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Baker, Dietrich honored by County Sports Hall of Fame

July 22, 2005

Long-time Washington County soccer referee Ronnie Baker won the 2005 J. William Lightner Officials Award and Smithsburg High School wrestling coach Joe Dietrich captured the 2005 Donald Stoner Coaches Award at Saturday's Washington County Sports Hall of Fame banquet.

Baker graduated from Williams-port High School in 1953. He played varsity soccer there for three years. Baker also was selected to play for the Williamsport town team of the Washington County League and played through 1957.

Baker's planned career of service in the Maryland State Police became derailed when he was drafted in the U.S. Army. He served two years, including 19 months in Germany, before returning home in 1960.

Baker credits Rich Doub, a longtime coach at Williamsport High School, for introducing him to soccer officiating in 1960.

In 1962, he began officiating high school varsity games with Eric Nemzek, widely considered the best soccer official ever from the area.

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After Nemzek's retirement around 1966, Cokey Robertson, Buzz Downs and Jim Nemzek helped Baker with the areas' officiating responsibilities until 1973, when the Blue Ridge Soccer Officials Association was formed.

Baker officiated games in the Blue Ridge Association until 1999, calling games for youth leagues, high school, and junior and major colleges including many high school playoffs, regional finals and even state championships.

n Dietrich has been involved with all facets of the sport of wrestling for 38 years, first as an athlete, then as a coach, an official and an administrator who has been instrumental in the growth and organization of wrestling in Maryland.

He graduated from Dundalk Senior High and went on to Salisbury State College, where he participated in football, lacrosse and wrestled under coach Mike McGlinchey, whom Dietrich said has been his role model ever since.

Dietrich led his high school and college wrestling teams in many categories and was named captain of both teams during his senior years.

He taught elementary school in Washington County for a few years while immediately taking up coaching wrestling and football.

In 1978, he moved on to North Hagerstown, which already had a full wrestling staff. After being offered the chance to coach Smithsburg, he began 12 winters of daily, cross-county trips to follow his love for coaching wrestling.

During his 27 years as head coach, Smithsburg has won 220 dual meets. The team has won numerous invitational, county and conference championships, including a string of five straight Monocacy Valley Athletic League titles in the early 1990s. He also coached nine state champions and two three-time champions.

Dietrich is a past member of the Washigton County Officials Association. He was the co-founder of the Washington County Wrestling Club.

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