The Post-Journal

Celebrities, Inductees Entertain About 350 At Induction Dinner

The jokes had been told.The banter between the master of ceremonies and the featured guests, so often a part of a sports dinner, had come to an end.

It was time to get serious.

And Buffalo Bills general manager Bill Polian, who had been delivering one-liners with the best of them, didn’t disappoint those in attendance at the 11th annual Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame Banquet Monday night at the Holiday Inn.

In fact, he left a little something that everyone in the crowd of about 350 could take home with them and think about.

From Cicero, to football, to the four inductees, to the importance of friends and family, Polian touched on it all.

It took just one illustration.

“Cicero, who was a great Roman philosopher and writer, said, “Friends multiply joy and divide sorrow,’ and there was some sorrow over the loss in the Super Bowl,” Polian said. “But it will fade. That’s the great thing about sports. A new challenge lies ahead. What’s past is only prologue…

“Tonight all of you helped to share with all the inductees the joy of having reached a milestone in their lives and that’s wonderful.”

Yes, Shane Conlan, the late Roger Moore, Wayne Bowker and Frank Pischera all achieved a milestone last night as they were the four inductees enshrined into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s an honor to be inducted to this Hall of Fame because there are a lot of great athletes that come out of Chautauqua County,” said Conlan, a Frewsburg native and inside linebacker with the Bills. “I don’t think people realize how many great athletes there are around here. I played against, and with, some great athletes who may never make it, but they are very fine athletes in their own right.”

Conlan, an All-American at Penn State during his college years, described his being drafted by the Bills as “a dream come true” and lamented the fact that he missed most of Super Bowl XXVI against the Redskins because of a sprained knee.

“I can honestly say they didn’t score in the eight plays I was in there,” Conlan joked.

Later, Polian praised Conlan for his play last season under trying circumstances.

“It’s a true measure of a man that when you have trouble – whether it’s in your family, or in your school life, or on a team – the top-flight people rise to the top, accept the challenge and do more even than they’re required to and sometimes more than more than you think they can. When we lost Bruce Smith essentially for the whole season, Jeff Wright for nine games and (when we had) numerous other injuries…Shane Conlan had his best season. He stepped in and carried the load, and it’s through his efforts largely and his leadership that we made it to the Super Bowl again.

Polian also said he hoped to attend another induction ceremony for Conlan “to have an honor to sit there and maybe see him go into the Hall of Fame in Canton.”

“Whether he makes it or not, I know he joins some outstanding people here into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame,” Polian added.

Moore, Bowker and Pischera left their marks on the sports world in different ways. Moore was a highly successful coach at Fredonia Central School, Bowker is a champion pistol shooter and Pischera has excelled in many different sports throughout his life.

“With determination he produced winners, with dignity he accepted loss…with all these qualities he helped shape lives,” said Dennis Moore, son of the late Fredonia coach. “With your consideration this evening, he’s held in highest esteem.”

Joining Dennis Moore in accepting the induction for their father was his brother, Mike Moore, and their mother, Marguerite Stroehlein.

“I see him more as a people person,” Mike Moore said. “I was teaching a Spanish lesson in school and I was going over certain adjectives….such as dignified, loving, honest, courageous, aggressive, and the list goes on... I’m sure if you used the College Thesaurus what you have done now is write Roger Moore’s thesaurus of adjectives.”

Bowker, a Silver Creek native, said he was particularly happy that pistol shooting is now being recognized, noting that when he first became actively involved in the sport 20 years ago, the awards were small-and the “winner was limited to a smile, a handshake and that was about it.”

Today, the sport has grown tremendously and Bowker has earned his place among the best pistol shooters in the nation.

Pischera, a Jamestown native who now lives in Port Orange, Fla., said he came 1,200 miles to attend the banquet and “it was well worth it.”

“(Even) if I was in the National Football League Hall of Fame, there wouldn’t be anything better than this,” he said.

Pischera made his mark in a variety of sports, including basketball, football, golf, bowling and horseshoes.

“I gave 100 percent and I still give 100 percent,” he said.

Giving 100 percent was also the theme of Carlton Bailey’s speech as the Bills inside linebacker related a poem that he learned from his grandmother. He recited it as follows:

“If a task is once begun, never leave it until it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.

“I really encourage a lot of young adults to believe and never let anyone tear you from your dreams,” Bailey added. “If you always shoot for the moon, if you fall a little short, you’ll land on the stars.”

Oleta Hannon, president of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, presented the inductees with a plaque and offered a welcome.

Banquet chairman Chip Johnson recognized the all-state athletes from Chautauqua County and their coaches, including Brian Nelson and Baseball Coach Bob Schmitt, Frewsburg; Kim Stankey, Harmonee Williams and Girls Basketball Coach Tim Nobles, Pine Valley; Jill Bornand, Jessica Anderson, Cindy Zenns, Nocole Pleszewski, Tracy Milliman and Volleyball Coach Penny Hite, Mayville; Chris Perry and Football Coach Archie Bradley, Silver Creek; and Jason Parker and Football Coach Bill Race, Falconer.

Johnson also presented $400 checks from the Hall of Fame to Dunkirk Babe Ruth president Frank Corsoro, East Lake Babe Ruth president Gary Blair and Jamestown Babe Ruth League treasurer Lee Johnson.

Chuck Howard, sports reporter/anchor with WIVB-TV was the master of ceremonies; Jim Roselle of WJTN-Radio introduced the inductees; the Rev. Don L. Fisher, pastor of the Cornerstone Christian Center, gave the invocation and benediction; and Gary Kindberg sang the national anthem, accompanied by Gladys Peterson.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.