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North Catholic Hall of Fame

Falcons to induct 10th class into HOF

William Gardner, a Kensington native, will be inducted in the North Catholic HOF this year. PHOTO: JERRY BRINDISI

By Joe Mason

The biggest soccer party of the year is upon us, and for the 10th straight year, that means some great players are ready for enshrinement.

The North Catholic High School Soccer Hall of Fame will honor its 10th class on Sunday at Romano’s Caterers, and as every other year, there will be some greats getting honored.

The class will include seven players, one special honoree and one of the top teams in school history.

And while the reason for the event is to honor the greats from a program that produced 24 Catholic League championships and seven city titles, it’s also a chance for men who proudly wore the red and white to hang out together and talk their favorite sport.

“I look forward to watching people having a great time being around old teammates, telling stories, and enjoying themselves,” said former North Catholic coach Jerry Brindisi. “I hear a lot of stories from guys who are older and I never get tired of hearing the stories. There’s different variations, so many interesting stories.

“North has had a million characters who played soccer, and the stories aren’t always about the games. A lot of time, they’re about the rides to the game or parties after the games. It’s always interesting to hear the stories, there’s always a new wrinkle. I’ve been listening to these stories my whole life and they’re always very entertaining. It’s just a great day.”

While it’s about the soccer, it’s even more about the people.

The event is like watching a time machine of legendary soccer players with guys from every generation. The two things they have in common is soccer and North Catholic.

“We have 70 or 80 guys in red jackets, people who are in the hall from the ’40s to the 2000s,” Brindisi said. “It’s the best of the best in red jackets. Great-grandfathers to guys who are in their late 20s. You can have a 40- or 50-year span between the oldest guy and the youngest guy.”

Also making the day special will be the keynote speaker, Jim Curtin.

Curtain is the head coach of the Philadelphia Union, who played at Bishop McDevitt and Villanova before playing professionally.

Here is a look at the class of 2017

Robert Sharp (Class of 1960)

The four-year varsity player and three-year starter enjoyed a fantastic senior season where he scored 18 goals. His speed was his greatest asset, and the striker took advantage of his quickness to give opposing defenses fits.

Sharp led the Falcons to three Catholic League championship, and in the process earned All-Scholastic team twice and was First Team All-Catholic as a senior.

A graduate of Visitation BVM Parish and starred on the Lighthouse BC United team.

Thomas Egan (Class of 1967)

Egan played three years on the North varsity team and made quite a mark during his time.

He helped North win two championships, and was twice selected All-Scholastic first team. During his senior year, he was All-Catholic.

He then went on to play for Park College in Kansas City, where he was second team all-conference.

During his career as a carpenter, he spent 10 years coaching for the Philadelphia Soccer Club.

When he wasn’t helping young soccer players, he volunteered helping veterans’ groups.

Robert O’Donnell (Class of 1975)

A three-year varsity player and two-year starter, O’Donnell led North to a Catholic League championship during his senior year.

Twice, O’Donnell was selected to the All-Catholic and All-Scholastic team and was a selection of the Philadelphia Oldtimers Team.

O’Donnell also starred for the Kensington Ramblers, where he served as a captain on the state championship team in 1975.

He then went on to play at East Stroudsburg, where he started for four years and was voted All-Conference.

O’Donnell is no stranger to hall of fames. In 2004, he was inducted into the Sheridan Schoolyard Hall of Fame.

Kevin McGettigan (Class of 1982)

Kevin McGettigan was just as successful on the sidelines as he was on the field.

During his days at North, he was a two-year varsity player who made All-Catholic, All-City, All-Scholastic and Philadelphia Oldtimers selection.

He then went on to play for Drexel University, and also starred at Juniata, and for the Kensington Ramblers and the Philadelphia Nationals.

When he hung up the cleats, he was quick to pick up a whistle, and he served as a coach for Juniata, Penn Academy, FC Bayern and PSC Coppa State.

He also coached FC Philadelphia and helped guide Penn Charter, and went on to win four Catholic League championships as an assistant, three with North Catholic and another with Roman Catholic.

William Gardner (Class of 1989)

The Kensington native got his start by playing for the Ramblers and then played for the Juniata Shooters and FC Bayern.

A three-year varsity player, he helped North advance to the Northern Division finals in his junior and senior seasons. Also during his senior season, the captain was first team All-Catholic, All-City and All-State. He was also picked to play for the scholastic traveling team, where he played with other East Coast stars, which played a friendly game against the Glasgow Rangers.

He then went on to play for St. Joseph’s University, where he started every game during his final three seasons.

Gardner then went on to coach, where he served as an assistant at St. Joe’s right out of college, and recently served as an assistant at Roman Catholic.

Ryan Burke (Class of 1996)

The pride of Fishtown made a name for himself while playing at Holy Name of Jesus.

The three-year starter scored 13 goals during his career, where he started at both midfield and forward.

As a senior, Burke was the Most Valuable Player and first-team All-Catholic.

After high school, Burke went on to play at Textile, where he was moved to marking back.

He recently earned a master’s degree.

John Kirchenbauer (Class of 2002)

Kirchenbauer made plenty of huge plays during his days as a Falcon, but none was bigger than his assist on Tim O’Neill’s goal in the Catholic League championship game in 1999 that helped the Falcons earn the plaque.

He came up just as big in 2001, when he helped the Falcons win another Catholic League crown.

Kirchenbauer was twice an All-Catholic selection and went on to have a great career at Drexel University.

Scott Ehly (Class of 2003)

Ehly is a legacy product. He is a third-generation Falcon. He got his start with the Somerton Youth Organization program, and then went on to play for Philly Soccer, where he garnered regional and state tournament honors. He was so dominant, he wasn’t scored upon.

Ehly ran into bad luck during his sophomore year, where he had surgery to remove tumors from his hip. He recovered to help North go undefeated during his junior and senior seasons.

After graduating, Ehly went on to play soccer at Manor College and later Shippensburg. He now works as a nurse.

The 1966 soccer team

North Catholic has had quite a few dominant teams, but perhaps the best ever was the 1966 outfit.

The team won each of its 14 games and outscored opponents 82–4

Six of the players from this elite squad are in the North Catholic Hall of Fame. The team also succeeded at the club level, as eight members of the squad were members of the U-19 Lighthouse 49ers, which went on to win the national championship.

Special honoree: Tom Oakes

Oakes might not have played for the Falcons, but that’s pretty much all he didn’t do.

He’s been a coach, a mentor and friend of the program since he attended the school. Not only that, but sometimes he was responsible for bringing the players to the game by driving the bus.

A star athlete growing up in Juniata, Oakes also played baseball and football, and had a fantastic club soccer career.

Oakes has been a huge supporter of North for more than three decades. He helped lead the team to four Catholic League championship and helped start the North Catholic Soccer Alumni Golf Tournament and annual alumni game.

“Tom meant so much to North Catholic, he always wanted to do more,” Brindisi said. “And he’s been on the end of every red cent we’ve raised. He knows how to run things. If there’s an event, he’s there. If anyone needs anything, he’s there. He’s been a friend to the kids, he’s a coach, he’s a mentor and everyone loves the guy.”

Tickets for the outing are on sale now, and while they will be available at the door, it is highly recommended to purchase the tickets ahead of time to avoid a line on the day of the event. To purchase tickets, email brindiski@aol.com or call Joe Steffa at 215–783–8020.

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