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Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees Reflect on Their Experience as Student Athletes

Being a student athlete defines the Wilkes experience for generations of University alumni. This year’s The 2018 inductees to the Athletics Hall of Fame reflect on their most memorable moments and the lessons learned on the playing field that they’ve applied to life after Wilkes.

WILKES HALL OF FAME 2019
Members of the Wilkes 2018 Hall of Fame class at the inductee ceremony are picture from left, Carrie Chipego Singer ’98, Kyle Follweiler ’08, Ed Burke ’70, Nadine Taylor Prutzma ’07, MS ’13, Ted Sokolowski ’72 and Jor Folek ’88.

Ed Burke ’70

Football

WHERE IS HE NOW: Burke resides in Dallas, Pa., and runs a coin and metal detector business. Previously he was a teacher in the Wyoming Valley West school district. He retired after 35 years, 32 of which he served as a head teacher at the Pringle St. and Chester St. schools.

COLONELS SPORTS CAREER: During his three seasons as an offensive tackle, Burke was part of legendary coach Rollie Schmidt’s Golden Horde from 1965-1969 which won 32 straight games capturing three Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) titles. Burke was named Most Valuable Offensive Lineman by the MAC in 1968. He was also selected honorable mention All-American and All-State in 1969. After graduating from Wilkes, Burke was recruited by the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Colts. Burke was named to the MAC All-Century Team as well as being inducted in 2013 to the Luzerne County Hall of Fame.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “My memories from my collegiate days center around Ralston Field and the 32-game win streak we had during those years. The friendships formed during those years last until today.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HIS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “My experience on those teams allowed me to coach high school football for several years in the Seventies.”

Joe Folek ’88

Baseball

WHERE IS HE NOW: Folek resides in Swoyersville, Pa.

WHAT HE DOES NOW: Folek teaches special education at Meyers High School in Wilkes-Barre.

COLONELS SPORTS CAREER: After graduating from Wilkes in 1988 as a four-year letter winner, Folek enjoyed a highly successful career coaching the Colonels baseball team, accumulating 338 wins and finishing as the all-time winningest coach of the program.  He began as an assistant coach with Wilkes in 1994 where he helped lead the squad to the Middle Atlantic Conference championship. In 1996 Folek took over as head mentor of the program where his teams recorded more than 20 wins in 10 of his 17 years at the helm. In 2007 the Colonels captured the Freedom Conference championship going 24-12 ,earning the school’s second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Two years later Folek, led the squad to a school-record 29 wins and a Freedom Conference and ECAC Southern Region postseason berth. Over his career, Folek coached five players who were drafted or signed to professional contracts including current Wilkes head baseball coach Kevin Gryboski who played for the Atlanta Braves.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “Being fortunate enough to play baseball at Wilkes for Coach Duliba and Coach Bavitz, and then having them give me my start in the coaching profession by asking me to join the Colonel staff. This led to being able to team up with Coaches Bavitz, Youngblood and Klinetob and accept the head coaching position which got our brand of “old-fashioned hard-nosed Baseball” off and running. Right along with this would be my Dad (Walter), a former Colonel himself ,taking me to my first alumni game at Artillery Park as a kid in the early 1970s.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HIS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “This combination started a near three-decade run where I met some of the greatest, most dedicated and loyal people I have ever met in my life. My teammates, coaches, and especially my players have had a major impact on my life and continue to do so today and in the future. The Colonel baseball alumni are second to none. I will be a Colonel to the day I die!”

Kyle Follweiler ’08

Football

WHERE IS HE NOW: Follweiler resides in Germansville, Pa., and is the owner of Kyle’s Kars Sales and Service.

COLONELS SPORTS CAREER: One of the best tacklers to ever suit up for the Colonels, Follweiler manned the middle level of the Colonel defense for four seasons playing linebacker. He was a four-time First Team All-Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) honoree, while also earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2004. Follweiler was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year three times from his sophomore season through his senior year, racking up more than 400 tackles over his career. Follweiler’s accolades continued on the regional and national level as he was named All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) four times as well as Rookie of the Year in 2004 and Player of the Year in 2006. He was named d3football.com, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and Football Gazette All-American three times earning first-team status his senior season in 2007. Follweiler also excelled on the baseball diamond. He was named All-Freedom three times while standing second all-time in runs scored with 143, sixth in at-bats with 470, second in hits  at 185, fifth in doubles with 35, fifth in home runs  with 22 and sixth in RBI’s with 123.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “Winning the MAC title in football and baseball in 2006 and 2007.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HIS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “Athletics gives you structure and discipline that isn’t duplicated in other hobbies and ventures.  It helps you set goals and work to progress towards achievements.”

Nadine Taylor Prutzman ’07, MS ’13

Softball

WHERE SHE IS NOW: Prutzman currently resides in Archbald, Pa. She is a special education teacher at the Western Wayne Middle School.

COLONELS SPORTS CAREER: Prutzman helped lead the Colonels to 83 wins and the 2006 Freedom Conference championship and NCAA tournament. She was named All-Freedom Conference three times including Player of the Year as a junior in 2005. She also was named First Team All-ECAC South, First Team All-Region and Second Team All-American in the same season. Taylor was also recognized on the Middle Atlantic Conference All-Century Team in 2013. She ranks seventh in runs scored with 79, seventh in hits with 131, eighth in doubles with 25, third in triples with 8 and fifth in stolen bases with 38, all while playing in the Colonels outfield.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “My favorite memory at Wilkes University would have to be meeting my future husband in Evans Hall.  We both lived on the fourth floor. He was a sophomore and I was a freshman. We will be celebrating 9 years of marriage in November 2019.  We welcomed a son, Talon, in November 2013. and a daughter, Taylor, in June 2016.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HER LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “Athletics impacted my life after college in many ways. My success as a student athlete at Wilkes only made me a stronger individual in confidence and in determination.  Being an athlete means you practice to make it perfect and that is exactly what I put into my everyday teaching style with my students, as well as to my two children. Learn from your mistakes and work hard every day.”

Carrie Chipego Singe ’98

Field Hockey

WHERE SHE IS NOW: Singer resides in Forty Fort, Pa., and is a chemist for the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority.

COLONELS SPORTS CAREER: Singer was an integral part of a Colonels field hockey program that won three straight Freedom League championships, two ECAC Mid-Atlantic Championships and made one NCAA tournament appearance. Her finest year came as a junior where she led the team with 35 points on 14 goals and seven assists earning Most Valuable Player honors at the ECAC Championship. Singer was a two-time First Team All-Freedom League selection in both her junior and senior seasons and earned National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-American honors as a senior in 1997. For her career Singer finished with 79 points on 31 goals and 17 assists.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “I loved going to away games and driving in the van with everyone. We always had such a great time singing songs on the radio and sometimes getting lost along the way to the game.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HER LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “I really loved the game so much, I ended up teaching seventh and eighth grade field hockey for Wyoming Valley West for ten years. I had so many girls! A few went on to play collegiate sports.”

Ted Sokolowski ’72

Baseball

WHERE HE IS NOW:  Sokolowski resides in Nanticoke, Pa. He retired from Nanticoke Area school district, where he taught for 38 years in the elementary school.

COLONELS SPORTS CAREER: One of four pitchers in Colonels history to reach 20 wins, Sokolowski earned Middle-Atlantic Conference  (MAC) Most Valuable Player honors in 1972. He finished his career with a 21-7 overall record on the mound standing ninth all-time in winning percentage (.750) and second in wins. Sokolowski made his mark throughout the Colonel pitching record boo,k standing second in innings pitched with 227,  third in games started with 32, fifth in complete games with 16 and eighth with an earned-run average of 2.26.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “Playing baseball, we won a championship and intermural basketball. I had some good friends.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HIS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE:: “I played a lot of baseball, basketball and hardball after (college)—it was a big part of my life until I couldn’t do it anymore.”

1994 Baseball Team

The 1994 Wilkes baseball team captured the MAC Championship after beating nationally ranked Elizabethtown College in a best-of-three series earning a berth in the ECAC Southern Region Championship Tournament. Wilkes took game one 9-1 and then claimed the title in game three with a 6-5 victory.

The Colonels finished the season 19-14 under head coach Bob Duliba and assistant coaches Jerry Bavitz and Joe Folek. Five different players earned all-conference honors led by conference Most Valuable Player Bill Noone and his seven wins and 1.60 earned-run average. Duliba was also named conference Coach of the Year.

Team members include: Chris Carver, Geoff Little, B.J. Mushinsky, Keith Adamski, Dave Meyers, Bill Blanck, Chris Tyukody, Bob Klinetob, Mike Wassel, Tony DeCesare, Dave Macedo, Grant Yoder, Aaron Stoker, Rob Michaels, Steve Klem, J.J. Grube, Dave Kelly, Kevin Gryboski, Steve Endres, Chris Tobias, Clarence Baltrusaitis, Dave Kaschak, Joe Balay, Robert Horensky, Mark Youngblood, Bill Noone, Ryan Flynn, and Tom Whille.

WILKES HALL OF FAME 2019
Members of the 1994 baseball team gathered for a tam photo at the Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The following alumni are representing the 1994 baseball team for this story:

Steve Klem ’94, MS ’08

WHERE HE IS NOW: Klem resides in Kingston, Pa., with his wife Lauren and two sons, Trevor and Jesse. He is a teacher at Wyoming Valley West High School where he teaches Advanced Placement psychology and American law.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT:“It is incredibly difficult to answer this question.  My years as an undergraduate and graduate student are bursting with great memories… With that said, there are three memories I will never forget. [These include] the Saturday afternoon when we won the 1994 MAC Baseball Championship, playing baseball in Florida to start our season and my student-teaching experience which encompasses working with the many talented faculty members within the education and content area of my teaching certificate.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HIS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “One of the greatest reasons to be a student athlete has to be the vast amount of networking you are able to do after you are done playing, not only within the Wilkes community but also with other players you have grown to know by competing against them…The lessons that were taught by the coaching staff at Wilkes has shaped my ability to work as a team member and never feel that what other people call impossible is impossible.”

Bill Noone ’95

WHERE HE IS NOW: Noone resides in Exeter, Pa., and is the director of product management with Prudential Retirement.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “Winning the 1994 Middle Atlantic Conference Championship. Also meeting my wife Tammy Swartwood, Class of 1996.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HIS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “Athletics at Wilkes has made a significant and positive impact on my life over the years after graduation. From the friendships I have maintained with teammates, coaches and many other Wilkes athletes, to the experiences and lessons from the coaches, I am now able to leverage that in my own coaching at the youth sports level.”

David Kaschak ’94

WHERE HE IS NOW: Kaschak resides in Sewell, N.J., where he is a  sales executive for Aetna.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “Winning the 1994 MAC Championship.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HIS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “Athletics taught me how to deal with different personalities and work towards a common goal.”

Kevin Gryboski ’95

Note: Gryboski was previously inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.

WHERE HE IS NOW: Gryboski resides in Mountain Top, Pa. After playing professional baseball for 14 years, he is now the head baseball coach at Wilkes.

MOST MEMORABLE WILKES MOMENT: “My favorite memory would be winning the 1994 MAC Championship. We had a great group of guys and a great coaching staff.”

HOW ATHLETICS CHANGED HIS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: “Being involved with athletics after college allowed me to accomplish a dream of mine, playing professional baseball. I continued to learn how to push myself to work harder since I was never considered a top prospect. I always wanted to prove other people wrong. It also taught me how to learn from people around me. I would always listen to the veteran guys’ mental approach to a batter or game situations.”

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