Hall of Fame inductee Crable helped build foundation for Quaker Valley youth sports
Jim Crable’s goal was to bring people together.
Now it’s his turn to get recognized as he joins the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 21 at a ceremony at Sewickley Heights Golf Club.
“It makes me truly proud to be thought of to be nominated and also voted into the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame,” he said. “When they called me and told me, it just knocked my socks off. I am still walking on a cloud.”
Crable, a Pittsburgh native, first became involved in the Sewickley community in 1968, when he came to help out at the Sewickley Community Center.
“My brother-in-law worked at the Sewickley Community Center, and he wanted me to come down and help with activities, not necessarily just sports,” Crable said. “I started my Positive Motivation Group for boys. I’d monitor them at the community center, and I had a little chart. My main thing was letting them know I was keeping my eye on them. It evolved into a tutoring program. They wanted to play football and basketball, so we started some pickup leagues.”
His After School program, which involved some Quaker Valley teachers and other volunteers, soon evolved into an after-school basketball program. He recruited basketball players from local colleges and universities and professional players from the ABA’s Pittsburgh Condors to assist in the youths’ development through summer camps and leagues.
“We started a little biddy basketball league. We got the kids jerseys and had tournaments. Most of the kids came from broken families, so we tried to have the tournaments on the weekend so the families could come,” Crable said. “I played in a 35-and-over league in Pittsburgh, and Connie Hawkins was a good friend of mine. We got the University of Pittsburgh basketball team to come down and award the trophies and everyone got a trophy. We got players from Duquesne, Point Park, Robert Morris, Pitt and the Condors to come down for free and put on a camp for the kids in the summer. It turned out to be a real successful thing.”
Crable started a youth football program, the first in the area. The Sewickley Redskins served as the foundation for today’s Quaker Valley youth football program.
“In order to start that team, Chatham Sports Center in Pittsburgh gave me $9,400 in sports equipment for 50 players on my signature alone. It took forever to repay that loan, but we did it,” he said. “Two or three other guys helped me coach and put together a team. There were some struggles, but I was teaching the kids to play together and how to share and mainly to learn the game of football, if that’s what they wanted. I taught them how to play, and they had to learn how to win. Once they started winning, it was tough to stop them. I wanted to teach them discipline also.
“I really and truly wasn’t thinking about the kids winning. My main concern was community and togetherness because there was a lot of separation back then. I wanted to integrate everything. I know when you do that, you have to start with the kids. I started with the kids and got the grownups. I did it through sports and it worked out fine.”
Mike Mastroianni, Quaker Valley’s athletics director and head boys basketball coach, participated in Crable’s programs during his youth and is thankful they were in place.
“Jim was terrific. He was very influential to youth sports in the Quaker Valley area in the 1970s. Going back to that time, there was Little League baseball, but nothing really structured for football or basketball,” Mastroianni said. “He created an atmosphere and a place for elementary kids. He created a structured environment and brought people together. He was a terrific mentor and had an impact on so many young student-athletes in the Quaker Valley School District. He was sort of beyond his years with how he was able to do that with some many kids.”