Announcing the Blair Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Announcing the Blair Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019
Joanne Miceli

Five exceptional athletes have been named to the Blair Academy Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2019: Gerald Knapp ’54, Anne Cramer ’75, Melissa (Paul) Erne ’96, Royal Ivey ’00 and Dion Lewis ’09. The inductees exhibited the highest caliber of athletic accomplishment and were outstanding members of the community during their student days, and each continued to pursue athletics beyond Blair. The School will celebrate their achievements during the Alumni Weekend Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday, June 8; all are welcome to attend.

Director of Athletics Paul Clavel ’88 once again chaired the Hall of Fame selection committee, and he noted that in the fourth year since Hall’s establishment, the selection process continues to be extremely competitive. “Members of the Blair community nominated athletes spanning 60 years of School history,” he said. “I am grateful for the deep knowledge of our selection committee members and thank them for serving so diligently.” 

The 2019 Hall of Fame selection committee included former athletic directors John Frere, Dan Hazen and Jim Stone; Chief Operating Officer and former wrestling coach Jim Frick; Assistant Director of Athletics, head wrestling coach and former Blair athlete Brian Antonelli ’93; history teacher and track and cross country coach Martin Miller, PhD; Dean of Campus Life, softball coach and former Blair athlete Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79; Chief Advancement Officer Craig Hall; Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy; Sports Information Director and former Blair athlete Rhett Moroses ’13; athletic office administrative assistant Danielle Costantino; Board of Governors President Robert Van Stone ’69; and former Director of Alumni Relations and girls’ soccer coach Jenny Maine P’13 ’17.  

Blair's Athletic Hall of Fame was instituted in 2016 to recognize and celebrate the athletic achievements of its alumni and coaches, and the selection criteria established at that time continue to guide the selection process. In order to be considered for Hall of Fame membership, nominees must have exhibited the highest caliber of athletic accomplishment during their time at Blair and have been outstanding members of the School community in the areas of scholastic achievement, citizenship, integrity and moral character. Selection is based primarily on athletic accomplishments while a Blair student or coach, although subsequent achievement in athletics or other areas may be considered. Finally, alumni nominees become Hall-of-Fame eligible in the 10th year following their graduation, while coaches become eligible after their retirement from Blair.

“As with every member of Blair’s Athletic Hall of Fame, the members of the class of 2019 represent the athletic excellence of our School,” Mr. Clavel said. “These five alumni helped shape the foundation of sportsmanship, camaraderie and competition that supports our student athletes to this day. It is rare that a high school's Hall of Fame class includes two professional athletes, as well as those who competed at a very high level beyond high school. We are proud to recognize all of this year’s inductees.” 

Here, we introduce Blair’s Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2019.

Gerald T. Knapp ’54

Mr. Knapp came to Blair for his senior year, during which he captained the Buccaneer football and track teams and was named to the 1953 all-New Jersey football team. As a track athlete, he won titles in shot put and broad jump and earned second place in high jump at the national AAU prep division indoor meet in Madison Square Garden. He also broke high jump and shot put records and tied a record in high hurdles in a national indoor meet in Philadelphia. Mr. Knapp matriculated at Cornell University, where he played football and participated in track and field. He earned varsity letters in football in 1955, 1956 and 1957, and served as team captain his senior year. He was being scouted by the Cleveland Browns when he suffered a football-career-ending injury. In July 1957, Mr. Knapp placed first in broad jump, second in javelin throw and third in discus throw in a Philadelphia track meet that pitted a combined Cornell/University of Pennsylvania team against a British team from Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The following June, the rival university teams competed in London, and Mr. Knapp placed second in discus throw and third in high jump. He was also the victor in high jump at a Dublin invitational meet in June 1958. Mr. Knapp died in 1996 at the age of 61.

Anne E. Cramer ’75 

An outstanding three-season athlete, Ms. Cramer earned varsity letters in field hockey, skiing and softball. She served as a senior tri-captain of the field hockey team, along with teammates Laura (Cochran) Morris ’75 and Linda (Dobozynski) Pettie ’75, and was a campus leader as a prefect and member of the Blue and White Key Society. Ms. Cramer was awarded the Phillips James Rosen Trophy as the top student in all respects as a junior and the Headmaster’s Prize, given annually to the senior who displays conspicuous loyalty, outstanding leadership and a fine spirit in Blair life. She was the valedictorian at her Blair graduation and continued to ski as a member of the Dartmouth College ski team. Ms. Cramer was Blair’s first alumna Trustee when she was elected to the Board in 1992, and she has served for 26 years, 13 of which as Board Secretary. In recognition of her dedication to her alma mater, Ms. Cramer was named Alumnus of the Year in 1998. She received Blair’s highest honor, the Citation of Merit, in 2015.

Melissa (Paul) Erne ’96

Winner of 11 varsity letters as a Buccaneer, Mrs. Erne won the Blair field hockey, ski and lacrosse prizes as a senior, as well as the William Zester Prize, given to the female athlete who best represents Blair in competition. She twice earned all prep “A” first-team recognition in field hockey and lacrosse, was the top scorer for both Buccaneer teams as a junior and senior, and captained the varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams during her senior year. A field hockey standout, she was named to the North Jersey Coaches’ Association All Star team for two consecutive years and represented team North in the New Jersey Coaches’ Association state senior showcase. As a skier, Mrs. Erne was named to the first team all-state three times, and she was the state runner-up in giant slalom and third-place finisher in the combined. She represented New Jersey at the Eastern Regional skiing championship in New Hampshire. Mrs. Erne played lacrosse at Cornell University. She returned to Blair in 2000 as a member of the School’s fine arts faculty and mentored the next generation of Buccaneer athletes as coach of the field hockey and girls’ lacrosse teams for 15 years. She received recognition for her many contributions as a Blair faculty member with the Apgar Award for Teaching Excellence (2005) and Riether Dorm Master Prize (2010).

Royal Ivey ’00 

An NBA basketball player for a decade, Mr. Ivey was a member of the basketball and track teams during his postgraduate year at Blair. He played college basketball from 2000 to 2004 at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was twice named to the Big 12 all-defensive team (2003 and 2004) and finished as the all-time career leader in games started (126). Mr. Ivey began his professional basketball career with the Atlanta Hawks as the 37th overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft. He subsequently played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Guangdong Southern Tigers before retiring as a player in 2014. Mr. Ivey then commenced his NBA coaching career, and he has served as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Oklahoma City Thunder and, currently, the New York Knicks. Mr. Ivey’s Blair jersey (number 12) was retired in in 2009, along with the jerseys of his fellow NBA players, Luol Deng ’03 and Charlie Villanueva ’03.

Dion Lewis ’09

A football standout, Mr. Lewis helped lead the Bucs to a 17-1 overall record during his two years at Blair (2007-2008 and 2008-2009). He captained the team and was named Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) offensive player of the year in 2008, during an undefeated season in which the Bucs won the MAPL championship and the New Jersey prep state championship. He also won the Brooks Football Prize (2008 and 2009) and earned varsity letters in track. Mr. Lewis played football at the University of Pittsburgh for two seasons. In 2009, he set the Big East freshman rushing record previously held by Tony Dorsett and was ranked third nationally in rushing. He set new records for most points by a Pitt freshman in the Big East championship game and most rushing yards by a Pitt freshman during the Meineke Car Care Bowl, for which he was named the game’s MVP. Mr. Lewis was named national freshman of the year by the Sporting News and and offensive freshman of the year by College Football News. In addition, he was named to the second team All American, the only freshman to be named to the first or second team All American that year. Mr. Lewis was the Big East Conference rookie of the year and offensive player of the year, the first player to earn both awards since Michael Vick, and he was the Eastern College Athletic Conference rookie of the year. Selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2011 NFL draft, Mr. Lewis has since played for the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and, currently, for the Tennessee Titans. He made two trips to the Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2017 and 2018, earning a Super Bowl ring in the Patriots’ come-from-behind victory in 2017.