PLAINS TWP. — They are three of the greatest coaches to walk the sidelines in the history of District 2 athletics. When you hear the names George Curry, Jack Henzes and Karen Klassner, you think of success, perserverance and dedication.
Following Saturday night’s festivities at the Woodlands Inn and Resort, you now must think of them as state hall of famers.
All three coaches were inducted into the Pennsylvania State Hall of Fame. Curry is the winningest high school football in the state, Henzes, the head coach at Dunmore is not far behind Curry’s mark, while Klassner, in field hockey, is in a class all by herself.
“It is a great honor, but I’m not sure why I am being honored,” Klassner said. “Usually you get awards because your kids have been great. I have been lucky enough to coach some great athletes, including three Olympians.”
The three Olympians Klassner spoke of are Kat Sharkey, Kelsey Kolojejchick and Lauren Powley. Along with that, Klassner has won 675 games and six state championships. Her Blue Knights are poised to make a run at a seventh state title this season. You can’t mention field hockey in the state of Pennsylvania without mentioning Klassner.
But if Klassner made one mistake during the course of her career, it was helping Crestwood start its program.
“Actually I helped start Crestwood, it is one of the biggest mistakes of my career,” Klassner said with a laugh. “(Elvetta Gemski) came to me and asked about starting a program. I told her you have to start at the club level and then get in the league. She got pounded for two years and never got pounded after that.”
Crestwood and Wyoming Seminary engaged in some legendary field hockey battles over the course of Klassner’s career, which has now spanned 47 years, since she graduated from Lock Haven University and immediately began her coaching career. She helped start the softball program at Wyoming Seminary and has served in a variety of administrative roles at the Kingston school.
“I’m not sure I am in the same class as George and Jack,” Klassner said. “Believe it or not, George and I got along great. His daughter played field hockey, she was a goalie at Berwick. One of his best quotes to me was, to get into college in this area you have to play two sports, field hockey or football. I thought it was great he mentioned a female sport.”
That typified what George Curry was all about. He understood other sports were important. He would regularly head to Hershey for the state wrestling championships, and would take in those female sports such as field hockey, not just when he daughter was playing.
Curry, though, was known as the hard-nosed football coach at Berwick. He regularly produced top notch talent as well as the premier high school football program in the state. His wife, Jackie, was in attendance on Saturday night, and his son Cos accepted the award on his behalf. Curry led the Bulldogs to six state titles as well as three USA Today national championships.
“It’s a great honor for him, I think he deserves it,” said Jackie. “He was a great man.”
Curry died at the age of 71 in 2016 after a battle with ALS. But the ironic part of the event being held on a Saturday, is that all three of the recipients from District 2 would not have been in attendance had they had a game scheduled for that day.
Jackie Curry was the backbone of the family. While George was away coaching, scouting or at practice, she was the one at home raising the family, her son Cos, daughters Christine, Kelly and Nadine. But come game night, Jackie was there sitting in the stands rooting on the Bulldogs, there for the 455 wins, a state record.
“I just let him do what he wanted to do,” Jackie said. “I took care of the kids. “I was never a football fan until I got married. The kids when to the games from the time they were born. Unless they were the far away games.”
What made it interesting at the Curry homestead was when Cos began playing for the Bulldogs. Eventually, their grandson, C.J., became the quarterback of the team.
“It was hairy,” Jackie said of the time when Cos started playing for his father. “Between football player and father there is always stress. But they separated it when they were at home. When C.J. started playing, they were very close.”
If Klassner, Curry and Henzes have one thing is common, it is they set the bar for the other programs in District 2 to try and achieve.
Henzes, the head coach at Dunmore, has 442 wins and still counting. His Bucks will play in the District 2 Class 2A championship game next weekend. He began his coaching career at Wyoming Area in 1966, where he went 31-12 over four years before becoming the head coach of the Bucks in 1971, where he remained ever since. During his time with the Bucks, he won a state title in 1989, as well as 10 district titles.
Jim Martin, the head of the Luzerne County Hall of Fame, was the one who helped make the event being held at the Woodlands possible. Also inducted on Saturday night were Joseph Battista, Robert “Tick” Cloherty, Kathleen Klien Prindle, Abigail K. Peck, Robert Shoudt, Manuel Pihakis and Thomas Harbert. Bruce DalCanton and Abe Everhart, both deceased, were also inducted.
“These three individuals have taken their respective sports to the highest level and provided our youth with true leadership,” Martin said.
Source: The Associated Press