Final Members of OVAC Hall Class Announced
The final members of the OVAC Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 are set.
One of the area’s finest female basketball players and a multi-sport standout, who excelled in football highlight the 1990s representatives, while a pair of three-sport standouts have been chosen as the 2000s representatives.
Selected from the 1990s are Steubenville’s Sylvia Crawley and Bellaire’s Ben Taylor. Chosen from the 2000s are Bethany Piccolini of St. Clairsville and Shenandoah’s Jedidiah Stephen.
The OVAC Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Robinson Auto Group in Wheeling, and the OVAC Sports Museum are located inside WesBanco Arena.
Capsule summaries of the latest announced honorees:
SYLVIA CRAWLEY (Steubenville, Class of 1990) – Utilizing her 6-foot-4 frame, there wasn’t much this Big Red product couldn’t do on a basketball floor.
Playing primarily at center, Crawley developed into one of the best post players Steubenville and the Ohio Valley has ever seen.
In lettering three years, Crawley enjoyed her finest campaign as a senior when she averaged 17.9 points a game and led the Ohio Valley with 19.4 rebounds a night and an astounding 7.3 blocked shots per contest. Included in her scoring was a single-game high of 30 against St. Clairsville.
Crawley, who also lettered in track and field, ended her prep career with 978 points, 966 rebounds and 358 blocked shots.
For her efforts, Crawley was twice named to the all-OVAC Class AAA first team and she captained the Ohio-side all-Valley squad as a senior after earning second-team honors as a junior.
While scoring, rebounding and blocking shots at will, the recruiting picked up steam for Crawley, who received offers from North Carolina State, Indiana, Texas A&M, Minnesota and numerous others, but she settled on the University of North Carolina.
For the Tar Heels, Crawley scored 1,158 points, grabbed 582 rebounds and blocked 123 shots, while starting 101 career games. Her crowning achievement, however, came as a senior when she was named team captain and helped lead UNC to a 33-2 record and the NCAA National Championship.
Crawley averaged 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game that season. Three times during her collegiate career, Crawley was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. She was an alternate for the U.S. Olympic Team in 1996, but played on the national team for the 1999 U.S. Pan-Am Games and in the World University Games.
North Carolina retired Crawley’s number (00) and it’s just one of 11 jerseys to hang from the rafters in Carmichael Arena.
Crawley’s basektball career continued professionally, as she played 12 seasons in 16 different countries. She played in the now defunct ABL for five years and then after playing in Europe, she played three seasons in the WNBA. During her time with the Portland Power in the ABL, Crawley won a slam dunk contest with a blind-folded dunk.
After her playing career, Crawley got into coaching. She served as an assistant at UNC and Fordham before being hired as the head coach at Ohio University. She held that post for two seasons and then accepted the Boston College job. She resigned from that job in March of 2012, citing health reasons.
BEN TAYLOR (Bellaire, Class of 1997) – There’s tough and then there’s the way this Big Reds’ all-Ohio played throughout his career.
It didn’t matter what side of the ball, Taylor was heavily involved in the success of the Big Reds’ football program in the mid-90s.
During Taylor’s career, in which he earned three letters, the Big Reds posted a 35-3 record.
Two of those three losses came in the Ohio Division IV State Championship Game. During those seasons, Taylor saw time at linebacker, safety and receiver for Coach John Magistro’s squad.
Taylor, who was a first-team all-Ohioan and Mr. Football finalists as a senior, finished his career with 348 tackles and 12 interceptions on the defensive side. He was also a mainstay in the passing game, catching 130 passes for 1,679 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career. He was also an outstanding punter.
Taylor also owns the Bellaire single-season record for receptions in a season (70) and career. His career tackle number ranks third in Bellaire history and his 192 tackles in a season ranks second. His receiving yardage is fourth.
Taylor was chosen for the Ohio North-South All-Star Game and was selected as a team captain. He also took part in the OVAC All-Star Game and captained that squad.
Despite his numbers and performances, Taylor wasn’t heavily recruited. He landed a scholarship at Virginia Tech and shined for four years. The Hokies were 39-9 during Taylor’s career in Blacksburg.
En route to being named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s premier collegiate linebacker, Taylor recorded 318 tackles and seven career sacks. He was twice named all-American and all-Big East.
After finishing the regular season undefeated in 1999, Taylor and the Hokies, who had Michael Vick at quarterback, played in the Sugar Bowl for the BCS National Championship against Florida State. The Hokies lost, 46-29.
Taylor was chosen for the East-West Shrine Game after the 2001 season. He was then drafted in 2002 by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round. He spent four seasons at linebacker with the Browns and then signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2006, but injuries ended his professional playing career. All told, he recorded 218 career tackles in the NFL and one interception.
Along with Taylor’s football abilities, he was a member of two OVAC championship basketball teams, which were coached by OVAC Hall of Famer Gene Ammirante. The 1997 Big Reds’ basketball squad won the district title.
Taylor also played baseball early in his prep career and then ran track as a sprinter.
Ben, who was inducted to the Bellaire High School Hall of Fame in 2005, currently teaches and coaches in Winchester, Va. He and his wife April have three sons, Benjamin, Noah and Elijah.
BETHANY PICCOLINI (St. Clairsville, Class of 2001) – It didn’t matter the sport, this Lady Red Devils’ product shined.
A mainstay in basketball and a state champion in track and field, but it was in volleyball where Piccolini really left her mark on the Red Devils’ athletic program.
Piccolini was a four-year letter winner, earning the team’s Most Valuable Player honor both as a junior and senior. Leading the Lady Devils in nearly every statistical category imaginable, Piccolini was named first-team all-Ohio as a senior.
On top of the state honor, Piccolini was named the District 12 Player of the Year and was a first-team all-OVAC selection. She also captained the inaugural all Times Leader team as a senior.
As a junior, Piccolini earned first-team District 12, all-OVAC first team and honorable mention all-Ohio.
Her prowess in volleyball earned her a scholarship to Eastern Michigan University where she was a four-year letter winner. She ranks 13th in EMU career rankings in both kills and attempts and is eighth in block assists. Her hitting percentage of .778 ranks third and she once had 10 blocks in a match, which is tied for 11th.
During the spring, Piccolini utilized her jumping ability as a high and long jumper. She won the Division II state title in both events.
She was a long jump champion as a junior and finished second that season in the high jump. Piccolini’s all-time best high jump of 5-9 is still the Division II, Region 7 record as well as the best-ever in the Ohio Valley.
As a senior, Piccolini brought home the state gold in the high jump, clearing 5-7. Her mark of 18-foot, 1/2-inch, which ranks third all time in the Ohio Valley, was good enough for third place. On top of her performances at the state level, Piccolini was a five-time OVAC champion.
She also qualified to the state meet in the 400 once and ran on sprint relays for the Red Devils that also qualified for the state meet.
Piccolini, who was team MVP three times, was chosen to take part in the prestigious Midwest Meet of Champions following her senior season. She placed second in the long jump, fourth in the high jump and sixth in the 400.
While at EMU, Piccolini joined the Eagles’ track team and finished fifth in the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championship Meet in the high jump.
On the basketball court, Piccolini scored more than 1,000 points in her career and earned first-team all-Ohio as a senior when she scored 18 points a game. She was first-team all-OVAC as a senior and she was also chosen for the OVAC All-Star Game. In earning four letters, she was twice named team MVP.
Piccolini graduated from Eastern Michigan in 2006 with a degree in Sports Medicine-Exercise Science. She then earned a doctorate of Physical Therapy from Wheeling Jesuit University in 2008.
Bethany, who is married to Brad Hrovat and has a son, Cole, currently works and resides in Mentor, Ohio.
JEDIDIAH STEPHEN (Shenandoah, Class of 2002) – There isn’t a sport you can name that this former Zep didn’t shine in during his high school career.
While earning all-Ohio in football and basketball, it was on the baseball diamond where Stephen experienced his greatest success.
A four-year starter for the Zeps, Stephen was one of the finest hitters, the Ohio Valley has ever seen. He led the Zeps in hitting as a senior at .541, which still stands as the school’s all-time best.
For his career, Stephen batted .475.
He also had significant pop in his bat as evidenced by the 12 home runs he hit as a senior, which ranked second in Ohio that season.
Stephen made an impact early in his baseball career, leading the Zeps in home runs (6) and average (.474) as a freshman. He was named to the all-Eastern District team three times and earned first-team all-Ohio as a senior.
Along with that, he was named all-OVAC and all-PVC numerous times during his career. As a senior, he was named OVAC Class AAA Player of the Year and was chosen for the Mizuno All-Star Team. He was the four-time recipient of the “Golden Bat Award.”
Stephen received a baseball scholarship to Ohio State University and made an instant impact for the Buckeyes as well.
During the course of his career, in which he earned four letters, Stephen started 195 games. He saw time at third base during his freshman and sophomore seasons and was the Buckeyes’ every-day shortstop as a junior.
As a college player, Stephen batted .286. He had 135 career hits, 18 home runs, 95 RBI, scored 83 runs and drew 40 walks.
A multiple-time all-Academic Big Ten selection, Stephen was named second-team all-conference as a senior.
He had a brief stint as a professional. He was selected in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
Before settling strictly on baseball, Stephen was a four-year letterman in football. An outstanding punter and defensive back, Stephen had a brilliant senior season at quarterback, earning first-team all-Ohio, all-OVAC, all-PVC and an invitation to both the North-South and OVAC All-Star Games.
He finished his prep career with 4,110 yards and 42 touchdowns passing. He ran for 1,992 yards and 32 touchdowns. On the defensive side, he picked off 19 passes.
On the basketball court, Stephen helped guide the Zeps to a 50-17 record during his career. He filled it up for 25 points a game as a senior and finished his career with 1,278 points. He scored 549 of those during his final campaign, including a single-game high of 55.
Stephen was a first-team all-Ohioan as a senior and earned Ohio Division III State Player of the Year honors to go along with Eastern District Player of the Year, all-OVAC and all-PVC. He was also the Eastern District nominee for Mr. Basketball and took part in both the North-South and OVAC All-Star Games.