County Hall welcomes new class

July 20, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

As Walter "Buddy" Orndorff, John W. Bowers and Robert "Turtle" Smith were inducted to the Washington County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, the thoughts of all three turned to those people who helped them get there.

Orndorff, Bowers and Smith were inducted along with Joseph "Bert" Yingling, John David "Dave" Russell and Nelson "Butch" Ward at the 17th annual Induction Banquet at Elks Lodge #378.

  • Orndorff, a three-sport athlete at Fort Hill High School in Cumberland, Md., in the late 1960s, has led Smithsburg High School's girls track and field team to 10 Maryland Class 1A titles in the last 14 years, including the last eight in a row - the most consecutive titles in 1A history and the second most in any class.

    "Without the 500 girls who bought into this program, I wouldn't be here," Orndorff said.


"I'm very honored. It's a very humbling thing. There are so many people in this hall who were coaches I looked up to when I first came here. It's a big deal to me, and it means something to me."

  • Bowers was a three-sport star at Williamsport High School in the early- to mid-70s. In his senior year, he passed for 2,000 yards on the football field, and pitched a two-hitter as the Wildcats won the 1975 Class B (now 2A) state baseball title.

    "I had great high school coaches, guys who cared about people, guys I learned from," Bowers said.

    Bowers has taken his experiences on the field and shared them as a football coach at numerous colleges - including Shepherd College under Walter Barr - over the past 22 years. He's currently an assistant coach at Bowling Green University.

    "The biggest thing is making the kids care more about the team than about themselves," Bowers said. "(Walter) really believed in that."

  • Smith played baseball at Hagerstown High School and, as a senior, at the new North Hagerstown High School. After a year at Hagerstown Junior College, Smith received a scholarship to the University of Maryland, where he played third base for three seasons and was team captain in 1963.

    Smith has been a member of the Terrapin Club for more than three decades, giving back to the university because of what it gave him - not just a chance to play ball, but the opportunity to earn a degree.

    "This is a kid who grew up in Chewsville, who didn't have running water until he was 9," Smith said. "It's been a wonderful life, and without baseball, it wouldn't have happened."

  • Yingling was a founder of Beaver Creek Country Club (which opened in 1959), a board member for Black Rock Golf Course and the designer and builder of Yingling's Golf Center.

    "His goal with the golf center was to give anyone and everyone a place to learn about the game and give them a cheap place to practice," son Jeff Yingling said.

    Joseph Yingling was also a driving force in the push for youth golf programs, and helped the game become a high school sport in several county schools.

  • Russell was Shepherd College's first All-American basketball player, scoring more than 50 points in a game three times during his college career in the mid-70s.

    "He's the greatest basketball player of all-time at Shepherd, unquestionably," said Bob Starkey, who coached Russell at Shepherd. "It's hard for me to see someone coming out of Hagerstown who was better."

    Russell played for St. Maria Goretti in the early-70s before moving on to Shepherd. After his college career, he signed with two NBA teams, but was tragically killed in an auto accident in France while playing for the U.S. World Cup team in 1977.

    "I'm pretty sure he would have been in the NBA if his life wasn't cut short," Starkey said. "He was getting better and better."

  • Ward was the President and Tournament Director of the Maryland Bass Federation up until his death in 1999. He was the Bass Angler Man of the Year in 1987 and helped organize tournaments for youth as well as the handicapped.

  • Six $1,000 scholarships were awarded to county high school athletes: Smithsburg's Dustin Sier and Katy Powell were winners of the Aaron "Major" Steiner scholarships, while Boonsboro's Sarah Harris, Clear Spring's Lauren Ebersole, South Hagerstown's Rob Peterson and St. James' Emilio "Mo" Rodriguez were winners of the Franklin "Wimp" Hamburg scholarships.

  • Williamsport's Ryan Martin was named Male Athlete of the Year, Powell was named Female Athlete of the Year and former Clear Spring baseball coach Jim Hutson, who stepped down after last season, was named Coach of the Year.
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