Cherry Hill West inducting a passionate athlete

Posted: May 28, 2012

One of Bill Blauvelt's best memories of playing sports at Cherry Hill West was the time he didn't do anything.

For Blauvelt, that was quite an accomplishment.

This was during the Group 4 state baseball championship game in 1990, when Cherry Hill West was in the middle of one of the great runs in South Jersey sports history - six consecutive appearances in the state finals and four consecutive state crowns.

Blauvelt, better known as a highly competitive, eager-for-action, Region 7-champion wrestler, was sitting in the dugout when Cherry Hill West's Steve Farling leaped over the Hoboken catcher on a bang-bang play at the plate, sparking a benches-clearing brawl.

Tom Trotman, the legendary Lions coach, "wasn't even looking at what was happening on the field," Blauvelt recalled. "He walked right up to me and said, 'No.' "

Blauvelt said he stayed in the dugout out of respect for Trotman. Plus, he received a bonus for his good behavior. A reserve on a team that was ranked fifth in the nation by USA Today, Blauvelt got to finish the state final in center field after Farling and some other players were ejected.

"I'll never forget that," Blauvelt said.

Blauvelt won't be inducted into Cherry Hill West's athletic Hall of Fame on Friday because of his restraint.

He was known as a fierce competitor on the wrestling mat. He won the Region 7 title at 125 pounds as a senior and finished third in the state.

As it turns out, that was just the beginning for Blauvelt in the wrestling spotlight.

He went to Division I Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on a scholarship, wrestled for two years, then learned that the program was being dropped because of the gender-equity demands of Title IX, the landmark legislation that required college programs to offer the same opportunities for female athletes as male athletes.

Blauvelt became one of the faces of the wrestling community's protest of the impact of the law. He was recruited by wrestling legends Dan Gable and Dale Anderson to testify before Congress.

"They heard about my situation, being a guy from New Jersey who was going to miss out on the sport because of Title IX," Blauvelt said. "I ended up before Congress. Nothing much came of it, but we did raise awareness of this situation, which is still going on."

Blauvelt never wrestled for a team again but became a standout rugby player. He returned to wrestling as head coach at Wagner College on Staten Island from 1999 to 2002.

Blauvelt lives in Arvada, Colo., with his college sweetheart. He hadn't seen her in nine years but located her through Google. They have an 8-month-old daughter.

He used to work for a sports-surface company and helped build the 12-court tennis center at UNLV that hosted the 2009 national championships. But he said he recently took a leave of absence to pursue his fortune as a kind of a wildcatter in oil wells, using hydraulic-fracturing technology.

Blauvelt was in high school during a remarkable era in Cherry Hill sports. That was when West's baseball team was putting together that storied run, and the East football team featured a future NFL quarterback in Glenn Foley, and both schools were South Jersey powers in multiple sports.

Blauvelt said he'll never forget growing up and playing sports in Cherry Hill.

"I was the luckiest guy in the world," Blauvelt said. "I had some many great people around, great coaches, a great support system. I can reach out and still touch those memories."

As a standout wrestler, Blauvelt was proud to be a part of those great baseball teams. Cherry Hill West reached the state finals during all four of his years in the program and won state titles in 1989 and 1990. West also won state championships in '91 and '92.

He said he still talks with old teammates about the benches-clearing brawl and about his out-of-character decision to stay out of the action.

"That wasn't me," Blauvelt said. "I was tough. People knew it. In the hallways, at parties, they knew I wouldn't back away from anybody.

"But I was so lucky to be a part of those baseball teams and I had so much respect for Tom Trotman. I wasn't going anywhere."


Contact Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, panastasia@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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