Peggy Burke proclaims herself a non-athlete. But, according to the Luzerne Country Sports Hall of Fame, Burke has shown a dedication to sports and, most especially, a dedication to community service.
Burke will be presented with the Sam Falcone Award at the induction ceremony of the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame, John Louis Popple Chapter on Sunday, Aug. 11 at the Ramada Inn in Wilkes-Barre in recognition for her dedication to sports and most especially her dedication to community service.
Three local former athletes will be inducted into this year’s class: Dominick Cassetori, William Noone and James Pizano.
There will be a cocktail hour starting at 4 p.m. Dinner will take place at 5 p.m. followed by the induction ceremonies.
Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 5-11. Children age 4 and under are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased by contacting chapter secretary Carol Hurley at 824-7133. No tickets will be sold at the door.
“I always hesitate when it comes to receiving an award,” Burke said. “I can’t take credit, but I can accept it for a team of volunteers. Much like sports, a coach is not a coach unless they have a team.”
Make no mistake, Burke is one busy person. And, although she hasn’t been on the sidelines or the bench, she’s doing just as much behind the scenes.
While not being an athlete herself, Burke saw her five children participate in a broad spectrum of youth, varsity and inter-collegiate athletics. She has derived a great satisfaction in seeing the development that organized sports and competition have played in her family’s upbringing.
“It’s a win-win,” she said. “It’s a win for the people we help and for the volunteers.”
In both the Wyoming Area and Pittston Area school districts, Burke has founded several non-profits. Eight years ago, she started Knitting Ministry and has taught numerous volunteers to make hundreds of handmade items for local charities. She is a founding member of The Care and Concern Ministries, along with a small team of volunteers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pittston.
“I couldn’t do this without a team,” she said. “I wish it could be a group award. I accept this on behalf of our whole team.”
Burke also founded the Greater Pittston Food Pantry. In 2008, she was named The Sunday Dispatch’s Person of the Year and in 2010 she received the Wyoming Valley Woman’s Club Woman of the Year.
Currently, Burke is a board member and volunteer for Meals on Wheels of Greater Pittston and Wyoming areas. Since 2008, the pantry has packed more than 40,000 bags of donated foods and has over 1,000 registered families.
“As a retired registered dietician and a knitter, I am drawn to things that deal with food and making things for others,” Burke said. “I really feel called to give back.”
Donations are being accepted in the form of food and yarn and can be dropped off at the St. John Evangelist Parish Center Monday through Friday at 35 William St. Pittston.
Dominick R. Cassetori
Dominick Cassetori ranks as the winningest tennis player in the Wyoming Valley. After many wins in the valley and Middle States competition, he played No. 1 singles for the 1986 National Runner-Up 4.5 team from Scranton.
Cassetori has won 11 season-ending Wyoming Valley Grand Prix Championships, a title given to the person who has the most tournament wins for a season. He has ranked in the top-20 in Middle States and held the No. 1 spot in Lehigh Valley singles three times.
Throughout the years, Cassetori has won too many championships to list individually but he has won the Reading Suburban Doubles championship with Marty Coyne and has won the 35 and over singles titles in Altoona and Williamsport.
From 2003 to the present, Cassetori has been a teaching pro at Kingston Indoor Tennis and is respected as one of the best pros in the district.
He has helped many area standouts such as Stefan Rainer, 1990 district champion and state quarter-finalist; also Sean Kelleher, of Forty Fort, who was the National Grass and Hard Court champion, as well as Cassetori’s daughter, Dominique, a 2-time MVP of the Peach Belt Conference University of South Carolina women’s team.
Cassetori was a secondary education teacher at Wyoming Area from 1965 to 2002 and at Wyoming Seminary from 2009-2009. He coached the Warrior tennis team from 1990 to 2003, winning a district title in 1990.
While rushing for 1,863 yards and 27 touchdowns his senior season at Wyoming Area,James Pizano was named to the first-team All-State and was selected to play in the Big 33 Classic in 1993. Pizano played for the Warriors from 1990 to 1993 and finished his career with 4,086 yards and 63 touchdowns.
Pizano was the winner of the Scranton Tribune Regional Player of the Year in 1993 and was named the Wyoming Valley Conference MVP his senior year.
After receiving a full scholarship to the University of Massachusetts, he was a four-year letter winner for the Minute Men and holds the UMass record for the longest run from scrimmage. In his senior year, UMass won the 1998 Division I-AA National Championship.
Back in the Wyoming Valley, Pizano volunteers and gives back to the community through Warrior fundraisers and uses his network to assist in the recruiting of current Wyoming Valley athletes.
Pizano’s commitment goes beyond Luzerne Country. He has worked at Red Lion High School football camp and was a co-guest speaker along with Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions.
Pizano currently resides in Franklinville, N.J. with his wife, Renee, and their 3-year-old, daughter Francesca.
William “Bill” Noone
While growing up in Pittston, William “Bill” Noone attended Seton Catholic High School where he was a three-sport MVP in soccer, basketball and baseball.
In 1990, he was a member of the Greater Pittston American Legion Wyoming Valley League champions. In 1991, he participated in the Wyoming Valley Conference Senior All-Star game and was first-team All-Wyoming Valley Conference in baseball and soccer.
Noone pitched for Wilkes University and was a member of the MAC Championship baseball team and was named MAC Freedom League MVP. He had a career record of 17-7 with 215 strikeouts in 195 innings and a 3.14 ERA.
In 1995, Noone was a Killer Bees Award Finalist in the Open Male Division. He went on to be a 37th round draft choice of the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2005, he was inducted into the Wilkes University Sports Hall of Fame.