Robert McFarland, Sr. - Athlete
Bob McFarland was nominated for his athletic accomplishments in the sports of football, basketball and baseball at the high and college levels. As an athlete in 1950s, first at Oakdale High School and later as part of the newly formed West Allegheny Joint School District, he lettered in all three sports. In addition, McFarland earned a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
During his college athletic career at Indiana State Teacher’s College, McFarland was a four-year letterman in football and a two-year letterman in baseball. He was named to the All-State Teachers College team and the all-state first team. Even more significantly, he was selected to the Little All-American Football team.
In 1954 he joined the Army, and while stationed in Germany joined an organized military football league. He found himself playing against a high level of talent, including players from some top U.S. college teams, but still managed to earn a spot on the all-world team. He also had a memorable career playing sandlot baseball in both the Robinson Federation league and the National Amateur Baseball Federation tournament.
When asked about memories from his storied athletic career, McFarland says the one that stands out is being cut from the football team when he was a high school freshman. As McFarland explains the experience, the Oakdale student body in 1948 went “on strike” in order to force the school board to fund a football team.
McFarland tried out for the resultant team, only to be cut and have the coach make him a water boy. Devastated by the experience, he promised himself that he would never again be cut from a team. Though woefully undersized, he made the varsity squad as a sophomore.
McFarland and his wife are retired and live in South Carolina. Though age restricts him from being actively involved in sports he loves, golf has become one of his favored pastimes.
Gary Hager – Athlete
Gary Hager was an outstanding athlete at West Allegheny and Penn State University. During his high school athletic career, Hager was a four-year starter on the baseball team, a two-year starter on the football team, and a two-year player on the basketball team. He earned WPIAL recognition in baseball, as well as all-WPIAL honors and all-state recognition in football.
During his Penn State career, Hager played inside linebacker as a sophomore in the Cotton Bowl. He also played in the Sugar Bowl as a junior. His senior season, Penn State defeated LSU in the Orange Bowl to finish their season undefeated. Hager was also a catcher and designated hitter on the Penn State baseball team, until he stopped playing to focus on playing football.
One of his fondest memories is returning a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown as time expired against a “cocky” University of Pittsburgh squad during his freshman season. Another was hitting a home run in his last at-bat as a college baseball player. Although Hager has a hard time talking about himself, he believes that his high school coach Bob McFarland was the best he ever had, despite playing under Joe Paterno and Don Schula. He believes that his high school teams consisted of close groups of players who were always highly prepared for every game, and he gives full credit to McFarland.
Hager recently retired and lives with his wife in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where he still participates in numerous sports activities including golf and bowling.
Ron Tarquinio - Athlete
Ron Tarquinio may be considered one of the finest wrestlers to ever come out of West Allegheny and the University of Pittsburgh. During his high school career, Tarquinio recorded 150 wins and only 19 defeats. As a result, he was a WPIAL champion, a two-time PIAA medal winner, a four-time state qualifier, and a four-time cadet all-American in freestyle and Greco-Roman. He was also the 2001 junior national freestyle champion and a three-time section champion. Upon graduation from high school, Tarquinio received a full athletic scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh.
During his four years at Pitt, Tarquinio recorded 120 wins. He was a four-time NCAA qualifier, a three-time University Freestyle All-American, a 2004 EWL conference champion, an Eastern Wrestling League champion, and a bronze medal winner for Team USA in the 2005 Pan-American Games.
As Ron reflects back on his high school and college career, he gives credit to his various wrestling coaches. He also credits West Allegheny School District for giving him what he believes was an excellent academic background that helped him succeed in the classroom and allowed him time to focus on his demanding athletic career. Most importantly, Ron gives full credit to his parents for instilling in him the belief that he could achieve anything he wished through hard work and determination.
Tarquinio and his wife of four years live in Oakdale, and he is presently a teacher and wrestling coach in the Trinity School District.
Ben Herbert - Athlete
Ben Herbert’s athletic achievements began at West Allegheny, continued through college at the University of Wisconsin, and have presently landed him as an elite head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Arkansas.
In high school, Herbert was a captain of West Allegheny’s first WPIAL-winning football team in 1997. He was selected to the All-Parkway Conference first team, all-state first team, was a member of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22, and a participant in the Pennsylvania Big 33 Classic in 1998.
After graduating high school, Herbert received a full athletic scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, where he became a four-year letterman and two-year defensive line starter. He holds the Wisconsin bowl record for most tackles for loss and
sacks yardage. He tied the school’s bowl record for sacks after he collected 2.0 sacks for 20 yards lost in the 2000 Rose Bowl victory over Stanford University.
Upon graduation, Herbert became Wisconsin’s strength and conditioning intern, assistant coach, and eventually head strength and conditioning coach. While there, he helped develop 41 NFL draft picks, including six first round picks, two Heisman Trophy finalists, five national award winners, 28 all-Americans and 48 first team all-Big Ten selections. His football teams have participated in 14 major bowl appearances, including five Rose Bowls, and collected five Big Ten championship titles.
Since 2013, Herbert has been the head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Arkansas. In his present position, Herbert has helped develop eight NFL draft picks, one all-American and three all-SEC first team selections. As a result of his accomplishments, Herbert recently became the youngest member of the elite fraternity of Master Strength and Conditioning Coaches in the U.S. The MSCC title is the highest honor that can be achieved by a strength and conditioning professional.
When asked how he has achieved such success, Herbert points back to the end of his freshman year in high school, when he needed to retake algebra during summer school. As a result, he could not participate in summer workouts being conducted by newly hired head football coach Bob Palko. Herbert considered quitting football, but Palko took time to work with him individually at a later time each day. Herbert says that during those workouts, Palko challenged him repeatedly to be the best that he could be in the classroom, on the football field and in his life. Herbert characterizes that time with Palko as a turning point in his life.
Herbert currently lives with his wife, Kelly, and two sons, Charlie and Thomas, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
William Glas - Athlete
William Glas recorded outstanding swimming records both in high school and college. At West Allegheny, Glas was considered to be a top swimmer in the WPIAL from his sophomore through his senior years, in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. By the time he graduated, he had been team captain, a four-time WPIAL qualifier, a three-time PIAA qualifier, and set school records in the 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200-medley relay and 400-free relay. While setting those records, Glas competed against swimmers from the largest to the smallest schools in local, regional and state competitions.
When asked about his most memorable moments during his high school career, Glas recalls that West Allegheny swimmers and coaches were still in the process of building
the program. His sophomore, junior and senior seasons, he was the only swimmer on the team to qualify to compete in PIAA competition, and thus traveled with his coach, Jeff Marshall, to events. To this day, he is a still a fan of Steely Dan, because that was all that Marshall would play on the radio of his blue Volkswagon Rabbit as they traveled to state swim meets.
After graduation, Glas continued his outstanding swimming career at Allegheny College, where he was a three-time all-American and set school records in two individual events and two relays.
When asked about being inducted into the West Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame, Glas says that it is an honor. Not only is it a first for him, but also for the swimming program, since he is the first swimmer to be inducted into the hall of fame. Glas is married with three children and lives in Sewickley. He continues his love of swimming by serving as a WPIAL and college-level swimming official. He has done so for the past 25 years. In addition, he serves as a member on numerous business and church boards.
Dr. Kevin Coates - Athlete
Dr. Kevin Coates was an outstanding football player and wrestler during his high school and college years. While a student at West Allegheny, he was a two-time Three Rivers Football Conference all-star and a football all-state third team selection his senior year. As a high school wrestler, Kevin’s career included 97 wins and 27 defeats. He was a 1993 third place WPIAL qualifier, and the 1994 WPIAL champion. He was also a PIAA runner-up and the designed hitter on the 1994 WPIAL-winning baseball team, which finished second in the state.
After high school, Coates attended Duquesne University, where he was a member of both the football and wrestling teams. He was a two-year starter at outside linebacker and twice helped his team secure a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship. In addition, Coates was a member of the wrestling team for two years. Most importantly, he was named to the GTE All-Academic Team before graduating from Duquesne University. When asked about significant individuals who impacted him, Coates says without hesitance his parents, who taught him the importance of developing a strong work ethic. He says they also demonstrated their own commitment to him by attending every one of his events, even though his father worked multiple work shifts to support the family.
Coates also credits his high school German teacher, Catherine Zanella, for helping him to realize at an influential
time in his high school career that his obvious high intelligence would be wasted if he did not apply his talent to the best of his abilities. His tremendous achievements both in athletics and his academic pursuits make apparent just how much Coates’ parents and “Frau” Zanella helped him to reach his full potential. Coates is married with three children and is an orthopedic surgeon living in Memphis, Tennessee.
Alex Kramer - Coach
Alex Kramer is remembered as one of the most respected and beloved educators to have coached at West Allegheny. Kramer was a highly successful coach in multiple sports from 1935 to 1976, at a time when the community could not financially support many organized sports programs. Kramer was born and raised in Sturgeon. His father was a coal miner and the young Kramer saw sports as a means to escape a life of working in the mines. Fortunately, as a senior in 1930, Kramer won a state track championship and a Villanova University track coach witnessed his performance. Kramer received a scholarship to attend Villanova, where he became a track star, competing against the likes of eventual four-time Olympic medalist James “Jesse” Owens and setting school records.
In 1935, Kramer began a 41-year coaching career at West Allegheny. He was the school’s first head baseball coach and won three section titles with the team. He held the position for 36 years. He also coached basketball for 20 years, was head football coach for 12 years, assistant football coach for five years, track coach for three years and soccer coach for three years. During that time, Kramer often bought equipment with his own money and transported teams in his personal car because the school district had limited funds to support athletic programs. In addition, he often practiced and/or ran backward with his teams as he actively coached his athletes.
Kramer is remembered as an individual who helped unite the West Allegheny communities by instilling pride in the school’s sports programs. He is often referred to locally as a founding teacher and coach of what would later be called the West Allegheny School District.
Kramer, his wife and six children lived in Noblestown. During his later years, he began an insurance agency in Oakdale that Kramer’s two sons still own and operate today.