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Catching Up With ...
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2021-11-23

Jen Dreger Bonetz
 

            When she was in high school, Jen Dreger Bonetz looked forward to being on

Jen Dreger Bonetz

a team. She earned three letters in three different sports at Upper Perkiomen, as well as participating as a cheerleader.

            "The days were long," Bonetz said. "But I was one of the lucky people who could do so many things. The lifestyles were more flexible. As an only child, I loved being on a team. I love athletics. I loved being busy. I don't think an individual sport would have worked for me."

            Bonetz, a 1991 graduate, excelled in basketball, field hockey and softball for the Indians.

            According to the Green Lane native, her father would say softball was her best sport. She preferred field hockey.  "Softball is too slow for me," Bonetz said. "I didn't really like it. Not enough action."

            She considered field hockey her favorite and best sport. In three seasons, playing for head coach Kelly Brenninger, the midfielder twice attained All-Pioneer Athletic Conference second team honors. She was voted the team MVP as a junior and a senior.

            On the softball field, Bonetz earned first team All-PAC honors during her senior season. She posted a team-high .386 batting average.  "I was a good hitter," Bonetz said. "I was pretty fast. I was good at stealing bases."

            During her final season on the basketball court for the Indians, she served as a co-captain. However, she missed the end of the season with a ankle injury.  "I was just happy to be on the team," Bonetz said.

            Bonetz looked to continue playing field hockey in college. She received one Division-One offer from Davis & Elkins College, a private school in West Virginia located south of Morgantown.

            Bonetz visited several schools in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, eventually choosing to attend Kutztown University after making an overnight visit. She said it seemed like the place to be.

            Bonetz also said she relished the opportunity to play for Kuztown's longtime head coach. In 33 seasons, Betty Wesner collected 344 career victories and was named the PSAC Coach of the Year five times.  "I really liked her," said Bonetz, who lives in Douglassville.

            In four seasons, she earned four letters and helped the Golden Bears to 35 victories. In 1994, Bonetz received First Team All-American Honors as a midfielder.

            Bonetz played the position during the entirety of her high school and college career. She liked being in the middle of the action.  "It was the best of both worlds," Bonetz said. "I had a lot of endurance and stamina."

            At Kutztown, she enrolled initially as a special education major, but quickly shifted to business. Bonetz says she didn't think she was cut out for it.

            In 2017, she took a job as an instructional assistant in the Spring-Ford School District. At Brooke Elementary, Dreger assists students with special needs. She also participates as a coach in Buddy Ball, a baseball league that pairs children who have disabilities with buddies, which is operated by Daniel Boone Youth Sports.

            ""Being a mother first makes working with children a good fit for me," she said. "I think being a mom makes me a better coach and paraprofessional."

Larry Hoff


            Larry Hoff considers baseball his best sport at Upper Perkiomen. As a senior,

Larry Hoff

during the spring of 1958, he hit .406.  "I got pretty hot," he said.

            As his batting average rose, opposing teams continued to pitch to him. Hoff took advantage, slashing line drives all over the field.  "I had a couple good hitters behind me," he said.

            The Indians won only two games his senior season. However, Hoff didn't seem to mind.  "I had fun," he said.

            The East Greenville native and standout shortstop gained the respect of his opponents, earning First Team All Bux-Mont honors as a junior and a senior. Hoff also earned the attention of professional scouts. During the summer after graduation, he participated in three invitation-only tryouts for four Major League teams.

            He attended a tryout for the Cleveland Indians at Lauer's Park, located at 3rd and Elm streets in Reading. However, Hoff said he didn't hit as well as he would have liked.

            In Whitehall Township he tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals who had a minor league affiliate at Breadon Field, at the current location of the Lehigh Valley Mall, between 1944 and 1956. Then, he attended a tryout camp in Quakertown for the Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

            After high school, he played five seasons for Bally in the Berks County Recreational League. According to Hoff, the scouts continued to watch his games in 1958 and 1959, but never made an offer.

            Hoff credited George Mitro, Upper Perkiomen's junior varsity baseball coach, for his development. According to Hoff, Mitro – a former minor league infielder in the Chicago White Sox organization – accompanied him on all the tryouts.

            Hoff's speed came in handy on the football field. The halfback posted a 100-yard dash time of 10.4 seconds in full equipment.  "That was pretty fast back then," said Hoff, who lives in Pennsburg.

            In ninth grade, his doctor suggested that he go out for football. Hoff, who stood 5-foot-10 and weighed 150 pounds, was told the exercise would build up his body

            In his career on the gridiron, Hoff received the Alan A. Aliff Football Award at graduation. He recalled scoring on a long reverse against Central Bucks and reaching the end zone on a 92-yard kickoff return against Hatboro.

            On the basketball court, Hoff played point guard. He averaged approximately 15 points per game. Though his primary duty was to set up his teammates, Mitro - the head coach - instructed him to shoot when he was open.

            Hoff remained competitive for several years. He played for the Eagle AA softball team for 13 years, played golf at Twin Ponds in Douglass Township, was an active bowler and rolled two perfect games. He is also a member of the Pottstown Bowling Association Hall of Fame.

            During a 35-year career as a senior design assistant at Knoll, Hoff received a patent for a locking system for a desk cabinet. I had an idea, and it worked.  "All the stuff I worked on was new," said Hoff, who worked in product development. "I liked it."


 

 

 

 

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