August “Augie” Beyer - Athlete
August “Augie” Beyer was selected for induction into the hall of fame both for his individual athletic achievements and his contributions to the West Allegheny swim program when it was still in its infancy.
At West Allegheny, Beyer set numerous school records and was the first swimmer in school history to advance to regional and state competition. Two years prior to the formation of the official WA swim team, he was among the first members of the West Allegheny Aqua Club, which would later become a feeder for the school’s swim program. At Grove City College, he continued his tradition of success and earned All-American honors. Beyer, who graduated from WA in 1979, was such a skilled swimmer that he began practicing with the high school swim team while he was still an eighth-grader at the middle school.
During his high school career, Beyer set numerous school records. According to his coach Jeff Marshall, Beyer at one point held just about every school record in swimming.
Beyer was also the first swimmer in school history to qualify to compete in the WPIAL and PIAA championships. He reached the former three times and the latter twice. Beyer’s two best events were the 100 butterfly and the 200 IM. He held school records in both for over 30 years. Marshall stated that Beyer also competed in most every event during a swim meet and usually won each of them.
After graduating from WA, Beyer swam for Grove City for four years on the varsity team. He qualified each of his four years of college to compete in the NCAA tournament and ultimately earned All-American honors in the NCAA Division III program.
“Augie was always the hardest worker in practice,” writes Marshall in his nomination letter. “He encouraged other swimmers and was willing to teach technique to anyone, including his coach.”
Beyer’s high school teammate William Glas, who was inducted into the hall of fame in 2015, writes in his nomination letter, “Augie was an integral part of the start of our entire WA swimming program. He was WA swimming and we together formed a great beginning and foundation for the entire WA swimming program.”
When mentioned that Marshall said he often competed in many events during a swim meet, Beyer laughingly recalled a time when the team won a “swim off” against Montour to earn WA’s first WPIAL section championship. Marshall needed Beyer to win two difficult events that were closely scheduled together. As a result, he says Marshall instructed another swimmer on the team to lose a middle 200 freestyle event by intentionally swimming one of the slowest races on record to give Beyer as much time as possible to rest between events. As planned, Beyer won each of the other events to help WA seal the championship.
Beyer and his wife, Caryl, retired recently to Bradford, where they enjoy all the wonderful outdoor opportunities in that part of Pennsylvania.
Pat Rheam - Coach
Pat Rheam’s induction into the hall of fame recognizes the success various West Allegheny high school wrestling teams and individuals achieved under his leadership. From 1981 through 1991, seven of Rheam’s teams qualified for the WPIAL team tournament. Three of them reached the WPIAL semi-finals and two finished as runners-up. Three of his teams also finished their regular seasons undefeated in section competition. He finished his career at WA with four section titles and an overall record of 118-18.
In addition, many of Rheam’s individual wrestlers became WPIAL and/or PIAA medal winners, including WA’s first PIAA state finalist, Rocky McGeary, and first WPIAL champion, Justin Watters. As a result, Rheam may be considered one of the most successful wrestling coaches in WA school history. When asked why Rheam was so successful, current WA head wrestling coach Ron Tarquinio stated, “Pat’s service to the district and his success as a coach and mentor makes him very deserving of this award.” Mike Johnson, another former WA wrestler and current Findlay Township police officer, relates in his nomination letter, “Coach Rheam was an excellent leader and motivator for our wrestling program. He always pushed us to be the best that we could be on the mat and in life. Coach Rheam always spoke the truth after a performance instead of making up excuses. He was undoubtedly one of the most influential people I had as a coach.”
Tarquinio was inducted into the hall of fame in 2015. Johnson was inducted in 2014.
While reflecting on his WA head-coaching career, Rheam stated, “The team successes were never about me! At that particular time at West Allegheny, I was fortunate with coach Mike Smith to work with an outstanding group of young men.”
Rheam recalled that his athletes were so dedicated to wrestling that they got upset when they couldn’t practice on Sundays. Practice on that day of the week was against school policy. Some of those same dedicated athletes now coach WA wrestling and football teams. Rheam often attends their practices and tournaments. He said, “I can tell you that I am very proud of what our wrestlers accomplished in the program, but I am most proud about how successful they have become as responsible adults in their family lives.”
In addition to coaching at WA, Rheam also taught for over 31 years in the district and was nominated for the Shining Star Humanitarian Teacher Award.
Rheam and his wife, Kathleen, live in North Strabane Township. They are proud of their own three adult children and grateful for the opportunity to babysit their two grandchildren weekly.
Rocky McGeary - Athlete
Rocky McGeary’s induction into the hall of fame recognizes not only his achievements as a high school wrestler, but also his contributions to West Allegheny youth sports programs.
During McGeary’s junior season in 1988 at WA, he finished third in the WPIAL and sixth in the PIAA. His senior year, McGeary was the WPIAL champion and became the first wrestling state finalist in school history when he finished second in the state. In January of this year, he was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette All-Time Team as a co-MVP alongside Troy Reaghard and Ron Tarquinio, who is now the head wrestling coach at WA. Tarquinio writes in his nomination letter that, “Rocky’s accomplishments make him one of the most successful high school wrestlers in West Allegheny history.”
In addition to his qualifications as an outstanding WA wrestler, McGeary’s selection recognizes his many contributions to WA youth sports programs. McGeary is known for the many hours he devotes to helping young athletes achieve success and mature into young men. As Tarquinio states in his nomination letter, “In addition to Rocky’s success on the mat, he has played a vital role in the development of wrestlers and football players for West Allegheny’s youth programs. His hard work, dedication and passion to these programs make Rocky an inspirational coach and an asset to our school district.”
When asked what made him a successful wrestler, McGeary’s response was not all that different from that of his former high school wrestling coach Pat Rheam, who is also being inducted into the hall of fame in this class.
“It was never about me,” says McGeary. “It was always about the team!”
Not surprisingly, when McGeary was asked what made him a successful youth coach, his responded, “Kids don’t care about what you know until you show them how much you care!” Thus, as he experienced as an athlete, McGeary repeatedly reminds his young athletes, and especially their parents, that it’s never about who the star is or who gets the most playing time. It’s always about the team.
After high school, McGeary went on to wrestle at Bloomsburg College and then Delaware Valley College before a knee injury ended his collegiate athletic career. He and his wife, Amy, now live in North Fayette Township with their four children: Amanda, Samantha, Rocky Jr. and Ty.
Christopher McGough - Patron/Contributor
Christopher McGough was selected for induction into the hall of fame based on his tireless dedication to West Allegheny athletics. “Coach McGough” is considered a mainstay of the district’s sports programs, especially the football program. In fact, as assistant football coach Mark Davis states in his nomination letter, “When I think of West Allegheny football, I cannot help but think about Chris!”
For the past 16 years, McGough has excelled in his responsibilities with various teams as a ball boy, honorary captain, kicking tee manager, motivational speaker and assistant to the head coach. When fulfilling each of those responsibilities, McGough has always had a positive influence on everyone associated with the program. As Davis further writes, “Chris has taught not only players, but also the coaches, trainers, ball boys/girls, and parents the values of tolerance, acceptance, patience, kindness and compassion.”
Bill Rossi, WA football booster president, adds in his own nomination letter, “Most casual fans admire that the athletic department includes Chris in the program and [that] allows him to participate in some fashion. What they don’t realize immediately is that we should be the ones thanking Chris for being a part of our district!”
McGough has also made a profound influence on the West Allegheny school community. As Davis adds, “His ability to positively shape our community is as deserving of this award as anyone! I am humbled and cannot help feeling emotional about the number of lives that Chris has impacted!” Rossi concludes, “In his own way, he educates our students on some of life’s biggest lessons…What’s even more impressive is that Chris does this with ease, by simply being himself!”
Steve McGough, Chris’ father, stated that head football coach
Bob Palko was instrumental in helping Chris become so involved in the school community. Through Palko’s guidance, Chris has adopted the community as much as the community has adopted him. Due to that well-established relationship, wherever Chris travels to participate in events - such as the Special Olympics - his reputation precedes him as an admired and highly respected representative of West Allegheny School District.
Chris’ parents, Steve and Linda, live in North Fayette Township. Chris resides at the T.C. House in Findlay Township. His sister, Julie, also lives in Findlay Township.
West Allegheny Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team 2006-2007
The 2006-2007 boys’ varsity basketball team was selected for induction into the hall of fame not only for winning the AAA WPIAL championship in 2007, but also for the way they won that championship.
As Debbie Morelli, mother of player Nick Morelli, states in her nomination letter, “In my opinion, the team accomplished more than any other boys’ basketball team in the history of West Allegheny High School…”
The team ended its regular season with an average 6-6-0 record in its section after winning its final two games of the season, including one against section rival Montour High School to secure a WPIAL tournament berth. In a play-in
game, WA defeated Keystone Oaks High School to enter as a bottom-ranked 16th seed. In the first round, the team handed top-ranked Greensburg Salem a stunning upset before going on to defeat Montour again in the quarterfinals. The team subsequently defeated Ambridge High School in the semifinals to earn the right to play in the WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley High School. It was the first time a WA basketball team had reached the title game.
Chartiers Valley was a perennial WPIAL playoff team but WA pulled off the win at Duquesne University’s Palumbo Center in double overtime. The team was the first and only WA basketball team in school history to win a WPIAL championship.
Though they subsequently lost to Warren High School in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, they were the first team in a boys’ or girls’ basketball classification to be seeded so low and still become WPIAL champions. As John Murphy, father of player Shawn Murphy, states in his nomination letter: “Not only did they believe in one another, they also made the entire WPIAL community believe in them as they made the most memorable run in school and WPIAL history.”
Due primarily to their “never quit” efforts, the 2006-2007 boys’ varsity team won the respect and admiration of the entire WA school community. The school district sold over 550 student tickets for the championship game and needed eight fan buses to transport all the WA fans to the game. As Judy Murphy, Shawn’s mother, reflects in her nomination letter, “They not only came together as a team, but brought an entire community and school together to give them something that they will never forget.”
Debbie Morelli notes in her nomination letter, “It’s been a privilege to watch these boys grow up and become men, and to be a part of this memorable event that they provided in 2007.”
However, possibly the most memorable quote comes from senior guard Emilio Nardi, who reportedly said at the time, “If we lost, they would never remember us, but now they can never forget us!”