WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The 37th annual induction ceremony for the West Liberty University Athletic Hall of Fame was held last Saturday (Oct. 28) at the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex.
This year’s class features Bill Beattie (baseball), Jeff Carroll (wrestling), Gerry Craft (baseball), Tori Hansen (women’s basketball), Rachel Mason (softball), Leanne Straub (women’s tennis) and Vinnie Monseau (wrestling). The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017 was recognized on the field at West Family Stadium that afternoon during halftime of the football game against Concord. Following are information capsules for this year’s honorees:
One of the greatest hitters in West Liberty’s long and storied baseball history, Bill Beattie enjoyed a record-setting career on the Hilltopper diamond. A 2-time All-WVIAC selection who helped lead Hall of Fame Coach Bo McConnaughy’s squad to a pair of league championships, Beattie capped a sparkling career by earning the 1987 WVIAC Player of the Year Award.
The hard-hitting centerfielder led the nation with a .493 batting average, rapping out 66 hits in 134 at-bats as West Liberty rolled to yet another WVIAC title. That .493 batting average still stands as a West Liberty record while the 66 hits were the school standard for 30 years.
After graduating, Beattie began an outstanding teaching and coaching career in Eastern Ohio, leading Edison North and Edison High Schools to multiple conference, sectional and district titles. A 2-time Ohio High School Baseball Coach of the Year, he was inducted into the Ohio Eastern District Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2013.
Beattie has worked as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Edison Local School District for nearly three decades and has served as District Superintendent since 2012. Bill and his wife, Nancy, also a West Liberty alumnus, have two children, Brian (19) and Brooke (18).
Jeff Carroll was a trailblazing wrestler for Hall of Fame coach Dr. Vince Monseau who also made his mark as an outstanding high school coach. Carroll was a national runner-up for the Hilltoppers at 142 pounds during the 1977 NAIA Nationals in Cheney, Wash. Despite a tough loss in the finals, Carroll made history as just the third West Liberty grappler to wrestle for a national title.
After graduating, Carroll coached and taught at Cadiz (Ohio) High School from 1977-80 before moving on to Cambridge (Ohio) High School as head wrestling coach. Carroll developed numerous OVAC and district champions with the Bobcats. His 1982 squad won the OVAC Class AAAA Dual Meet title and OVAC Class AAAA tournament championship while his 1989 team posted a perfect 16-0 dual meet mark.
Carroll also coached the 1994 Cambridge golf team to an Ohio state championship – the school’s only state title in any sport – and posted an eye-popping 111-1 meet record as the Bobcats’ head golf coach. Now retired, the recipient of the 2010 OVAC “Mr. Mat” Award works part-time at Foxfire East Academy. He lives in Cambridge with his wife, Leslie. They are the proud parents of two grown children, Jeff and Madison.
After earning All-Conference laurels on the West Liberty baseball team in the early 1970s, the late Gerry Craft spent more than 30 years carving out a highly-successful professional baseball career. The St. Clairsville native was an All-WVIAC pick for Hall of Fame Coach Jim Watson’s 1973 WVIAC champions before signing with the Baltimore Orioles.
Following his playing career, Craft stayed in the game as a professional baseball scout and was regarded as one of the nation’s top scouts for the next 30 years.
Craft was an Area Scout for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1980-86 before being hired as a Regional Supervisor by the Houston Astros. He spent the rest of his career with Houston, serving as Eastern Regional Supervisor for the last 18 years. A mentor to countless young scouts, Craft is credited with founding the first school to train individuals for the scouting profession. His Baseball Scout School is considered the predecessor to today’s MLB Scouting Bureau Scout’s School.
He passed away in 2009 but his wife, Louise, and his parents, Emmett and Eva, live in St. Clairsville. Gerry and Louise have two grown daughters, Maizee of Caldwell, Ohio, and Mandee, the head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa.
VICTORIA ‘TORI’ HANSEN
Tori Hansen spent four seasons rewriting West Liberty’s women’s basketball record book and was every bit as impressive in the classroom as she was on the hardwood. The leading scorer and second-leading rebounder in school history with 2,300 points and 918 rebounds, Hansen led Hall of Fame Coach Lynn’s Ullom’s squad to four 20-win seasons.
Hansen was a 3-time All-Region and All-WVIAC selection and 2-time WVIAC Player of the Year. The nation’s third-leading scorer her last two years, she was the second-leading scorer in WVIAC history and holds the WVIAC Tournament scoring record.
The first-team NCAA Division II All-American received an even more prestigious honor when she was chosen as the NCAA’s 2011 College Division Academic All-American of the Year. An honors graduate who never received a grade lower than “A” at West Liberty, Hansen took center stage in the national spotlight when she was selected as a finalist for the 2011 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
After graduation, Hansen became the first West Liberty women’s basketball player to play professionally overseas when she signed with the Ringwood Hawks in Australia. Now living in McKean, Pa., Hansen teaches and coaches at her alma mater, General McLane High School, where she was recently inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
A hard-hitting third baseman for Hall of Fame Coach Herb Minch’s Hilltopper softball team, Rachel Mason was also an academic standout at West Liberty. Mason came to the hilltop after a spectacular career at Magnolia (W.Va.) High School. The multisport standout was a 2-time OVAC Class AAA Player of the Year in softball who also helped lead the Blue Eagles to a 2005 state basketball championship.
Mason was an immediate impact player with the Hilltopper softball team. She helped West Liberty to a WVIAC runner-up finish in her debut season when she was named to the WVIAC All-Tournament Team and selected as the WVIAC Freshman of the Year.
The 3-time All-Conference selection was one of the top hitters in the conference throughout her career and also excelled in the classroom, earning the 2009 WVIAC Senior Scholar-Athlete Award after being honored as an Academic All-American. Active on campus as a member of Kappa Delta Pi and an SAAC representative, Mason graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and went on to earn a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Marshall University.
She lives in Ravenswood, W.Va. where she is the ESL teacher for Jackson County and also serves as assistant coach for the Ravenswood High School girls’ basketball and softball teams.
LEANNE (McGHEE) STRAUB
Leanne McGhee excelled on the tennis court and in the classroom during her stellar 4-year career on the hilltop. A native of Guelph, Ont., McGhee helped lead the Lady Hilltoppers to three straight WVIAC championships and received national attention as the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Player to Watch after her freshman season.
She wrapped up her collegiate career in impressive fashion by going undefeated in WVIAC play, capping that run with a 6-0 6-0 blowout win in the No. 1 singles championship match at the WVIAC Tournament. The 2003 WVIAC Player of the Year won nearly 60 matches with the Black and Gold and was ranked among the top NCAA Division II singles players in the Great Lakes Region each of her last two years.
An outstanding student, McGhee was on the Dean’s List all four years at West Liberty and was honored as the 2004 WVIAC Senior Scholar-Athlete. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Exercise Physiology and holds a doctorate in Physical Therapy. She is currently working in Outpatient Pediatrics at Wheeling Hospital.
She and her husband, Austin Straub, also own and operate Top Notch Cleaning in Bridgeport, Ohio. They reside in St. Clairsville, Ohio with their children, Griffin (9) and Caiden (6).
VINCENT ‘VINNIE’ MONSEAU
A 3-time wrestling All-American for his father, Hall of Fame Coach Dr. Vince Monseau, Vinnie Monseau became a national champion in another sport after leaving the hilltop.
Monseau was a 4-year letterman and 2-year captain on the Hilltopper wrestling team. His 93 career wins rank among the school’s top 10 all-time and he earned NAIA All-America honors his last three years. West Liberty’s 1992 Student-Athlete of the Year was also an All-WVIAC cross-country selection and became the first Hilltopper student-athlete to receive an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship.
While working toward his medical degree at West Virginia University, Monseau continued to run competitively. He was 5th in the 1995 Erie (Pa.) Marathon and was a qualifier and finisher – along with his father – at the 1996 Boston Marathon. Monseau then turned his focus to triathlons, quickly bolting into national and international prominence. The 2-time national champion (2003, 2008) represented Team USA at four ITU World Championships, was a 12-time USAT All-American and 3-time Ironman Hawaii finisher.
Monseau earned his medical degree from WVU in 1996 and is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician. He is currently working as an Emergency Room doctor at Richmond (Va.) Community Hospital. Vinnie and his wife, Amanda, recently moved to Midlothian, Va. where they reside with their daughters, Annaliese (5) and Alessandra (4).