The Campbell Family Distinguished Achievement Award
2021 Honoree is Chuck Fusina.
Chuck Fusina was a 1975 Sto-Rox High School grad, earning three letters each in football (first team WPIAL Quad AAAA quarterback), basketball and baseball. He attended Penn State on a football scholarship and capped his senior season with multiple first team all-American honors, including the 1978 Associated Press, United Press International, Walter Camp, and Kodak All-American honors. He was also the winner of the 1978 Maxwell Award and was a finalist for the 1978 Heisman Trophy as well, thanks to his outstanding athletic and leadership skills. He led the Nittany Lions to 29 wins and only 3 losses as a starting quarterback during his football career and his teammates elected him team captain his senior season. His 1978 team posted an 11-0 regular season record and his career college QB rating was an impressive 132.7. Chuck went on to play professional football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1979-1982) and the Green Bay Packers (1986-1987). In between his Tampa Bay and Green Bay stints, he also displayed his winning form in the USFL, leading the Philadelphia Stars to three championship games in three seasons, winning USFL titles in 1984 and 1985. And he was named MVP of the 1984 title game as well as being named the Sporting News USFL Player of the Game. He was inducted into the Western Chapter (now the Robert “Tick” Cloherty-Western Chapter) in 1998 and later joined Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno and teammate Matt Bahr as Class of 2015 members of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
STO-ROX “IT STARTS WITH THE FIELD” SYNTHETIC TURF PROJECT:
In 2018, after nearly four decades of wear and tear, the field surface of the Sto-Rox Memorial Stadium was in less than ideal condition. And since the 2013 season, the fortunes of the always competitive Vikings football program had also begun to wane. At the request of their former high school football coach, Ray Puskar, who felt that upgrading the playing surface might also reinvigorate the football program, three of his mid-to-late 70’s Sto-Rox football players, Chuck Fusina, Peter Leone and Tom Diecks, accepted their coach’s challenge and created a community task force project in 2016 that they dubbed “It Starts With the Field”. Its purpose was to launch a $700,000 fundraising campaign to install an artificial turf playing surface for the field that would benefit not only the football program but also provide an all-weather surface for a variety of current and potential new school athletic programs. Additionally, it would provide an excellent venue to host other school and community-related events such as band concerts, graduation ceremonies, local amateur sports league contests and a variety of community celebrations. Fueled by a $250,000 grant from the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, which was championed by Pittsburgh Steelers front office personnel, and augmented by a variety of smaller yet equally critical donations from state and local government agencies, community merchants and private citizens from Stowe Township and McKees Rocks Borough, enough money was raised to install the new Field Turf surface in 2019. And the three former Viking athletes continue to hope that their “It Starts With the Field” project will serve as the springboard to launch many other educational and community-focused improvement projects.
As a footnote, during both the 2019 and the 2020 seasons, Sto-Rox Vikings football teams were back in the WPIAL football playoffs with the 2019 team playing at Heinz Field in the WPIAL Class A Championship game. As for the 2021 season, all but four Vikings starters from last year’s team return for what may very well be a third straight WPIAL playoff appearance. And for those three former Vikings football players who honored their roots by creating this worthy initiative on behalf of current and future Sto-Rox athletes, the project known as “It Starts With the Field” already seems to be paying huge dividends for current Vikings student athletes, for the Sto-Rox School District and for the two proud communities it serves. Well done, gentlemen!!