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Friend of Athletics Recipients

Congratulations to the Dale E. Creamer 2024
 Friend of Athletics Recipients

Sunday, March 10, at Xavier University Cintas Center

Congratulations to our 2024 Recipients

In 2013, the members of the Southwest District Athletic Board initiated an award entitled Friend of Athletics Award.  The objective of the award is to honor those individuals who have given much to their local school athletic programs.  Nominations are taken annually during the months of December.  School personnel can nominate, and the board chooses recipients.  Criteria is that the nominee must have given twenty-five (25) or more years of service.  Since 2013 eighty-seven (87) individuals have been honored.  This year we honor fourteen individuals on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Schiff Family Conference Center - Cintas Center, at 1:00 p.m., prior to the start of the District Boys Division I Basketball Championships.  Congratulations to our recipients!



Jim Engel is what we call a “lifer”. Jim is a Cincinnati Public Schools Hall of Fame Inductee from the class of 2015 for his accomplishments while coaching at Taft High School.  Jim is also a member of the Larosa's Hall of Fame.  Jim currently serves as “The Voice of Stargel Stadium”, as he oversees the Press Box and is the PA for all Varsity Football contests that take place at Cincinnati Public Schools Stargel Stadium.  Jim also serves on the CPS Hall of Fame Executive and Selection Committee in which he discusses impactful and longstanding decisions for the CPS Community.  As Jim serves CPS in these capacities, he also goes far and beyond his call. You might see this from him if you were to attend a Friday Night Football game where he will meet and greet all OHSAA officials by name on the field, or at our CPS Cross Country Championship meet where you can see him setting up yard signs, cheering on kids at the finish line and speaking with coaches, or possibly at the end of Season Track meet, in which he will help find volunteers, assist the officials and coaches and cheer on and give some pointers to student-athletes.


 Mr. Jim Engel

Nominated by:  Mike Hermann
Athletic Administrator
 Cincinnati Public Schools



Nick has been our school photographer since the mid 1990's. Over this time he has shot thousands of school activities and sporting events. Nick devotes a great deal of time to take professional photographs of our entire school district. These pictures are provided for free to our middle school and high school yearbooks and social media accounts. Nick has a tireless dedication to our school and community. He has the same professional approach when he is shooting a kindergarten choir concert or varsity football game. Our school and community are very fortunate to have Nick and his services. This is especially true of our athletic department.




 Mr. Nick Falzerano

Nominated by:  Charlie O'Dell
Athletic Administrator
Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools


Mr. Howard "Bud" Fisher has been a monumental asset to Felicity-Franklin Local Schools since he began teaching Agriculture Education/FFA advisor in 1967. In 1980, Mr. Fisher created and volunteered countless weekends to the youth basketball "peewee" program for boys and girls in 3rd through 6th grade which he continued until his retirement in 2000. The program would teach fundamentals and the love of the game. Mr. Fisher's model was to teach fundamentals the first half of the season and then have the high school basketball players coach the "peewee" players. This created a great bond for 3rd graders to seniors in high school for years to come and led to the success of many great ball teams. Coaching was another large part of Mr. Fisher's career. He coached jr. high boys and girls basketball, baseball and volleyball. During his final year at the school, Mr. Fisher served as the school's Athletic Director. Mr. Fisher is an Honorary member of the Felicity FFA and is a member of the Felicity-Franklin Athletic Hall of Fame where he was recognized for his dedication and commitment to the youth of Felicity-Franklin Schools

 Mr. Howard

Nominated by:  Ryan Taulbee
Felicity-Franklin High School



Lonnie Hathaway has been a  long-time ticket taker for the Vandalia-Butler School District.  In addition, he has served as the scoreboard operator for both boys and girls basketball games.  This year Lonnie is recognized for 50 years of service to Butler Athletics.  

 Mr. Lonnie Hathaway
Nominated by:  
Jordan Shumaker Athletic Administrator
Vandalia-Butler City School District 



Mr. King serves the Wyoming community as “The Voice of the Cowboys” announcing more than 2,000 games over 35 plus years. He has announced football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse games for Wyoming High School. His focus is always on the student-athletes and ensuring that the athletic event is a positive experience for everyone in attendance. Furthermore, he is a clock operator and book keeper for multiple programs since 1987.

Mr. King continues to have a tremendous impact on the athletics program. He is available to support our coaches, student athletes, and school. His dedication and pride for Wyoming is unmatched. Mr. King is dependable and always willing to help support our staff with pre-game and post-game items.  Wyoming is grateful for Mr. King and all that he continues to do for our community.

Mr. Jeff King, Sr.
Nominated by:  Matt Weber
Athletic Administrator
Wyoming High School



Starting in 1985, Jim Martin has been a dependable volunteer on the "chain gang" for Indian Hill High School varsity football, his alma mater.  Having played on Indian Hill school football teams for six years, volunteering is one way to thank the school and to help current students realize the same enjoyment and positive experiences he did.  Over the last 38+ years, he has gladly filled whatever "chain gang" position was needed--10-yard sticks, line of scrimage box, and chain clips, missing no more than a handful of games in all those years.  His personality and camaderie are greatly appreciated and enjoyed by his fellow "chain gangsters".

Mr. Jim Martin
Nominated by: Brian Phelps 
Athletic Administrator
Indian Hill High School

"Mitch" has been the Director of our Chain Gang for football for 50 years!  He is a huge asset and supporter for our athletic department.  Along with all of those volunteer hours, he is also a consistent financial donor.  He is a member of our Hall of Fame Committee and was inducted into the Class of 2023.  We think this will be his last year and it would be amazing timing to receive this honor this year.  

Mr. Thomas Mitchell
Nominated by:  
Nate Baker, Athletic Administrator
Wayne High School


Roger began announcing for boys soccer games during the inaugural season for the Troy boys soccer team in the fall of 1977 and for the Troy girls soccer team the following year. He has continued as the game day announcer for both teams every season through the 2023 season. (47 seasons) In 1999, Roger added announcing for the Troy girls basketball team to his schedule and announced continuously until the end of the 2022-23 season. (24 seasons) In addition to announcing for girls basketball, Roger began announcing for the Troy ice hockey team during the 2000-21 winter season and continues to announce for all our home ice hockey games this winter. (24th season and counting) Roger’s commitment and longevity to the fans, coaches, players and programs that he announces for at Troy is unmatched by another announcer I have worked with during my 19 years as an athletic administrator.

Mr. Roger Mumpower
Nominated by:  David Palmer
Athletic Administrator
Troy High School

Steve served as a coach for multiple years in mutliple sports, including boys and girls track, boys and girls cross country, and boys and girls basketball.  Since retiring from teaching and coaching, Steve still runs our home track and cross country meets.  He announces for girls basketball and serves on the Hall of Fame Committee.  He also does play-by-play for our football team.

Mr. Steve Peters
Nominated by:  John Berry
Athletic Administrator
Franklin High School
Mrs. Ruby Rias is a volunteer at Northwest High School. She has been an active member of our community since before 1991, when her first of 4 children graduated (‘91, ‘01, ‘07, ‘09). From the day I arrived at Northwest High School, 23 years ago, and continuing today, Mrs. Ruby has been the backbone of our school community.  “Miss Ruby is the rock that the Northwest community is built on. Her dedication, desire, and love for Northwest is unparalleled!!” From greeting our guests as they arrive for athletic events, to keeping stats at the scorer’s table when needed, to working concessions, to coaching up students to do the right thing, Ruby is always out there supporting her Knights. “Ms. Ruby is selfless and dedicates all of her time to support the staff and students of Northwest High School. There is no measure of what she has contributed and what she will continue to contribute,” says her longtime colleague Shannon Bowling. Even Athletic Director Lee Johnson sees Ruby’s enthusiastic support of NWHS as indispensable, saying, “I can truly say that it would be nearly impossible to get through an athletic event year without her work, faithfulness, and loyalty.” Her legacy lives in the students she impacts, who also offer her high praise. 2023 graduate Olivia Gilliand says, “There is no Northwest pride without the influence of Mrs. Ruby. When I began my wrestling career at NWHS, she attended every event and made sure I felt supported and loved despite the outcome of my matches.” Current student-athlete Makayla Brown smiles, recounting Ruby’s advice to her, “Do your best, not because your coach makes you, but because it’s what you love!” For Ruby Rias, every moment is an opportunity to teach and to lift up the Northwest Community. So deeply is her presence a part of the “Northwest Experience” that even people outside our community recognize her contributions. Longtime track and field official and Ross Local Schools employee, Micky Geier notes, “Working for another school district I am in awe of Ruby. Anytime we play Northwest at Ross or at home, she is there to support and love her students. She deserves this award.” It is my genuine honor to nominate Mrs. Ruby Rias for the Dale E. Creamer Friends of Athletics Award. No one…not a teacher, not a principal, not a coach… no one gives more to the Northwest Knights than our Queen, Mrs. Ruby Rias. Ms. Ruby Rias
Nominated by:  Shawn Gilliad
Athletic Administrator
Northwest High School
Daryl served as the high school boys basketball announcer from 1995-1996 season to present.  He has served on numerous interview committees for coaching positions and other positions within the school.  Daryl serves as the back-up announcer for high school girls basketball and varsity football.  He has been a member of the Ansonia Board of of Education for 20 years and is the current president.  His family owns a small business in the community that is always giving back to the community and school.  Daryl is an all-around great guy who loves Ansonia and is very supportive.  He is a great representation of our school and community. Mr. Daryl Riffle
Nominated by:  Clay George
Athletic Administrator
Ansonia High School
 Greg Smallwood has been the announcer for Waynesville High School football games free of charge for the last 44 seasons.  He goes out of his way to announce every athlete and pronounce their name correctly.  
He is also an alumnus of Waynesville High School and is the Chair of the Alumni Committee.  He has recently led Waynesville Alumni to a Guiness Book of World Records for the longest running Alumni Reunion in the USA with 139 completed reunions.  
Mr. Smallwood has been the MC for many events on campus including but not limited to our Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, teacher recognition events, and opening of the new Performing Arts Center. He always goes out of his way to put an extra special touch with a story or two to make these events memorable for all involved.  
He truly is a valued member and friend of our Athletic Department at Waynesville High School, and our community is very fortunate to have someone so giving of their time.    
Mr. Greg Smallwood
Nominated by:  Jamie Manley
Athletic Administrator
Waynesville High School

Mike Vetorino has served 28 years of teaching in the Bellefontaine School System.  He has served 37 years running the football scoreboard, and 37 years running the boys basketball scoreboard.  He has coached middle school boys basketball for 17 years, softball and golf for 6 years, and 1 year as junior varsity girls basketball coach.

Coach Vetorino has had a huge impact on thousands of students lives in our community.  Whether teaching business or coaching, he loved working with students and helping them grow.  After retirement, his commitment to coaching our lower levels and working our scoreboards was a huge and consistant help to the athletic department.

Mr. Mike Vetorino
Nominated by:  Matt Comstock
Athletic Administrator
Bellefontaine High School

Words can't do justice for the impact and legacy "Mr. Willson" has had on Milford High School and Milford Athletics.  Since 1972 Earl Willson has been an active member of our staff serving in numerous capacities such as coaching, teaching, site supervisor, and substitute teaching.

In his 41 years, Earl has coached Football, Wrestling, and Track & Field.  Since his official "retirement" 10+ years ago, Earl has stepped up into a critical part-time site supervisor role.  We call him (and others like him) the veteran "gray beards' ' that are a dying breed and I could completely trust to run an athletic event in my absence. 

The best way to put the impact Earl has had on our department is his attention to detail and the little things he does on his own time.  Earl is known for bringing his leaf blower to football games/track meets and spending time blowing off the field, track, bleachers, locker rooms to make sure the facility is safe and clean for all of our student-athletes.

Earl is a class act and is royalty at Milford High School.  This honor is probably years behind due, but rightfully so, he should be recognized for his time, service, and dedication to Milford Athletics (over 40 years of service) and still trucking at 74 years old!!

Mr. Earl Willson
Nominated by:  Aaron Zupka
Athletic Administrator
Milford High School


Since the inception of this award in 2013, the following individuals have been honored as Friends of Athletics Recipients who have given twenty-five years or more of service to their high school:

2024 Recipients
Mr. Jim Engle, Cincinnati Public Schools; Nick Falzerano, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools; Howard Fisher, Felicity-Franklin High School; Lonnie Hathaway, Vandalia-Butler City School District; Mr. Jeff King, Sr., Wyoming High School; Mr. Jim Martin, Indian Hill High School; Mr. Thomas Mitchell, Wayne High School; Mr. Roger Mumpower, Troy High School; Steve Peteres, Franklin High School; Ruby Rias, Northwest High School; Daryl Riffle, Ansonia High School; Greg Smallwood, Waynesville High School; Mike Vetorino, Bellefontaine High School; Earl Willson, Milford High School.

2023 Recipients
Mr. Ed Bazile, Northmont High School; Mr. Jeff Corn, Madeira High School; Mr. Dennis Dupps, Indian Hill High School; Ms. Micky Geier, Ross High School; Mr. Stanley Jones, Anderson High School; Mr. Tim King, Mason High School; Mr. Doug Lyons, Tecumseh High School; Mr. Steve Shuck, Princeton High School, Greater Miami Conference; Ms. Bonnie Turner, Fort Loramie High School.

2022 Recipients

Mr. Bob Ashby, Lakota West High School; Mr. Jamie Brashear, Monroe High School; Mr. Jim King, Newton High School; Mr. Brian Miller, Newton High School; Tim and Peg Summers, Versailles High School.

2020 Recipients
Mr. Gaylen Blosser, Franklin Monroe High School; Mr. Jim Cloran, Madeira High School; Mr. Kenneth Cooper, Bishop Fenwick High School; Ms. Patty Garlough, Bethel High School; Mike Midlam, Western Brown High School; Charles McMillan, East Clinton High School; Mr. Michael Pope, Williamsburg High School; Ms. Carol Schuh, Versailles High School; Mr. Mike Schuh, Versailles High School; Mr. Donny VanHoose, Graham High School; Mr. Jerry Vianelo, Mariemont High School; Mr. Kevin Walriven, New Richmond High School.  

2019 Recipients
Mr. Bob Baechtold, Mr. Ed Bailey, Mr. Joe Cline, Piqua; Mr. Tom Devers, Northeastern High School; Mr. Bob Greenewalt, Mr. Don Hoog, Valley View High School; Mr. Frank Kozarec, Valley View High School; Ms. Sharon Peters, Jackson Center High School; Mr. Paul Sheckels, Mr. Jeff Tarvin, Western Brown High School.

2018 Recipients
Mr. Dave Askins, Brookville High School; Mr. Bill Baumann, Colerain High School; Ms. Betty Berkshire, Tecumseh HS; Mr. Jim Miller, Middletown Christian High School; Mr. Dave Krebs, Bishop Fenwick High School; Mr. Gene Morris, Arcanum High School; Mr. Bob Pugh, Bellbrook High School; Mr. Jim Pugh, Bellbrook High School; Ms. Betty Roller, Tecumseh High School; Ms. Jill Roller, Tecumseh High School; Mr. Joe Steele, Goshen High School; Mr. Jerry Valentine, Tecumseh High School.

2017 Recipients
Mr. Guy Bainum, Williamsburg High School; Mr. Robert "Bo" Bemmes, Reading High School; Mr. Rick Bemmes, Reading High School; Mr. Steve Berryhill, Bellbrook High School; Mr. Joe Huff, Ripley-Union Lewis High School; Mr. Jim Leathlety, Tecumseh High School; Mr. Tom Leeds, Monroe High School; Ms. Joan Martin, Reading High School; Mr. Mike Melvin, Urbana High School; Mr. Richard Morgan, Reading High School; Mr. Mark Richardson, Brookville High School; Mr. Wayne Russell, Mechanicsburg High School; Ms. Debbie Simpson, Mason High School; Mr. John Slusher, Reading High School; Mr. John Smith, Mechanicsburg High School; Mr. Chas Veddern, Reading High School; Mr. Tom Weaver, National Trail High School; Mr. Bill Westfall, Mechanicsburg High School; Mr. Jim  Westfall, Mechanicsburg High School; Judge Roger Wilson, Urbana High School.

2016 Recipients
Mr. Al Evans, Kenton Ridge High School; Mr. Rick Little, East Clinton High School; Mr. Marv Mason, Brookville High School; Mr. Jeff McCulla, Graham High School; Ms. Arlene Poppe, Mount Healthy High School; Mr. Ed Strelau, Madeira High School; Mrs. Bev Strelau, Madeira High School Mr. Fred Stemmler, Mason High School; Mr. Virgil Studebaker, Tecumseh High School; Mr. Randy Winkler, Carlisle High School.

2015 Recipients
Mr. John Borchers, Tippecanoe High School; Mr. Randy Conover, Northeastern High School; Mr. Roger Hoover, Brookville High School; Mr. Gary Rinehart, Wilmington High School; Mr. Ralph Singinger, Georgetown High School; Mr. Earl Smith, Eaton High School.

2014 Recipients
Mr. Dave Ashby, Dayton City Schools; Mr. John Birkhimer, Urbana High School; Mr. Bill Booker, Greenville High School; Mr. Larry Fuller, LaSalle High School; Mr. Harold Grice, Mason High School; Mr. Gerald Gunning, Turpin High School; Mr. Paul Harper, Northmont High School; Mr. Dave Hawkins, New Richmond High School; Mr. Frank Long, Fenwick High School; Mr. Lowell Petry, Brookville High School; Mr. Joe Scherrer, Madeira High School.

2013 Recipients
Mr. Hansel Bailey, Felicity Franklin High School; Dr. Mike Barrow, Northmont High School; Mr. Shaun Brewer, Xenia High School; Mr. Jack Flaherty, Mason High School; Mr. Jim Neu, Western Brown High School; Ms. Jane Koykendall, Madeira High School; Mr. Don Skelton, Centerville High School; Mr. Ben Wolfe, Covington High School.