Five area high school athletes – all of whom went on the play their sport professionally ‒ are the latest inductees into the Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame, along with a legendary Northern Kentucky football coach, a long-time Cincinnati sports broadcaster and two fabled high school sports teams representing basketball and football.
The latest additions to the LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame will be officially inducted into the Hall in ceremonies in summer 2024. Now in its 49th year, the Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame has honored 301 athletes and coaches and 14 top teams since its founding in 1975. It is the oldest and one of the only Halls of Fame of its kind in the country.
Here are the newest inductees:
Andrew Benintendi, Madeira class of 2013
Andrew was a two-sport athlete for Madeira, starting all four years in basketball and baseball. He was named Ohio Division III Player of the Year in both basketball and baseball in the 2011-12 season. He finished his high school career setting almost all of Madeira’s records for basketball and baseball.
In baseball, Benintendi wound up with 213 career hits – still the second most in Ohio high school history. He scored a state-record 199 runs. His 166 RBI ranks in the top four in Ohio history. His career batting average of .542 (213-for-393) ranked seventh all-time, while his 112 stolen bases put him in the top 20 in Ohio history. He had 62 career doubles, 20 triples and 24 home runs. As a pitcher, Andrew finished 16-6 in 108.6 innings pitched with 142 strikeouts and a 2.90 ERA.
In basketball, he set Madeira school records in career and single-season points (1,753 and 638 free throws made (371 and 125) and three-point field goals (180 and 73). He is the career leader in steals (175) and games (91 consecutive starts), and single-season points per game (25.5).
Andrew was named The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Division III Player of the Year for two straight years in basketball. He was the Associated Press Division III Player of the Year in basketball (2011-12) and was third-team All-Ohio in 2013. He was The Enquirer’s Player of the Year in baseball in 2012 and 2013. He was named Ohio’s Gatorade Player of the Year in baseball, the Ohio Division III Player of the Year by the Ohio Baseball Coaches Association, and the ACBA/Rawlings National High School Player of the Year.
At the University of Arkansas, he was named the SEC Player of the Year, the SEC Male Athlete of the Year and the Baseball America College Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2015. Andrew also won the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award, which recognized him as the National Collegiate Player of the Year.
Drafted seventh overall in the 2015 June Free Agent Draft by Boston, Benintendi made his major league debut in 2016. He has played for Boston, Kansas City, New York Yankees and is currently with the Chicago White Sox. Andrew won a World Series championship with Boston in 2018, a Gold Glove with Kansas City in 2021 and was selected as an All-Star with Kansas City in 2022.
Currently, Andrew Benintendi lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rose Lavelle, Mount Notre Dame class of 2013
Rose Lavelle became an All-American at the University of Wisconsin after high school and a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s 2019 world championship.
A four-year varsity starter for the Mount Notre Dame Cougars, Rose never missed a start during her career. She graduated as Mount Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer with 57 career goals, including a single-season record-setting 18 goals as a junior. As a senior, she scored 15 goals with eight assists for a Girls Greater Cincinnati League-Scarlet-leading 38 points for the 11-3-3 Cougars.
She was named first-team all-city Division I by The Cincinnati Enquirer three times and The Enquirer’s Player of the Year in 2012. She was selected first-team All-Ohio two straight years and was second-team as a sophomore. She was first-team All-GGCL-Scarlet twice and named League Player of the Year.
She was twice named all-region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and was named Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Sports Woman of the Year by the Women’s Sports Association. While at MND, Rose was a member of the U.S. Under-20 National Team.
A four-year starter at the University of Wisconsin, Lavelle made 19 appearances as a freshman and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Lavelle, who was first-team All-Big 10 for four years, was named Big 10 Midfielder of the Year consecutively in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, she was also named first-team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the first UW player to do so since 1991.
Rose started six games for the U.S. WNT at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, scored three goals, and was awarded the Bronze Ball at the FIFA Women’s World Cup awards as the third-best player in the tournament. Lavelle was named one of the world’s top 11 players by The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 (finishing sixth) and was chosen as one of the world’s top three midfielders by her professional peers in 2019.
She was a member of the 2020 U.S. Summer Olympics bronze medal-winning team, and the national team for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Luke Maile, Covington Catholic class of 2009
A three-sport athlete at Covington Catholic, Luke earned four varsity letters in both basketball and baseball. He also played golf.
Maile was an inside force for the Colonels’ basketball team with more than 1,000 career points. Luke received numerous postseason honors including being named to First-Team All-Northern Kentucky by the Kentucky Enquirer two straight years.
He was regarded as the top professional baseball prospect in Greater Cincinnati in 2009, being named the Gatorade Kentucky Baseball Player of the Year. He finished his senior season batting .514 (55-for-107) with 56 runs scored, 12 homers and 55 RBI. He struck out only three times. Maile wound up setting 13 school records, including most hits – career (198), most career home runs (29), most doubles career (44) and most RBIs – both single-season (66) and career (187).
A member of the Connie Mack World Series Champions while playing for the Midland Redskins, Maile was named The Enquirer’s Player of the Year in baseball three straight seasons and was twice named to the all-state team.
At the University of Kentucky, he was a three-year letterman. He posted 130 career hits, 24 home runs and 93 RBIs. He was named second-team All-Southeastern Conference and was a semifinalist for both the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy in 2012.
Draft in the eighth round (242 overall) of the Major League Baseball draft by Tampa Bay in 2012, Luke has played for Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Toronto. He joined the Cincinnati Reds in 2023.
Luke Maile, and his wife, Paige, live in Palm Harbor, Florida, with their daughters Evelyn and Collette and a third on the way.
Cindy Stern DeMartino, Mother of Mercy class of 1996
Cindy Stern was a two-sport star for Mother of Mercy, going on to become an All-American in college and later playing professionally in the U.S. Professional Volleyball League.
At Mercy, Stern earned six varsity letters ‒ three in volleyball and three in basketball. While she was a two-time honorable mention all-city selection in basketball and set the school record for field goal percentage (56.2%), it was volleyball where Cindy was truly exceptional.
In volleyball, Cindy was Player of the Year in the Girls Greater Cincinnati League (1996), a first-team all-city selection by both The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Post and a third-team all-state selection. Upon graduating, Cindy held three Mercy volleyball records – Most kills in a game (7), match (15) and season (139).
She signed a college volleyball scholarship with Clemson University, where she went on to become the first All-American volleyball player in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Cindy was ACC Player of the Year (1999) and was selected to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America team.
Cindy was inducted into the Clemson University Hall of Fame in 2005, was a member of the ACC 50th Anniversary Top 50 Female Athletes, earned All-ACC Honors 1997-1999, and was a member of the USA National Team (1998). She ranks in the top five in Clemson history – first in career blocks and assists (488), second all-time with 1,744 kills and fourth in blocked solos (163).
She joined the Clemson coaching staff as a student assistant during the 2000 season. Cindy played professionally on the U.S. Professional Volleyball League’s Dream Team from 2000-01 and was part of the league’s inaugural season in 2002.
Currently, Cindy Stern DeMartino is a product manager, senior diagnostics, with Medline Industries, LP. She and her husband, Cliff DeMartino, reside in Chicago.
Adolphus Washington, Taft class of 2012
A highly decorated high school player, Adolphus Washington continued his excellent career at Ohio State University and in the NFL. A two-sport superstar in football and basketball, Adolphus was a high school All-American in football and was selected as Ohio’s Gatorade Player of the Year in basketball.
In football, he was The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Division II Player of the Year; he was first-team All-Ohio and was named Ohio’s Division III-IV Defensive Player of the Year. He was named U.S. Army All-American and was second-team All-America by both Sports Illustrated and ESPN. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was invited to the Under Armour All-America Game. He was ranked as the No. 1 Player in Ohio and No. 21 in the nation by Scout.com.
As a senior, he led Taft to its second-straight postseason appearance. Washington had 90 tackles, 23.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble for recovery for a touchdown and one interception for a touchdown during the regular season. In three years at Taft, Adolphus had 342 tackles, 56.5 sacks and six fumble recoveries.
In basketball, Washington powered Taft with a 23.1 point average, including 14.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals during the regular season. He was named The Enquirer’s Division II Player of the Year, the Southwest Ohio Division II Player of the Year, was selected first-team all-state for the second straight year and was named Ohio Division II Co-Player of the Year for the second straight year. As a junior, he and fellow LaRosa’s MVP of the year, Dwayne Stafford, led Taft to its first Ohio team state championship in basketball with a 95-52 victory over Cleveland Central Catholic.
At Ohio State, he played in 47 games, with 142 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks and one interception. Drafted in the third round of the NFL by Buffalo, Washington played two-plus seasons with the Bills.
Currently, Adolphus Washington lives in Cincinnati and is self-employed.
Dale Mueller, Highlands/Withrow/Sycamore 1984-2013
In 20 seasons at Highlands, Dale Mueller posted a 250-36 won-loss record and led Highlands High School’s football teams to 11 state championships with four runner-up finishes. Under Mueller’s leadership, Highlands ended its seasons ranked nationally eight times, finishing as high as third in the USA Today Prep Poll in 2009.
Mueller also coached six seasons at Withrow High School (48-12) and three seasons at Sycamore High School (11-19). Overall, he has compiled a 309-67 record during his 29-year career.
He was recognized with numerous awards over his career including – Louisville Courier-Journal Kentucky Coach of the Year, Cincinnati Bengals Coach of the Year, Marvin Lewis Coach of the Year, Paul Brown Excellence in Coaching Award, Russell Athletic National Coach of the Year and National Federation of High Schools National Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2022.
“My biggest hope is that the players had an enjoyable experience and that playing football had a positive impact on their lives,” Mueller said.
A Highlands graduate in 1973, Mueller was a two-sport athlete and team captain for the baseball and football teams. He earned a total of seven varsity letters and was named all-state his senior year in both sports.
Upon graduation, he attended Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) and was a three-year catcher on the baseball team. He earned his degree in secondary education at Xavier University.
Currently, Mueller lives in Fort Thomas, with his wife, Patty. They have four adult children and 10 grandchildren.
Dennis Janson, LaRosa’s Special Recognition inductee, 1968-2019
To the best of his recollection, the first time Dennis Janson ever spoke into a microphone was during his senior year at Elder High School in 1968. He had a part-time job answering the request line at WSAI-AM radio and somehow then Elder athletic director Fr. Edward Rudemiller thought that qualified him to make Friday final period announcements over the public address system.
Little did anyone suspect those two-minute, end-of-week sports schedule bulletins would lead to a nearly 50-year broadcasting career that embraced seven radio stations, four television affiliates, three cable networks and now two halls of fame.
Janson sees himself as an unlikely addition to the LaRosa’s roster of honorees, having never distinguished himself as an athlete. He did, though, gravitate to where the action was and often that involved sports.
As an equipment manager for UC football teams of the early 70s, he was witness to the greatness of Bearcats like Greg Cook, Jim O’Brien and Bobby Bell and led to an association with Paul Brown and his fledgling Cincinnati Bengals, which called Nippert Stadium home their first two years of existence.
It was while at UC that he migrated to WKRC-AM and WKRC-TV as a weekend radio news anchor, Channel 12 production assistant, fill-in weather man, entertainment editor and eventually sports director as part of the legendary Nick Clooney, Ira Joe Fisher Eyewitness News team of the early 1980s.
His high school-spawned sports pursuits came full circle when he was enlisted to join the LaRosa’s High School Hall of Fame selection committee. That role expanded to include serving as master of ceremonies for the induction banquet, a position he relished for 27 years, even as he wrapped up a 28-year stint as sports anchor for WCPO-TV.
Dennis becomes just the third media member to be so honored, joining the late Joe Quinn of newspaper fame and his long-time Channel 9 collaborator and colleague, John Popovich, as inductees.
He counts a regional Emmy, the George Ballou Award presented by Western Hills Country Club for meritorious contributions to sports and induction to the University of Cincinnati Journalism Hall of Fame among his proudest professional citations, exceeded only by inclusion in what he terms the gold standard of Cincinnati sports commendations, the LaRosas’s High School Hall of Fame.
Mount Notre Dame basketball 2003-2004
Mount Notre Dame High School and coach Dr. Scott Rogers, in particular, have had multiple state championships in girls basketball including Rogers’ first – the 2003-04 undefeated Ohio Division I state champions. The team went 28-0.
Led by Ohio’s Ms. Basketball and LaRosa’s Hall of Famer Mel Thomas, the Cougars returned all five starters from the previous year’s team that suffered a heartbreaking loss to the eventual state champion in the regional finals.
The fervor of the 2003-04 season was cast by that loss. Including Thomas, the top six players returned from the previous season – guard Robyn Shipley, Michelle Jones, Cassie Brannen, Angela Estes and Ali Rohlfs.
“Our mindset was, ‘This is our last chance. We’re going to win.’,” Thomas said. “I remember, even in conditioning before the season, it was always in our minds. It was the ultimate goal. We were going to win. There were no times we felt more confident than other times.”
After cruising through most of the season, the Cougars’ first big test came in the regional championship game. This time versus Pickerington North, Mount Notre Dame trailed by four points in the final 3:15 before Thomas scored six points in MND’s 12-3 closing run.
“North was unbelievable,” Rogers said. “We managed to pull the game out late. The confidence level of the kids was at an exponential level from that point on.”
Three of the four teams in the Final Four were undefeated with Dayton Chaminade-Julienne favored as the No. 1-ranked team in United States and Ohio.
MND had a tough battle in the semifinals against Sylvania Northview. After a 14-1 run put Northview on top 45-44 with 3:57 left in the game, Thomas sank a field goal to put the Cougars back on top and then made six free throws in the final 32.9 seconds to hold off the Wildcats.
The Cougars led Chaminade-Julienne by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter. Thomas scored 21 points to lead Mount Notre Dame on her way to being named the state tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Lee Stephens added 20 points to also earn a spot on the all-tournament team. MND was subsequently named No. 1 in the country.
“People said we were underdogs, but not in our minds,” Thomas said. “I don’t think any of us paid attention to the rankings.”
Purcell Marian football 1986
The Purcell Marian Cavaliers overpowered just about every team it played in 1986. It was a remarkable accomplishment given that the team was unranked and wound up the city’s No. 1 team, the Ohio Division II state champion, the only undefeated team in Ohio and No. 4 in the country in USA TODAY’s final poll.
With no home football stadium, no league affiliation (as it was no longer in the Greater Cincinnati League,) a practice field that was essentially dirt and a coaching staff of four, coach Herb Woeste molded this 14-0 team into a totally fearsome force.
Led by quarterback John Paul Case, tight end Jay Koch and an overwhelming defense led by nose guard Cliff Pope, Koch at linebacker and strong safety Scott Barnett, the Cavaliers played primarily Division I schedule. It included the eventual Division I state champion Fairfield, along with Moeller, Roger Bacon, Wyoming, Oak Hills, and neighborhood rival Norwood.
The Cavs finished 14-0, setting five school records along the way ‒ 443 points scored, 32 points per game average, 84 points allowed on defense, six points allowed average per game and five shutouts.
Purcell-Marian’s toughest games of the year came against two of the state’s best clubs in Fairfield and Moeller.
At a sold-out Fairfield homecoming game, the Cavaliers sent a 10-10 tie at the end of regulations into two overtimes. Both teams traded touchdowns in the first OT, then in the second OT, Purcell started its series with a seven-yard loss, followed by a six-yard gain. On third down, 235-pound fullback George Riley rumbled 21 yards for a game-winning touchdown – 23-17.
Two weeks later, Purcell hosted No. 2-ranked Moeller at Norwood Stadium. The only coach in Cincinnati to pick the Cavaliers was Fairfield’s Ben Hubbard. Again, the Purcell defense pushed the game into overtime at 7-7. After holding Moeller to a field goal, Purcell responded with an 11-yard pass from Case to Koch. On the next play, Case dashed the final nine yards on a quarterback draw to cinch the game, 17-10.
Purcell proceeded to win the regional championship over Lemon-Monroe, 37-14, then followed with a 33-10 victory over Wooster in the state semifinals.
The state title game was against unbeaten Willoughby South (13-0), before more than 30,000 fans at Ohio Stadium. Though South had defeated state powers Cleveland Benedictine and North Canton Hoover earlier in the season, the Cavaliers totally overwhelmed the Rebels, 26-7.
Case had one of his best games of the season, hitting 13-of-20 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. He kicked a 42-yard field goal which set the state record for longest FG made in a championship game. Pope led a defensive line of Vince Lomboy and Greg Reed as he had 10 tackles (eight solo) and two sacks; Reed had nine tackles and Lomboy had two tackles and a sack.
“We couldn’t go to the pass pocket,” Willoughby South Coach Dan Hoffman said. “Their pass rush was just too strong.”
Jay Koch – one of three captains along with Tony Adkins and John Chambers – and was named Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Post Player of the Year, first-team all-state and Defensive Lineman of the Year. Scott Barnett was a first-team all-state safety as well as first-team all-city by both the Enquirer and Post. Woeste was named the Cincinnati Class AAA Coach of the Year. An amazing 20 of the 22 Purcell starters received either first-team or honorable mention all-city honors.