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Springville-Griffith Institute Pop Warner Hall of Fame inductees announced for 2013 homecoming

Corey Hacker

Corey Hacker
Corey Hacker is a 1991 graduate from Springville-Griffith Institute. He is the son of Barbara Cudeck of Boston, N.Y. and Timothy Hacker of Derby, N.Y.

While at S-GI, Hacker played football as a defensive back. During his four years playing for the Griffins, the team went undefeated. He was coached by Jim Duprey on the JV Team, while Hacker was a freshman and sophomore, as well as the varsity team, as a junior and senior. Coaches Duprey and Tom O’Brien shifted from JV to varsity, the same year as Hacker did.

“It was a privilege to be a part of such a great team. [Springville’s] winning tradition and philosophies define the all-Aamerican town that Springville is known to be,” Hacker said, of his experience.

During his senior year, he was awarded with Division V All Western New York Defensive Back recognition.

The athlete also participated in freestyle skiing – aerials. Growing up skiing at Kissing Bridge was only the beginning, according to Hacker. During his time at Springville, He spent winters traveling on weekends to ski areas across New England. His summers were spent in Lake Placid, training at the Olympic Jumping Complex.

After graduating from S-GI, Hacker dedicated his efforts toward training, with his focus on becoming a member of the United States Ski Team. He was a member of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team from 1995-2003. During that time, Hacker competed in many World Cup competitions around the globe. He was crowned the 1998 Nor-Am Grand Prix Champion. In 2001, he was a member of the World Championship Team, where he placed fifth.

In 2006, Hackman married Kelly Hilliman from Tonawanda, who was also his teammate on the U.S. Ski Team. They live in Lakeview, N.Y., today. Hacker currently works at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, in the public affairs department.

Since 2007, Hacker and his wife have directed the freestyle skiing program at HoliMont in Ellicottville, called the FLITE Team, which stands for Focus Leads Individuals To Excellence. The team is designed to create character-building opportunities, through determination and a commitment to excellence, according to Hacker. Participants have taken what they have learned through high school sports and competitive skiing, and are giving back locally to the sport they love, he added. Hacker has achieved the highest level coaching certification in the organization and has coached, shaped and helped develop elite U.S. and Canadian Ski Team athletes.

The Hackers are the parents of two children, Kylee, 4, and Cayden, 2. Hacker said that he and his wife enjoy every minute spent with them, including watching Kylee perform in her early dancing and gymnastic endeavors.

“I would like to thank coaches Jim Duprey, the late Bob Schlageter and Tom O’Brien, for the inspirational roles they played in my life,” Hacker said. “Their coaching taught me the importance of motivation, spirit, integrity, resilience and a bigger understanding that it takes more than one person to accomplish goals. You are all still coaching me today.

“I would like to thank my parents, Barb and Mike Cudeck, for their support. They sacrificed so much to allow me to follow my dreams. They attended every high school game and as many skiing events as they could,” the inductee continued. “Thanks to my sisters Jen and Brittany, for their love and support. I would also like to thank Bob Smolinski, for all of his efforts that led to my induction into the hall of fame. I am honored, as well as humbled, as an athlete from an individual sport, to represent such a prestigious team: The Pop Warner Hall of Fame.”

Carl Johnston

Carl Johnston

Carl Johnston, a 1983 graduate of Springville-Griffith Institute, was a four-year varsity athlete on the swim team. As a freshman, he was awarded Most Improved Athlete; as a sophomore, he was a Coach’s Award winner and Most Valuable Player, during his junior and senior years. He was the leading point scorer for the Gators, for his sophomore-senior seasons.

Johnston helped lead the Gators to third-place finishes at the Erie County Interscholastic Conference Championships, during that period. At the ECIC individual championship events, he placed second in the 500-freestyle, sixth in the 100-fly and was a member of the record-setting 4-by-100-freestyle team, which placed third in his sophomore season. As a junior, he won the 500-freestyle and was third in both the 200-freestyle and 4-by-100-freestyle relay. His senior year, he repeated as the 500-freestyle champion, was fourth and sixth in the 200-freestyle and 4-by-100 relay, respectively. Carl represented the Gators at the Section VI Sectional Championships in both his junior and senior years in the 500-freestyle. During his tenure, Johnston broke the 200 and 500-freestyle school records several times, with those records’ standing for more than 15 years, until Ryan Mayerat surpassed them.

In addition, Johnston was a three-year varsity athlete on the track team. He was awarded Most Valuable Athlete during both his junior and senior years. He competed in the 1-mile, 2-mile and as the anchor leg of the 4-by-800 relay during most meets. He set the school record in the mile, which stood for 25 years, until recently broken by Chad Maloy. The athlete also represented Springville at sectional championships his senior season, in the mile race.

In addition to his athletic endeavors, he was a member of the National Honor Society, his junior and senior years, and was recipient of the Sportsmanship Award, his senior year.

Johnston has continued to make athletics a part of his life, during the past 25 years. He has won more than 40 triathlons during this period, and been named an age group All-American 14 times. He has raced all distances, from sprint to Ironman, and in 2008, was the USAT National Masters Champion at the Sprint Triathlon distance. He has run numerous road races, trail runs and cross country events, ranging in distance from 5K to marathon. He was a member of the USA Masters 5K Cross Country championship teams in 2005 and 2007, as well as the second-place team at USATF 10K National Club Cross Country championships in 2005. He has also cross-country ski raced more than 85 marathons and, in 2006, skied across Finland in seven days. Athletics has allowed him to travel and race across Europe, Greenland, New Zealand and North America.

Johnston was the head cross country and track coach for Wayne Central High School, in section V, from 2005-2010. He developed Wayne into a top high school cross country and distance program in Western New York. His boys cross country team compiled a dual meet record of 100-5, during his five years as head coach, culminating in a Section V Class B title in 2010. The team also won three continuous league titles, and had six individual state meet qualifiers before sending the full squad to that meet in 2010. His girls team also experienced similar success, compiling a dual meet record of 84-14, finishing as the Section V runner-up in 2009 and 2010 and sending an individual to the state meet for three consecutive seasons. Wayne runners also re-wrote the record books in track and field during his tenure there, setting new school records in every event from 800-meter-3200-meter and winning six sectional titles in his six years with the program.

Johnston was named League Coach of the Year five times, twice for girls and three times for boys, in cross country and earned the Section V Boys Class B Coach of the Year, after his team won the Sectional title in 2010.

In 2011, Johnston joined the University of Rochester as an assistant coach and assists coach John Izzo with the Yellow Jacket Men’s Cross Country and distance runners. Together, they have led the Rochester men to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2011 and 2012.

Johnston has worked as a scientific researcher at the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry since 1988, and currently holds a faculty appointment as a research associate professor in pediatrics at the university. He earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from the University at Buffalo, a master’s degree in toxicology from the University of Rochester, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Buffalo State College.

Johnston married his high school sweetheart, Ann McMahon, in 1987. McMahon, a 1982 Springville grad, was awarded Most Valuable Player in basketball and tennis, as well as Athlete of Year in 1982. They are the parents of Kelly, a 2009 graduate of the University of Rochester and Megan, a 2010 graduate of Canisius College.

Johnston said that he would like to thank all of his teammates and the coaches that have left everlasting impressions upon him, including Linda Shumaker, James Seals, Mick Nugent, Ed Hall, Jim Fraser and David Hawkes.

“I am extremely honored to be inducted into the Griffith Institute Pop Warner Hall of Fame,” he said.

Ron Spencer

Ron Spencer
Ron Spencer, a 1973 graduate of Springville-Griffith Institute, played football and baseball for four years. While attending high school, he received many awards for his athletic achievements.

Spencer was an all-star member of the first undefeated football team in school history, which brought home the gold in 1972. He was named by the Buffalo News as top defensive player in the league, that same year. Spencer finished third in the league in offensive scoring, with 7 touchdowns and 6 extra points.

In addition, Spencer was named an all-star member of the division and sectional championship baseball team in 1973. He was chosen by his coach as co-most valuable player of the S-GI Varsity Baseball team, in 1973.

The athlete said that he was honored to receive the Dennis Heinz Memorial Sportsmanship Award, as a senior at S-GI.

After high school, Spencer went on to receive his Associate of Applied Science degree in business administration from Hilbert College. He graduated in May of 1976. After college, he eventually moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he resided for 27 years. He worked in the stock brokerage business for 10 years as a financial and operations principle and trader. After many years in the financial world, he shifted careers and worked in the restaurant and bar business until 2002. He retired due to health reasons and moved back to New York. He currently resides in Collins Center.

Spencer said that he would like to thank his coaches from S-GI for their efforts and dedication to high school sports. Those individuals include Jim Duprey and the late Joe Fitzsimmons for JV football. Dwayne Havens, the late Bob Schlagater and Mick Nugent were his coaches for varsity football. Jim Duprey coached JV baseball and Phil Smolinski coached varsity baseball. Spencer added that he would like to thank his fellow teammates, for all of the wonderful memories he has from his years playing sports for S-GI. He expressed appreciation of his nomination and induction into the Pop Warner Hall of Fame and thanked the Springville Athletic Scholarship for the recognition.


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