A trio of long-tenured Big 30 area coaches are among the latest individuals selected to the Section 6 Hall of Fame, the section announced Monday.
Former Portville wrestling coach Mike DeBarbieri, former Ellicottville girls soccer coach Mary Neilon, longtime Salamanca basketball coach Pete Weishan and eight others comprise the seventh annual Section 6 Hall of Fame class.
DeBarbieri, Neilon and Weishan have all been named to halls of fame in their particular sport at the state level within the last decade.
This winter, coaching junior varsity at Salamanca, will be Weishan’s 47th season coaching basketball. Weishan became Salamanca’s boys basketball coach in 1975 and has coached hoops in some capacity ever since, later coaching girls basketball and now JV boys. He spent 30 years on the Section 6 boys basketball committee and 25 years as an athletic director.
“It’s a nice honor,” Weishan said. “There’s a lot of good people up there already. I’d say (I was) surprised, No. 1.
Weishan won 366 games as boys head coach from 1975-2008 — including the only undefeated season in program history — and 57 as girls head coach over five years. He won eight league titles, reached eight sectional finals and won the Big 30 Coach of the Year in 1997-98. Weishan was inducted to the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame in March 2019 in Glens Falls.
While he’s known primarily for coaching basketball, Weishan spent many other seasons coaching sports as needed in the district.
“I coached a lot of sports there over the years, especially the first 10, 15 years,” he said. “I did modified track, JV baseball, girls tennis, boys tennis, JV football my first year and golf. Most of the sports that we had at the time, I just filled positions when they were available and enjoyed it.”
— Neilon retired in 2019 after one of the winningest girls soccer coaching careers in the state’s history, including second-winningest in Western New York. From 1984-2018, she had an overall record of 458-160-34. Those wins include 25 sectional championships and Class D state championships in 1990, 1998, 1999 and 2003.
She earned induction to the New York State High School Girls Soccer Hall of Fame in the fall of 2020, but the ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19 to this September. The scoreboard at Ellicotville’s girls soccer field is dedicated to the Eagles’ longtime coach.
“Very grateful for the recognition,” Neilon said. “It’s a cool thing to be recognized for years of doing what you love and definitely lots of hard work and sacrifice along the way. But yeah, it’s definitely something that’s never taken for granted.”
— DeBarbieri coached wrestling for five years at Bolivar and 28 more at Portville, with a total record of 246-203-6 (204-166-4 at Portville). His teams won 10 league championships, while winning six Section 6 Coach of the Year awards and two Big 30 Coach of the Year awards.
His tutelage helped seven wrestlers qualify for the state tournament.
“I was pleased to hear, it was really nice of them to consider me,” DeBarbieri said of his selection. “I don’t know who nominated me or anything, but it’s kind of fun. I’m not looking for those kinds of things but it showed up. It was fun coaching, I know that’s why I got it, coaching and being an AD and all that stuff. I was kind of surprised at first and then I thought that’s pretty nice of them to think of me. I guess if you do something long enough and you work long enough, you get something for it.”
DeBarbieri received Hall of Fame recognition from the New York chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014.
While he retired from coaching and administration (as a former Portville AD) years ago, DeBarbieri remained a fixture in the sport as the sport’s Section 6 chairman (now co-chair) for more than 20 years. He said one of his biggest goals has been improving the selection process for state representation through sectionals.
— The hall of fame class also includes Kenmore West coach Matt Chimera, Medina coach/administrator John “Pinky” Loughlin, Kenmore West/Iroquois coach Marv Matteson, Niagara Wheatfield athlete Frank Pavichich, Niagara Wheatfield athletic administrator William Ross, Sweet Home athlete Thomas Shifflet, Fredonia athlete Jenn Suhr and Niagara Wheatfield athlete Angela Tylec.
According to the section, its hall of fame was established “to honor and recognize those, within its organization, who excelled in their roles as athletes, administrators, coaches, officials, or contributors who have provided meritorious service.”
The 2021 induction ceremony is planned for Friday, Dec. 3, at The Columns Banquets at 2221 Transit Road, Elma, at 5:30 p.m. with a cash bar followed by dinner. Reservations are $30 per individual and must be made by Tuesday, Nov. 19, online at www.section6.e1b.org/2021HOF or contacting Pauline Turski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 821-7581.
(Salamanca Press sports editor Sam Wilson may be contacted at email@example.com)