Providence Catholic High School held its 15th Annual Green and White Hall of Fame dinner Friday, April 12. This year’s Hall of Fame Inductees included Bernice Metesh ’47 (Professional Women’s Baseball), Marc Mitchell ’81 (Track), Eric Dantzler ’91 (Baseball/Basketball), Eddie Olszta ’97 (Baseball/Football), Jodi Steffes ’98
(Volleyball), Carmen Pignatiello ’00 (Baseball), Tim Gawla (Boys/Girls Golf Coach).
The Green and White Hall of Fame was initiated in 2005 to recognize outstanding athletes, teams, coaches and benefactors who have participated in and contributed to the rich athletic history of Providence Catholic High School, which currently includes 30 state championship titles. The inaugural inductees were Matt Senffner and Nan Airola, two highly respected and dearly loved members of the Providence Catholic family.
Bernice Metesh ’47 of Joliet was a 1947 graduate, Bernice attended Providence High School when it was an all-girls school located in downtown Joliet. During this time, girls’ organized sports was not in existence. After graduating, Bernice joined the South Bend Blue Sox in 1948 as a right-handed utility infielder. Midway through the season, she was traded to the Rockford Peaches. At the end of that year she decided not to return to the league and went home to Joliet, where she pitched for the St. Joseph’s American Legion Post Club, an all-male baseball team in Joliet City Park League. Bernice has been inducted into the City of Joliet Hall of Fame and St. Joseph’s Athletic Hall of Fame for all her work with youth sports in the area. Bernice is also honored in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League exhibit in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Marc Mitchell ’81 of Joliet was a two-sport athlete in basketball and track. He long jumped, triple jumped, high jumped, and sprinted. He is what every coach wanted to see in their athletes, a hard-working student that pushed to get to the highest levels. By the time Marc was a senior in 1981, he had the misfortune to be behind Mike Connelly (Olympic silver medalist and indoor world record holder).
None the less, he finished 2nd in state in the triple jump and 7th in the long jump. To this day, Marc holds the Providence Catholic High School triple jump record that was set in 1981 and narrowly missed breaking the long jump record still held by Mike Carruthers ’71 (PCHS HOF).
Eric Dantzler ’91 of Chicago was a three-sport athlete as a member of the boys basketball, cross-country, and baseball teams. He made the most of his time at Providence improving and contributing to each team he was on. In his main sport, basketball, Dantzler was the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and shooter. He was an All-Area selection his senior year. During his time at Providence Catholic, he says Richard “Dick” Mandella (PCHS HOF) was his biggest influence. Eric went on to receive a full scholarship to Creighton University in both basketball and baseball. While in college, Eric was named to the MVC Conference All-Freshman Basketball Team. While excelling in both sports, he decided to focus on baseball after his freshmen year. It paid off as Eric was signed by the San Francisco Giants in 1994 and was a part of their organization for three years.
Eddie Olszta ’97 of Frankfort played baseball and football all four years at Providence Catholic High School. He was named to the All-Area, All-Conference, and All-State baseball teams in 1997. He was also a member of 1994, 1995, and 1996 State Football Teams (PCHS HOF). According to Eddie, Matt Biscan and Dave Ernst were the most influential in his time at PCHS. Eddie went on to earn an athletic scholarship for baseball to Butler University, where he received his bachelor’s in marketing in 2001. At Butler, he was named to the All-Conference team and Defensive Player of the year twice and was a 2000 NBC All-American. Eddie was drafted in the 25th Round of the MLB draft to the Seattle
Mariners in 2001.
Jodi Steffes ’98 of Greenville, South Carolina was a member of the varsity
volleyball team for three years at Providence Catholic. She was coached by Nan Airola (PCHS HOF). During her time as a Celtic, she was named the Frankfort and Mokena Star Player of the Year, 1st team for the Joliet Herald News and Chicago SunTimes All-Star Teams, was an Illinois All-State selection. She was a member of the 1995 team that went downstate and were Regional finalists in 1996 and 1997.
Jodi attended Clemson University on a full athletic scholarship. She studied elementary education and went on to get her master’s in counseling-student affairs. Jodi was Clemson’s first four-time All-Region honoree and was a three-time All-ACC second team member (1999-2001). She was named the 1998 ACC All-Freshmen team and was named the ACC Rookie of the Year. Jodi currently ranks fifth on Clemson’s all-time list for most attempts (3600) and kills (1422), eighth in block assists (288) and ninth in service aces (132). She ranks second on the Clemson All-Time Defensive Saves with 1309 digs and was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary Team in 2002.
Carmen Pignatiello ’00 of Geneva was a member of the Varsity Baseball team all four years at Providence Catholic High School. Carmen showed signs of greatness when he pitched a no-hitter against Lincoln-Way. During his time as a Celtic, his team earned a 106-26 record and named him to captain his senior year. As a junior and senior, he was named to the All-Area, All-Conference and All-State Teams. Carmen received many Player of the Year awards his senior year from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-times, Chicago Catholic League and was awarded the prestigious Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year in 2000.
Carmen went on to be a 20th-round draft pick of the Cubs in 2000. He would spend seven seasons in various ranks within the farm system before being promoted in 2007, his eighth season in professional baseball. Carmen was called up by the Cubs on August 14, 2007. Two days later, he made his major league debut against the Cincinnati Reds and pitched one scoreless inning of relief of a 12-4 victory. In March 2009, Carmen was signed to a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins. After his time with the Twins, he signed with the Schaumburg Flyers for the 2009 season as a starter, where he went 6-9 in 20 starts with a 5.87 ERA. Carmen retired at the end of the 2009 season.
Tim Gawla of Manhattan began teaching at Providence in the 1971-1972 school year. He spent 36 years at Providence Catholic imparting skills and knowledge onto the students. He is an achiever, open-minded, generous, knowledgeable, modest, courageous, responsible and highly-respected educator. Over the years, he served as a faculty member in the Business and Technology Departments, Assistant Dean, Head Dean of Students, Vice Principal, Golf Club Moderator, Assistant Girls Golf Coach and Head Boys/Girls Golf Coach.
In 1972, Tim took over the Providence Catholic boys’ golf program. As girls sports grew in popularity he helped start the girls’ golf program. Since then the girls’ golf program has had six regional titles, two State Medalists (including State Championship, Dana Mackey Kircher (PCHS HOF) and many state qualifiers. Upon retiring from Providence Catholic in 2007, Tim continued as assistant girls golf coach until 2014.