Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Royersford has lost its greatest friend

Ron Nettles had a code of honor —helping others — and he lived each and every day of his life by it.
No one knows how he found time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, let alone sleep at night, when he was the manager of the former Industrial Valley Bank; the commissioner, groundskeeper and official scorer of the former Royersford Area Youth Athletic League; the statistician and historian of Spring-Ford High School’s football program; the director, secretary or treasurer of thirty-some funds and associations; a member of a handful or two other organizations; and the mayor of Royersford.
No one knew or will ever really know how much of his own money he donated to those funds, associations and organizations, either.
He would give, give and give some more — and never take.
His compassion was immeasurable.
His generosity was priceless.
Ron Nettles didn’t just touch lives, he impacted them.
He was truly an ambassador of life.
When he died last week, Royersford — if not the entire Spring-Ford area — lost the man who literally was its heart and soul for more than 50 years.
“During my lifetime, I have never known another person who selflessly put everyone else ahead of himself,” said Mickey McDaniel, the athletic director at Spring-Ford High School. “I have never met anyone like him ... and likely never will.”
Ron Nettles wasn’t a giant of a man, but a man with a giant heart.
He truly cared about others, and did whatever he possibly could do to help others. He reached out to others as a banker, as an officer in those countless organizations, as a mayor, as a friend.
Giving — helping others — wasn’t merely his nature, it was part of his inner self.
Ron Nettles was, in so many ways, a divine gift to those raised in the Royersford area. He was, in every sense of the word, a blessing to those fortunate to have met him.
* * *
Since his passing, men — now in their 40s, 50s and 60s — have been sharing childhood memories they have long embraced of Ron Nettles’ ingenuity in starting the youth baseball league and his loyalty in maintaining it.
It wasn’t long after graduating from the former Royersford High School and serving two years with the U.S. Army, that Nettles joined the local Jaycees chapter. He quickly became known as the mover and shaker in organizing the youth baseball league. He helped convince Friendship Fire Company officials to donate part of its property for the playing field — located just below the corner of Third Avenue and Green Street — and was one of the tireless volunteers who built it.
Victory Park — later renamed Ron Nettles Field in his honor — was a dream come true for Nettles. But it was also a dream come true for the thousands of youngsters who would line up to play there.
“I remember back in the 1950s when I wore that wool uniform for the Warriors, how proud I was to have such a good-looking uniform and to be playing real little league baseball,” recalled Barry Shafer, a retired teacher. “Ron Nettles made sure everyone who wanted to play was part of a team, too. He made organized baseball a reality in Royersford, and his ability to raise money for uniforms and equipment made it a great experience for all of us.”
Nettles wasn’t exactly your behind-the-scenes commissioner for 33 long years, either. He used his lunch break at the bank — still in coat and tie — to rake the infield, mow the grass, line the field for games, or to fix whatever needed fixing. As the league’s statistician, he was there for every game – every game, that is – scorebook in hand. And he never missed a pitch or play when he strolled throughout the crowd, often completely around the ballfield, in the bottom of the fourth inning of games with his cigar box for donations.
He also had what his nephew Dave Evans called a “dry and subtle sense of humor.”
No one outside his immediate family remembered that better than McDaniel.
“I was only 10 or 11 when my mother jokingly told Mr. Nettles that she and a few other parents couldn’t see portions of the field because of a branch hanging down from a tree near their seats in the bleachers,” McDaniel recalled. “That was a Friday night. The next day, we woke up and found that same branch on our front porch with a note from Mr. Nettles that said, ‘You can see clearly now.’ We never laughed so hard, and we still do when thinking about it.”
Back in 1962, during the league’s annual awards night — an informal get-together of players and their parents sharing hot dogs off the grille and tubs full of every imaginable soda — my father put his arm around my shoulder and quietly said, “You make sure you thank Mr. Nettles for all he’s done for you the last six years.”
What Nettles did was provide three generations of youngsters an opportunity to play baseball, an opportunity to learn how to play it, and to have fun. He gave us Victory Park, our own Field Of Dreams. He gave us broken bats, reinforced with short nails and electrical tape, and old baseballs so we could play a pickup game or home run derby during the day. He provided the local weekly newspapers write-ups on all the games, too. And few of us will ever forget cramming into his station wagon to get ice cream and milk shakes at Bechtel’s Dairies and the Blue Hen, or the trips to see the Phillies games … and hardly ever begging mom or dad for the money to go because it was his treat.
So saying thank you to Mr. Nettles came easy. All of us did. What confused us, though, was seeing him bow a bit, shake our much smaller hand, and respond, “Well, thank you.”
But you could never thank Ron Nettles enough. He was also the founder of the Royersford (now Spring-Ford) Babe Ruth League, serving as its commissioner and treasurer. He would serve as Royersford High School’s and then Spring-Ford High School’s official football statistician for 56 seasons — missing only one game in a 49-year stretch (because of a bout with the flu). And as secretary of the Spring City American Legion Baseball Committee, he was instrumental in the building of Ram Stadium.
“Words simply cannot describe the impact Ron had on the athletic programs in Royersford and throughout the Spring-Ford area,” said Jerry Seislove, a retired teacher and coach. “His dedication to sports, from youth through high school, meant so much to so many. His vision and enthusiasm were instrumental in staring many projects. He was organized and had a way of making sure that whatever he was doing was completed, and completed well. He was able to recruit workers and direct them in ways that made projects successful.
“Ron truly cared about the people in this area, and because of it helped not only make them better athletes but better people.”
“His quiet and positive support for me and the (Spring City) Legion program in my 13 years of coaching was such an encouragement,” added Todd Clemens, former manager of the Spring City team. “I also had the privilege of being on the
board with him and witnessing, firsthand, how he was such an inspiration to all of us. He was truly the rock that steadied the foundation of our organization.”
And it wasn’t until Nettles’ health began to get worse that members of the American Legion committee recognized how much he gave to the organization.
“I never realized how much work he did as secretary of the Spring-Ford American Legion Baseball Committee until I had the unenviable task of succeeding him recently,” said John Grispon, a longtime resident of Royersford and a member of the Spring-Ford School Board. “The hours he put in …
I’ve worked as hard as I possibly can and in no way can duplicate what he ac
complished. Whenever I had a question, he had the answer. Whenever I had a problem, he resolved it. But that was Ron Nettles. I have never known anyone like him.”
Few have.
“Ron Nettles’ service, dedication and commitment to the Spring-Ford area’s athletic programs are unparalleled,” McDaniel said. “There’s simply no way we could’ve ever thanked him enough for what he’s given to all of us.”
* * *
Ron Nettles seemed to influence people the moment they met him … and again and again throughout their lives.
One in particular was Dave Willauer, who moved into the area after college to become a teacher at Royersford Elementary School. He was looking for a bank to open a checking account and was recommended by friends to see Nettles at IVB.
Willauer didn’t just open a checking account that day, but a friendship he treasured every day since sitting down in Nettles’ office.
“Soon after that day I began seeing how he was always taking care of things and how remarkable his interest and involvement with the youth of the area was,” said Willauer, now the principal at Royersford Elementary School.
“Because of his generosity, we were able to make a variety of projects and opportunities available to our students at Royersford Elementary. But he always specified that he did not want any acknowledgement or formal expression of thanks.”
Nettles’ real wealth, Willauer added, wasn’t in his financial contributions, either.
“He had an incredible sense of and appreciation of the history of the area,” Willauer said. “At several special occasions at our school, whether it was the groundbreaking for the 1992 renovations, the dedication of the Ruth Wonderlich classroom or just to kick-off the game for Field Day, he would represent the borough as mayor and always add a dimension that enlightened and inspired all of us. His recollections were detailed and entertaining.”
Much like so many people’s recollections of Nettles this past week.
What came as a surprise to a few mourning his passing was that Nettles never married, never had children of his own.
“I always felt it was a shame that he’d didn’t have children of his own, but in his heart the children of Royersford were all his,” said Carol Evans Saghirian, Nettles’ niece who grew up in New Jersey. “He would always tell us about people he knew as children who had accomplished something special in their lives. He would always share that with our family because he was so proud of their accomplishments.”
Saghirian realized just how thoughtful and how generous her uncle was as a very little girl.
“When he was in the Army and serving in Europe, he sent me a doll from every country he visited. Every one of those dolls still has a very special place in my home.”
“My great uncle’s generosity was overwhelming,” added Molley Saghirian Crellin. “Christmas was so special for him. We had a small family, but his car was always jammed with gifts … usually zany and unique items. That all stopped about five years ago (because of his failing health that limited his traveling). But he was still full of the Christmas spirit, sending everyone in the family a check. And he would get so angry if we gave him anything in return.
“He was happy just knowing he had taken care of us, even happier if we visited him. It’s unfortunate that not everyone can have an uncle like Ron … the world would be a better place if there were more people like him. I was really lucky.”
* * *
It’s hard to imagine anyone who knew Nettles didn’t share those feelings.
Especially for Bobby Strunk, who first met him as a young baseball player and this weekend will say good-bye to him as a representative of the Shalkop, Grace & Funk Funeral Home.
“Mr. Nettles, for me personally, was the icon of Royersford,” Strunk said. “He was involved with everything you could possibly imagine in our community. And it wasn’t until I became a little older that I realized how much Mr. Nettles gave back, and gave back without being asked.
“I served with him on the Royersford Community Chest (board of directors) for many years and learned what it meant to be a true part of the community … and how to be a better person through the example he set.”
In addition to his baseball and football contributions and serving as mayor for 14 years, Nettles was treasurer for the Royersford Area Community Chest, Royersford Free Public Library, Royersford Police Pension Fund, Buckwalter Scholarship Assistance Fund, Karin Lynn Thum Fund, Edward Gaffey Fund, David Brumbaugh Cancer Fund, the Spring-Ford Booster Club, and the Royersford Service Unit of the Salvation Army; secretary of the Royersford Borough Planning Commission; director of the Spring-Ford Education Foundation; chairman of the Royersford Parks and Recreation Commission and Royersford Community Nursing Service; and a member of the Spring City American Legion Post #602 as well as other community boards, associations and commissions.
“I don’t believe anyone can match his record of service and dedication,” said Walt Gadzicki, a district justice in Limerick and longtime friend of Nettles. “He did everything because he believed in his community, and he always wanted to help others. He was gentle, loving, compassionate, selfless … a truly remarkable man.”
“I never met anyone so humble and so kind in my life,” added Gadzicki’s wife, Debbie. “He continually gave of himself, but never once would take any credit for it. I truly do not know where the community of Royersford would be without the gifts Ron Nettles gave all of us.”
As simple as it may sound, Nettles cared … and cared about everyone.
“Ron Nettles was the type of person who comes along maybe once in a lifetime,” said Shafer. “What he did for our community is something no one will ever be able to duplicate.”
“Ron Nettles was about doing the right thing, about honesty, about integrity, about hard work, about respect, and about commitment,” said Willauer. “Those were the values that characterized his life, and he lived those values.”
And he lived those values each and every day of his life, too.
“We have lost the greatest friend this community has ever had,” said Shafer.


Endy invests in future Trojans

Brett Myers already has drawn up his share of offensive and defensive drafts in two years as Pottstown High School’s head football coach, but before any of his players get to look at them, or any part of the playbook, Myers gives every one of them a copy of a more-important sketch he calls the “Block T” — an oversized dark blue “T” with six one- or two-word philosophical phrases in and around it.

“The ‘T’ is for Trojans, and the words represent the six pillars of our (football) program,” Myers explained. “We want our players to understand the importance of such things as academics, physical fitness, becoming part of a football family, being part of their own family, being a good person, about caring and giving back.”

The “Block T” isn’t just a handout, either.

Myers sits down with each of his players — a copy of the “Block T” in hand — and discusses their thoughts, their goals and dreams, and how they plan to accomplish them.

To say Jeff Endy was moved by the illustration would be an understatement.

The 15-year-old Endy, a sophomore quarterback who began making an impact on the team when he worked his way into the lineup midway through last season, has been making an even bigger impact off the field since Myers packed away the gear soon after last Thanksgiving’s season finale.

A lot of people, young and old alike, have been truly inspired by Endy’s game plan … none more so than Myers.

“With Jeff, giving back is No. 1,” Myers said. “He’s just an incredible young man.”

Endy has visited all five of Pottstown’s elementary schools — Barth, Edgewood, Franklin, Lincoln, and Rupert — as well as the middle school, and spoken to the youngsters about playing sports, about being a good student, about being an even better person … about his own youth football camp next month.

“I’ve been telling them about how playing football is such a great opportunity,” Endy said. “You get to learn certain techniques, the fundamentals of the game, and how great it feels to be part of a team. I also talk about the importance of academics, about being good to other people.

“I’ve lived all my life in Pottstown. I’ll always be a Trojan. I just want to make sure they’re aware of all the opportunities here for them. I want to do whatever I can to help them become good Pottstown people.”

Endy is hoping his two-day camp — set for Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3 — is a step in that direction.

“Growing up, I was fortunate to go to a lot of (football) camps,” Endy explained. “They were held at a lot of different schools, but there never was one at Pottstown. I just thought it would nice to have one here for once.”

Endy’s enthusiasm was infectious.

“Jeff started planning all of this back in December,” said his father, Toddy Endy, a Pottstown graduate himself and one of Myers’ assistant coaches. “He contacted the principals at the middle school and elementary schools to ask if he could speak to their students, and he got a few coaches as well as some older players from Pottstown to help him with the camp.”

Jeff Endy also convinced WPAZ to sponsor the t-shirts that, along with lunch and other refreshments, will be given to everyone who participates in the camp. And he’s cut virtually every imaginable corner as far as expenses, keeping registration ($30) considerably lower than any other.

“A lot of the elementary school kids really seem excited about everything,” Endy said. “They seem really excited about the camp, so I’m hoping to keep (the registration free) as low as possible. We want to make it affordable for them, make it great opportunity for them.”

The youngsters will indeed learn a thing or two about football in the morning and afternoon sessions. In between, during lunch, they’ll hear about being good on the football field alone isn’t good enough.

It’s the message Endy feels can’t be heard enough.

“We’ll have some individuals talk to them about doing things right in school, and that’s before, during, and after school,” Endy explained. “They’ll talk about athletics, academics, and our community … about being good student-athletes, about being good people, about being the kind of people our community can be proud of.”

No one will need to look beyond the lunchroom walls for a better example of that good student-athlete, that good person, or that individual the Pottstown community is so proud of, either.

Endy is a great role model.

He’s a member of the Key Club and Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) — a business-related organization — and plays percussion in the high school’s concert band. And when football is over in the fall, he’s playing basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. Just recently, he convinced Myers to hold morning passing sessions for quarterbacks and receivers — and it’s been quite popular despite the 6:30 a.m. start every Wednesday.

Oh yeah, he’s not too busy to get the homework done, either. Endy carries a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom, and he’s a member of the National Honor Society.

“Jeff actually came to me a year ago, when he was a freshman, with the idea of the non-contact youth football camp goal as his one of his goals for giving back to the community,” Myers explained. “Well, I didn’t act on it like I should have, but he came back to me with it again this year.

“He’s such a leader. He sure rallies the troops. What he’s done is incredible.”

Endy prefers to think he’s just one of many Pottstown students doing the right thing. He was quick to point out that eight players on the Trojans’ football team are members of the National Honor Society, and that almost everyone on the team helped in sponsoring less-fortunate families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

“We hear the negative things said about our school and about our students,” Endy remarked. “We hear those things, but we shake them off. It’s very sad some people perceive us to be like they say, but it’s something we’ll never accept.”

The Jeff Endy Football Camp is open to youngsters in third through eighth grades and will be held at Pottstown High School, rain or shine. Youngsters may sign up via a link on the Pottstown School District’s Web site (, or at 8:30 a.m. the first day (Saturday, May 2) of the camp. Discounts are available for families with more than one camp participant. Proceeds benefit the Trojans’ football program.

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Friends team up to make Disney wishes come true

ROYERSFORD — Kelli Kurtz and Kori McDaniel teamed up for a lot of goals on the hockey and lacrosse fields, even for a good number of points on the basketball court, when they were teammates at Spring-Ford High School.

Oh, they were good … all-league, all-area, all-this, all-that. And pretty darn good in the classroom, too, where both were honor students.

After graduation, they went their separate ways. Kurtz headed north to the University of Massachusetts, where she was All-Atlantic 10 Conference in lacrosse before earning her degree in exercise science and sports management. A year later, McDaniel headed west to Shippensburg University, where she was All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in field hockey and lacrosse before earning her degree in marketing and sports psychology.

Today, almost 10 years since they shared the spotlight at Spring-Ford, Kurtz and McDaniel are teammates again.

This time for their very own “If I Had 3 Wishes” Charity Ball.

And looking back into their distinguished pasts, no game or season was anywhere near as big, and no victory, championship or individual honor was anywhere near as gratifying … all their athletic and academic achievements simply pale in comparison.

The game plan is simple enough — raise enough money to grant three Disney wishes each for three children battling life-

threatening diseases. And, with the cooperation of the Make A Wish Foundation and the support of family as well as old and new friends, Kurtz and McDaniel are not only excited but confident they’ll execute that game plan.

“Everything we’ve been doing, and things we still have to do, feels so good,” said Kurtz, now 28 and the manager of her family’s Achin’ Back Garden Center in Limerick Township. “I’m just so thankful for everything I’ve been given.

“I’ve definitely been dealt all the right cards in my life — my health, a great family, so many great friends. I think how my parents always taught me to give back, how my coaches and others influenced me to give back and get involved in the community… doing this just seemed perfect.”

“Sometimes we take everyday life for granted,” added McDaniel, now 27 and working in the insurance industry as well as coaching two sports at her alma mater. “But there are so many important moments in life … moments like this.

“This is so rewarding for us. To think we’re part of something that may help three unfortunate children see their dreams come true … it’s just an incredible feeling.”

What led the close friends and now roommates to get involved with the Make A Wish organization was a setback of their own.

Kurtz was supposed to get married last fall. As the date neared, though, she and her fiancé decided it would be best not to exchange vows and called off the wedding. The decision was mutual, Kurtz said, and there were no ill feelings toward one another.

“Everything was and still is fine between us,” Kurtz explained. “But then I realized I was going to lose my deposit (for the reception at RiverCrest Golf and Preserve in Oaks). We still had the place, so Kori and I threw some ideas around. We always had thoughts of helping others, but we just didn’t know where to start.”

“We both knew a few families who had their share of problems, including very ill children, and we knew Make A Wish was so reputable, so we asked (the organization) for some suggestions,” McDaniel said. “Well, Make A Wish asked us to send them what we wanted to do, just to make sure we were following certain guidelines and to assure us everything was OK.”

Everything was. And the inaugural “If I Had 3 Wishes” Charity Ball was put on the calendar for Friday, April 10.

To say Kurtz and McDaniel had their work cut out for them would be an understatement.

“We both thrive on being busy,” Kurtz said. “But putting this together has been like playing together (in sports). You work together. There’s the team aspect of giving a little and taking a little.”

Kurtz and McDaniel have graciously accepted the help of Todd and Suzanne MacFarland, Mia Todor, Lisa Cagliola, Bill MacFarland, Buddy Martin, Kristin Landis and Saranae Kurtz, their official “If I Had 3 Wishes” Charity Ball Committee. They’ve welcomed the support of area businesses like Achin’ Back Garden Center, ADT Security, Chesco Landscaping, Rascals Fitness, Security V and Sweet Ashley’s Chocolate, a list they hope, by next week, grows longer and longer.

“Kelli and I, like a lot of people, are so busy in our own lives,” McDaniel said. “I don’t think we realized how much work was going to have to be done on this, either. But we realized we were used to it as students and athletes.

“It’s been a huge undertaking, but because of our friendship and our determination it’s been fun. And if we ever get tired, or something doesn’t go our way, we just think of those kids … they’re our motivation.”

Oh yes, those kids.

The beneficiaries of Kurtz’s and McDaniel’s “If I Had 3 Wishes” Charity Ball are Liliana, a 3-year-old fighting retinoblastoma, a rapidly developing cancer in the cells of the retina; Zyeir, a 5-year-old suffering from nephroblastoma, a tumor in the kidneys; and Sebastian, a 7-year-old batting neuroblastoma, a cancer in infants that affects the nervous system.

Liliana loves Mickey Mouse and can’t wait to meet him when she travels to Disney World. Zyeir shares a similar passion for Mickey, and for the rides at the Florida resort. Sebastian has been beside himself thinking of his first airplane ride and, of course, the opportunity to meet Mickey.

For most people, flying to Florida, meeting Mickey Mouse and enjoying a few rides may seem simple enough. But for Lilian, Zyeir and Sebastian…

“It just could be one of the last things they get to do,” McDaniel said.

That thought, from the very beginning of their admirable venture, has overwhelmed both Kurtz and McDaniel.

“All of us can give back in so many ways,” McDaniel said.

“I just know there’s definitely no better feeling than what Kori and I have felt in doing this,” Kurtz added. “We just can’t wait to write that check out after the charity ball.”

* * *

The “If I Had 3 Wishes” Charity Ball rolls out the red carpet at 6:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Dinner is set for 8 p.m. A mother whose child was the beneficiary of the Make A Wish foundation will speak and show a video of her son’s visit to Disney World. A raffle, live entertainment and dancing will close out the evening’s festivities.

“We welcome anyone who wants to participate, regardless if it’s volunteering their time, sponsoring a table for the night, donating items for the silent auction or just attending the event,” McDaniel said, adding that the Collegeville Courtyard Marriott has set aside a number of rooms at discounted rates for the event and is providing free transportation to and from RiverCrest.

For more information, as well as ticket availability, visit and

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In the right direction

HERSHEY – Gary DeRenzo would have liked nothing more than to see the hundred or so everyday folk from Pottsgrove School District sitting in the seats here in the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center on Thursday night.

He had something he dearly wanted to share with all of them … the Pennsylvania Region I Athletic Director of the Year award, which he received during the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association’s annual banquet.

“To receive this award is very flattering, because it comes from your colleagues,” DeRenzo explained. “But for one person to receive it is a fallacy. This is an award I personally will share with a lot of people.

“You need a lot of people to do the job that (athletic directors) do, and I’ve received this award because of so many great people at Pottsgrove. Our kids, our coaches and our staff … they’ve all been very instrumental in this. Everyone has to do their part, everyone from the groundskeepers to the administrators, and at Pottsgrove everyone does. So I’m honored to receive this award, but I accept it on behalf of everyone at Pottsgrove.”

DeRenzo is the second athletic director from the Pioneer Athletic Conference to be presented the PSADA’s prestigious award in three years. Spring-Ford’s Mickey McDaniel, honored in 2006, was also recognized Thursday night and received the PSADA Citation for his continued commitment to interscholastic athletics and for his work within the organization.

“I just feel all of this speaks volumes about our league,” DeRenzo said.

DeRenzo himself spoke at length about his parents, Dominic and Ruth Ann DeRenzo, who provided him direction as well as unwavering support in all his endeavors as a youngster, and about Bill Lenox, the former athletic director at Slippery Rock University, who inspired him to not only give back to the athletic community but to enrich it.

He recalled the stories he often heard about his father getting up bright and early every morning to take a train from Birdsboro to Pottstown to go to work, rarely if ever missing a shift, and never ever complaining about the monotonous ride on the railroad or the long days and even longer weeks. He remembered watching his mother making breakfast for everyone, getting everyone out and about, then heading out the door herself in time to greet a classroom of students as a teacher in the Owen J. Roberts School District.

“Hearing how hard my father worked all those years to help start and then raise a family always meant a lot to me,” DeRenzo said. “And because my mother was a teacher, I was fortunate to see the fraternity of educators first-hand, their mentality and comaraderie, and their dedication to kids.”

Because of what his parents believed in and the discipline they demanded, DeRenzo said, he was more than capable of juggling baseball and other activities along with the books as a student at Pottsgrove … and those values helped him earn a bachelor’s degree in sports management as well as a master’s degree in athletic administration from Slippery Rock University.

And that college education was enhanced by Lenox.

“I got involved with the athletic department there and got to work with (Lenox), my mentor,” DeRenzo said. “I no sooner walked in there and (Lenox) had me working with the intramural and athletic programs. It was fun, and I worked a few summers there with him.

“He was very high-energy, very up-front. He always supported you in public. He was very loyal. And if you made a mistake he’d let you know in private, discuss it with you.”

Lenox was what DeRenzo wanted to be.

“Everyone revered him,” DeRenzo explained. “No job was too small, and he lived it. He treated everyone the same. Those qualities were very attractive to me.”

After graduating from Slippery Rock, DeRenzo worked briefly in sales, then for the Pottstown Recreation Department. But when the opportunity to become an athletic director arose – at his alma mater, no less – DeRenzo seized it. He spent four years at Pottsgrove, moved down to Wissahickon for two, then returned to the area as Pottstown’s athletic director for seven years.

Last year, he moved back to Pottsgrove … and there are absolutely no plans to leave.

Not even with a work schedule that has only gotten busier through the years.

He has been the PAC-10’s liason for boys and girls lacrosse as well as golf, chairperson of the league’s media committee, and a member of the PAC-10’sa membership and scheduling committees; served as first president and past president of the District 1 Athletic Directors Association; and handled the duties as chairman of the district’s wrestling team duals and individual tournaments.

“I’m very happy,” DeRenzo said. “I have the most rewarding job I could have ever wanted.”

DeRenzo has also been quite busy while out of the athletic director’s office, too. He’s served as president of the Greater Pottstown Tennis Association and was on the Pottstown Police Athletic League’s board of directors. He is currently treasurer of the Summit Awards committee, a volunteer youth soccer coach, and a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 95 at Cedarville United Methodist Church.

* * *

McDaniel, a sunrise-to-sunset dynamo in his 15 years as Spring-Ford’s athletic director, has no plans on slowing down, either.

“I just can’t be idle, I have to be doing something because I get more done when I’m busy,” he explained. “If I have too much downtime I get a bit scattered … so disorganized.”

McDaniel, unquestionably one of the most respected athletic directors in the entire state, never really has much time to sit back and relax. Beyond his responsibilities at Spring-Ford, he’s been the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s liason for basketball and baseball, served as chairman of the field hockey committee, and been the chairperson of the league’s leadership and expansion committees. He was very instrumental in the formation of the District 1 Athletic Directors Association, and has served as the game manager for countless district and state playoff games in boys and girls basketball, girls volleyball, baseball, softball and wrestling.

His untiring commitment to PSADA is what led to Thursday night’s honor.

The 53-year-old McDaniel, a graduate of Spring-Ford himself, is a member of the state organization’s executive council; chairman of its conference evaluation committee; a member of the credentials, membership and awards committees; and serves as the PSADA’s official videographer.

Before DeRenzo and a lot of other athletic directors arrived here, McDaniel had already had a day or two of work in.

“I’ve been working with the Technology Committee for Strategic Planning,” he explained. “We’re putting together our five-year plan, coming up with a vision or mission statement. We have five committees (on professionalism, membership, technology, leadership and finances), and we’re creating goals for each committee as well as coming up with the strategy or action plan to achieve those goals.”

It’s work, a lot of it … but a labor of love, of sorts, for McDaniel.

“I just feel very fortunate to be a member of three great organizations – the Spring-Ford School District, the Pioneer Athletic Conference, and PSADA,” he said. “When you receive an award like this, it’s recognition from your peers, which gives instant value to it because it’s your fellow athletic directors acknowledging your work.

“I feel blessed to get this (award). But getting it for what I’m doing … it’s just part of my job.”