Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Curbstone Coaches - 2005 Inductees

Considered one of the greatest all-around backs to ever come out of the City, Gus Hlebovy was also one of a bevy of football players who upon graduation from Woodrow Wilson H.S. brought national recognition to the area with his exploits on the collegiate field of play.

Born on October 28, 1928, Hlebovy this year joins Chaney H.S. stars Jim Calcagni and Matt Cavanaugh from a more recent grid era as one of three City Series stars to be so honored with enshrinement into the Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame.

A 1947 graduate of W.W.H.S., he was a three-year letterwinner and an integral part of their undefeated 1946 squad, a team that many arguably still call one of the best high school teams from the area ever to lace up their spikes.

He was an excellent underclassman, but his star never shone so brightly than during his senior season when he was named the “Outstanding Halfback” on the league’s First-Team, then topped off his accolades that year when he was named to both the All-County and All-State squads as well.

Upon graduation he earned a scholarship to the University of Georgia where he played for famed head coach Wally Butts, a familiar face who heavily recruited players from the Mahoning Valley area.

Butts compiled a 140-86-9 overall mark as the head coach of the Bulldogs from 1939-60, and during Hlebovy’s collegiate career (from 1947-50) the Bulldogs contributed a 26-15-5 ledger in 46 contests with three winning seasons, three trips to a post-season bowl game and just one losing campaign.

As a freshman in 1947 the team posted a 7-4-1 mark with Hlebovy playing in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day, a 20-20 tie against the University of Maryland.

As a sophomore the following year he helped the team to a 9-2-0 overall mark and the Southeastern Conference title. The team didn’t fare too well in the post-season, however, as they fell to the University of Texas, 41-20, in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.

His junior campaign was a forgettable one record-wise as the team posted a sub-average 4-6-1 mark, but in his final year of eligibility in 1950, the Bulldogs went 6-3-3 overall and earned a trip to the Presidential Cup Bowl, a 40-20 loss at the hands of Texas A&M University.

He and his wife, the former Carolyn Premozich, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and they are the parents of a daughter, Kathy (Powell), and three sons, Terry, Gus, Jr. and James.

His grandson, Gus, is currently a member of the Vermont Expos, a Class “A” minor league affiliate of the parent Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos) farm system. He and his wife currently reside in Coitsville.

As one of three football inductees in this year’s Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame class, Jim Calcagni could very easily have been considered in the baseball category as well.

Born August 2, 1952, he was a star Little Leaguer in the Uptown Kiwanis League (he was an All-Star as a 12 year-old), played for the Local 1330 entry in Pony League (he was an All-Star as a 14 year-old, leading the team in batting that post-season) where he helped the local squad to the state finals then after one year and an All-Star selection in the local Colt League, played for Curbstone Coaches Hall of Famer Al Boggia and his Falcon Foundry Class “B” entry.

While injuries to both knees and shoulders took their toll when he played the diamond game, he was just getting tuned up as a scholastic grid star at nearby Chaney H.S., then collegiately at Adrian College.

His grid career began when he attended St. Brendan’s Catholic School, his first year of organized competition coming as a seventh-grader for the school’s 105-lb. entry.

He later played for the 125-lb. squad and as a running back/linebacker, helped both teams to their respective league titles.

The following year he played for the 125-lb squad, and in the title contest helped his squad once again to the league crown as he ran for over 250 yards and four touchdowns in the championship game.

He attended Volney Rogers Junior High School and had to settle for the hardwood game as the school fielded no football team. He served as a manager for the Cowboys’ varsity, but that would be the last time that he’d roam the sidelines as a non-participant for the next three years.

In 1967, his sophomore season, he played on both sides of the football as he lettered for Head Coach Red Angelo by playing halfback, fullback and tight end on the offensive side of the ball, linebacker, cornerback and safety defensively while returning both punts and kick-offs as well.

As a junior he led the team in fumble recoveries and was the second leading tackler, helping the team to the City Series title. For his efforts he was voted to the All-City Series squad.

During his senior campaign the team won their second straight league title (they went 8-2 overall) as he played both halfback and linebacker, earning his third straight letter under Angelo’s tutelage. He led the team in tackles, was second in both rushing and scoring and was voted the first recipient of the Mike DeNiro Award, emblematic of the team’s top defensive player for the season.

An All-City Series selection for the second straight year (this time at halfback), he was also voted to both the All-State and All-Northeastern Ohio squads as a linebacker.

His junior year (1972) was the final season with Davis and the team responded by winning their third straight conference title. He was voted team “Most Valuable Player” as he led the squad in tackles for the third straight season, earning runner-up conference MVP plaudits as well. This time he was named to the All-M.I.A.A. First-Team defensive unit.
As a senior he earned his fourth letter, playing for another local product, Tom Heckert who succeeded Davis as the head coach. In all, he played on nine football teams and seven won their respective league titles.

Along with brothers Ron and Mark, the Calcagni name on the West Side is as recognizable as any sports’ family name in the entire Mahoning Valley.

For the past 30 years he has been employed by Delphi Packard Electric Systems where he presently works as a manufacturing general supervisor. He also is the co-inventor and holder of a U.S. patent for a cable returnable container.

He is married to the former Debbie Naples and they are the proud parents of a son, Chris, and daughter, Angie. They reside in Canfield.

JOE FALGIANI - POSTHUMOUS AWARD - (Contribution to Sports)
The Curbstone Coaches organization is currently in its sixth decade of existence, and between its weekly gatherings and hall of fame selection committee meetings that are held, many dedicated individuals have helped to make it one of the most formidable groups in the Mahoning Valley.

During the 1980’s and well into the new millennium, a three-decade span, arguably no individual took to heart his assignment with both the weekly meetings and its glorious hall of fame banquet than Joe Falgiani.

Born on October 12, 1937, Falgiani enters this year’s hall of fame as a posthumous selection in its contribution to sports category.

A product of the Youngstown School System and a native of the city’s Brier Hill section, he graduated from The Rayen School in 1955. Although not an active sports participant, his enthusiasm for sports was second to none and he made sure that he helped to develop both young men and women academically and athletically.

Upon graduation he was hired by the Youngstown School System to teach English and Latin at Hillman Jr. High School. He eventually moved to Volney Rogers in 1966 where he continued to teach his favorite subjects, leaving in 1982 when he was named Director of the Skills Training Center for the Youngstown Public Schools.

He remained at that post until 1989 when health problems forced him into premature retirement, but during his time with the Skills Center he met then President of the Curbstone Coaches organization, Val Carano, and it was Val who he credited with bringing him into the organization, circa 1980.

Falgiani held numerous positions within the organization and during his tenure was a longtime trustee who served as a chairperson for it numerous committees.

A moving force behind membership drives, the Hall of Fame banquet and a number of other activities, there was no one more important or contributed more to the success of the high school football and basketball recognition banquets than Falgiani.

During his tenure as the chairperson of the aforementioned events, most notably the hall of fame banquets, all achieved unparalleled success. His organizational skills, his unselfish dedication and devotion to today’s student-athletes and his contributions to the Curbstone Coaches organization as a whole will never be forgotten.

On May 22nd, the day will mark two years since his passing.

His contributions, most especially his affectionate smile and valuable input on key decisions that had to be made, are sadly missed to this day by the organization.

1 comment:

anthony hlebovy said...

gus hlebovy a legend of the past and future,this great man raised four kids three successful and one not but hey it was his own fault.anyway this man did enough things for the community he would become an angel in heaven,he was an immenseful sport player baseball,football,basketball,fireman,religous director,football coach,and the greatest person too look up too always had somethin good too say and would be the first too stick his hand out and help someone, he had a wonderful wife carolyn she was just like him but she didnt play sports, so in order to live upp to a man like this would ultimately mean not putting youtself first and having pure natural ability.