William Chrisman High School will introduce its 2013 Hall of Fame Class at halftime of Saturday’s 1 p.m. homecoming game against North Kansas City at Independence All-School Stadium, and activities director Dan Ogle says that is in unique in many ways.
“We are going to induct our first swimmer and our first sports writer, and we have some inductees who are now very much a part of the school,” Ogle said. “We’re very excited about this class and can’t wait for Saturday.”
The inductees include: Ashley Blum, a former football/baseball standout; Bob Buckley, a former track and field athlete and founder of the Bears Tomorrow Program; Ben Kisner, a former all-state quarterback and Examiner Football Offensive Player of the Year; Ron Kelley, a former track athlete who now coaches track at Chrisman; Dick Puhr, a former Examiner sports editor, sports writer and columnist; David Ross, a former football standout and coach; and Ellie (Wilkinson) Lilly, a former all-state swimmer.
• Ashley Blum, Class of 2000, was an all-state baseball player in 1998 and 1999. He was all-conference three years and Examiner All-Area and all-metro in baseball for two years. He was a four-year letter-winner and still holds the school record for a batting average of .542. Blum was also all-conference and Examiner All-Area in football his junior and senior years. He played two years of baseball at MCC-Maple Woods and two years at Lindenwood University.
“This is all pretty exciting,” said Blum, who now works for the Pipe Fitters Union. “It’s been a year or so since I went to a game, so I’m excited about getting back to Chrisman.”
• Bob Buckley, Class of 1971, enters the hall as a benefactor. He participated in track while at Chrisman and currently practices law in Jackson County. Buckley has been the PA voice of Bears football and basketball for many years and is the founder of the Bears Tomorrow organization, which helps boys and girls become future Bears basketball players.
“I’m hoping they give me the mic so I can do PA from the field,” joked Buckley, who is a fixture at Chrisman. “I don’t know if this honor is deserved, but it is certainly appreciated, especially to be a part of such an exceptional Hall of Fame class.”
• Ron Kelley, Class of 1964, is a former Chrisman athlete and an area track and cross country coach. As an athlete he was a conference and district champion and state qualifier in the 1,600 relay on the 1963 and 1964 conference championship teams. Kelley, who currently coaches track at Chrisman, has coached many team and individual champions in conference, district and state at Independence-area high schools.
“I ran track at Chrisman, I now coach at Chrisman and now I am being inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Kelley said. “That’s pretty amazing. Saturday is going to be a special day for me and my family.”
• Ben Kisner, Class of 2005, lettered in football, basketball and baseball, but made his mark in football as the Bears quarterback. During his senior year, Kisner earned first team all-conference, Examiner All-Area, all-metro, all-district and all-state honors. He was also the Examiner’s Offensive Player of the Year and a Simone Award finalist. Kisner led Bears to a district title in 2002 and went on to play quarterback at Lindenwood University for four years, playing in an NAIA national championship game his senior year.
“I have so many good memories of Chrisman,” said Kisner, who is now a financial analyst. “We had a lot of success and a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to getting back and watching the football team and visiting with the other members of the Hall of Fame.”
• Dick Puhr, the longtime former Examiner sports editor, sports writer and columnist enters the hall as a benefactor. He joined The Examiner staff Nov. 19, 1959.
“Dick has been a pillar in the sports world for the area and still covers high school sports and works with The Examiner today,” Ogle said. “He is very proud of his longevity and of his strong relationships he has made with coaches and athletes over the years.”
Puhr calls the honor the highlight of his lengthy career.
“It’s a wonderful honor,” said Puhr, who came up with the idea for the Wagon Wheel Trophy – which has been presented to the winner of the annual Truman-Chrisman football game each year since 1969. “I’m proud of my association with the two schools because I was the founder of the Wagon Wheel Trophy. I can’t thank Dan Ogle and everyone at Chrisman enough for this honor. It is the highlight of my career.”
• David Ross, Class of 1978, enters the hall as an athlete and coach. He played football and was all-conference, All-Area, and all-district his senior year in 1977. He also earned all-conference and all-district honors in track as well. He then was a four-year football letterman at Central Methodist College. Ross spent 17 years in college coaching, including 10 as a head junior college coach, sending seven players to the NFL.
“This is a great honor,” said Ross, who is no longer in coaching and now lives in Independence and sells artificial turf to high schools and colleges. “What’s really great is that Coach (Bill) Summa and I kicked this idea around back in 1989 and now I am going to be a part of a Hall of Fame that we helped create. It doesn’t get any more special than that.”
• Ellie (Wilkinson) Lilly, Class of 1992, was an all-state swimmer in multiple events and years. In 1989 she took second in 50-yard freestyle and fifth in the 100 free. She as also eighth in the 400 freestyle relay. In 1990 she finished sixth at state in the 50 free and seventh in the 100 free. Her school records still stand in all three freestyle events. She was all-conference, All-Area and all-district four years at Chrisman.
“I hear it might be raining so I might bring my cap and goggles,” joked Lilly, who teaches seventh grade social studies at Grain Valley South Middle School. “It’s fantastic to be the first swimmer inducted into the Hall of Fame. This is my 10th year in education, and Chrisman has always been a special place for me. I’m excited about Saturday.”
Forecasts call for rain Saturday, and if that is the case, the ceremony could be moved to another date.