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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Eight New Members Inducted into Marinette Hall of Fame

Issue Date: October 6, 2021

The Marinette High School Athletic Hall of Fame grew by eight new inductees on Saturday.

Sam Powers, Tom Johnson, Frosty Parish, John LaCourt, Dale Wolf, Liz Kujawa, Laurman Athletic Field and the 1960 Marinette High School football team all joined the ranks of the Marine elite with induction into the hall of fame.



Sam Powers

Powers did it all. He graduated from high school in the class of 1918 following a 1917 state championship.

Less than two years later, he was starting at guard for the inaugural Green Bay Packers football team in 1919, which finished its first season with a 10-1 record.

While playing for the Green Bay Packers from 1919 to 1922, he also served as the Marinette football coach, taking over in the middle of the 1918 season after George Medley left to coach Lawrence College.

Powers also played football at Northern Michigan Normal College.



Tom Johnson

In Johnson's first game as head coach of the Marinette football team, the Marines defeated Sturgeon Bay by a 56-0 score. That would be a good sign of things to come under Johnson's leadership.

In five years as head coach of Marinette from 1921 to 1926, Johnson's teams had a 50-4 record, winning two Wisconsin state championships in the process.

His teams outscored opponents during that period by a 1,564-to-164 margin. He also had a perfect 5-0 record against Menominee, never allowing a Maroon point in five games.

"In six years at Marinette High School, I think he accomplished in terms of wins and losses and establishing a culture of excellence what most people would hope to do in a career, so that's awesome," Marinette School District Activities Director Dean Furton said at Saturday's induction ceremony.

Johnson also served as athletic director, basketball coach and track & field coach during his time in Marinette.



Frosty Parish

Parish graduated from Marinette in the class of 1947.

"What an unbelievable athlete and person this guy is," Rick Schoener, Saturday's master of ceremonies, said.

Parish first made the Marines' varsity football team as a 14-year-old sophomore and went on to become an honorable mention all-state linebacker his junior year and lead Marinette to an undefeated season as a senior as an all-state halfback.

After high school, he went on to the University of Wisconsin, where he was elected captain of the freshman football team.

He lettered as a sophomore, but injuries derailed his career shortly after. He went on to serve in the military during the Korean War and came back to play for the semi-pro Wausau Muskies, where he won defensive player of the year.

"I simply want to thank the teammates that I had for those four years and the fine coaches that we had day in and day out said and pounded it into you, "don't ever give up. Don't ever give up, stay right with it, no matter if you're way behind in the score, stay with it and keep on playing the game,'" Parrish said at the induction.



1960 Marinette

football team

The 1960 Marinette football team went undefeated and finished second in the state's United Press International Poll, as there were no playoffs or state championship games back then.

The Marines went 7-0 on the season, including a 19-0 defeat of the Menominee Maroons that broke a two-year winning streak for Menominee in the annual M&M Game.

George Ihler, a member of that 1960 team, spoke at Saturday's event. He congratulated his fellow inductees.

"This is pretty special, to be a Marine and be recognized in this way," Ihler said. "It seems like yesterday, but was 61 years ago. Where the "H' did time go?"

Ihler recalled back to the team's first win of the season, a 25-13 win over Merrill.

"That erased all the doubt from the year before. We had a bad season the year before, we were 2-7, and to come out and win that opener was key for us," Ihler said, also thinking back to wins over Eau Claire Memorial and La Crosse Logan. "We took it to both of them pretty good."

Then there was Wausau.

"That was the Blackbeard Pirate or whatever you want to call it. There was no good blood between us," Ihler said.

Years before that 1960 game, Wausau was looking to dedicate its football stadium but couldn't find a team to play them because they were beating everyone by big scores, Ihler said.

"They're begging people, so they called Marinette High School," Ihler said. "Marinette went over and beat Wausau on their dedication evening. Believe me, that stuck with them for a long time. We knew it wasn't going to be fun."

Ihler described waiting on the field for Wausau to show up.

"Finally they show up, 50-strong. They had those red uniforms, red pants, red shirts, white helmets with red trim, it looked like the devil's brigade," he said. "You dream of the opportunity to play in a big game and you prepare yourself for a game that's pretty special."

Wausau was ranked in the top five in the state, but the Marines came out and got a 6-0 win in front of 5,000 people to keep its undefeated season going, Ihler said.



Lauerman Athletic Field

Lauerman was an iconic facility on Water Street for roughly half a century, with concrete stands and a concrete wall surrounding the stadium, broken up by two wrought-iron gates that allowed players and fans in.

The players would walk from Marinette High School down the street, and Ihler remembered the clicking and clacking of cleats on the road before a big game slowly turning into a run with all the "nervous energy" amongst the players.

In 1924, Lauerman Brothers Co. gave Marinette the land for the stadium, which cost $25,000 to build.

The field was dedicated with a parade in 1924, with a capacity in the concrete stands of 2,300 people. According to the high school, an estimated 7,000 people attended the first M&M Game there, and by 1935, it was the first field in northeast Wisconsin with lights.

A 1974 fire damaged the facility, and it was replaced by Higley Stadium in 1979.





Dale Wolf

Wolf started at tailback for Marinette's football team as a freshman, where he played for three seasons before moving to quarterback as a senior, leading Marinette to the state semifinals.

He ran for 1,208 yards as a senior and led the Bay Conference with seven interceptions.

A three-sport athlete, he averaged 12.7 points per game on the basketball court and ran track on conference champion 1,600 and 3,200-meter relay teams.

Without a doubt, it was football where Wolf stood out, however. After graduating in 1995, he went on to be a four-year starter for the Division II Minnesota-Duluth football team as a defensive back, even playing three games at quarterback when injuries struck the Bulldog quarterbacks.

"It's a great honor to be up here and accept this award. I never thought in my wildest dreams this would happen," Wolf said Saturday. "I thought once football's done in Duluth, my days are over, right? Nope, I'm back, and it feels good."

He was one of four Wolf brothers to play defensive back for the Bulldogs. Two of his brothers attended Saturday's ceremony. Wolf thanked his teammates, his brothers and his parents.

"I still don't understand how they did it on the budget they were on," he said in thanking his parents on Saturday. "Teachers here know what kind of budget that was back in the day. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how they got all four boys to every single sport that we were playing. I didn't do this myself. It's them giving us the opportunity to come out and be successful in pretty much anything we wanted to do, they had our back. Mom and dad, thank you very much."



Liz (Woodworth) Kujawa

Kujawa said she was "honored and humbled" to be inducted with this year's group, but she fits in amongst the best in Marinette athletics history and her accomplishments speak for themselves.

She was the state runner-up in the 800-meter run as a senior, the fourth-place finisher at state as a sophomore and a three-time state medalist on 3200-meter relay teams, including anchoring the the state runner-up in 1999.

Kujawa qualified for state four times in cross country and went on to run at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where her success continued.

She was a nine-time NCAA Division III national champion and a 12-time All-American on the track. She was the national cross country national runner-up in 2003 and 2004, and won three consecutive indoor and outdoor 800-meter titles from 2002 to 2004, along with the national outdoor 1,500 title in 2004, also running legs on national championship relay teams.

She holds two UW-Oshkosh school records and was named the 2004 NCAA Division III Women's Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, qualifying for the 2004 U.S. Olympic team that year.

"When I was 10 years old, I knew I was going to run cross country," she said, remembering her 15-year-old brother going for a run at the time. "I was like "why are you going to go out for a run?' He explained about cross country and I was like, "can I go with you?' I just loved tagging along with him."

After the run, which was about two miles but felt like 10 to the 10-year-old, her brother told their dad how impressed he was with her keeping up with his pace.

"Fortunately for me, my dad shared that with me and that's when I knew. In that moment, I was going to be a cross country runner," she said.

In a couple years' time, she had her first chance to join a running team in Michigan as a seventh grader. After one year there, the family moved to Marinette, and the rest is history.

She thanked her support system during her athletic career, including medical staff, family, coaches, teammates and friends.

Kujawa also coached track and cross country at UW-Oshkosh.



John LaCourt

LaCourt is Marinette baseball.

LaCourt served as Marinette High School's head baseball coach from 1980 to 2005, advancing to state twice, winning four regional titles and capturing eight Bay Conference championships.

When he stepped down in 2005, he had a record of 311-188, one of the winningest records in Wisconsin. He continued coaching in a volunteer assistant role and served as head coach of the Marinette Redbirds amateur baseball team from 1983 to 2010, when he became the team's general manager.

His banner year as the Marines coach came in 1990, when Marinette came within a game of winning the state title, and he was named the District IV coach of the year. In 2017, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin High School Baseball Association.

"I walk on water too, I guess," he said following a glowing introduction from Schoener at the ceremony. "I'm not as good as Rick says I was" I'm really honored to receive this award. There's a lot of coaches that have been in it in this short time it's been around and I don't know if I come up to their standards or not, but I'll accept it."

He added to laughs from the crowd, "I didn't have to pay the committee that much to be on it. It worked pretty well - just kidding, just kidding."

Beyond the baseball diamond, he is the Marinette Board of Education president and previously worked as a guidance counselor at Marinette High School.


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