Chuck Crist

Chuck Crist

A native of Salamanca, N.Y., Chuck Crist quickly demonstrated his athletic prowess at Salamanca High School where he was named the Most Valuable Player on four separate teams during his senior year.

In 1967, he quarterbacked the football team and was the Southwest Conference player of the year. On the hardwood, Crist was First Team All-Western New York and averaged 24.6 points per game leading the Warriors to the Section IV championship. He finished his career with more than 1,000 points. On the baseball field, Chuck was named First Team All-League, and in track in field his school record for the triple jump (45’ 1¼ “) still stands today.  The Buffalo News honored Crist with the Billy Kelly Award as the Outstanding Student Athlete in WNY.

Crist was offered football and basketball scholarships to Penn State. After being told he was being shifted from quarterback to defensive back, he decided to shift his focus to basketball. Crist lettered for three years as a college basketball player for the Nittany Lions. In his junior season he led Penn State in field goal percentage (49.3%) and was named the team’s most valuable player. As the team’s captain his senior season, he led the team to a 17-8 record and again was named the team’s MVP.

Despite his success in college basketball, Crist felt a calling back to the gridiron and walked on with the New York Giants and made the team as a defensive back. He played seven seasons in the National Football League with the Giants, New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. In 1977 he led the Saints defense and was named the team’s defensive MVP. He finished his career with 20 interceptions, including six in 1978 as a member of the 49ers.

Following his football career, Chuck Crist moved back to Western New York and began to show his athletic skills at yet another sport – golf. He won the club championship at Holiday Valley six times. 

Because of his skill and domination in his athletic endeavors, Crist was recognized as the Southwestern NY Athlete of the Century by the Olean Times Herald. He was inducted into the Cattaraugus County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.