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Wake up, Bay, and start nominating for Hall of Fame

Jan. 26, 2011

People of Whitefish Bay and all alumni of the fair Blue Dukes, abandon your false modesty and get out there and nominate people for the newly created athletic hall of fame.

Athletic Director John Gustavson and a selection committee is awaiting your input.

"This is just a very modest community," said Gustavson. "We don't go for an excessive amount of celebration here about things. I've asked kids who are getting Division I (college) scholarships if they want a press event and they say 'No, that's OK.' It's just the way it is around here.

"That being said, no one is embarrassed to say that they're from Bay," he said. "The term 'Duke Pride' does mean a great deal."

But the simple fact of the matter is, is that in its glorious athletic history, athletes of Bay have claimed more than 50 WIAA state team championships in track, cross country, basketball, tennis, soccer and other sports, not to mention countless individual titles.

However, in the several months since Gustavson and the selection committee have put the word out that they are seeking names for the inaugural class, Gustavson said he has received exactly one nomination.

One.

"It hasn't exactly been a groundswell," he said.

I've been working in the district for close to 25 years and I would need a novel of Stephen King-style length to detail all the people who I think are worthy!

Common, enough with the ennui and apathy residents, former residents and just the curious of Bay, you have a great history out here.

Honor it properly!

Detailed criteria and nomination form information is available at wfbschools.com/schools/high/athletic-hall-of-fame.cfm.

Plenty to choose from

To their credit, Gustavson and the committee may just bypass some of its closely written criteria to make sure that the first five-member class includes the elite of the elite.

They could start with just the coaches.

People like track genius Chet Wangerin, whose name is attached to 16 gold state trophies, or Dick Vanden Avond, ground-zero for the successful cross country program, or women's sports pioneer Lois Wolf, or long-time athletic director and basketball guru Jeff Thielke and the legendary Jack Nagel, who founded the girls basketball program.

You could talk about girls gymnastics empire that Bob Bradley started and which Mary Liniewski now runs (five titles between them) or how people like Willi Wessels and Mark Botterill got the title-winning soccer programs rolling (11 state championships between the boys and girls programs).

And then there are people Tom Dewing (swim), Jackie Seidler (tennis), Bill Brand (track), Glorianne Mather (tennis), Bob Albrightson (football), Bob Parsons (baseball) and others, all of whom broke ground and who left broad trails for other people to follow, while also providing room to diverge when needed.

In the future, current coaching names like Mike Miller (cross country), Phil Kelbe (tennis), Carl Trimble (tennis) and Jim Davis (swimming) must also be taken into account.

And what about the vast contributions of alumnus and area philanthropist Sheldon Lubar, whose name is on the refurbished football stadium? He certainly deserves consideration, doesn't he?

Deserving athletes galore

The athletes themselves are simply too numerous to mention (how about two-time World Series champ Craig Counsell just for starters?). I don't know how the heck the committee is going to pick from that deep sea of success. It's like what has been written about the early days of the cod fishery off the New England coast, the boats literally sailed in atop schools of fish. This is how rich this pipeline of success at Bay has been.

There's a vast history of success at your feet people, just look at an old scrapbook, go to your computer and nominate someone.

You're bound to hit paydirt just by accident!

And don't worry about nominating too many, the committee is going to be selective. Five inductees in the first year, three in each successive year. The by-laws say there may be years without any honorees, but I don't see how that's possible, oh for say about 30 years or so.

"We may get to a point where people are saying 'How can you leave out so-and-so?," Gustavson said, "and we may modify things a little, but we want to open the door just so much, because once you get it all the way, how do you close it?

"We just want it to be really selective. We know we have this great honor-starred past. We just want to find out what's possible."

But the possible will only become the probable if people get involved.

Anyone is eligible to nominate, and letters of support are strongly encouraged.

April 1 is the nomination deadline and the ceremony will be at the homecoming football game this fall.

Get to work, people.

Hall of Famers

Bay is following Nicolet's lead in trying to start an athletics Hall of Fame. Nicolet's first ceremony last fall was a big success.

NICOLET INDUCTEES: Athletes: Lance Painter, baseball, 1985; Jeff Swenson, track and football, 1969; Steve Bazelon, basketball, 1969; Marc Eisen, tennis, 1989; Corey Bronson, basketball, 1995; Sarah Gengler, swimming, 1981; and Garrett Weber-Gale, swimming, 2002. Coaches: Cary Bachman, tennis, 1957-1996; Fred Rice, football, 1961-86; Judy Luellwitz, 1974-93. Distinguished service: The Landwehr family (Carolyn, Jim and Kathy), volunteers, 1981-present; John Larson, trainer, 1990-present; Frank Wolf, athletic director, 1961-1997; and Jim Winn, volunteer, 1984-94.

NICOLET ATHLETIC DIRECTOR KIRK KRYCHOWIAK: "We selected a committee. Former ADs, coaches, other people, and we basically let them select the people for the first class. These were the 'no-brainers,' the ones no one would argue about. But from here on out, it'll be strictly a nomination process. … We had so much fun with it. It really allowed us to connect with our past."

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