MAY 16 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College Athletic Department is pleased to announce the 2016 class of the Bethany Hall of Fame. Included in the class of ’16 will be: Dr. John S. Cunningham, Ray Koch (’67), J. Thomas Laeng (’68) and Amy Schafer (’03). Andrea Paige Pertz Ilkanipour (’90), who was selected for the Hall of Fame class of 2015, will also officially be inducted this year.
The new members of the Bison Hall of Fame will officially be inducted during the 2016 Homecoming festivities, which will take place on the weekend of October 7-8. The inductees will be officially welcomed at the Hall of Fame dinner on Friday, October 7. They will also be recognized at Bison Stadium on Saturday, October 8, before the Bison football team takes on Case Western Reserve University.
The architect of some of the greatest men’s soccer teams to play at Bethany College, Dr. John S. Cunningham held the mantle of head coach with the Bison from 1968 until 2001. During his 33-year tenure as coach, his teams posted an unprecedented 29 Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championships, winning 22 consecutive between 1979 and 2000.
Honors were abundant for the men’s soccer team in Cunningham’s time as coach, helping his players earn PAC MVP honors 26 times and 212 all-conference awards. The Bison also earned All-American status seven times and saw eight players given Academic All-American status. He led the Bison to a pair of Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships, as well as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship in 1996.
During his tenure, the Bison participated in 17 NCAA National Championship Tournaments, culminating in a Division III National Championship in 1994. That season, the Green & White finished the year with a record of 18-5-1, defeating Johns Hopkins, 1-0 in double overtime, to secure the College’s first-ever National title.
Ray Koch was one of the leading players for the Bison football program during the team’s back-to-back conference championships in 1965 and 1966. In his four seasons with the Green & White, the Bison totaled a mark of 18-11-1, which included an undefeated season in 1966 (6-0-1).
Koch was an ironman for Bethany, playing two ways in 1964, before becoming a “60-minute” athlete during his final two seasons. In the team’s championship runs of ’65 and ’66, not only did Koch play wide receiver and corner back, but he also served as a kick and punt returner.
The ’66 campaign was by far his best, ranking in the top five in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in punt returns, averaging 18.5 yards per chance. Thanks to his numbers on the field, Koch was one of just two players from West Virginia to be named to the Associated Press Little All-American Football Team. He finished his career with 11 touchdown receptions, which still currently ranks in the top ten all time in Bethany history.
J. Thomas Laeng, like Koch, was a four-year letterwinner for the Green & White, and also served as a starter for the program’s first back-to-back titles in ‘65 and ‘66. A 1968 graduate, Laeng helped lead the Bison to a combined record of 21-9-1, while never seeing a losing season.
Throughout his storied career, the four-year guard paved the way for some of the top performers in Bison history, including fellow Hall of Fame member, Bob Solar. He also blocked for two seasons for running back Ernie Whitted, Bethany’s first 1,000-yard rusher. In 1966 he also blocked for Tom Abraham, who still holds the Bison single-season record for yards per carry (6.6).
Laeng helped the Bison’s offense rank second in the conference in 1965, and led the Green & White to the program’s first-ever undefeated season in ’66. In his final two years, Laeng was named to the Pittsburgh Press All-District Small College Teams.
Schafer was a four-year starter for the Bison softball program behind the plate, helping Bethany to four consecutive PAC Championships. During her time, the program tallied a mark of 118-50 (winning percentage of .702), while earning a spot in the National Championship tournament in all four seasons.
Throughout her storied career, Schafer was a three-time First-Team All-Region selection (’01, ’02 and ’03) and earned Second-Team All-American honors in 2002. That season, Schafer tallied 42 hits and 23 RBIs, while striking out just once in 106 at bats, helping the Bison finish sixth in the country.
One of the hardest players to strike out in school history, Schafer was set down on strikes just 10 times in 413 career at bats (.02 percent). She finished her career hitting .380, which currently ranks fourth on Bethany’s all-time list. She totaled 157 hits, 83 RBIs, 78 runs scored and 43 extra-base hits.
A four-year letterwinner for the Bison swimming & diving teams, Andrea Paige Pertz Ilkanipour was a 1990 graduate. The MVP of the team in both 1988 and 1989, Ilkanipour served as the team’s co-captain during the 1989-90 campaign. In the span of her four-year career, Ilkanipour was an 18-time All-PAC recipient, notching Second-Team honors five times.
Her top event was the 100 butterfly, where she grabbed second place at the PAC Championships on three separate occasions (’88, ’89, ’90). She also earned Second-Team honors in both the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay during the 1987-88 season.
At the culmination of her career, Ilkanipour held or was a member of five different Bethany records, including the 50 freestyle, the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relays and the 200 medley relay. Along with her talents in the pool, Ilkanipour was a four-year member of the field hockey program, where she served as team captain during the 1988-89 season.