By Ryan Kaczmarski
Magnificat is a high school that has a long tradition of teaching girls the importance of academics, physical fitness and athletic competition. This tradition has been shown through the nearly 500 Blue Streak athletes who participate and excel in 12 interscholastic sports each year.
Three years ago, the inaugural class of the Magnificat Athletic Hall of Fame was inducted, including Sister Claire Young, H.M., who started it all with the “play days” she organized between the classes. Sister Young believed that both physical fitness and athletic competition were an integral part of a holistic education.
Following the passage of Title IX, Sister Donna Fiore, H.M., and other dedicated women in the Cleveland area established the first citywide league for girls in the Greater Cleveland Catholic Girls’ Athletic Conference (GCCGAC), in which Magnificat was immediately successful in the three original sports of volleyball, basketball and slow-pitch softball.
This year, seven former student athletes and a former coach were inducted as the class of 2012. The inductees are Kerry Spicer Bebie (’87), Anne Lawhun Campbell (’98), Alison Kemmerling Jimenez (’94), Maureen Ferris Mewett (’94), Nancy Noonan Oliver (’66) (posthumously), Sandy Guzowski Supler (’93), Sarah Grealis Walden (’96) and former varsity basketball coach Larry F. Chernauskas Sr.
Kerry Spicer Bebie, ’87, a current Rocky River resident, was a three-sport athlete, participating in basketball, volleyball, and track and field. In basketball, she was named to the GCCGAC All-Star team both in her junior and senior years. In her senior year, she led the Blue Streaks to the GCCGAC city championship and was the league MVP, team captain and team MVP. She was a two-time GCCGAC All-Star selection in volleyball, and also the volleyball team captain and MVP for two years. She competed in multiple track and field events, holding the school records for long jump and high jump from 1984-1989.
Anne Lawhun Campbell, ’98, a current Lakewood resident, was a four-year member of the cross country, basketball, and track and field teams, including leading Magnificat to its first-ever cross country state championship. She was named All-Ohio for track in 1998. She was captain of the basketball team and received the Harry Groman Defensive Player of the Year award, and for her accomplishments and commitment as a three-sport athlete, she was awarded the Magnificat Athlete of the Year as a senior.
Larry Chernauskas Sr. was head coach of the Blue Streaks varsity basketball team from 1991-1997. While coaching at Magnificat, the team won four district and two regional titles and participated twice in the state final four. During his 43-year coaching career, including time at West Tech High School, St. Joseph Academy and Gilmour Academy before he was at Magnificat, he compiled a record of 508-280. He is also a Hall of Fame member of St. Francis College, West Tech High School, Gilmour Academy, St. Edward High School and the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association.
Alison Kemmerling Jimenez, ’94, was a member of the swim team and was Magnificat’s first-ever state swimming champion. In 1994, she won four individual state championships in the 100 and 200 freestyle and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. She won 12 district titles during her high school career and held school records in nine of the 11 total swimming events, still holding four of them. She won numerous All-American awards, was an Academic All-American from 1990-1994 and also won a junior national swimming title while attending Magnificat.
Maureen Ferris Mewett, ’94, participated on the cross country and track and field teams during her four years at Magnificat and played basketball for two years. She was a four-time state qualifier in cross country and track, was named All-Ohio all four years of track and field and was All-Ohio three times for cross country. She was a four-time individual state champion, winning the 800 meter event in 1993 and 1994 and anchoring the state champion 4×800 relay team in 1991 and 1993, which ran the fastest relay times in the country (for high school girls) in those years. She was part of the 1993 team state championship in track and field. She was a captain of the track team as a senior and was a two-time recipient of the Archie Griffin Sportsmanship award.
Nancy Noonan Oliver, ’66, participated in both track and field and gymnastics from 1962-1966, a time when women’s athletics were not recognized like they are today. As a gymnast, she helped the younger students learn the new equipment. On the track, she helped Magnificat win multiple Cleveland Catholic Girls track and field meet titles. She continued to compete as an adult, participating with the Cleveland West Road Runners Club. During the 1980s, she set two U.S. mile records in her age group, and was one of 200 runners to be a torch-bearer for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
Sandy Guzowski Supler, ’93, won the 1992 Ohio state all-around gymnastics title, and as a freshman was part of the first-ever state championship team title for Magnificat. The gymnastics team went on to win three more titles with her on the team. She captured four individual state runner-up titles and five state third-place finishes. She was a team co-captain her senior year and was the recipient of the Archie Griffin award.
Sarah Grealis Walden, ’96, won the 1995 Ohio state all-around gymnastics title and captured six individual state titles and five runner-up finishes. She was also a member of two state team titles from 1993 and 1996. She was the first Magnificat athlete to win an individual event state title three years in a row. She captured five district titles, six runner-up district finishes and three third-place district finishes. She was a team captain, team MVP and winner of the Magnificat Sportsmanship Award her senior year.