They spoke of determination and dedication. They spoke of coaching and conditioning.
They thanked their families. They thanked their teammates.
Most of all, they recalled the pride and passion with which they represented Heidelberg, in the classroom and on the playing field.
Alex Czeranko ’52 (football), Matt Adams ’95 (basketball), Todd Drake ’96 (football), Joseph Conduah ’00 (football, track) and Teresa Darrah Crane '03 (tennis) were inducted into the Heidelberg University Athletic Hall of Fame at a banquet on Saturday evening.
Czeranko, a center and linebacker for football coach Paul Hoernemann, was unable to attend the ceremony. Teammate Paul Yackey ’53 presented Czeranko and Jack Murphy ’54 accepted on his behalf.
Yackey, the presenter, remembered Czeranko’s fine leadership skills on a dangerous offensive line.
“Alex was a sharp blocker,” said Yackey, a charter member in the Hall of Fame. “He would run up to the ball out of the huddle, and as the center, controlled the entire line.”
During his acceptance speech on behalf of Czeranko, Murphy echoed Yackey’s recollections.
Legendary Willard High School basketball coach Bob Haas presented Adams with his plaque.
“Matt was one of the only players I coached at Willard whose accomplishments at college surpassed his high school accomplishments,” said Haas.
Adams, who graduated as Heidelberg’s all-time leading scorer and now sits second, reminisced about the mornings, afternoons and evenings on the courts in Willard that were at the origins of his passion for basketball.
Adams thanked his coach at Heidelberg, John Hill ’70, and many of his teammates for their efforts.
“Every play drawn up, every screen set and every pass helped me achieve my individual accolades,“ said Adams. “Without everyone else, I wouldn’t be up here today.”
Drake’s uncle, Jim Drake ’63, presented his nephew with his plaque and a piece of family history – a cowbell. Jim cited his father, Todd’s grandfather, as the origin of his family’s love of football.
“My father rang this bell at Ohio State football games, Tiffin Columbian High School football games and Heidelberg games,” said Jim. “After a key defensive stand or a big play on offense, he would ring this bell.”
With the athletic careers of all of Jim’s children complete, he thought it was time to pass the cowbell down to a new generation.
Todd, a First Team All-Region honoree, talked about his love of football at Heidelberg. One play was stuck in his mind.
“In 12 years of football, I had never scored a touchdown until I had a pick-six against Capital my senior year,” said Todd. “On the very next drive, with the triumphant feeling still in my head, [teammate] Adam Smith intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it for a touchdown.”
Former Heidelberg Track & Field Coach Larry Brown presented Conduah with his plaque. Brown regaled the audience with a story about Conduah’s tribulations at the OAC Championship his junior year. Conduah, an All-American triple-jumper, was unable to defeat his nemesis. His nemesis was a world-class triple-jumper.
“With track meets lasting all day, most schools kept the athletes competing later back at the hotel. But, the entire Heidelberg track team lined the back stretch where Joe would compete, cheering him on,” said Brown. “Joe jumped farther than he ever had, setting a school record.“
Conduah’s nemesis would eventually win the event, but not before Conduah would achieve two more personal bests.
“That shows Joe’s resolve as a student-athlete,” said Brown.
Conduah, winner of the Division III Woody Hayes Scholar Athlete of the Year award, was complimentary of former Heidelberg football coach Larry Shank and teammate Jeff Brock.
“Jeff was so gifted that, of the 22 positions on the field, he could played 21 of them,” said Conduah. “Notice, I said 21. Middle linebacker? That’s my spot.”
Crane and her presenter, Dr. Joseph Temple, developed a lifelong friendship on the tennis courts at Heidelberg. Temple lauded Crane for her intense, yet polite determination on the tennis court.
“In an era of trash talk and disrespect, Teresa was different,” said Temple. “Her passion was so mild-mannered. It was refreshing.”
Crane recalled an article she read in the Heidelberg newspaper, The Kilikilik, which contained an interview with a student-athlete who had just graduated. She was so moved by the article that she clipped it out, laminated it and hung it in her dorm room.
“The young man, whom I had never met, spoke about his competitive spirit for athletics and academics, and his ability to balance both,” said Crane, holding up the article. “Joe Conduah, thank you for unknowingly inspiring me.”