Kelley Commerford Cobb, the former standout field hockey player at Rome Free Academy who went on to be an all-conference player at Ohio’s Miami University, is among this year’s Rome Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
She becomes the third member of her family to be inducted, following in the footsteps of her great uncle Robert H. Stropp, selected in 1988, and her grandfather, Richard J. (Junie) Stropp, honored in 1993.
Also being recognized by the Hall of Fame for a lifetime of excellence are Tom Barry Jr., Tom Pugh, Ronald “Whitey” Schultz, Gerry Staudmyer and the late Thomas Neidl.
The 42nd annual induction and awards dinner will be held on Sunday, July 29, at the Beeches.
Here’s a look at the Class of 2018:
• Tom Barry Jr.
Although he was a successful athlete in his own right, Barry is being inducted as a contributor after more than four decades of service to the Rome sports community as a player, coach, administrator and volunteer.
A graduate of Rome Catholic High, he was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball) for the Redwings before going on to attend SUNY Oswego, where he played basketball.
Upon graduation from Oswego, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach with the basketball and football teams and also coached those sports for the Rome City School District.
He also helped organize the Recreation Department’s summer and fall basketball leagues, and he has been instrumental in the success of the Rome Lady Rebels AAU basketball program over the years. Along with Tim Birnie, he organized the Shamrock Shootout, the annual AAU girls basketball tourney that attracts teams from across the northeast. He has also served as an AYSO soccer coach.
Barry has also been active in other community events, including the Michelle Adey Memorial Fund and Golf Tournament that raises money to help local families who have children suffering from any kind of serious illness or accident. He is a board member of the Rome Sports Hall of Fame.
• Kelley Commerford Cobb
After spending her early years living in Kentucky, North Carolina and Massachusetts while her father, Don, worked as a regional sales manager for Revere, Cobb returned to Rome as an eighth-grader at Strough Junior School after her father’s job brought him and his family back to the city.
She quickly established herself as a top athlete for RFA.
A four-year starter for coach Carla Till, she was captain of the RFA field hockey squad in 1985 and was honored as the Black Knights’ most valuable player on offense in both her junior and senior years. She was also a two-time first-team all-star and was selected to play for the Central Region team at the Empire State Games.
Also a successful volleyball player, she was named an all-star in her senior year.
Cobb went on to play Division I field hockey at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she was a four-year player and was selected co-captain in her senior year and was named a first-team all-conference midfielder in the Mid-American Conference in 1989.
She has also participated in Olympic Development Camps at Union College, Bucknell University and the University of Rochester.
A mother of three, she now resides in Mathews, N.C., a suburb of Charlotte, where she and her husband founded a printing business.
• Thomas W. Neidl
One of the winningest coaches in the history of Section III football, the late Neidl got his start in sports in Rome.
Neidl was a three-sport athlete at Rome Catholic High who excelled in football. He went on to play the sport on the next level at SUNY Cortland. He received his bachelor’s degree in physical education at Cortland and earned his master’s degree from SUNY Brockport.
He accepted a teaching position at Cazenovia High School, where he would go on to have an outstanding coaching career in football and track and field.
Neidl coached the Lakers football program for 25 seasons, winning 13 division titles and seven sectional championships while posting a record of 178-55-1. He retired after the 2014 campaign with the third-best all-time winning percentage among Section III football coaches behind Jerry Walzack of Dolgeville and Tom Hoke of RFA.
Neidl also served on the Section III football committee for over 20 years and coached track and field for 34 years at Cazenovia.
After he retired from high school coaching, Neidl continued to be active on the sidelines, serving as the running backs coach at Utica College.
Neidl was married for 38 years at the time of his death to the former Lynn Baker, also a graduate of RCH. He died at the age of 60 in December, 2016, after a long battle with cancer.
• Thomas E. Pugh
Pugh is among the most successful and most punishing running backs in the history of the RFA football program.
His senior season for the Black Knights in 1984 was one for the record books as the 6-foot-1, 223-pound Pugh ran for 1,537 yards and 16 touchdowns in leading coach Tom Hoke’s squad to the Section III championship. Along the way, the Black R Award winner earned first-team all-state honors as a running back and second-team all-state honors as a defensive tackle. He also played two seasons of varsity basketball for the Black Knights.
After graduating from RFA, Pugh went on have an outstanding football career at Wagner College playing for coach Walt Hameline. A four-year starter, he departed as the school’s third-leading all-time rusher with 1,883 yards and also ran for 26 touchdowns. His running exploits helped the Seahawks compile a 39-7 record during his stay, including a 13-1 mark in 1987 when they captured the Division III national championship. They also advanced to the NCAA playoffs in his senior season a year later.
Pugh has served as a youth sports coach in basketball and soccer. His daughter, Tiana, was a standout basketball player at RFA who has gone on to play on the Division I level at Canisius College.
• Ronald “Whitey” Schultz
While Schultz also excelled in football and hockey at RFA, his best sport for the Orange & Black was baseball.
In his senior year at RFA, he led area hitters with a .535 batting average for coach Leo Cahill’s squad and was honored as a Central Oneida League all-star.
Schultz was a two-way lineman for the football team and started in the first game played at RFA Stadium in a win over rival Utica Free Academy.
He was also a gifted hockey defenseman for the Black Knights, playing alongside fellow Rome Sports Hall of Famers Tom Lawler, Paul Swancott, Dave Karlen, Larry Schneible and Bob Carrier. His coach in his senior year was the legendary Charlie Dain, another Hall of Famer.
Known as a strong-armed catcher and a power-hitting left-handed batter, Schultz went on to play for the highly regarded Rome State School baseball team coming out of high school. His outstanding play attracted the attention of Carl Hubbell and the New York Giants, who invited him to a tryout camp to be held in Florida in February 1951. But shortly before the tryout he received his draft notice, and a medical issue kept him out of the service and ended his hopes to play in the majors, although he did later spend one season with the Rome Colonels.
He worked in the press room for the Rome Sentinel for over 35 years, retiring as foreman. He now resides in Whitesboro.
• Gerry Staudmyer
Arriving in Rome as a toddler after moving with his family from Seneca Falls, Staudmyer became familiar with the sport of hockey skating with his friends at Franklyn’s Field.
He wound up being one of the best hockey players to ever set foot on the ice for the RFA hockey program.
Playing on the same teams with all-time RFA scoring leader Dave Adams, Staudmyer established a name for himself as he finished among the school’s career leaders for goals (64) and assists (76). During his senior season when the Black Knights finished an undefeated 21-0, Staudmyer accounted for 62 points on 29 goals and 33 helpers.
He also played varsity soccer for three years at RFA.
Staudmyer continued his hockey career at SUNY Oswego, where he was a four-year player.
He later served for over four years in the Navy.
Now a resident of Waldorf, Md., Staudmyer has remained involved in his favorite sport, as he has coached on the high school and youth hockey levels and still plays in a senior hockey league.
The awards dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m. on July 29, preceded by a public reception at 2:30 p.m. at the Rome Sports Hall of Fame located at 5790 Rome-New London Road, next to the Erie Canal Village.
Dinner tickets costing $35 for adults and $15 for children ages 12-and-under will be available for purchase at the Rome Sports Hall of Fame beginning on Wednesday, June 20. Hours for the hall are Wednesdays-Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. A limited number of tickets will be available, and none will be sold on the day of the banquet.
The newest Hall of Famers were nominated in voting done by a selection committee co-chaired by Bill Fleet and Joe Silkowski and were approved by the Hall’s board of directors.
Official forms are available at City Hall for persons wishing to submit nominations for consideration for future entry into the Hall of Fame or for consideration for annual awards.
Service award winners, the sports personalities of the year and the Ellie Bruce Exceptional Team of Excellence Award recipients will also be among those honored during the dinner. Those award winners will be announced at a later date.
(Editor’s note: Hall of Fame selection committee member Carl Eilenberg contributed information for this story.)