Special Night for Conlan, Huckno, Reinhoudt
By Scott Kindberg
October 26, 2005
BUFFALO - Shane Conlan, Wally Huckno and Don Reinhoudt took their place in front of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame exhibit with the other eight newest inductees Tuesday night.
Cameras flashed and smiles were every where.
As members of the Class of 2005, the Chautauqua County trio joined an impressive list of inductees, which now totals 168, that will forever be remembered at the Hall's home at HSBC Arena.
"I've always said for many, many years that I'm the luckiest guy in the world," said Huckno, the former Jamestown High School varsity football coach. "It has been so special."
Conlan, an All-American linebacker in college and a three-time Pro Bowl selection during a nine-year NFL career, and Reinhoudt, a world champion powerlifter, agreed.
"This is one of the greatest honors I've ever had," said Reinhoudt, a Fredonia native, who now lives in Brocton. "I have to pinch myself to remind me that this is for real and this is not a dream."
Conlan flew under the radar of virtually every college football program in the United States when he was a senior at Frewsburg Central School.
Although he was the Western New York Player of the Year as a senior in 1981, the phone wasn't exactly ringing off the hook at his Carroll Street home.
But then his coach, Tom Sharp, came to the rescue.
Armed with video tape and a desire to see Conlan reach for the stars, Sharp convinced Tom Bradley, a Penn State assistant coach, to come see him - play basketball.
"He drove through a snowstorm and I scored one point," Conlan told a large crowd in a post-dinner induction speech on the floor of HSBC Arena. "My saving grace was I fouled out halfway through the third quarter. I think he liked that."
For in four years in Happy Valley, Conlan claimed two national championships - as a freshman redshirt in 1982 and as a consensus All-American in 1986 - and left Joe Paterno's program as one of the best linebackers in school history.
"Joe Paterno was a great teacher of young men," Conlan said.
The married father of four, who now lives in the Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley, also credited another coach, Marv Levy, for impacting his life and career.
"What an honor it was to play for Marv Levy," Conlan said. "What a class guy."
After leaving the Bills as a free agent, Conlan played three years with the St. Louis Rams, retiring following the 1995 season.
In his heart though, he'll always be a Western New York guy.
"Thank you for making the life of a small-town boy so full of great memories." he said.
Huckno grew up in Union City, Pa., but he spent 42 years in the Jamestown School District where he compiled one of Western New York's most impressive coaching resumes.
To say he enjoyed those four decades would be an understatement.
"It's like being a kid in the candy store," he said. "Athletics have been my life."
Along the way, Huckno, who retired following the 2003 season, recorded a varsity record of 159-47-1 during 21 seasons and guided the Red Raiders to New York State titles in 1994, 1995 and 2000, the same year he was named the Western New York high school coach of the year.
"The Jamestown Red Raiders have been so special in my life," he said.
With his good friends Joe DiMaio and Tom Phillips as his assistants for more than three decades, Huckno drove the Red Raiders to one of the greatest eras in their history.
Now a Chautauqua County Legislator, Huckno said he tries to be understanding and a friend, but "you set a line and you don't compromise your ideals."
"That's what we did with the Jamestown Red Raiders. When you finished you understood what Raider Pride was. You didn't understand it at the beginning, but when you finished you knew about Raider Pride."
Reinhoudt, officially recognized as the world's strongest man from 1973 through 1980, set 51 world records during that span, two of which still stand today.
Upon retiring from power-lifting, Reinhoudt has dedicated his time to numerous youth causes and is currently the executive director of the Chautauqua County Youth Bureau.
"No man is an island," he said. "Myself and the other inductees can't say, 'I did it by myself.' I certainly can't because without God, without my wife Cindy, (who was also his coach) this wouldn't be possible."
"I'm a very, very, lucky man."