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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Marinette Sports Hall Of Fame 2019

Issue Date: September 19, 2019

Jerry Harpt

These are some of the attributes spelled out by the honorees at this year's Marinette High School's Sports Hall of Fame Banquet: Hard Work, Coach-ability, Humility, Intensity, a Team Player, Thankfulness, Commitment, and the Ability to Handle Stress.

JOEL HANNER

Joel was able to live the dream that many teen-age boys could only imagine. He was a Green Bay Packers Ball Boy. His dad, Dave Hanner, starred for the Pack at the time. Imagine, running all over Lambeau Field, during Pre-Game warm ups, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul Hornung and Jimmy Taylor. Then, shagging punts and holding his breath while he retrieved a ball that was within inches of his all-time hero, Dick Butkus.

A star player for Green Bay Southwest, Joel followed his dreams to Northern Michigan University where he captained Northern Michigan's National Championship Football Team. He is a member of Northern Michigan's Sports Hall of Fame.

In time, Joel became Marinette's head football coach. That is when he started directing his players toward developing Hearts of Champions. In 1989, his team had a 13-0 record which included a victory in the State Championship Game. He is the most successful football coach in Marine history. He encouraged Team Spirit. He even had his team members practice properly honoring the flag during the National Anthem.

Some of Joels' finest attributes need to be addressed: (1) He never left the ball field on a negative note. If he barked at a player for some reason, during practice, he found a way to compliment him before the practice was over. (2) If he was complemented for some reason, he made sure his assistants were recognized as well. He said, during his induction speech,"I won't recognize all my assistants by name, because I'm afraid I might miss somebody. But he did mention one of his managers, a potential Hall of Famer named Randy. He did not refer to Tim Stauss as his assistant, but rather, "The Other Head Coach."

Joel was a fan of the underdog and underprivileged. While his dad, Dave, was an assistant coach for the Packers, Joel asked for, and received, practice jerseys for kids who would not have been able to afford such a luxury themselves.

During his acceptance speech, Joel shared the spotlight with his wife, Cindy, and his family. He told of the sacrifices family members made because he was busy being a coach. He thanked Cindy for her patience. He introduced his granddaughter and talked of the beauty of family. After his acceptance talk, he sat down and put his granddaughter on his lap.

BOB FROELICH

Bob Froehlich was Superintendent of Marinette Public Schools for two decades. During his tenure, the Marines earned 53 conference titles.

Bob is the reason, his football coach, Joel Hanner, had his ballplayers practice the National Anthem. He approached Joel about, what he noticed, to be a lackadaisical attitude on the part of his players, during the Anthem. (Bob served in the 82nd Airborne Medic Core Division during the time of the Korean Conflict.) He suggested that Joel's players stand with their helmets under their left arm and their right hand over their heart.

Bob passed away, in 2018, so his wife, Jo, tearfully accepted for him.

WES BAIR-CLASS OF 1951

There is a photo of Wes Bair, in the 2019 Hall of Fame Booklet, that brings back lots of memories for old timers. Wes is posing to throw a pass. Two things stand out. One, he is on the gridiron of the old Lauerman Athletic Field. The white wooden fence and the scoreboard, on the east end of the field, are easy to spot, creating many memories for those of us who roamed there. Two, he is the quarterback and wearing the number, 75. Quarterbacks numbers are in the lower digits nowadays. But, in those days, quarterbacks didn't throw many passes. Not at least, until Wes came along and started lighting up the scoreboard.

Wes went on the play for Illinois State University where he led the nation in passing as a sophomore, with 2,375 yards and 14 touchdowns, not bad in a time when running was usually featured. When he led the nation that year, a little known player, named Johnny Unitus, took second place.

Wes obtained his PHD in Education at the University of Arkansas. He then became that iconic student athlete, serving both as a physical education professor and assistant football coach at Missouri State University.

KATI ZERATSKY (1992)

I approached this years' banquet hall, just as Kati was walking in. She was wearing a leg brace and using crutches. I had never met her before and greeted her at the door. I was immediately struck by her cheerfulness and sweetness. Her smile lit up the entryway.

Kati earned 11 varsity letters at Marinette, in track, tennis, and basketball. One Fall, she literally took part in two practices, after school, each day, Tennis and Track. When tennis practice was over, she headed out to the track. When introduced, she was described as having, "One of the hardest work ethics any kid would want to have." In basketball, she was always assigned to cover the best offensive player on the opposing team.

Kati captivated the hearts of the audience, during her acceptance speech, with her infectious smile and sweet nature. She was unable to move up to the podium so she stood on the floor and spoke, leaning on her crutches. She said that she felt like she was a recipient of a Marinette Culture Award, where a sense of greatness prevails." Before she hobbled back to her seat, she said, "I want to run again, and jump again, with my kids." .

MIKE STOLNACK (1982)

In was mentioned, during Mikes introduction, that he, "Has a heart of gold and is one really nice guy." His write-up indicates that he is the ultimate sports package including athleticism, relentless drive, a team oriented attitude, and that Heart of Gold.

Mike was all conference in baseball, as a senior, with a batting average of .415. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins and played Class-A minor league ball for them. He was also all-conference, his senior year, in basketball, with an 18-point-per-game average.

Mike thanked his parents, teammates, and coaches, even mentioning, his grade school basketball coach, Bob Fleury.

Mike stopped talking, and took sips of water, two times during his acceptance speech. He has gone through radiation treatment and is Cancer Free today.

MIKE DEITERS (1960)

"The greatest influence in my life was my mom, a single parent."

Mike finished his high school career as the all-time leading scorer in Marine High School history. He went on to star at University of Oshkosh where the Titans won the Wisconsin State University Championship and played in the National Tournament in Kansas City. And it all started on the outdoor basketball court at the old Ella Court Grade School.

Mike went on to officiating, in basketball for 20 years, including WIAA State Basketball Tournaments. In his spare time, among other things, he was a color analyst for many UWGB Men's basketball games. He was also a highly sought-after motivational speaker. During his talks, he encouraged his listeners to, "Be Able to Laugh at Yourself."

Mike talked of the importance of preparation as well as an appreciation for the opportunities one has at his disposal. He talked of the value of Humility. He talked of his appreciation of high school teammates like Dave Skowlund and Jim Jaeger. He talked of the importance of family and asked his sister to stand for recognition.

He told of his coach, Bruce Basler, a strong influence in his life. He mentioned that, during basketball Parent's Night, he had no family to escort him, when he was introduced. But he wasn't alone. Basler and Fred Matz walked out on the court, one on each side of him.

EVAN PERKINS (1983)

Evan still holds Marinette records for the Long Jump and Triple Jump. He qualified for State in the 300 Meters, Long Jump, and Triple Jump. He went on to become a two-time National champion, in the Triple Jump, at U.W. LaCrosse.

Evan thanked his high school coaches for the influence they had on him along with their gift of time and commitment. He mention that Tim Stauss in one of the kindest men he knows. He talked of his dad telling him him to be humble about your accomplishments. "Don't try to be the center of the Universe."

Before he sat down, he had the audience count, "One, two," and then clap. When we finished, he said. "Someone isn't disciplined here."

He had us do it over again. "That's better."

THE BAND OF BROTHERS (1974)

Dan LaFever, a star an athlete on Marinette's Star Studded 1974 Football Team, stood at the podium with a bag in his hand. He called Marge Kunesh up to the podium as a Stand-In for his football coach, and her husband, Erv Kunesh, who is no longer with us. He handed the bag to Marge and asked her to take out the gift. She found herself holding a Marine Football Jersey, with the number, 74, on it. Marge placed the jersey in front of her, for a photo shoot, and then gave Dan a motherly hug.

The 1974 team will live in infamy, as they say. Between 1973 and 1975, they went undefeated for 29 straight games. In 1974, they outscored their opponents, 431 to 74. In that M and M Game, they beat Menominee, 52 to 0.

That year, 11 of the 22 All-Bay Conference Players were from Marinette. Nine of them went on to play college ball. (Two of them, Tim Farley, and LaFever, are in the Marine Sports Hall of Fame as individuals.) They were a fast team, exemplified by Dave Anderson, a lineman on that 1974 team, who went on to finish as runner-up in the Bay Conference, in the 100-yard dash.

I had the good fortune, during that 1974 M and M game, to sit directly in front of the Marinette side of the Press box. I could listen to Sam Hogan, calling each play down to the Marinette Bench. Then I watched then play unfold for, quite often, a touchdown.

Lafever talked of the Intensity of this Band of Brothers, in the locker room before each game. "We were carbon copies of each other." He also talked of how he hasn't seen many of his former teammates for years, but when they all got together the other day, it was like they had just seen each other yesterday.

Each Band of Brother introduced himself, ending with Tim Farley, doing his rendition of the Dance of Seven Vales, when he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal his Marine Jersey with the number, 74, on it. He had another one in a bag and invited John Harris, an assistant coach, to come up and receive it.

There was one other jersey given out, just not that evening. Earlier in the day, team members went over to Coach Bob Picards' house to visit with him. Bob, has limited mobility so would miss the induction ceremony. During the visit, team members gave Bob a bag with a gift, that 1974 Jersey. Bob's daughter, Sarah, said later, that this is the first time she saw her father cry.

This year's Hall of Fame Ceremony was filled with both teardrops and laughter, but mostly encouragement. Encouragement that comes in the forms of Humility, Team Spirit, Effort, and Commitment. So now those kids who walk through the halls of Marinette High, can look at the honorary plaques on the walls and think, "Hey, I could be like them."


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