Waite High School to induct 17 into Athletic Hall of Fame

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

As part of Waite High School’s 110th anniversary as an educational institution in East Toledo, 17 alumni — 15 athletes and two coaches — will be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
A school with an abundant athletic history, Waite has seen a great deal of success over the last century or so, whether it’s on the football field, the wrestling mat or the basketball court.
Perhaps one of the more well-known inductees is Natasha Howard, who graduated in 2010 after leading the Indians to within two points of a state basketball championship. She went on to a successful collegiate career at Florida State and has won three WNBA championships. A two-time All-Star, Howard, 31, currently plays for the Dallas Wings.
But there are plenty of others worthy of their accolades.
Spread across 68 years, the inductees are: Richard A. Wandtke (posthumous, 1944) – football; Gary Burgess (’63) – wrestling; Kenny Donley (’73) – football and wrestling; Jay Boose (’77) – wrestling; Angela Washington (’79) – basketball and track; Catherine Hernandez (’87) – volleyball, basketball, track and cheerleading; Kennie Joe Washington (’90) – basketball; Jason Beyer (’92) – basketball; Danielle A. Wheeler (2000) – softball and volleyball; Rick Cannings (’01) – football and wrestling; Mathew W. Yenrick (’02) – golf and baseball; Shareese Ulis (’07) – basketball; Thomas M. Duris II (’09) – golf and wrestling; Natasha Howard – basketball; Dylan Clifton Lorton (’12) – baseball; Russ Bless (coach) – track, basketball and football; and Fred Clement (coach) – wrestling, cross country and football.
Waite Principal Todd Deem, athletic director Chris Laney, former principal Dave Yenrick, who is also the chairman of the alumni association, and three former athletic directors – Bill Knopper, Bob Utter and Cris Lorton – all worked together to make sure the event takes place.
“I know everybody that’s being inducted,” said Yenrick. “I went to school with them or had an association with them as a student, teacher, assistant principal, principal and now as the chairman of the alumni association. Isla Wilkinson Wandtke, Richard’s wife, is supposed to be there, too.”
Seeing great athletes being honored for their efforts can serve as inspiration for kids living in the community.
“That’s exactly it,” said Laney. “We know families on the East Side are struggling, and this gives hope to the kids. If they put in the effort and hard work, they can succeed.”
Yenrick echoed those sentiments.
“I think this shows that it can be done no matter where you’ve grown up, what school you’ve gone to – that kind of thing,” he said. “Tommy Duris said to me, ‘Mr. Yenrick, I used to read all those bios and plaques in the field house, and I never imagined I would be one of those people on the wall. I’m humbled by it.’ He was a four-time All-City League tennis player and Player of the Year as a senior.”
The Athletic Hall of Fame was established 51 years ago to recognize Waite High School alumni who have distinguished themselves in the field of athletics as an athlete, as a coach, or as an administrator. Since its inception in 1972, 180 recipients have been inducted. The coronavirus pandemic put the ceremony on hold for a few years.
The dinner and induction will be held Wednesday, Nov. 1 at the Bayside Boardwalk Banquet Hall, 2759 Seaman Rd., Oregon. A social hour will kick off the festivities at 5:30 p.m., dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. and the Athletic Hall of Fame honorees will be inducted at 7:30 p.m. A $50 per person reservation is requested for the evening. “We haven’t had a Hall of Fame induction for quite some time, so I expect a great night where people will come and share stories and memories and have a good time,” said Laney.
Deem hopes to see a big crowd, too.
“I’m hoping for a large crowd of Waite alumni to help recognize their fellow alumni members,” he said.
Yenrick said he expects 200-300 people to show up.
For reservations, donations and/or more information, contact Yenrick at 419-697-1949 or david.yenrick@gmail.com.


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