By Brandon Judeh
Theresa Koranicki traveled more than 8,000 miles, endured a flight delay and little sleep, but still made Sunday’s Curbstone Coaches’ 46th annual Hall of Fame Banquet.
Bernie Profato, Executive Director of the Ohio Athletic Commission, contacted Koranicki in late January.
That’s when she knew she would make the long trip from South Africa to not only induct her late father, boxer Mike Koranicki, but also to put the pieces of the puzzle that was her father’s life together.
“Bernie contacted me and told me my father had been inducted in December and coming here has made me feel closer to my dad,” Koranicki said.
Mike Koranicki, a 1970 graduate of Chaney high school, fought and lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, for several years until 1985 when he returned to the United States for medical reasons.
Theresa was 3 when her father left. Little did she know that would be the final time she would see him.
“My family lost contact with him, but three years ago I found him and was able to talk to him before his death in 2012,” Koranicki said.
“It’s such an incredible story, there was always these missing pieces to the puzzle and it finally feels like the pieces are together and I have closure.”
Her speech was one of Sunday’s highlights as 13 members were inducted.
Rayen basketball player Seth Jaffee accomplished a rare feat with his induction. He joined his father, Michael, in the Curbstone Hall of Fame.
“It feels doubly sweet to be in the same hall of fame as my dad,” Jaffee said. “I never envisioned 33 years ago when my dad and Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr., were inducted that I would be standing up here one day.”
Joining Jaffee and Mike Koranicki in the class of 2013 were: Adam Barta (bowling), Richard Canacci (football), Marla Chicase (bowling), Melanie Congemi-Stitt (track, cross country), Robert Eckenrode (bowling), Jack Elliott (softball), Jim Ferraro (baseball), Steve Krivonak (contribution to sports), Jim Leone, racquetball), Richard Marlowe (all sports award) and Bill Sferra (special award).
Guest speaker Jim Tressel kicked the night off sharing memories.
“This is a special night for the inductees and their families, it’s great to be a part of this and be around a lot of folks who I have known for many years,” Tressel said.
The former Ohio State and Youngstown State football coach has been busy in recent months, taking part in The Comeback Project along with former Ohio State player Maurice Clarett.
“I was sore for a couple of days after the Comeback Project basketball game at Struthers Fieldhouse, but we are working like crazy,” the vice president of strategic engagement at the University of Akron said. “Higher education has its challenges, I use to have 100 kids, now I have 28,000.
“It’s a lot of fun, never a dull moment.”