COAL TOWNSHIP — Honoring history, keeping memories alive and paying tribute to the thousands of players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans of St. Edward Speedboys and Speedgirls served as Dan Hauer’s motivation in creating a special seating section at Brewser’s SportsGrille.
Hauer and his business partner and good friend, Geno Welsh, are the co-owners of Brewser’s.
“St. Ed’s Corner” was officially unveiled Tuesday night at the popular sports-theme restaurant as alumni, family members and friends of the former St. Edward Grade School and High School gathered for a special ceremony paying tribute to Joseph “Alphie” McLaughlin, one of most successful and hard-working coaches in the tradition-rich history of St. Ed’s basketball.
A wooden 57-inch table with a basketball court design made from the old St. Ed’s gym floor shined brightly as Hauer unveiled it to the crowd in memory of McLaughlin. A placard with McLaughlin’s name is attached to the six-person table next to a juke box near the middle of the restaurant.
In addition to having a section of the gym floor refurbished into the table, Hauer was able to secure a section of railing from one of the two balconies in the old gym, two of the original gym windows with metal screens attached and a decorative sign welcoming patrons to “St. Ed’s Corner.”
Hauer thanked Father Martin Kobos, pastor of Mother Cabrini Church in Shamokin, for allowing him to remove the items from the gym before the school was demolished in December 2016 due to its decaying condition and liability issues.
Kobos was on hand Tuesday to bless the table.
Hauer is hoping to obtain additional pieces of St. Ed’s memorabilia so he can hang them on the walls in the designated seating area.
“The memories that were made on the court can be talked about now above the court,” Hauer said.
Hauer didn’t play basketball for St. Ed’s, but was very familiar with its incredible history through his father, Bob Hauer Jr. and late grandfather, Bob Hauer Sr., who lived in the 200 block of North Vine Street in Shamokin and played for the Speedboys while attending school there. Dan’s uncles and aunts also attended St. Ed’s and participated in the sports programs.
Dan, who attended school in the St. Ed’s building when it was known as Queen of Peace School, said, “I did this because I wanted to keep the fabulous memories of St. Ed’s alive. I love where I came from and I have a lot of pride in our area. I never want to see the history and memories from St. Ed’s lost. St. Ed’s will live on forever at Brewser’s.”
McLaughlin, a longtime basketball and baseball coach for St. Ed’s, spent countless hours in the gym not only coaching his players at practice and games, but waxing and refurbishing the floor that was considered by many as the mecca of basketball in Shamokin.
He coached basketball on different levels for approximately 25 years, but is best remembered for his outstanding “A” teams. His teams were talented, disciplined and fast and he was well respected for his fairness to his players and sportsmanship, even though he hated to lose like most coaches.
St. Ed’s was a love affair for the McLaughlin family.
Joseph and his wife, the former Vera Varano, graduated from St. Ed’s High School in 1950 and 1949, respectively. Mrs. McLaughlin served as a cheerleading coach at St. Ed’s.
They raised their three children, JoAnn, Mike and Tim, while living in the 200 block of North Franklin Street across the street from the venerable gym. Mike and Tim played basketball at St. Ed’s, while JoAnn was a cheerleader.
Mike followed in his father’s footsteps by serving as St. Ed’s basketball coach for many years and later was a “B” team coach for the Mother Cabrini Comets, where he coached his son, Sean.
Mike stated, “I’m very grateful to Dan and Geno for doing this for my father, who is very deserving of this honor. I literally grew up in St. Ed’s gym and I recall refurbishing the floor many times with my dad and brother. This was a very nice event that I will always cherish.”
Welsh said, “Dan surprised me when he came up with this idea. I think it’s great for the community to keep history alive. St. Ed’s was a special place for so many people and the McLaughlins are a great family and among our best customers. I was happy to help and it fell right in with our 10th anniversary celebration.”
Tony Tentromono, of Shamokin, also played and coached for the Speedboys and considers Joseph McLaughlin the greatest coach he ever had.
“Mr. McLaughlin was a father figure to me,” he said. “I remember when he bought my brother Mike and I our first pair of sneakers because we couldn’t afford them. They were Chuck Taylors. This dedication ceremony is a perfect tribute to him.”
In addition to honoring Joseph McLaughlin, Hauer also paid tribute to longtime St. Ed’s and Mother Cabrini Church maintenance employee Tony Varano, who took care of St. Ed’s gym for numerous years.
Tony is a 1950 graduate of St. Ed’s High School and is a brother to Vera McLaughlin. The siblings were among multiple family members in attendance. Mike and Tim’s wives, Jen and Luann, joined their spouses as well.
“Coach McLaughlin and Mr. Varano were the unsung heroes of keeping St. Ed’s alive for many years,” Hauer said.
The McLaughlin family had the honors of having the first meal at the specially-designed table, which can be reserved by customers wanting to relive the glory days of St. Ed’s.
Tom Ryan, a well-known local sports historian, broadcaster and former longtime teacher and coach at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School, presented Hauer with copies of the 1954-55 and 1955-56 basketball teams at St. Ed’s.
Ryan said the 1954-55 team lost to St. Canice of Pittsburgh in the Pennsylvania Catholic Interscholastic Athletic Association title game, while the 1955-56 team was the last St. Ed’s High School team to play in the gym.
Shamokin Catholic High School operated in the same building for the next three years before becoming Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School. Shamokin Catholic athletic teams were known as the Red Raiders, which was the nickname maintained by Lourdes.
Ryan recalled his memories from attending St. Ed’s Grade School and High School before graduating from Lourdes in 1961.
“St. Ed’s was a special place for me for many reasons,” Ryan said. “I learned how to play basketball there under Leon Korbich and I officiated my first high school basketball game there. I also recall attending weddings and funerals in the gym when it served as a temporary church for St. Ed’s after a disastrous fire in 1971.”
He added, “I recall going to dances and pep rallies in the gym. It was a wonderful place.”
Dennis Christiana, who coached the Speedboys “A” team for about 10 years, graduated from St. Ed’s Grade School in 1967 and remembered numerous games involving himself and his older brothers, including the 1955-56 high school state title game.
“I have a lot of memories of playing and coaching at St. Ed’s,” Christiana said. “We were the first eighth grade class to play on the new gym floor.”