Trio of Nittany Lions set for induction into WPIAL Hall of Fame

June 24, 2011

University Park, Pa. — A trio of Nittany Lions have been selected for induction into the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) Hall of Fame as members of the class of 2011. The Fifth Annual WPIAL Hall of Fame Induction will take place on Friday, June 24 at the Radisson Hotel in Green Tree, Pa., near Pittsburgh.

Former Penn State linebackers LaVar Arrington and Aaron Gatten will join current Nittany Lion assistant wrestling coach Troy Letters in the 2011 induction class. They are among 15 honorees at the sold out event who will be recognized from WPIAL schools in five different categories, including eight athletes, three coaches, one contest official, one contributor and two teams. The WPIAL will also bestow a Courage Award.

The trio of Nittany Lions join former Penn State standouts Dick Hoak, Suzie McConnell and Brandon Short as WPIAL Hall of Fame inductees. They join a list of all-time sports greats, including Dick Groat, Stan Musial, Arnold Palmer, Norm Van Lier and Lauryn Williams among the first five WPIAL Hall of Fame induction classes.

A standout at North Hills High School, outside linebacker Arrington also played two years of basketball at North Hills and finished fourth in the state in the long jump as a senior. He was Parade magazine's national Player of the Year and ran for more than 4,000 career yards.

As a Nittany Lion, Arrington won the 1999 Butkus and Chuck Bednarik Awards and was a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. The 12th Nittany Lion to be selected a two-time first-team All-American, he made 72 tackles (42 solo) his junior season, with 20 tackles for loss (minus-98), 9.0 sacks (minus-74), one interception, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, two blocked kicks and six pass break-ups. The 1998 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Arrington's 39 career minus-yardage plays are sixth-highest in school history. He finished ninth in balloting for the 1999 Heisman Trophy.

Arrington entered into the National Football League Draft in 2000 and was taken with the second overall pick by the Washington Redskins. He was selected to three NFL Pro Bowls in seven seasons with the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. Arrington hosts a sports radio talk show in Washington, D.C.

At Washington High School, Gatten was a star in football, wrestling and track. In high school, he won four state titles and six WPIAL titles between the three different sports, earning 12 varsity letters. He was an outside linebacker for the Nittany Lions from 1996-2000. During his senior season, Gatten was a starter in seven games, recording 51 tackles, with eight tackles for loss and two sacks.

Letters joined the Penn State family in 2008. At Shaler Area High School, Letters won four WPIAL wrestling titles. He finished his high school career with a record of 145-5. He came to Penn State as Director of Wrestling Operations in 2008-09, has coached two seasons under Cael Sanderson and was instrumental in helping to lead the Nittany Lions to a 2011 National Championship. He was a national champion for the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in 2004 and was named an All-American three times.

The WPIAL Hall of Fame was organized as a means of recognizing, preserving, and promoting the heritage of interscholastic athletics in Western Pennsylvania. Many individuals and teams have made extraordinary contributions and have achieved superb accomplishments in high school sports. The Hall of Fame aims to honor the contributions and accomplishments of those selected as models for future generations.

  • LaVar Arrington


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 24, 2011