Oct. 6 – BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College Athletic Department will officially induct the 2016 Hall of Fame Class at its 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 at 2 p.m.
The class of 2016 includes 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 honored at the game.
Dr. John S. Cunningham – Retired Head Men’s Soccer Coach
Dr. John S. Cunningham was the architect of some of the greatest men’s soccer teams to play at Bethany College and held the mantle of head coach with the Bison from 1968 until 2001. His teams posted an unprecedented 29 Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Championships, winning 22 consecutive between 1979 and 2000.
He established a career record of 370-123-28 during his 33-year tenure. The Bison participated in 17 NCAA National Championship Tournaments and claimed the 1994 Division III National Championship under Dr. Cunningham. The Green & White finished that season with a 18-5-1 record, defeating Johns Hopkins 1-0 in double overtime to secure the College’s first-ever national title. He also led the 1982 squad to the national title game, where they ended the season as the national runner-up.
Dr. Cunningham’s players earned PAC MVP honors 26 times and 212 all-conference awards. The Bison also earned All-American status seven times, with eight players earning Academic All-American status. He also led Bethany to a pair of Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships, as well as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship in 1996.
Dr. Cunningham served the College in many capacities, including terms as the Executive Dean of Students, Vice President for Student Services and the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Services.
Ray Koch (’67) - Football
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.
Following a two-year combat tour in Vietnam, Koch went on to serve as vice president of Lanier Business Systems in Atlanta, Georgia and later the president and chief operating officer of Datatec Systems, Inc. in Fairfield, New Jersey.
J. Thomas Laeng (’68) – Football
J. Thomas Laeng, like Koch, was a four-year letterman 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.
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.
Upon graduating from Bethany, Laeng began a 25-year career as an educator, teaching and coaching at Oak Glen High School in New Cumberland, West Virginia, Steubenville High School in Steubenville, Ohio and finally Vero Beach High School in Vero Beach, Florida. In 1983 he moved into the private sector until his retirement in 2009. He presently teaches strength and conditioning programs at J’s Gym in Charlottesville, Virginia for national recognized fitness expert Barry Ross.
Amy Schafer (’03) – Softball
Schafer was a four-year starter for the Bison softball program behind the plate, helping Bethany to four consecutive PAC Championships. The program tallied a mark of 118-50 (winning percentage of .702) during her career and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament all four seasons.
Schafer was a three-time first-team all-region selection (2001-03) and earned NFCA Second-Team All-America honors in 2002. That season, Schafer tallied 42 hits and 23 RBIs, while striking out just once in 106 at bats to help the Bison finish with a No. 6 ranking in the country.
Schafer was known as one of the hardest players to strike out in school history, striking out only 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 and totaled 157 hits, 83 RBIs, 78 runs scored and 43 extra-base hits.
From 2005-15 she was the head softball coach at fellow PAC member Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania, and has served as the school’s compliance director and co-chair of the Health and Physical Education Department since 2012. On January, 1 2016 she was named the Director of Athletics at Thiel where she also serves as its senior women’s administrator.
Andrea Paige Pertz Ilkanipour (’90) – Swimming and Diving
Andrea Paige Pertz Ilkanipour was a four-year letterman for the Bison swimming & diving teams and the team MVP in both 1988 and 1989. Ilkanipour served as the team’s co-captain during the 1989-90 campaign and was an 18-time All-PAC recipient in her four-year career.
Her top event was the 100 butterfly, where she grabbed second place at the PAC Championships on three separate occasions (1988-90). 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.
She earned a master’s degree from West Virginia University in 1992 and went on to become the Vice President of Jack Horner Communications, Inc., the largest public relations firm in Pittsburgh. Since 2003, she has served as the Director of Marketing for the Pittsburgh Glass Center, which is the fastest growing public access glass facility in the country.