Dorin Dickerson - Athlete
Dorin Dickerson is being inducted into the West Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame in the category of athlete, as he is one of the finest to have ever graduated from West Allegheny High School.
Dickerson graduated from West Allegheny High School in 2006. During his high school football career, he played a number of positions, including wide receiver, running back, quarterback, safety, corner back and kick returner. As a junior, Dickerson rushed for 1,065 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 517 yards and eight touchdowns. During his senior year, he rushed for 1,429 yards on 182 carries and scored 30 touchdowns. He also caught 22 receptions for 423 yards and six touchdowns. His total combined 36 touchdowns led the entire WPIAL that season. On the defensive side of the ball, he caught four interceptions.
As stated in a letter of support, Charlie Cherico writes, “[Dorin] was one of the best football players we have ever seen at West A and we have seen some great ones.”
Bob Palko, who was head coach of the football team when Dickerson played, says Dickerson was one of the most talented players he has ever coached, particularly on offense. He also says Dickerson was one of the most humble players he has ever met.
In recognition of his high scool senior season, the Associated Press named Dickerson its Pennsylvania Class AAA Player of the Year. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also named him player of the year and Keystone Recruiting named him the Pennsylvania Class AAA Player of the Year and WPIAL Player of the Year. The Pittsburgh Athletic Association awarded Dickerson with its Mercury Award, effectively naming him the
top football player in all of western Pennsylvania. Dickerson was further named to the Post-Gazette’s Fabulous 22 team, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review Terrific 25 team and the Harrisburg Patriot News Platinum 33 team. He additionally was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Game and the All-American Bowl, an all-star game for the country’s top players.
Dickerson’s lifelong friend Chris Clark says that, even at a young age, Dickerson could run faster and jump higher than anyone else in school. Clark states, “Although Dorin was a much better athlete than anyone else, he always wanted to give credit to someone else or focus on team achievements versus individual efforts.” Clark further remembers, “Dorin never got a big head, but always considered himself just one of the guys throughout his WA years in school.”
Upon graduation, Dickerson chose to attend the University of Pittsburgh over the University of Iowa, University of Michigan or Penn State University. Following his senior season, he was named an All-American with Honors by the Association Press, CBS Sports, the Football Writers Association of America, the Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He is the only player in Pitt history to have earned that distinction as a tight end. The two previous Pitt players to earn All-American status at the end position - Mike Ditka and Joe Walton - earned that honor before the inception of the tight end position. Dickerson was also considered a finalist for the John Mackey Award, which honors the top tight end in college football.
Dickerson was subsequently drafted into the NFL and played for six years on seven professional teams, including the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions. In 2016, he was inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame. Dickerson is currently a sports broadcaster on the sports talk radio station 96.3 FM The Fan.
Clark relates that, while Dickerson is proud of his athletic achievements, he is now most proud of being a devoted father of two growing boys. Clark shares, “Dorin has always remained level headed about everything he has done over the years, but he is proudest about the life that he and Rachelle have created in raising two sons, Jace and Jett!”
Dr. David Quinn - Patron/ Contributor
Dr. David Quinn’s induction into the West Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame recognizes his outstanding contributions to the West Allegheny basketball program. As Josh Bears, who coached alongside Quinn for 10 years, writes “since his playing days at West Allegheny ended, Doc decided he was going to make a difference in not only his children’s athletic lives, but also the [lives of the] children of the WA community. He chose coaching as his avenue for making a difference.”
As the varsity team’s head coach, Quinn had two successful seasons before he gave up the position due primarily to his growing optometry practice. Over the past decade, he has continued to serve the district as an unpaid volunteer assistant varsity coach. During his tenure, WA teams have appeared in three WPIAL semifinals. One of those appearances, in 2007, ultimately ended with the team winning a WPIAL championship. That team was inducted into the West Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame last year.
Quinn is also credited with developing the West Allegheny Youth Basketball Program, which has helped young athletes learn the sport and develop their skills. Derrik Zeroski says that he and his classmates started playing basketball in third grade thanks to that youth program. Zeroski and those teammates went on to win West Allegheny that WPIAL championship in 2007.
The following year, Zeroski broke a 30-year-old school scoring record set by Quinn, who scored 560 points for West Allegheny in 1978 before the inception of the three-point line.
According to Bears, Quinn was the first one out on the court to congratulate Zeroski when he broke that record. “Even today, I consider Coach Quinn a dear friend and one of the
best mentors I was associated with (many of my teammates share the same sentiment) during my time at West Allegheny.”
Vito Bovalino, whose son played basketball for West Allegheny and who coached alongside Quinn, further states that, “Coach Doc is an excellent basketball coach, a fine mentor, and a role model for all his players.”
Bovalino writes that he watched Quinn “work very hard to help every player achieve their full potential.”
When asked to make a comment about his selection, Quinn did not want to mention himself. Rather, he wanted to thank everyone associated with West Allegheny for giving him an opportunity to give back to the entire school community.
West Allegheny Girls Track Teams, 1996-1997 - Team
The 1996 and 1997 West Allegheny girls track teams were selected for induction into the West Allegheny Hall of Fame for being the first school teams to win back-to-back WPIAL championships. As their former coach Mike Quinn relates, “The depth of these teams in all four facets of track - sprints, distance, jumps and throws - allowed them to achieve undefeated seasons in AA competitions both years. When one looks at the team scores you need to realize that the scores were purposely held down for sportsmanship reasons because once you score 76 points you have won and there was no desire to humiliate other teams by running up the scores.”
As a result of their hard work, dedication and teamwork, a new culture of excellence for the West Allegheny track program was established. Bob Rose, then assistant track coach, describes it as “lightning in a bottle.”
“West Allegheny has had a number of special student athletes over the years, but this group etched their way into school history with a unique blend of talent, versatility, work ethic and heart,” Rose writes. “These athletes overcame injury and adversity and were among the toughest people I’ve ever been around, both physically and mentally.”
Rose notes that the teams were “feared and respected throughout the entire WPIAL, controlling medal stands at numerous invitationals and making an indelible mark in school history.”
The team’s distance coach, James Hamilton, who was inducted into the West Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012, says, “Every one of those girls were team players and didn’t care about individual stats. We still had a lot of talent but it was fun.”
Melissa Klobchar, a standout performer on that team, says, referring to that 1996 WPIAL win, “We competed as individuals, but we always say that being part of a team is the only thing that keeps us going. We worked together to win this.”
Combined, the teams earned 17 WPIAL event medals and 12 different athletes secured nine PIAA event qualifications. They also secured three PIAA medals and set a WPIAL record in the 4x800 meter relay.
Quinn summarizes the achievement of these teams by stating, “Though it doesn’t show up on a score sheet, I most remember the joy with which these teams competed.”
Jim Yanek - Athlete
Jim Yanek is being inducted into the West Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame for his contributions to the wrestling program as an athlete - but his induction also acknowledges the adversity he has overcome and the impact he has made both on the wrestling community and young athletes. As a West Allegheny student athlete, Yanek recorded a number of firsts during his outstanding wrestling career. He was the first freshman ever to wrestle as a member of the varsity squad, the first wrestler to win 100 matches, the first four-year letterman in wrestling, the first three-time section champion in wrestling and the first wrestler to finish a season undefeated. Along with his brothers, Carl and Eric, the Yanek Family had the third highest number of family wrestling wins in Pennsylvania wrestling history.
Dennis Cook, who wrestled alongside Yanek, writes that from the time he was a freshman, Yanek was a leader “not vocally but by example with an intense work ethic and a strong desire to be the best he could be.” Cook writes that, as a sophomore, while most wrestlers were happy just to make the team “James was a face in the WPIAL.”
Yanek’s wrestling coach Pat Rheam writes, “Jimmy was not the quickest, strongest, or most knowledgeable wrestler by any standard. However, he was the most tenacious athlete with an indomitable competitive spirit that was unmatched in my coaching career.” After graduation, Yanek continued his wrestling career in college, an accomplishment that Cook writes was rare at that time. Yanek wrestled at Thiel College and California University.
Yanek was later injured in a tragic work-related accident. Coincidentally, Rheam was at the hospital looking after his father when Yanek was brought to the emergency room. As a result of that accident, Yanek has been confined to a wheelchair for the past 20 years. Rheam recalls Yanek at the time saying he would be “Ok,” and he has embraced that attitude ever since.
“Still, he cannot be held back by his disability,” Cook writes. “He has continued to follow West Allegheny wrestling and giving advice to the wrestlers any chance he gets.”
As Rheam relates, “With the support of his wife, Shelly, and his own invincible, never-quit attitude, he has willed and worked his way to living a full and active life.” Rheam further states, “Jimmy has not only been an inspiration to others throughout our community, but also within the wrestling program that has meant so much to him.”
In his summary, Cook states, “James is more than worthy to be inducted into the West Allegheny Hall of Fame as one of the first West Allegheny wrestlers to have had major success on the mat and as a role model to our young wrestlers by showing them how to fight through anything and still have a positive outlook on life.”
Paul DeBor - Patron/Contributor
Paul DeBor’s induction into the West Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame recognizes his invaluable contributions to West Allegheny athletics as a longtime sports chronicler. Using photography skills he first learned while serving in Vietnam, DeBor repeatedly volunteered his evenings and weekends without financial compensation to attend most every sporting event in order to take pictures of students. These pictures most often became the pictures that parents hung on their walls at home or were placed in their most prized family picture albums. In a letter of support for DeBor’s candidacy, Laurie Cole writes, “Although Paul wasn’t directly involved in West Allegheny athletics as a player or coach, he played an important role with the teams.”
In another letter written in support, former track coach and current school board member Mike Quinn states that he wanted to nominate DeBor “for the efforts that he makes to ensure that all members of the teams get pictures, especially the ones that don’t see much playing time.” As Quinn further relates, “I have witnessed Paul sitting and freezing in an ice skating rink checking off numbers in a program to make sure everyone gets a picture.” Quinn also states, “Paul especially focused on taking pictures of the athletes with modest skills who competed for the love of their sports and toiled for years without receiving any recognition.” Quinn concludes, “I feel that this is a priceless message that he sends to all of our athletes that they are worthy and appreciated.”
Over the years, DeBor’s photography has frequently been featured in this publication. Pat Jennette, Allegheny West Magazine’s publisher emeritus, says of DeBor, “Paul’s sincerity, loyalty, community spirit and passion are second to none. He epitomizes the true meaning of giving back. From the time I worked with him at the school district through the years publishing this magazine, I watched Paul’s painstaking efforts to do a thorough job for whatever event or activity he was photographing. He generously donated his photography skills to not just athletics, but school musicals and many other events.”
DeBor was also a highly respected teacher who retired a few years ago from the school district. “[Paul] was a wonderful reading teacher and always had the students’ best interests at heart,” writes Cole. “He carried that same caring of students from the classroom to the fields and gymnasiums as well as any other school events he was invited to photograph…I don’t think there are many people who have contributed more to West A athletics from the sidelines...”