La Academia vs Nativity BVM-PIAA 1A Boys Semifinal

La Academia head coach Jerry Johnson on the sidelines as the team takes on Pottsville Nativity during second-half action of a PIAA Class 1A boys semifinal game in Berger Gymnasium at Lancaster Catholic High School on Monday, March 22, 2021.

The Lancaster County Sports Hall of Fame will honor some local sporting greats from across the area at its annual awards banquet, set to be held Oct. 26 at the Eden Resort and Suites.

The award to be presented that night include the George W. Kirchner Award, the J. Freeland Chryst awards, the Inspirational Athlete of the Year and the Volunteer of the Year.

The Kirchner Award is the highest honor the Hall of Fame’s board of directors presents, while the Chryst awards establish status in the local Hall of Fame.

The Kirchner Award will this year go to Nancy Stevens, a 1972 graduate of Manheim Central, who is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA field hockey.

The Chryst Awards will honor McCaskey coaching duo Lee Bossert and Dave Myers, former McCaskey basketball standout Jerry Johnson, and former Penn Manor field hockey standout Jill Witmer Funk.

The annual Volunteer of the Year Award winner is Michael Tafelski, while the late Lampeter-Strasburg basketball player Ryan Smith will be posthumously awarded the Inspirational Athlete of the Year.

The 2020 and 2021 LNP Athletes of the Year — Kiera Baughman (Donegal) and Will Betancourt (Manheim Central), and Hannah Custer (Cocalico) and Braden Bohannon (Elco), respectively — will also be recognized.

Tickets to the banquet cost $35, and must be purchased in advance. There will be no tickets sales at the door. Go online at for sales information.

Lee Bossert and Dave Myers

The pair served as co-head coaches for the McCaskey girls basketball team for 13 seasons from 1973-1986, and directed the Red Tornado to historic success.

In that span McCaskey had a cumulative record of 265-74 (a .782 winning percentage) and won 20 or more games in 10 different seasons.

On their watch McCaskey made seven consecutive appearances in the PIAA tournament, from the 1977-78 to 1983-84 seasons. The Red Tornado made it to the PIAA finals in 1979, ’80 and ’82, winning the big school title 65-39 over Villa Maria in 1982.

Bossert and Myers’ teams were also dominant at the league and district levels, winning eight straight Lancaster-Lebanon League section titles from 1977-84 as well as three straight L-L League titles from 1982-84.

At the District Three level, Bossert and Myers won the big school district title five times in six seasons from 1978-83. Of note, McCaskey finished third in 1980 and ’84.

Myers retired as coach in 1986 and Bossert went on to coach the Tornado through the 1992-93 season, finishing his coaching career record at 374-160 (.700) in 20 seasons.

Bossert’s team won L-League and District 3 titles in 1990 and advanced to the state final that same year.

Both men are members of the McCaskey Athletic Hall of Fame.

Jerry Johnson

Johnson enjoyed a stellar career in basketball from high school through the professional ranks. A 2001 McCaskey graduate, he is the Red Tornado’s boys career scoring leader (1,792 points) and led the team to the 2001 L-L League Section One title and a berth in the state tournament.

Johnson played NCAA Division I basketball at Rider, where he was a three-time team MVP. He graduated ranked second on the Broncs’ career scoring list (2,047 points) and fifth in assists (421).

For the 2001-02 season, Johnson was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year. He was a three-time All-MAAC First-Team selection and was Rider’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2005. He was inducted into the Rider University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.

After playing for the L.A. Clippers’ Summer League team in 2005, Johnson went on to play professionally for 13 years in Europe with 10 different teams. He was a three-time Belgian League champion (2008-10), Belgian Cup winner (2009), a four-time Kazakhstan League champion (2012-15) and four-time Kazakhstan Cup winner (2011-14). He was inducted to the VTB United League Hall of Fame in Russia in 2019.

In Kazakhstan, Johnson was offered citizenship in 2013 in order to play for the senior national team in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships. Johnson accepted and became the team’s first naturalized player.

Johnson is the founder and CEO of the Back2Basics Youth Development and Sports Foundation, which serves the Lancaster community. He is the athletic director and head boys high school basketball coach at La Academia Charter School in Lancaster, the reigning PIAA District 3 Class 1A champion.

Jill Witmer Funk

One the most accomplished field hockey players to ever come out of Lancaster County, Funk was a member of the U.S. National Field Hockey team from the summer of 2013 until January 2020. She played for Team USA in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Funk arrived on the national scene during her stellar high school career for Penn Manor. A home-schooled student, she finished with 112 goals and 72 assists.

As a junior, she helped lead the Comets to the 2008 PIAA Class 3A title. In her senior season in 2009, the team won the Section One, L-L League and District Three Class 3A tournament titles, and advanced to the state semifinals. Both those years, she was named to the Harrow Sports/National Field Hockey Coaches Association High School All-America first team.

At her next stop, the University of Maryland, she forged an outstanding career, becoming only the sixth four-time All-America selection in program history. Her Terps won NCAA titles in 2010 and 2011, and she ranks among the program’s highest all-time scorers with 163 points and 67 goals.

She was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year in 2010 and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2013, and played with the U.S. National U-19 and U-21 teams as well.

Ryan Smith

Smith, who died March 22, spent the final years of his life inspiring thousands of people in his courageous, well-documented battle against acute myeloid leukemia. But before that, he inspired them with his play on the basketball court and academic success.

He led Lampeter-Strasburg to the 2018 Lancaster-Lebanon League title, averaging 20.8 points and 11.4 rebounds. Ultimately, he scored 1,080 points in his L-S varsity career. Only three of them came before his junior and senior years.

Along the way, Smith earned a second-team all-state nod in PIAA Class 5A and, the L-L League Section Two Player of the Year honors. He also excelled in the classroom, holding a 3.94 GPA and scoring 1390 on his SATs.

In college, he played for East Stroudsburg on a full NCAA Division II basketball scholarship. He helped lead the Warriors to the NCAA Tournament and was named the PSAC East Freshman of the Year after averaging 16.9 points and 8 rebounds. In his final college game, he scored 30 points and grabbed 13 board in an NCAA tournament game. He was a dean’s list student that season as well.

Michael Tafelski

Tafelski is being recognized for his longtime commitment to and work with Challenger of Lancaster County Little League.

The Challenger Division is Little League’s adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. It was founded in 1989. Tafelski became involved with Challenger in 2001, first as a parent of a daughter with special needs who wanted to play baseball. He became an assistant coach and then a head coach in 2005.

He now serves as league commissioner, having taken that role in 2009. The league features 13 teams in the Little League Division and Senior League Division, with 150-175 participants and 26 volunteer coaches.

Under his watch as commissioner, the league has been officially chartered under Little League International; launched a social media presence and website; and offered opportunity for participants of all ages through the creation of the Senior League

Tafelski — who has also been a PIAA basketball official, a CYAA basketball coach and a past president of Aaron’s Acres — says his focus has simply been been the “pure joy’’ that comes to Challenger players by swinging a bat, throwing a ball or fielding a grounder.

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