Czeponis, Trocki included in '13 Romance Chapter Hall of Fame class
(Editor's Note: The Ed Romance Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame will hold its annual induction ceremonies during a banquet, March 23 at 2 p.m. at the Brady Fire Co. banquet hall. This is the second is a series of inductee biographies that will be published daily leading up to the event.)
LAWRENCE J. CZEPONIS
Larry Czeponis joins two other Mount Carmel Area football linemen as members of the 35th class of the Ed Romance Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Czeponis was certainly the biggest with his 6-foot, 4-inch, 280-pound frame while playing for Bucknell University. He was a member of the Bison from 1987-90 and worked his way into a starting guard position during his junior and senior seasons.
Bucknell football finished 12-9 during Czeponis' two years as a starter under head coach Lou Maranzano.
Czeponis was part of a very athletic offensive line that was nicknamed the "Beast" based on their physical style of play. Czeponis chose to attend Bucknell after receiving interest from schools such as Rutgers, Duke, Lehigh and William and Mary.
Czeponis began his playing career at Mount Carmel Area for head coach Joe "Jazz" Diminick as a rare four-year player at the time. Czeponis was a three-year starter at offensive tackle and a two-year starter at defensive tackle for the Red Tornadoes. Czeponis served as a co-captain of the 1986 team that earned an Eastern Conference wild card slot and defeated the 11-0 Valley View Cougars 21-14.
Mount Carmel lost in the championship game to Gary Brown's Williamsport Millionaires. That '86 team was the first Tornadoes' squad to play 13 games in a season. Czeponis was named to the Reading Eagle All-Anthracite team. Czeponis was also named honorable mention on the Associated Press All-State team following his junior season. Mount Carmel appeared in four playoff games during Czeponis' career in 1983, 1984 and 1986.
Czeponis also participated in track at Mount Carmel, qualifying for the District 4 championships in both the shot and discus.
Following his graduation from Bucknell in 1991, Czeponis served as a graduate assistant football coach at California University of Pa. from 1991-93. He coached running backs, tight ends, special teams and helped to establish the strength and conditioning program.
Czeponis completed his MBA at Cal and eventually took a position with Nationwide Insurance, where he works as a field casualty claims specialist. He is also an adjunct professor in the business/economics department at Luzerne County Community College. He and his wife Ann (Polites) live in Mount Carmel and are the parents of four children, Larry, 14; Frances, 12; Meryl, 9; and Jelena, 6.
In the fall of 1988 when Trocki was approached by the Mount Carmel Area administration and the athletic office about the head coaching position with the girls softball team, he was rather hesitant about the task. After conferring with outgoing coach Bruce Wanzie and longtime, legendary assistant coach Ed Taylor, he decided to accept the challenge.
Trocki began his career in 1989 by leading the Tornadoes in Division I of the Schuylkill League. After that first season, Trocki and Taylor re-established the junior varsity program and two years later, in 1991, had the team in the District 11 playoffs, laying the groundwork to what would become a banner year. The 1992 season was the finest season in the history of the softball program.
That team moved to its new field at the high school complex and put up numbers and achievements that have never been matched. They included the team's first victory over North Schuylkill and a tense 2-1 win over Pottsville that ended the Tide's 58-game winning streak. The team posted a 14-2 regular season mark and then recorded four victories in the District 11 tournament, including a 4-3 semifinal win over former state champion Northern Lehigh and a 4-0 district championship win over perennial power Minersville.
Trocki led the softball program for 21 years, finally retiring at the conclusion of the 2009 season. He coached over 300 girls during his tenure.
Trocki was named the Schuylkill League Coach of the Year in 1992 and had four of his players named first team league all-stars. He was also selected by the news media as the region's Coach of the Year on two occasions and had the honor of seeing his 1992 District 11 championship team honored by the Ed Romance Hall of Fame in 2012.
Trocki is a 1969 graduate of Mount Carmel Area and a 1972 graduate of Kutztown State College where he earned a bachelor of science degree in secondary education with a concentration in languages.
Trocki lives in Mount Carmel with his wife Linda. They are the parents of three children; Eric, who died in July, 2010; Jeff, and his wife Nicki; and Stacy, who is married to Greg Fenix. They have six grandchildren.
Trocki always had a simple coaching philosophy no matter what sport he was coaching - to provide leadership and lend stability. He always wanted his teams to practice hard, play hard, and ultimately to have fun. He always told his players to carry the three D's with them to every game: diligence, dedication, and determination - principles Trocki has displayed in the way he has lived his life.