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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Menominee Inducts Eight Into Sports Hall of Fame

Issue Date: May 18, 2022

Jerry Harpt

It has been said that one of the concrete features of successful men and women is, "Their sense of Humility." Bob Krysiak, keynote speaker at the Menominee Maroon Sports all of Fame Banquet on May 14th, expressed it in this way. "You are Hall of Fame stars yes, but think about the teammates who helped you achieve that status." And this batch of inductees were free to both be humble and to honor those in their life who encouraged them to challenge their limits and seek a higher plateau of excellence.

Brent Nerat

"Here's a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it to your pet goat." This is how. Brent Nerat once addressed his high school classmates at a meeting of the "Fellowship of Christian Athletes." Yes, Brent Nerat has a way of tickling the funny bone. He also has a sense of humility that does not quit. An outstanding athlete in both basketball and track, Brent posted the highest high jump by a state prep athlete in 1990. He also accumulated over 1,200 points during his high school basketball career. He played basketball at UW Oshkosh and, during his senior year, was awarded the school's outstanding athlete award.

And now about his humility. Brent hesitated to even tell his family about this outstanding athlete award. They found out through the grapevine. A shy kid, he thanked his more gregarious twin brother, Brad, for helping him break out of his shell. Also, during his acceptance speech at the Hall of Fame Banquet, he congratulated the kid who recently broke his school high-jump record. Brent once asked his boyhood sports hero to autograph his arm. For weeks afterwards, when the ink started to wear off, he would retrace the autograph with a pen.

Dewey Bellisle

Dewey Bellisle excelled in lots of sports, from Babe Ruth Baseball, to track, to All U.P. Honors in football, and to being a featured player on the 1967 Maroon State Championship basketball team. He accumulated over 1,000 points in his high school basketball career.

During Dewey's acceptance speech, he gave thanks to the many coaches who mentored him over the years. He also mentioned, by name, local sports writers who acknowledged him. Then he gave special tribute to those who were sacrificing their lives, during the Vietnam War, while he and his teammates were playing basketball.

Fred Matz

Fred was a starting forward on Menominee's 1967 State Championship basketball experience. He also made his mark in football earning Great Northern Conference honors during his junior and senior years. In later life he trained to serve as a body guard for political VIP's. One memory that competes with his high school honors came as a 12-year-old boy when Fred played with the dynamic Menominee little league team that came within a whisker of representing the North in the Little League World Series.?

Denise Gentile James

(Debbie Hofer, Denise's Gentile James sister, is a bubble of enthusiasm but short in stature. She suggested that, while introducing Denise, maybe she should stand on a chair so the audience could see her.)

Denise won gold medals in track and cross country and was the first female athlete to win the Silverthorn Award. While accumulating 13 major letters as a Maroon, she also won 53 medals in track, and gymnastics. She held the record for the mile and two mile in track, for many years. Denise also took the time to become part of the high school band. In her spare time, she is currently a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in Oklahoma. She once had a stint as a green Bay Packer Cheerleader, even though her father was a staunch Detroit Lion fan.



Janet Hallfrisch Shar

Janet competed in tennis, basketball, gymnastics, golf, and track. She holds school records in the discus and was the first female athlete to compete in two sports (Tennis and basketball) during the same season. As a member of the University of Michigan's Track and Field Hall of Fame, she competed in the javelin toss. She talked of coaches who gave her confidence and of a father who did her dishes so she could go out and play. She seems to be in another hall of fame as well. She can hang dry wall and pour concrete.

Chuck Patrick

Sometimes called the Original Voice of the Maroons, Chuck Patrick's introduction at the banquet included actual replays of passionate remarks he made over the WAGN Radio. The audience actually cheered at some of his accounts of touchdown runs, and his rendition of the first state championship football game. He was also the public address announcer at Maroon football and basketball games.

Chuck mentioned that when he first started broadcasting for WAGN, there was a rule that visitors were not allowed in the studio. Ah, but he bent those rules and let certain girls in when they asked if they could join him. I think he said something like, "Broadcasting made him a chick magnate?"

Tyler Tafelski

Tyler may have been, pound for pound, the toughest Maroon with the biggest heart. He wrestled at 119 and 125 pounds. He is a two-time UP Champion wrestler and earned All American honors with when he captured his 100th win. In 1997, Wrestling USA Magazine named him top Army recruit as a Wrestler during his freshmen year at West Point. Currently a Lt. Colonel in the US Army, he has received a Purple Heart and meritorious service awards. In his words, Athletics has given him a purpose and a sense of belonging.

Drew Buyarski

In Drew's own words, when he was in Upper Elementary, he couldn't understand why he wasn't a starter on his basketball team because he had $100.00 shoes.

In 1999, Drew was named the Great Northern Conference's Offensive and Defensive Player of the year. He also received honors as a basketball player. Including Great Northern Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was a two-time UP champion High Jumper and a one-time UP long jumper. He won the Barbera Silverthorn Award in 2000.

During the 1998 State Championship football game, Drew will be forever remembered for his 83-yard punt return where he broke free from a vicious tackle and eventually found pay dirt. Drew did point out, during his acceptance speech, that, despite his long touchdown run, his friends remind him of his overthrows and his interceptions. Drew might have the last laugh, however. He currently hangs his hat on the principal's desk at his old high school.

Humility can be a trait that starts during early childhood or possibly happens somewhere in later elementary or high school when someone we admire becomes a mentor. It happens to kids whose dad does the dishes for them so they can go outside and work on their skills. It happens to lightweight wrestlers who grow up and earn a purple heart. It happens to those who have their hero's autograph, in ink, on their arm and keep rewriting the ink on it on the autograph so it does not disappear.

Deep within all of us we have that urge to be better, and to achieve something that might just be within our reach if we decide to take a shot at it. We all have a bit of Hall of Fame in us, whether we are that star that stands out or we are one of those teammates that helped the star stand out.


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