Hall of Famer Bob "Chico" Spooner enjoys homecoming to OFA
BY DAVE SHEA
Bob "Chico" Spooner walked the halls of Ogdensburg Free Academy on Saturday morning for the first time since 1959 when he and his wife Martha (Sherry) Spooner relocated to South Carolina where Spooner had excelled for the Clemson University Football team for four years.
Mr. and Mrs. Spooner, a 1953 graduate of St. Mary's Academy, and their daughter Sherry Spooner Finney entered through the front door OFA on Saturday in a homecoming. They walked halls that weren't there when Spooner excelled in football, track-field, basketball and baseball a member of the Class of 1953.
The level of achievement in his high school and collegiate careers earned Spooner a place in the first OFA/St. Mary's Athletic Hall of Fame class which was inducted last September and is now enshrined in tastefully created display case in the high school lobby.
Spooner was unable to make the trip last September but attended a family reunion in Canton over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed his return to OFA. His visit was arranged by former OFA Football Coach and Athletic Director and current School Board President Ron Johnson in a chain of events started by an e-mail by Spooner's nephew and Canton native Tim Whalen.
Johnson introduced Spooner at last September's hall of fame induction ceremony.
Superintendent of Schools Kevin Kendall, retired Superintendent Tim Vernsey and OFA/St. Mary's Hall of Fame Committee member Tim Baker were also delighted to take part in welcoming Spooner back to his alma mater.
"I am so happy I am able to be here today," said Spooner.
"I really wanted to see my plaque in the hall of fame and it is really well done. Things have certainly changed since I graduated. The school is a lot bigger and the football field is amazing. It is just like a professional field."
The field, which hosts OFA football, soccer and lacrosse games, is named after Ron Johnson and once on the all-weather turf Spooner instinctively found his way into the endzone.
"I came to a game several years ago and it was played on the field behind the high school. We won a lot of Van Dusens over there. This new field and the Golden Dome must give OFA facilities to match any school around," said Spooner who recalled how a boy from Northern New York ended up at Clemson at a college which most people in the area probably never heard of at the time."
Spooner, a 210-pound OFA junior fullback, signed for a Clemson football scholarship in New York City after Clemson played Fordham,
"My high school coach also talked to coach Ben Schartzwalter at Syracuse. But they were recruiting Jim Brown so I went to Clemson," said Spooner with a laugh.
At Clemson he was the leading rusher and scorer on 1957, scored a touchdown in front of 73,000 people at the Orange Bowl, was stopped for a loss on only one carry in his career and also won the South Carolina Collegiate Shot Put Championship.
"The trip to New York City was arranged by
Frank Chiapetta who actually lived in Ogdensburg at the time. He took Bob to New York to meet Clemson Coach Frank Howard who offered Bob a scholarship," said Martha (Sherry) Spooner who taught for a year at OFA before the couple moved to South Carolina where Bob Spooner enjoyed a very successful career coaching football, track-field and girls basketball.
"Bob had to finish one semester at Clemson and he had a chance to coach down in South Carolina so we moved."
In their retirement years the couple has lived in New Orleans, LA.