If you could select one Mercer County man who has done more to promote the game of golf than any other, who would you choose?
In this corner, there could be only one answer: Jack Kerins. I'm sure many would agree.
I've known Kerins since the early '50s and he remains the same gracious, thoughtful and likable person he was in those years. Golf has been his game and sharing it with thousands through the years has been his offering.
At age 90, time has slowed the golfing veteran somewhat. However, he and his wife, Mary Lou, still enjoy a few rounds at their home course, Tam O'Shanter, in Hermitage.
The two purchased Tamie in 1948 and the course remains one of the finest 18-hole layouts in Western Pennsylvania.
While Jack still works at the course, his sons, John, the course pro, and Rick, the superintendent, run the business.
Jack has seen golf grow in popularity through the years. Kerins was responsible for bringing many top pros to the area, he made golf a game for area youngsters and he even launched the first ladies league at a public golf course. Jack was inducted into the Mercer County Hall of Fame in 1987.
One of Jack's best friends was the late sports editor at The (Sharon) Herald, Johnny Pepe. Kerins even dedicated one of the holes on his golf course in Pepe's name.
Kerins graduated from Farrell High in 1929 and was a member of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation", having served with U.S. Forces in the European Theater during World War II. Jack was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.
Earlier this month, he was named "Man of the Year" by the Mercer County Ancient Order of Hibernians. On April 3, Hermitage honored him with "Jack Kerins Day."
It's been a privilege to have known Jack for so many years. His golf knowledge is second to none and he's everything good that's been said about him and more. Congratulations, Jack, and keep on swinging.
Sharpsville names Spon
Sharpsville High School has added a professional touch to its basketball fortunes.
Rob Spon, a Hickory High graduate and formerly a coach of the International Basketball Association's Saskatchewan Hawks (in the 2000-2001 season) will take over as head coach of the Blue Devils next season.
Spon, 39, replaces Bob Donatelli, who held the position for the past two years.
Spon is familiar in Mercer County basketball, having served as an assistant at Thiel College. He also served as junior varsity coach at West Middlesex and Sharon.
In addition to coaching the IBA's Hawks, Spon also coached the Minot, N.D.-based Magic City Snowbears. He graduated from Hickory in 1980 and has picked up valuable coaching experience on the high school, collegiate and pro levels.
Sharpsville won only three games last season and Spon welcomes the challenge to turn the program around. He has several lettermen returning this season.