Meet York County's most influential people for 2023: Sports
By Frank Bodani, Shelly Stallsmith and Matt Allibone, York Daily Record,2023-09-21
In a world of change, one thing remains constant: The number of people who work, often behind the scenes, to make our lives a little better.
The York Daily Record and its sister publication, The Evening Sun of Hanover, sought to highlight those who have a big impact in York County – from the entertainment world, to activists, to politicians and sports stars and business leaders.
You won't agree with every pick. That's to be expected. And we consciously made some unexpected choices to highlight some emerging community leaders rather than household names.
This group is more about who had an impact on our lives rather than a simple popularity contest. These lists are in no way comprehensive.
The goal here is to offer recognition of those working hard throughout our county and as a reminder of who to watch. We encourage debate and feedback!
Methodology: The entire York Daily Record and Evening Sun staff participated in this project. We created teams for each category, and team members crowd-sourced potential nominees, asking community members for their suggestions. We then undertook the daunting task of narrowing each list down to the top five.
Loretta Claiborne completed her stunning and yet unintentional rise to national fame and notoriety decades ago.
She won an ESPY Award.
She had a Disney movie made of her life.
She became an international spokesperson for Special Olympics.
Much of life now, for the York County icon, seems intentioned on giving of herself to help and influence others, even through her own accomplishments.
Recently, she attended another Special Olympics World Games and won a gold medal in tennis − days after being attacked and injured while riding her bike in York. Upon her return home, she agreed to take part in a downtown ceremony only if her fellow Special Olympic athletes could be honored with her.
"She has spent over 50 years sharing love and humanity, sharing York, and showing people what York is really about," York Mayor Michael Helfrich said at the ceremony. "Thank you, Loretta."
Though probably best known now for her motivational speaking (often in schools where she learned the toughness and tenderness that still carries her), Claiborne does so much more, often behind the scenes.
The expert knitter makes and donates caps for premature babies and cotton prostheses for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures to their breasts. She crochets pink pig golf club covers to benefit the Law Enforcement Torch Run , a Special Olympics fundraiser.
She remains the preeminent model for Special Olympic athletes and is quick to help whoever needs it during practices and workouts.
She continues to drive ahead, even at 70, as if forever fueled by one of the very toughest starts in life: a mentally and physically disabled Black girl raised by a single mother in a 1960s housing project.
She'll smile and shrug her shoulders when asked about it. How can she not help? Her forte is engaging with and, ultimately, counseling young people about personal accountability.
"Kids just gravitate to her, kids just love her," said Becky Hollis, one of Claiborne's closest friends for more than 40 years. "She just loves to play anything with them. That’s just her personality.
"That personality where you just want to be her friend."
Kids connect, in part, because they routinely see her, are always reminded.
She still jogs and rides her bike, nearly every day, along the city streets where she grew up.
He's expected to be one of the NBA's top rookies this season.
Jarace Walker has made his biggest childhood basketball dreams come true and continues to inspire along the way. He grew from a kid learning the game on the courts near his New Freedom housing development to winning a high school national title to playing for the No. 1 college team in the nation.
Walker, who just turned 20, proved how you really can go from small-town Central Pennsylvania to the highest level of professional basketball − with so many elite expectations still driving him on.
He'll be the first NBA player in nearly 30 years with strong ties to York County − and just the third ever. Only Mark Hendrickson, who settled in York after college, and Del Beshore, who graduated from Red Land High in New Cumberland, had brief, backup stints in the league.
Walker stamped himself as the most prestigious NBA Draft pick ever from York and Adams counties this past June. The Washington Wizards chose him eighth overall, then immediately traded him to Indiana.
He figures to be an immediate-impact defender and rebounder who possesses intriguing offensive potential at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds.
Walker's maturity and humble, grounded personality should continue to serve him well. He first followed the athletic lead of older sisters who starred in volleyball and basketball at Susquehannock High.
He left Southern York County before ninth grade to take advantage of an unparalleled development opportunity: He'd earn his high school education while playing for national power IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
He later chose to play his expected one season of college basketball for legendary college coach Kelvin Sampson at Houston. He immediately worked into the starting lineup and improved steadily − arguably the Cougars' top performer in the NCAA Tournament.
"Jarace played the game back (in junior high) the same way he does now: pass-first and unselfishly," is how Walker's youth coach Tony Miller described him. "I feel coaches tried to make him be more about what he can do, but unselfish is just who he is.
"His teammates are very important to him. ... and I see that has not changed."
He's already starred with the Indiana Pacers' summer league team. His first full-squad game is Oct. 10 in Houston, of all places.
"He's a monster, man," Indiana center Isaiah Jackson told Sports Illustrated in July. "He's been bringing a lot of energy to us, especially at the start of games. He's just all over the place, he does everything."
Ask Clay Shaw if he has a favorite marathon and he hesitates.
“Well, the two I won,” he said. “One was in Wyoming and the other was in the Arctic part of Canada. Running in San Francisco, where I was born, was memorable, and I really liked Montreal. It was one of the first ones and I ran it four times because it reminded me of Paris.”
Shaw, who has spent his adult years in York County, knows what it’s like to run a race in Paris. And Moscow, although he wasn’t happy with that first international marathon, so he ran it a second time.
He ran his first marathon in his hometown on July 8, 1979 and finished in 3:15. He ran what he believes will be his last one over the summer in Wellington, New Zealand.
“I was supposed to run it in the COVID year, but they didn’t have it,” Shaw said. “This last one was the toughest, simply because of the injuries. I had a knee replacement in 2017 and have run one marathon a year since then, but now the plantar fasciitis makes it difficult to even walk.”
Running in New Zealand checked an important item off Shaw’s bucket list. He has run a marathon on every continent. That check mark is right up there with running a marathon in every U.S. state – twice – every province and territory in Canada and in 24 countries.
If this was his last, Shaw completed 210 marathons, including running Boston eight times.
Shaw has spent decades passing his love of running to central Pennsylvania, especially York County. He or his wife, Karen Mitchell, served as the director of the York White Rose 5-miler for 33 years. They stepped out of the role a couple of years ago but remain involved.
“Being 70, someone younger needed to be the race director,” Shaw said of passing the torch. “Our neighbor took over, so I know that the race was in a safe place. There aren’t too many races on the city streets anymore, so it’s great to see it keep going.”
Racing is in Logan Schuchart’s blood.
His grandfather, Bobby Allen, is a World of Outlaws hall of famer and a local dirt track legend. He owns the team, Shark Racing, that Schuchart drives for.
But having a successful relative didn’t give Schuchart an advantage on the track. It didn’t bring the finish line closer or give him a better starting position. What it gave the Hanover native was the opportunity to immerse himself in the sport from a young age.
Schuchart was in his first go-kart at age 2 and was racing in the box stock class at 8. As he grew, so did the size of his vehicles. He made his sprint car debut at 15 and won his first 358 sprint race the following year at Trail-Way Speedway.
That was just the start for Schuchart. He won his first track championship in 2010, becoming Lincoln’s youngest to win the 358 title. He stayed local that year, also racing at Williams Grove and Susquehanna (now BAPS), before branching out to other tracks in central Pennsylvania and beyond.
In 2014, Allen took Shark Racing on the road and Schuchart found himself competing against the World of Outlaws full time. He won his first WoO race in 2017 and Schuchart’s career really took off from there.
Although he travels the country racing with the Outlaws, he still calls the Hanover area home. He races at local tracks when the Outlaws are in town, and won this year’s Summer Nationals at Williams Grove in late July.
That win brought Schuchart $15,000, but it wasn’t close to the biggest payday of his summer. That paycheck, a cool $1,002,023, came at the end of the Eldora Million, a 50-lap feature that was contested by 83 racers.
Schuchart might have been born into racing, but the 30-year-old has made it his own. He swept a pair of races in North Dakota at the end of August to bring his career WoO win total to 35, five more than his grandfather.
Zac Sheaffer became attached to the simple program at age 5.
And his attitude toward it hasn’t changed in over two decades since.
The 27-year-old Sheaffer has run Hanover Borough’s recreational baseball and softball program every summer since 2017. The program allows kids ages 5 to 12 to play the game free of charge in a stress-free environment.
“When I was a kid, the program had such a great reputation,” Sheaffer said. “My dad had played in it. So many people in the community knew about it. My experiences there always stayed with me.”
Formerly known as Morning League Instructional Baseball, the program has been renamed Carroll Granger’s Morning League after the longtime South Western basketball coach who ran the program for 43 years . Granger died in 2021 at age 77.
It was Granger who inspired Sheaffer to get involved in the program as an adult. A former Hanover High school baseball player, Sheaffer was finishing a study abroad program in Hungary when he learned Granger was stepping down from the program.
He remembered how Granger had been a role model for him and wanted to set that example for other kids in his hometown.
Sheaffer said the spirit of the program was still intact when he took over but that participation was starting to drop. With so many travel baseball teams popping up, the morning league — which runs Monday to Thursday every June and July — had only 40 or so players.
This past summer, more than 90 kids participated – largely due to Sheaffer promoting the program on social media.
And by advertising what sets the league apart from others.
“The program is led by local college and high school students, which gives the kids positive role models,” Sheaffer said. “And we really focus on fundamentals and making every day interactive for kids of all experience levels. We want to help kids learn and push them outside their comfort zone.
“There truly is no barrier from participating.”
Sheaffer said the community’s response to the program has been rewarding. When someone broke into Good Field’s shed and stole supplies, numerous donations of bats, balls and other materials prevented the league from taking a pause.
Sheaffer, who works for a local nonprofit, said he can’t promise a 43-year career like his predecessor but hopes to run the program for years to come.
“The goal is to give as many kids possible the opportunity to build friendships and do something meaningful every summer,” he said.
This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Meet York County's most influential people for 2023: Sports