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The Buddy LaRosa high school Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1975 to recognize outstanding athletes from area high schools. Each year, nominees are considered based solely upon high school accomplishments. Collegiate, professional, or other amateur achievements have no bearing on the selection process. The nominee must have graduated high school 10 years before eligibility may begin.

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Seven area high school sports’ legends – including five stellar athletes and two coaches—today were named as 2009 inductees into the Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame:
David Bell

David Bell
Moeller High School

Class of 1990

The oldest of the Bell Brothers, David had the distinction of becoming the first-ever third-generation professional athlete in Cincinnati sports history joining grandfather, Gus Bell, and father, Buddy Bell. With him and his brothers, they become the first Father-Sons inductees into the LaRosa’s Hall of Fame. Buddy Bell was inducted in 1979.

Following his father’s footsteps at Moeller, David was a stellar two-sport athlete and set a stiff benchmark for his younger brothers, Michael and Ricky.

As a junior, David helped lead the Crusaders to the school’s second Ohio Division I state baseball championship in 1989. He was an all-Greater Cincinnati League selection and a First Team All-City selection in both his junior and senior season. Moeller’s state title was the second of three championships David would win in high school as he starred for Midland’s 1988 Mickey Mantle National champs and its 1989 Connie Mack National championship teams.

A three-year varsity starter for Moeller, David ranks in the Top Ten in five career categories including #1 in All-Time Doubles (34) and #2 in Plate Appearances (343). He ranks No. 1 in Single Season Doubles (18 in 1989) and for Most Doubles in one game – three vs. Mentor in the State semifinals. He was a two-time member of the 30-Hit Club.

In basketball, he was an All-City selection as a senior and he ranks 8th All-Time in Moeller history in Career Field Goals with 70.

In 1990, David, who had a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, signed with the Cleveland Indians after being drafted in the Seventh Round. He went on to enjoy a 12-year major league career that included winning the National League title in 2002 while with the San Francisco Giants. On June 28, 2004 while with the Philadelphia Phillies, David became baseball’s first grandfather-grandson combination to hit for the cycle. He finished with a career batting average of .257 with 123 home runs, 589 RBI and 587 runs scored.

Currently, David manages in the minor league system for Cincinnati Reds’ organization. He and his wife, Kristi, reside in Scottsdale, AZ and have a daughter, Brogan (3).

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Michael Bell

Michael Bell
Moeller High School

Class of 1993

Picking up where his brother, David, left off, Michael Bell powered the Moeller Crusaders to their third Ohio State baseball championship. Michael was the driving force for the squad as he led the team in batting average (.400), doubles (11), triples (3), home runs (5) and RBI (28). As his father and brother before him, Michael also starred on Moeller’s basketball team.

A three-year starter in baseball, Michael ranks in the Top 10 among Moeller’s All-Time players in nine categories including, #1 in Stolen Bases (49), #2 in Hits (110) and Doubles (28), and #3 in Runs (87) and Plate Appearances (341). He ranks in the Top 10 in five Single-Season categories, including #1-tie in Stolen Bases (26) and #3 in both Runs (39) and Plate Appearances (126). He had 30 or more hits in each of his three varsity seasons.

Michael was a First-Team All-City selection and All-Greater Cincinnati League selection both his junior and senior season. He was named GCL Player of the Year in 1993. He was Moeller’s first First Team All-Ohio baseball player and he was also named as Gatorade’s Midwest Region Player of the Year.

A standout basketball player as well, Michael started three years scoring 630 career points (20th all-time in Moeller history) and had 92 3-Point Goals (#6), He was a First Team All-City and All-GCL pick as a senior.

A First Round pick of the Texas Rangers in 1993, Michael passed on a full scholarship to the University of Mississippi to pursue a professional career. Michael played one season in the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 2000, appearing in 13 games, where he had six hits in 27 at-bats with five runs and two home runs.

Currently, Michael is Field Coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He and his wife, Kelly, reside in Chandler, AZ and have a son, Luke (9), and daughters Mikayla (4) and Madeline (1).

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Ricky Bell

Ricky Bell
Moeller High School

Class of 1997

Though he only played two varsity seasons with the Crusaders, Ricky Bell was regarded by many observers to be the most accomplished of the three brothers. He achieved something neither of his previous brothers had when he was selected as both a First Team All-State pick and a national High School All-American player.

Ricky was the team’s leading hitter both varsity seasons and also led the team in doubles, triples and runs scored. He ranks #7 All-Time in career batting average (.419) and is tied for fourth in home runs in Moeller history. He ranks #4 in Single-Season home runs (7) and #9 in Hits (39).

Ricky was a First-Team All-City selection and All-Greater Cincinnati League selection both his junior and senior season. He was named GCL Player of the Year in 1997.
He became the fourth member of the Bell family to compete on the varsity basketball team for three seasons. He ranks 11th All-Time in Career 3-Point Goals (59) and was a First Team All-City and All-GCL pick as a senior.

A Third Round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1997, Ricky passed on a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee. He played 10 seasons in the minor leagues with various organizations, compiling more the 1,000 games played and nearly 1,000 hits.

Currently, Ricky works as a Financial Advisor for Ross, Sinclaire and Associates. He and his wife, Annette Gruber Bell, reside in Cincinnati and have a son, Jake (3) and a daughter, Bailey (6 months).

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Heather Mitts

Heather Mitts
St. Ursula Academy

Class of 1996

Arguably the greatest soccer player – female or male – in Cincinnati high school sports history, Heather Mitts is also the only the second athlete in Cincinnati history to win the Gold Medal in two different Olympiads. (Archer Darrell Pace is the other.)
Heather is also believed to be the only Cincinnati athlete to win a state championship in high school (1993), a national championship in College (University of Florida, 1998) and a world championship (2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medal).

A center-midfielder while at St. Ursula, Mitts scored 27 goals and had 15 assists in her prep career as the Bulldogs posted a 70-5-10 record during his career. She was named First Team All-Ohio twice, and three times was selected for the All-City First Team by both the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Post and was named Girls Greater Cincinnati League Player of the Year.

Taking her defensive-minded attitude to the collegiate level, Mitts was moved to a defender position for the Gators and went on to become a national star. She was named a collegiate All-American in both her junior and senior seasons. She was Runnerup for the Honda Player of the Year award in 1999 and was a nominated for the Herman Trophy for National Player of the Year. A two-time Southeastern Conference First Team pick, Heather still holds three UF school records – Most Games Played (95), Most Starts (94) and Most Minutes Played (7,547).

A member of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team for five years, she became a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. She scored two game-winning goals during that run for the Gold Medal. While a member of the U.S. World Cup team in 2007, Heather suffered a season-ending ACL tear. She recovered for the 2008 Olympics and started every game during the Beijing Olympics as the U.S. Women’s team shut out Brazil to win the Gold Medal. She has represented the U.S. in more than 100 games.

Professionally, Heather has played for the Philadelphia Charge of the WUSA, the Boston Breakers of the WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) and recently signed with the Philadelphia Independence of the WPS.

Currently, Heather lives in Philadelphia, and is engaged to be married to NFL quarterback, A.J. Feeley.

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Dr. Ralph Richter

Dr. Ralph Richter
Elder High School

Class of 1944

One of the finest all-around athletes to play for Elder High School during the 1940s, Ralph Richter earned seven varsity letters during his career with the Panthers – four in basketball, two in football, and one in baseball.  Records also indicate that he ran hurdles for Elder’s track team, though he apparently did not earn a varsity letter despite having earned the nicknamed of “The Greyhound.”

A two-way starter in football, Richter starred in Elder’s vaunted backfield with fellow LaRosa’s Hall of Famer Bob Hoernschemeyer (1988 Inductee). Yet it was basketball that Ralph clearly excelled. Believed to be a double-figure scorer as a senior – which was rare during that time – Ralph was named both All-City and All-Ohio as a senior.

Perhaps a clearer indication of Richter’s basketball prowess was revealed at the University of Cincinnati. When he graduated with 1,053 points in his career he was both the second Bearcat to score 1,000 points in his career and ranked as UC's No. 2 all-time leading scorer. His 460 points scored in 1949 was the first time any UC player scored more than 400 and it was never bettered until six years later by Jack Twyman. In fact, various reports indicate Richter’s 460 points led the nation in scoring that year and that he was named honorable mention All-America. UC posted a 50-12 record during Richter’s final three seasons and won the Mid-American Conference title twice.

More so than his renowned athletic prowess, Dr. Ralph Richter was a beloved figure on Cincinnati’s West Side for being Elder’s team physician for more than 40 years. He graduated with a medical degree from U.C. and went on to become one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in Cincinnati. Not only did he maintain a private practice in Westwood, Dr. Richter was the Cincinnati Bengals team physician from 1972-80. He taught medicine at UC, was president of the Medical-Dental Staff at St. Francis Hospital and was a fellow in the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Richter was inducted into the University of Cincinnati basketball Hall of Fame in 1989, the Hamilton County Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, and was named Ohio’s Outstanding Team Physician by the Ohio State Medical Association in 1986.

Both Dr. Ralph Richter and his wife, Elaine, are deceased. They are survived by his sons – Dr. Ralph Jr., Dr. Robert, Dr. Randy, Dr. Ron, and daughters, Elaine Lucas, Marijo McKenna, and Cathy Eagan, and 12 grandchildren.

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Coaches Ron & Frank Russo

Coach Ron Russo
Colerain High School


Coach Frank Russo
La Salle High School

The emergence of Greater Cincinnati as the Midwest’s hotbed for distance running may be directly attributable to the influence of two of Cincinnati’s finest coaches – Frank and Ron Russo. Clearly no one coach, let alone two have accomplished as much as these twin brothers have in Cincinnati history.

Between the two of them, they have won 55 league championships, 45 District titles, 18 Regional champions and an amazing 7 state championships with 22 Individual State champions.

Frank and Ron Russo are among a handful of area athlete/coaches who have won state titles as high school athletes – the 1978 Colerain State Cross-Country champs – and as coaches. While Frank finished #4 in the state, Ron was the captain (#11 in state) of Colerain’s first state cross-country state championship team.

Coach Ron Russo
Ron Russo – the older brother by five minutes – has clearly established himself as the preeminent girls’ running coach in Cincinnati history. While having started his coaching career at Forest Park High School and just this past year at McAuley, Ron has staked his claim to coaching history while at his alma mater, Colerain High School. He has won more championship titles (71) than any coach in Colerain’s nearly 90-year history.

Russo’s girls cross-country and track teams won 26 league championships and 12 Cincinnati city championships. He added another 8 conference titles with his boys’ cross-country and track squads. His girls teams collected 9 Regional titles as well (8 in cross-country, 1 in track).

His Colerain girls’ cross-country team won the Ohio Division I state championship an unprecedented four straight years. No other Division I or II boys or girls program has done that since the state tournament began in 1928. The team finished runnersup three times and had a total of 10 “Top 5” finishes. Five of his teams finished in the Top 20 in the final national Foot Locker/adidas National Poll – including back-to-back No. 3 rankings in 1997 and 1998. The undefeated 1997 team was ranked No. 1 in the country at one point during season.

Individually, Ron has coached 12 cross-country individual league champs, 175 league track champions, 7 state champions in 4 events, 4 state runnersup, 26 All-State cross-country runners and 61 All-State track athletes. His premier runner – Mason Ward – won the Penn Relays championship (One-Mile Run) and is still the Cincinnati city record (4:07.2). He has had 33 Division I athletes.

Ron has been named league coach of the year 33 times, has been named Cincinnati Enquirer Coach of the Year 11 times (9 in cross-country, 2 in track), Cincinnati Post Coach of the Year 12 times, and was named the Ohio Coach of the Year in 1998. He has been inducted in to the inaugural class for the Colerain Hall of Fame.

Currently, Ron, who works at Colerain High School as a counselor, and coaches at McAuley High School, lives in White Oak. He has a son, Brennan (19), who was also one of his father’s individual conference champions (pole vault).

Coach Frank Russo
Unquestionably the finest coach in the history of La Salle High School, Frank Russo has collected three state championships during his nearly three-decade long tenure. His cross-country teams won the Ohio Division I state titles in 2005 and 2006, while his track squad won the 1994 state title. His 2008 track team fell four points shy of winning another state title.

Overall, Frank’s accomplishments are staggering in scope. His programs have won 21 Greater Cincinnati League titles – including a GCL record run of track titles between 1992-2000; 21 District championships, 9 Regional title and six state runnersup titles.

His 78 Invitational and Relay team titles in Track have provided an overall record of 2,804-475-16 (.850). Russo’s cross-country program has collection 81 Invitational titles leading to a career mark of 3,238-414 (.886). His cross-country program has captured victories in the prestigious Walt Disney Cross Country Classic in Orlando in 1999 and 2000; the championship title in the Great American-Great Race by the Great Bay Invitational in San Francisco catapult the Lancers to the #1 ranking in the nation by Harrier Magazine and the Nike “Super 25” National Poll.

Since 1992 – on a national scale – La Salle’s cross-country team has ended the year ranked in the Harrier Magazine Super 25 Poll eight times; the 2008 Track squad, which featured Ohio State football star DeVier Posey, finished 10th in the final Nike Web National rankings. It was the first time in Cincinnati track-and-field history that a team finished in the Top Ten in the nation.

Individually, Russo’s guidance has produced 193 GCL champions, 26 High School All-Americans, 238 state qualifiers, 15 Individual State champions and 38 Division I college athletes. The Cross-Country program has produced 4 Foot Locker All-Americans in LaRosa’s 2008 Hall of Famer Doug Bockenstette, Dean Fulmer, Steve Padgett and Allen Bader.

Frank Russo, who has been named “Coach of the Year” 37 times (12 times by The Cincinnati Enquirer and two times by The Cincinnati Post), is a member of both the La Salle and Colerain Halls of Fame, and the Dayton Roosevelt Track & Field Memorial Hall of Fame.

Frank and his wife, Patty, reside in Loveland with their daughter Halle (12) and son, Sam (9).

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