When Camden County honors its 2013 Sports Hall of Fame inductees Thursday night, Collingswood native Gary Williams will hear his number called one more time.
The 1963 Collingswood High School (CHS) graduate went on to a solid collegiate career as a point guard at the University of Maryland, the school to which he later returned to a coaching career that would far eclipse his renown as a player.
With a 2002 national title, 14 NCAA tournament appearances in 33 seasons, including two Final Four showings, and a National Coach of the Year nod in his championship year, Williams is one of the winningest collegiate basketball coaches of all time.
In this remembrance from Michael Olesker, Williams rebuilt the reputation of a program that had been shattered by the draft day death of one of its most promising graduates, Len Bias, into a contender.
"In the half-century between Williams’ arrival as player and his departure as coach," Olesker writes, "the transformation in sports at the state’s biggest campus has been dramatic—and Williams has been at the center of it.
"He brought heart, he brought integrity, he brought an indomitable sense of fight, even when he wasn’t visibly sweating straight through his game-night dress-up suits."
Williams will be joined in the Hall of Fame by 1953 CHS graduate Rosemary Deniken Blankley, an Arcadia University standout who has already been enshrined in the Collingswood Athletic Hall of Fame and South Jersey Al Carino Basketball Hall of Fame.
Blankley was a four-year, three-sport varsity athlete at Arcadia, captaining her field hockey team as an upperclassman, presiding over the college athletic association as a senior, and playing basketball and lacrosse as well.
Blankley played on the U.S. field hockey teams for five years, and in 1956 as a member of the U.S. Touring team that visited Australia.
Williams and Blankley will be inducted into the county sports hall of fame at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill.
Biographies in brief of this year's inductees appear below, courtesy of Camden County.
2013 Inductees into the Camden County Sports Hall of Fame
Todd Azar, a 1983 graduate of Cherry Hill East High School, was an outstanding baseball player for the Cougars then enjoyed a record setting career at Old Dominion University.
Laraine Styles Flynn, a 1961 graduate of Gloucester High School, she is the only female to be selected to halls of fame in three different sports – basketball, softball and field hockey. She held every SJ record for scoring in both field hockey and basketball.
Ralph Ipri retired from Cherry Hill East High School in 2011 with 956 victories in boy’s tennis, more than any coach in the entire United States. A Bishop Eustace graduate, Ipri was South Jersey coach-of-the-year six times and in 2004 was named National Coach of the Year.
Ken Kelley, a 1978 graduate of Sterling High School, captained Penn State’s first National Championship football team in 1981. Four years earlier he captained his high school team to an 11-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in New Jersey.
Al Mattern was selected as a contributor. In his three decade career as editor of the Journal Newspapers he promoted boys and girls scholastic coverage and was an active officer of the Brooks-Irvine Football Club, the Al Carino Basketball Club and the Field Hockey Club of South Jersey.
Larry Mauriello, who passed away in 2006, was a 1951 graduate of Lower Camden County Regional, which later became Overbrook High School. He was head coach of the football program for 29 years, compiling a career record of 155-111-10 that included two Olympic Conference titles and one South Jersey Group 3 championship.
Mauriello was also a baseball head coach and a longtime wrestling assistant for the Overbrook team and served as a high school and college baseball umpire for 34 years.
Bill Narleski enjoyed a long career in baseball and played two years with the Boston Red Sox in 1929 and 1930. He spent 1945 and 1946 playing with the Wilmington Blue Rocks while holding down a full time job at New York Ship in Camden. He hit over .300 in both years despite his age of 46 and then became a fine semi-pro umpire in the county until his death in 1964.
Kelli James Precourt led Bishop Eustace to titles in 1987 and ’88 and Old Dominion University to three national field hockey championships (1988-90-92). She earned the coveted Honda-Broderick Award in 1992, which honors the National Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year as she led the nation in scoring with 131 points and 59 assists.
An Olympian in 1996, Kelli played for the United States in nine International Competitions including two World Cups and three Pan-American tournaments.
Jim Ryan, who graduated from Bishop Eustace in 1975, was a three-sport athlete who parlayed his athleticism and intelligence into a 10-year playing career with the Denver Broncos in the National Football League and started two Super Bowls. He is currently in his ninth season coaching the Houston Texans.
Meghan Bolger Stasi, a 1996 graduate of Eastern High School, is one of the most accomplished amateur golfers in the United States. She was a three-sport standout at Eastern where she earned 12 varsity letters playing soccer, basketball and golf. She followed that with a brilliant collegiate career in golf at Tulane University where she was a three-time conference all-star.
Kevin Walls, a 1984 graduate of Camden High School who scored a South Jersey record 2,775 points during a career that saw him become a three-time All-South Jersey player. He was honored as New Jersey Athlete of the year in 1984 and was a McDonald’s All-American player. He led the nation in scoring that year with a 44.8 point average and scored 81 points in one game. At the University of Louisville, Walls helped his team win the 1986 National Championship.