gone to college. I never thought that I would. I can remember a teacher at school saying, "You should think about changing your academics and being more on a college path," and I remember saying, "I'm not going to college." My running changed a lot of things. I'm sure I wouldn't have been going to college. What an opportunity it was.
Looking back, what did running instill in you? I think it made me a stronger person. Running is not a glamour sport, either you like it or you hate it. I was always a competitive person and had that drive, that desire. I don't always see that as much in kids today. They are pulled by a lot of other things in the electronic world. When I coach my kids I try to bring that out, that drive, but they are pulled in so many directions, have so many opportunities.
What was one of your earliest sports memories? One thing I learned when I was 11 years old came when I was playing basketball down in the community center in Glen Rock, in a recreational league. I learned that you shouldn't take things too seriously because I missed some foul shots and ended up in the hospital with a stomach ulcer because I was worrying too much about it. It was like, "Hey, just go out there and have some fun."
What kind of impact did growing up in southern York County have on your athletic career? Where I grew up, down in Glen Rock, there wasn't a whole lot of distractions down there. Sports is all we did. That's what we did in the winter, at the community center, playing basketball games every Saturday and Sunday. And in the spring, when high school baseball was over, we played legion and then for a town team. Where we grew up we didn't have a lot of temptations. And I was fortunate I had a father and mother who kept us grounded, not letting you get too big of a head.
What was a sports moment that changed your life? I was playing with Denver in the Pacific Coast League. I was coming off a Double A year in Austin, Texas, where I hit .312 with 113 RBIs and now I'm in Denver and my back acts up again. So six weeks into the season we're playing in Dallas one night and Fort Worth the next and we're getting off the bus after Forth Worth and (manager) Jack Tighe comes up to me and says, "Mr. Mullen is ready for you to start your managing career." ... He could see I was quite a bit upset, and I had never challenged the system before. He said, "You just cool your jets and get a shower and we'll get something to eat and we'll talk about it." I'm thinking, "This is what I get for all my years doing everything asked of me?" I didn't realize I was just about to make the best decision of my life.
What was one of your earliest sports memories? I was only probably 5 years old. My uncle was throwing the baseball to me in the backyard and I had been swinging right-handed and I turned over and took a couple of swings left-handed and I fouled a ball straight back over my grandma and grandpa's cherry tree, and it was a pretty big tree. From then on he could never get me to hit right-handed again.
LAURA CARROLL BEVERIDGE
Central York (1978)
What kind of lasting effect did sports have on you? They taught us to have a good demeanor and good sportsmanship, respect. Even later in life, when I was in the police, you can be handcuffing someone and done fighting with them and still treat them with respect. You can do that. No matter what the situation is, you have to treat people with respect. There was a man who was high on drugs and we had to fight him ... that man came back when he got out of jail, he came back to the police station and asked for me. He wanted to apologize for what he had done, and I was really surprised by that. Whatever situation, you have to treat people with respect. I guess my mom and dad were right.
What kind of lasting impact did athletics have on you? The teammates I have in college are still friends I talk to every week. They were in my wedding. Those kind of relationships ... growing up last the rest of your life. A lot of the relationships I treasure now, if I would not have stepped on the field when I was 8 or 9 years old, I wouldn't have now. That means a lot more than the championships and trophies and personal awards and that sort of thing.
What was a sports memory from high school that stands out to you now? One of my favorite moments was playing in an all-star game in Harrisburg, and I had a pretty good showing. I made a catch, probably 30 or 40 yards downfield with the cornerback hanging on me. He had my left arm wrapped up and it was definitely pass interference, but I somehow managed to make the catch as I was falling over and cradled the ball as I was falling down for the touchdown. That showing helped me get into the Big 33.
What was one of your earliest sports memories? My father's cousin was (basketball star) Bill Fitzkee, and I remember as a little guy going to the Manchester High School to watch him play. The gymnasium was like the size of a classroom and you had to stand in the hallway or against the bleachers to watch the game. There was no room on the sideline, the benches were on the side and that's all there was. It was still exciting as a young child, exciting to go and watch Bill play.
What kind of lasting impact did athletics have on you? Sports were about pride in yourself and pride in what you did. It was about camaraderie, about meeting new friends. It's not just the players you played with on the same team the but the players on the other team. Growing up in a small town it also was a chance to see other areas, with all-star teams, places like Easton and Allentown and Erie, areas I probably wouldn't have seen."
What was one of your earliest sports memories? I was playing soccer with my dad coaching the team. Back then there weren't many girls playing sports so I was on the boys team playing against the guys. And the one story my dad always tells is when I was fairly young and another coach told my father to ask "the girl" to quit playing so rough with the boys.
Was it difficult playing on boys teams? I played with them for a couple years -- basketball, baseball and volleyball. In softball I can remember being frustrated, because the boys were more competitive than the girls. I went back to playing baseball the next year, and I played on boys teams as long as I was able to compete. Actually until they wouldn't let me play on the team anymore. Female sports were not what they are now. When I was growing up there was sort of an up-swing. I came along at a good time.
What was your best day in athletics? Probably one of the more memorable and one of the more dramatic days came when I scored my 1,000th point. We were playing Red Lion, it was packed with fans, my friends had made signs and the game went right down to the wire. ... I went to the free-throw line, and it was a rival guard -- a good friend of mine actually -- who fouled me. So it was all this extra drama. I can remember standing at the line thinking, "OK now I have a chance to do it, I better make this," and thank goodness I did.
William Penn (1972)
What is one of your earliest sports memory? One time when I was a Cub Scout, I was probably 8 or 9 at the time, we went to a jamboree. We were having these races, and I out-ran a couple kids. I was running against kids who were older than me, but people thought I was one of the fast kids. I got third place running against some older kids. That was my first taste of racing.
What was your best day in sports? Probably my senior year at (the state track meet) up at Penn State when I won three gold medals.
Does any event stick out? The 120 high hurdles, because that was the only race that had me kind of concerned. There was a kid up here in Harrisburg at the time, Bernard Allen, and we were one and two all season. He was about 6-foot-4, so a little taller than I was, and he was a little lankier so he could get over the hurdles with a little more ease than I could.
In the trials he ran a faster time, but when it came to the finals they placed me in-between Allen and one of his classmates, Larry Morris. And I still see Larry Morris every now and then, and he always brings this up. ... I was in a similar situation at Dickinson where I ran between those two -- and of course in the hurdles there is slapping and movement -- and they knocked me out of a race. So of course in the state finals I'm worried the same thing would happen. I wanted to make sure I was out of the blocks first and over the first hurdle before them. And I actually have a picture from the Dispatch, because my mother saved all the clips, where I was over the hurdle and down across the first one before them. Once I had that lead, I kept it.
William Penn (1989)
What's one of your earliest memories in sports? Because of my stature, I'd have to say when I was the quarterback for our rinky dink football team. I was one of the tallest players on the team. We were the South York Warriors, and I was probably 8 or 9 at the time. My mom and wife laugh about that. I was skinny as a rail, like I am now, but also one of the tallest on the team. Obviously the good Lord stunted my growth, because I'm still no taller than 5-foot-8 1/2.
What was your best day in sports? One day that I really enjoyed came in the county championships when we played York Catholic. York Catholic was one of those teams that my predecessors, like Andre Powell, had trouble beating. We won, and I was actually on the line making free throws at the end.