The Tamaqua Area High School Athletic Hall of Fame will induct its 15th class on Friday, Sept. 24, prior to the kick-off of the Blue Raiders' home football game with Mahanoy Area at Tamaqua Area Sports Stadium.
This year's inductees include the late Howard Walker (a member of the THS Class of 1923); the late Sidney "Soup" McMichael (1929); Wayne Truskey (1967); Trevor Steigerwalt (1991); Joelle Evanousky LeMasters (2000); Matt Benza (2001); and two coaches, the late Jim Freed and Eric Zerbe.
Walker was a member of the football team, where he was a quarterback, and the basketball team, where he played a guard and also served as captain. He was a three year starter in both sports.
Sidney "Soup" McMichael
McMichael was a four-year member of the football team, where he was a right end. He was a three year member of the basketball team and track and field team, where he was a high jumper.
Freed was a long-time coach for in football, swimming and diving and track and field.
Freed initiated the school's swimming and diving program, serving as its first coach. He guided the program from 1968-1975, coaching several swimmers and divers who qualified for the PIAA state championships.
The Jim Freed Memorial Award, which is a $1,000 bond, is given annually to a senior Tamaqua swimmer in his memory.
In football, Freed served as defensive coordinator, head freshman coach and head JV coach under Walt Ligenza, Tom Bonner and Dale Titus from 1969-1983.
He served as the weight coach in the track and field program under Harry Fetterman from 1969-1984.
Freed was a 1968 graduate of Penn State University and also had a master's degree from PSU. He taught health and physical education at Tamaqua from 1968-1987
Freed passed away in 2003. He was the husband of Jean Freed of New Ringgold. They have two daughters, Jamie Freed of Brooklyn, NY, and Jody Kuehner of Hamburg.
Zerbe was involved with the inception of the school's wrestling program in 1968, where he served as the program's assistant coach under Paul Dodson. He served as head wrestling coach from 1975-1977 and again from 1978-1983.
He was inducted into the Tamaqua Area Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1984 and inducted into the Pottsville Chapter Wrestling Officials' Hall of Fame in 1992.
He received an award for coaching the Schuylkill Team in Northeast Penn Wrestling Classic in 1976 and the Schuylkill County Lifetime Achievement Award for continued commitment to conservation and environmental education in 1998.
Zerbe has a Bachelor's of Science degree from East Stroudsburg University in 1968 and a Master's degree from ESU in 1973.
He was a health and physical education teacher in the Tamaqua Area School District from 1968-2003.
Eric is the husband of Susan M. Zerbe and they reside in New Ringgold. They have two sons, Eric and Captain Drew Zerbe.
Truskey is a 1967 graduate and a four-year letter winner in track and field, also earning one varsity letter in football.
Truskey set records in the two-mile run; he was the 1966 Southern Conference champion, the 1967 District 11 champion and record holder with a time of 10:13.3 and school record holder at time of his graduation. He was undefeated in the event in league meets in 1966 and 1967.
He was also a coach in the Tamaqua Elementary wrestling program.
He was a member of the Tamaqua cross country boosters from 1986 to 1994.
He lettered in track and field at Stevens Trade School in 1968.
He entered the United States Air Force in 1968, training with the Navy Seebees as a heavy equipment operator. Served with the 554th Red Horse Combat Engineers in 1969-1970 in The Republic of Vietnam. He was awarded the USAF. Commendation Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation Medal with V device and one Oak Leaf Cluster
He is married to Patricia Davidock of Barnesville. They currently reside in West Penn Township. They had three sons, Christopher and Kevin, both deceased, and Matthew of Macungie. All three sons were active in Tamaqua High sports.
The Truskeys are involved with the Chris and Kevin Truskey Memorial Run in their sons' memory, which is held annually at Tuscarora State Park. The run provides scholarships for Tamaqua and other area high school runners.
The Truskeys continue to be big parts of Tamaqua Area athletics as each year they award the Truskey Awards at our cross country and wrestling banquets.
Wayne has been employed at Air Products and Chemicals for 37 years.
Steigerwalt is a 1991 Tamaqua graduate where he was a three-year letter winner in football and a four-year letter winner in baseball.
In baseball, he was a member of the 1991 team that finished 17-4 including starting the season at 13-0.
He was named the TN Baseball Player of the Year in 1991 and was named Player of the Week three times.
Steigerwalt was a three-year starter in baseball and captain his senior year, posting a 10-2 record with a 0.80 ERA. He allowed only five earned runs in 56 innings pitched while striking out 82 batters. He had seven one-hitters.
Steigerwalt also led the team with a .495 batting average with 33 hits, eight doubles and two home runs along with 18 RBI. In his junior year, he had a 6-3 record with a 2.89 ERA and a .485 batting average.
In football he was named Tamaqua Area defensive MVP for 1990 and was an All-County 1st team selection. He was a Big 33 Nominee and had four sacks in a game against Mount Carmel.
He attended West Chester University on a full baseball scholarship and then went to Kutztown University where he graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
Steigerwalt resides in West Penn Township with his wife Christie (Herring). They have two sons, Tyler (8) and Wyatt (4). He is employed as a warehouse supervisor for C&S Wholesale Grocers.
Joelle Evanousky LeMasters
LeMasters is a 2000 graduate who was a three-sport athlete, excelling in swimming, volleyball and track.
She was a four-year varsity letter winner in swimming and co-captain in junior and senior years. She was a 2000 All-State Medal Winner, t aking6th place in the 50 Freestyle and was a 1999 All State Honorable Mention with a 10th place finish in the 50 free.
She was a four-time Schuylkill League All Star and a two-time N.I.S.C.A. State Top 16 Award winner.
At the time of graduation, she held 14 team, pool, area, and District individual and relay records.
Joelle was the first female from the Schuylkill League to medal at the PIAA State Meet and the first Tamaqua swimmer to score and medal at the State Meet. She was a three-time state qualifier
Other Awards she received included 1999 and 2000 Times News Swimmer of the Year; 1999-2000 Channel 13 Female Athlete of the Season; and 2000 Schuylkill League Coaches Female Swimmer of the Year.
She participated with the World Swim Exchange Program in 1999 and competed at the Olympic Aquatic Center in Sydney, Australia. She placed 6th place in the 50 meter backstroke at the New South Wales Swimming Championships.
In volleyball she was a three year varsity letter winner and team captain in 1999. She tied a school record with 15 straight service points vs. Shamokin on Sept. 30, 1999.
She was a three-year varsity letter winner in track as a high jumper.
She earned a collegiate partial swimming and academic scholarship to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY (NCAA Division 1) where she swam freestyle events. Her freshman year she placed second in 200 Free Relay at MAAC Championships, earning a Varsity letter. She was a member of record setting 200 Free Relay Team.
She played four years of NCAA (Division 1) water polo, earning four varsity letters and was a three year co-captain. She finished career with 83 goals, and was second on the all time Marist scoring list.
She was nominated for the James Pizzani award for athletics, academics, and community service in 2004
She was named to the MAAC Conference All Academic Team 2003 and 2004
She is currently working as a Fashion Designer for J.J. Basics in NYC and resides in North Plainfield, NJ with her husband Thomas LeMasters, and daughter Jane.
Joelle is the daughter of Joseph and Rochelle Evanousky.
Benza is a 2001 graduate who was a four-year letterwinner in wrestling, two-year letterwinner in golf and baseball and he earned one varsity letter in cross country.
Benza currently holds the most PIAA State wrestling medals in school history with three and one of only five wrestlers to win a state medal. He earned a PIAA silver medal in his senior year in the 125 pound weight class. He also placed fifth in his junior year (125) and eighth as a sophomore (119).
He was a regional champion in his junior year and finished fourth and third at the regional championships in his sophomore and senior years, respectively.
In the District 11 Championships, Matt was a District champ in his junior year. He also placed second (senior), third (sophomore) and sixth (freshman). He was also the 1999-2000 Schuylkill League champion.
He ended his high school career with a record of 119-28, second most wins in school history.
He was recruited by the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, for wrestling, where he was a four year standout. His collegiate record was 81-27. He was a NCAA Division I qualifier for the national tournament in his junior year and was ranked as high as 13th in the country in the 2005-06 season. He was the Western Conference champion in 2005.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management. He graduated Pilot training in 2008 for the Air Force.
Matt currently lives in Charleston, SC and assigned to Charleston AFB flying the C-17. He holds the rank of Captain in the U.S. Air Force and is currently serving overseas in support of Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom.
He is the son of Mike and Carol Benza of Hometown.