Carrie Banaszak Dunbar ’99 arrived on campus in 1997 and immediately helped Washington & Jefferson College to its most successful two-year volleyball stretch in school history. Dunbar transferred to W&J from a then NAIA Division II scholarship Westminster program. She led the Presidents to a pair of Presidents’ Athletic Conference and ECAC Division III South championships. The team posted a 55-10 record during her years on campus, including a perfect 14-0 mark in the conference. W&J claimed the 1997 ECAC Division III Championship, the program’s first postseason title, with victories over Johns Hopkins and New York University. One year later, the Presidents strung together a 30-3 record which included 3-2 wins over Richard Stockton and Frostburg State in the ECAC Tournament. The 1998 ECAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, Dunbar led W&J to an undefeated home record and the most victories in school history during the 1998 championship season. The Presidents ended her senior year with 16 consecutive victories. In 1998, Dunbar became the fourth female in W&J history to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades. She was the 1997 Presidents’ Athletic Conference Player of the Year who finished her W&J career with 613 kills (.439 hitting percentage) and 180 blocks.
Dunbar has worked as a second-grade teacher in the Upper St. Clair school district for 12 years.
Tom Benic ’67 helped usher in an era of championship wrestling at Washington & Jefferson College. One of 10 wrestlers in school history to capture three Presidents’ Athletic Conference individual championships, Benic helped lead the Presidents to two of their five conference team championships. At the time of his graduation, he was just the second President to claim three league championships, earning the title as a sophomore, junior and senior. He only lost one conference match during his career, a 3-2 overtime loss in the 123-pound finals during his freshman year. Benic finished his career with 50 victories in 60 matches (50-9-1) which remains as the fourth-best career winning percentage (.848) in school history. In 1965, Benic capped a 9-1-1 record with the conference title that helped the Presidents win the team championship at Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti, Mich. One year later, the Presidents had four individual champions en route to the conference tournament title at Thiel. As a senior, Benic once again captured the 123-pound title, but the Presidents missed out on claiming a third league title by just one point. Benic was one of four PAC champions, including his younger brother Pat. Benic is one of just 25 wrestlers in W&J history to win at least 50 career matches and joined W&J Hall of Famer Pat McCormick as the only student-athletes from the 1960’s to win 50 matches. Benic was Sports Editor and then Editor of the Red & Black while at W&J and earned a master’s degree in Journalism at Northwestern University. He served as a combat reporter/photographer for the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970, before pursuing a 12-year career in print journalism at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a 31-year career in public relations. He and his wife Barbara Sullivan live in Pittsburgh. They have two grown children, Matthew and Shannon.
E. Lee North, a 1946 graduate, is the 2013 recipient of the Robert M. Murphy Award. North established himself as a key feature at Washington & Jefferson College by writing the definitive book on the history of Presidents’ football, “Battling The Indians, Panthers, and Nittany Lions”. The book which chronicled the first 100 years of Presidents’ football, was published in 1991 and described in detail many of the people and stories W&J is so proud of today. Battling The Indians, Panthers, and Nittany Lions has been crucial to the memories of so many talented W&J student-athletes and has immensely helped the W&J all-time record book. Prior to publishing Battling The Indians, Panthers, and Nittany Lions, North wrote SHE PRODUCES ALL-AMERICANS: The Story of Football at W&J from 1890-1946. The book describes the amazing saga of a small school that rose to the football heights to whip such grid stalwarts as Penn State, Pitt, West Virginia and Syracuse and become the only small college to play in the Rose Bowl. Today, thanks to North’s attention for detail and record-keeping, many recognize W&J as the small college that ranks third all-time in NCAA football victories with 692. That number is surpassed by only 24 schools in all NCAA divisions.
As a student, North was editor of the Red & Black student newspaper. After graduation, he spent two years as the W&J publicity director and worked hand-in-hand with legendary Pro Football Hall of Famer and then Director of Athletics Pete Henry. North has experienced a successful career at Grumann Aerospace, writing 13 books. These books cover considerable in-depth research on World War II, particularly Poland, Battle of Britain, and the Cold War in America and sports, including the history of athletics at Bay Shore (NY) High School. North has also written three histories of West Virginia as well as Run, Run, Run! The 1941 Diary of a Deaf Long Island Teenager.
After Kaitlyn Orstein ’08 captured her eighth NCAA Division III Championship, she cemented her name as one of the greatest student-athletes in the history of Washington & Jefferson College and NCAA Division III. A 25-time Presidents’ Athletic Conference champion, Orstein won multiple 200 individual medley (2005, 2007, 2008), 400 individual medley (2005, 2006) and 200 breaststroke (2007, 2008) national championships, while also claiming the 100 breaststroke national title in 2008. She established 18 W&J, 10 PAC records and five NCAA records. The 14-time NCAA Division III All-American stayed as the national record holder in the 200 individual medley (2:00.27) for five years. Orstein was named the PAC Swimmer of the Year during all four years on the squad and she led the Presidents to the 2005 and 2008 PAC team championships, two of the eight in W&J history. Following her sophomore season, Orstein was invited to represent Team USA at the Maccabi International Games in Sydney, Australia and she represented the Red & Black on a worldwide stage by capturing five gold medals. Orstein qualified to compete in the 2004 United States Olympic Trials in Long Beach, Calif., in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke. She was also selected as the 2004 Dapper Dan recipient of the female high school athlete of the year award. The male high school honoree was current Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker.
W&J football has produced some of Division III’s best players during the past 30 years and Frank Pilato ’05 undoubtedly will always be remembered as one of those superstars. After his senior season in 2004, Pilato became just the seventh player in school history to be selected to the Associated Press Little All-America Team as a first-team selection. He accumulated 95 tackles and seven interceptions as a senior after leading the Presidents to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 1995. Pilato was recognized on the 2003 and 2004 American Football Coaches Association All-America Team, one of only two players in school history to land the prestigious honor twice. He also earned All-America distinction from D3football.com (2003 and 2004), Football Gazette (2004) and CoSIDA (2003). A two-time First Team All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference selection, Pilato intercepted 18 passes and became W&J’s all-time leader, a record which still stands today. He has produced 232 career tackles and 23 pass breakups. Pilato was selected as one of 44 players for Team USA in the 2004 Aztec Bowl, a Division III national all-star game in Cancun, Mexico. He finished as the team’s fourth-leading tackler in the game. After graduation from W&J, Pilato went on to coach collegiate football at Robert Morris University and the University of Maine, while he earned a master’s degree in instructional leadership. Pilato then traveled to the island of St Maarten in the Caribbean with his wife where he taught and coached at the Caribbean International Academy. While living in the Caribbean, he became certified to SCUBA dive and also played on the Caribbean International Baseball team. After spending two years in the New York City area, he recently relocated to Pittsburgh where he works with Allstate Insurance and resides with his wife, Dr. Alexis Pilato.
James White impacted the lives of Washington & Jefferson College student-athletes for over three decades. He served as the head men’s tennis and wrestling coach from 1965-1997 and also spent 21 years as an assistant football coach at the college. A 1994 inductee into the Washington-Greene chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, White retired with the most combined victories as a W&J head coach (576), a number that was only passed by one of last year’s inductees, volleyball and basketball coach Vicki Staton. White, who also served as Associate Director of Athletics during his W&J career, guided the Presidents’ wrestling program to three of the program’s five Presidents’ Athletic Conference championships (1965, 1966, 1995). The 1965 title came during his first year as a coach. White’s tennis teams also enjoyed tremendous success, winning the only four conference championships in school history (1967, 1968, 1969, 1986). White coached 66 PAC individual tennis or wrestling champions, five NCAA All-Americans and two of the college’s 41 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. White remains one of the most dedicated employees in W&J history. For over 20 years, he coached a sport during every season of the academic year: football (fall), wrestling (winter), tennis (spring). He served as head or assistant coach on 89 different W&J athletic teams.