Football historian Bill Wasylenko to enter La Salle's Hall of Athletics

Bill Wasylenko, La Salle College High’s football historian, will be inducted into the school’s Hall of Athletics next Saturday. RICK O’BRIEN / STAFF

In the late 1960s, when he was a student at La Salle College High, Bill Wasylenko never could have imagined he would one day be voted into the school’s Hall of Athletics.

He was cut in multiple attempts to make the bowling, basketball, and baseball teams. “My athletic career was very humbling,” he said matter-of-factly.

Refusing to give up hope, Wasylenko earned a varsity letter in bowling and was part of the baseball squad his senior year.

He was especially thrilled when then-La Salle baseball coach Ned Kearney found a spot for him on the 1969 varsity team. “He took pity on me and gave me a uniform,” Wasylenko joked.

While he did not make a big splash in sports, Wasylenko, 64, has given plenty back to La Salle by meticulously chronicling the history of the football team. His work can be found on the school’s web site and “Fanatics of La Salle Football” Facebook page.

He was first drawn to the role in 2001, when he attended a game and heard the band play the alma mater after a lightning-halted tie against Plymouth Whitemarsh.

“It grabbed me by the heartstrings,” the Montgomeryville resident recalled. “That was a signature moment.”

At La Salle games, Wasylenko can usually be found at or near the top of the bleachers, with a notebook and pen in hand and binoculars around his neck.

After each contest, he goes home, writes a lengthy summation of the contest, covering almost every possession, and emails it to about 725 people, mostly La Salle alumni.

Wasylenko gained access to all of the school’s yearbooks back to 1918, has pictures of the covers of nearly 100 game programs, has rosters from 1903, and has about 2,000 electronic football cards of coaches and players.

He has spent considerable time in the attic of La Salle’s Dunleavy Center, gathering eight- and 16-millimeter film of games from 1952 to 1988. He accessed VHS tapes, from various sources, of games played from 1989 to 2008.

“It went from being a hobby to a passion to an obsession,” said Wasylenko, who now has more than 400 games on DVD.

In the “leadership” category, Wasylenko and Tom Turner, the school’s first soccer coach and most recently the assistant dean of student services, will be inducted into the Hall of Athletics at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The ceremony in the gymnasium will be followed by a three-hour barbecue in the new student center. At 7 p.m., La Salle will host Archbishop Ryan in a Catholic League Red Division matchup at Plymouth Whitemarsh.

The athletes to be inducted are First Lt. Travis Mannion (football, wrestling and lacrosse, class of 1999), Thomas McLaughlin (soccer, 1994), and Matt Mihalich (basketball, 1976). The teams being recognized are the 1964-65 varsity eight boat, the 1989 football team, and the 1994 basketball squad.

At 17, Wasylenko became a coach for Northeast Philly’s Burholme youth baseball organization and spent 12 years with the club.

His wife, Cathie, joins him at many games. The couple have three children: Steve, 25; Dan, 23; and Christine, 20. Steve played baseball at La Salle; Dan was an all-Catholic League offensive lineman for the Explorers in 2011.

Bill Wasylenko plans to retire from his job as an engineering manager next year. How long will he stay on as La Salle’s soon-to-be-decorated football historian?

“When people ask me that, I say, ‘I still have 10 good years left in me,’ ” he said. “Hopefully, 10 years from now, I’ll be saying the same thing.”