UW-Superior announces 2011 Hall Of Fame classTen individuals and three teams have been chosen for induction into the University of Wisconsin-Superior Athletic Hall of Fame. The induction will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Barker’s Island Inn.
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
Ten individuals and three teams have been chosen for induction into the University of Wisconsin-Superior Athletic Hall of Fame. The induction will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Barker’s Island Inn.
Individual inductees include: Sarah Anderson (cross country, track and field); Roger Prescott (basketball, track and field coach); Sarah Tarasewicz (softball); and James Young (swimming and diving).
The four inductees will be entering as recipients of the Mertz Mortorelli Coaching Achievement Award, which honors career achievement in the coaching field, are: William Morrin, Jeff Mumm, Jim Stephenson and Joseph Vitcenda.
The Carl Vergamini Award for Contributions to Yellowjacket Athletics Inductee is Curt Hammerbeck and the Lydia C. Thering Meritorious Service Award Inductee is Leo DeCicco.
The Vergamini Award recognizes individuals who have made positive contributions that support Yellowjacket Athletics, while the Lydia C. Thering Meritorious Service Award recognizes someone who has made substantial and innovative contributions to the principles of wellness in any society.
Three teams will also be inducted, including the 1963 wrestling team, the 1998-99 men’s hockey team and the 2002 softball team.
The hall of fame social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m. and the program beginning at 7 p.m. The cost is $40 in advance and $50 at the door.
To register, or for more information, contact the Yellowjacket athletics office at 715-395-4693.
Anderson enters the UWS Hall of Fame as the most decorated women’s distance runner in school history, achieving championship results and high honors in both indoor and outdoor track and field as well as cross country.
Bursting on the scene in 1996, Anderson quickly established herself as a distance running force in the WIAC. Blessed with special talents in running, she was a three-time All-WIAC selection and a three-time All-American in women’s cross country. She was the WIAC conference champion in 1998 and placed second in the conference in 1997. Having qualified for nationals three times, Anderson followed up a 16th-place finish in the national meet in 1996 with a runner-up finish in 1997 and a fourth-place finish in 1998. She was the recipient of the Judy Cruckman Scholar-Athlete award for women’s cross country in 1998.
In track and field, the Maple native and former Northwestern Tiger, won four WIAC indoor and outdoor championships. She was named All-American three times, placing second in the 10,000 meters in 1997 and fifth in 1998, as well as coming in seventh in the 5,000 meters in 1998. She currently holds six school track and field records — the 1,500-meter, 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter marks in indoor track and field as well as the 3,000-meter, 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter marks in outdoor track and field.
A WIAC Scholar-Athlete, Anderson was the winner of the Judy Kruckman Scholar-Athlete award for women’s track and field in the WIAC in 2000, the same year that she qualified to participate in the marathon at the United States Olympic Trials.
A member of two UWS softball conference champion teams, Tarasewicz enters the UWS Hall of Fame as an individual as well as a member of the 2002 softball team. She became a member for the first time in 2010 as a member of the 2004 softball team.
Tarasewicz was a First Team All-WIAC selection as a freshman in 2002, helping the Yellowjackets to the WIAC playoff title, earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. She was a First Team All-WIAC selection again in 2003 when she led the nation in triples. In 2004, Tarasewicz lost part of her season due to injury, but was still All-WIAC Honorable Mention when she was having arguably her best college season, showing the amount of respect the coaches in the conference had for her ability on the diamond. Despite the injury as a junior, Tarasewicz bounced back in her senior season, bringing home First Team All-WIAC honors for the third time. She was also a First Team All-American and was named the WIAC Player of the Year, the only UWS softball player to receive each honor.
Even though she graduated six years ago, the Hurley native can still be found all over the WIAC record book. She is tied for the conference record in home runs with 38, and holds the conference record for the highest slugging percentage, coming in at .926. She is second all-time in WIAC history in triples with 21 and is sixth all-time in batting average at .427. She led the conference in slugging percentage three times, triples twice and home runs and walks once each.
Tarasewicz currently is an assistant director of athletic communications at the University of Central Florida.
Legendary high school volleyball coach Morrin, who has enjoyed unprecedented success at Grantsburg High School, is a 2011 inductee into the UWS Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Mertz Mortorelli Coaching Achievement Award.
A 1985 UWS graduate, Morrin has coached at three schools over 29 years, including the last 25 years in Grantsburg, where he has enjoyed his biggest successes. His teams have won 27 conference championships, including 22 straight while at the helm at Grantsburg. Morrin’s teams have also won 23 regional championships and 14 section titles, which qualifies them for the Wisconsin state tournament. There, Morrin’s teams enjoyed five runner-up finishes (1989, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2010) and have been crowned state champions four times (1985, 1986, 2001, 2009). In 2001, Morrin’s team went unbeaten on the way to the Wisconsin state championship.
Morrin did perhaps his best coaching job in 2010. After winning a state title and graduating five starters in 2009, all Morrin and the Pirates did was go 36-1 on their way to a state tournament runner-up finish. For his effort, Morrin was named National High School Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. He has served on the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Board for 10 years and was the 2010 recipient of the Sally Pfund Memorial Award.
Previous to his tenure at Grantsburg, Morrin spent two seasons at Washburn High School (1982-84) and two seasons at Webster High School (1984-86). In total, Morrin has fashioned a sparkling career record of 841-84.
Dr. Roger Prescott was a head coach or an assistant coach for several programs over 26 consecutive years, 1969-1994, serving both men’s and women’s sports.
Prescott’s first coaching positions at UWS came in 1968 when he was the assistant men’s basketball coach and assistant track and field coach. In 1970, Prescott became the head track and field coach and played a pivotal role in helping thrower and fellow Hall of Fame member Doug Sutherland qualify for the NAIA National Meet, where he earned All-American status in the shot put.
In 1972 Prescott became one of the busiest men on campus, holding a coaching position on several different staffs. He was an assistant coach with the football team and the head cross country coach, a position he held until 1989. During those same years, he was the assistant men’s track and field coach where he helped recruit fellow Hall of Fame member Todd Sperling into the program. Sperling would go on to win the national championship in the marathon in 1982.
In 1976, Prescott became the first head coach in the history of the Yellowjacket women’s basketball program and coached several of the program’s greatest players over his 13 years. Prescott led the team to the 1983-84 WWIAC North Division championship and in 1985-86, qualified his team for the NAIA tournament, where they advanced to the second round. He was the first male to be named WWIAC Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year.
Prescott is a 1961 graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He played basketball at Drake from 1958 to 1961 and was a member of its track team in 1961. In 2010, Drake honored Dr. Prescott with the Double “D” Award, which honors Drake letter winners for distinguished service after graduation. It is the highest honor that is bestowed on Drake University alumni.
In addition to coaching, Prescott was an educator at UWS for 31 years, from 1968 until his retirement in 1999. Today, Prescott remains a staunch supporter and great ambassador for UWS and can be seen regularly at UWS athletic events.
Although the program has been extinct at UWS for over three decades, there is still a name that stands out among the rest, not just at UWS but also in the annals of the WIAC, when it comes to men’s swimming. And that name belongs to James Young. Together with diver and fellow UWS Hall of Fame member Russell Drobot, Young provided one of the best swimming and diving combinations the WIAC (then the WSUC) has ever seen.
A natural in the pool, Young came to UW-Superior and took his first dive into the history books in 1970. It was in that year that Young, a native of Arlington Heights, Ill., won the first of his nine conference championships. Young claimed the WIAC championship in the 200-meter backstroke, the 200-meter individual medley and the 400-meter individual medley, breaking conference records in all three events. Young had a high finish of seventh at the NAIA National Meet and qualified for Little College All-American honors. He would win the same three events in 1971, and again would shatter the conference records in the process. In 1972, Young accomplished the feat for a third time, winning all three events and again breaking his own conference records, records that would not be broken in the pool for years.
Many men’s swimming and diving competitors in the history of the WIAC have multiple conference championships, but few, like Young, can claim as many as nine titles, none of which came in any sort of relay, but rather are all individual titles.
Mumm, a longtime figure synonymous with excellence in Thief River Falls, Minn., is a recipient of the Mertz Mortorelli Coaching Achievement Award for 2011. Mumm, who graduated from UWS in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and health education, has been an educator and coach for nearly three decades.
As an athlete at UWS, Mumm was named the Rookie of the Year in both football and baseball. He was an All-WSUC selection twice in both sports, the honors coming in 1980 and 1981.
In 1984, Mumm became an instructor of physical education and health education at Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls. A year later he became the head football coach, taking over a program that was languishing in Minnesota high school football. Today, 25 years later, Mumm has built a program that is among the finest in Minnesota, consistently ranked in Minnesota Class AA. In 2005, Mumm was chosen as a head coach in the Minnesota High School Football All-Star Game, with his Outstate All-Stars defeating the Metro All-Stars 39-25 in the contest. He has been recognized as the North Country Conference Coach of the Year three times — 2004, 2006 and 2007. He has also been named Section 8AA Coach of the Year twice — 2005 and 2006. Mumm is currently the First Vice President of the Minnesota High School Football Coaches Association.
In addition to football, Mumm was an assistant track coach for 12 years, the freshman girls’ basketball coach for nine years and the assistant coach with the Thief River Falls girls’ basketball team for three years.
Since 1985, Mumm has also been the strength training coordinator at TRFHS.
A former football player and wrestler at UWS, Stephenson made a mark as a longtime educator and coach at Waunakee High School. His accomplishments, not just in Waunakee but in other stops around the United States as well, have made Stephenson a 2011 recipient of the Mertz Mortorelli Coaching Achievement Award.
After one year in Arizona with the United State Bureau of Indian Affairs, Stephenson returned to Wisconsin and began a 33-year career as an educator and coach. In Waunakee, Stephenson was a biology teacher and the head high school wrestling coach, made responsible for building a program from its infancy. And build a program he did.
For 30 years Stephenson guided the Waunakee wrestlers, winning five conference championships and 237 matches along the way. Individually, Stephenson’s wrestlers won 43 conference championships, 57 regional championships and 17 sectional championships. Two of Stephenson’s wrestlers were crowned state champions.
On the academic side, Stephenson served as the head of the science department in Waunakee from 1968-72 and in 1972 developed an ecology curriculum. In 1968, Stephenson developed the summer science enrichment program for Waunakee Community Schools, a program that is still offered each summer. From 1988-93 he was the environmental education coordinator. Stephenson retired from coaching in 1996, and did the same from teaching in 1999.
In addition to the above, Stephenson was instrumental in creation of the George Martin Wrestling Hall of Fame in Wisconsin, to which he was inducted in 2002. Ironically, Mertz Mortorelli, whom Stephenson cites as a major influence personally and professionally, was part of the inaugural induction class at George Martin in 1973.
Following a four-year baseball career with the Yellowjackets, Vitcenda embarked on a career that would make him a coaching legend in Wisconsin, and as a result, Vitcenda is a 2011 recipient of the Mertz Mortorelli Coaching Achievement Award.
From 1961-64, Vitcenda, a self-proclaimed average baseball player, roamed the field for the Yellowjackets, playing for legendary coaches such as Carl Vergamini and Mertz Mortorelli. In 1964, Vitcenda was drafted into the United States Army and following a two-year stint, returned to Superior to complete his secondary education degree, something he accomplished in 1968. That fall, Vitcenda got his first and only teaching position at Royall High School in Elroy, Wis., a position he held for 33 years before retiring in 2001. Vitcenda is still active on the coaching front, guiding the Panthers, having just completed his 43rd season.
The all-time leader in wins among high school baseball coaches in Wisconsin, Vitcenda currently has a record of 507-265 in 43 seasons at the helm of the Panthers. As head coach, his teams have won 16 conference championships, played in six sectional tournaments and participated in one state tournament. The state tournament appearance came in 1998, and Royall brought home the first-place hardware in the Division III bracket. In addition to high school baseball, Vitcenda has been the longtime American Legion coach for Royall.
Vitcenda was inducted into the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001.
In addition to his baseball coaching duties, Vitcenda has been a freshman football coach for 18 years, an assistant wrestling coach for 12 years and a cross country coach for three years at Royall.
DeCicco was a four-year letter winner at UWS as a swimmer, having graduated in 1977. And from the day he stepped on campus, it was clear that Mr. DeCicco was an individual who enjoyed working with young people, a task to which he has gone on to dedicate his life. Because of this, Mr. DeCicco is the 2011 recipient of the Lydia C. Thering Meritorious Service Award.
DeCicco began building his résumé as an assistant girls’ swimming coach at Duluth East High School, a position he held for two years while competing at UWS. DeCicco also worked with the group swim team at the Duluth YMCA in 1977, guiding them to a state championship. Then in 1978, DeCicco headed for Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he has made a major impact on the lives of countless people. Upon his arrival, DeCicco began coaching the Winter Age Group Swim Team with the YMCA of Fort Dodge. In 1985 his team was the open group champions and in 1990 he was named Most Outstanding Coach. Since 1985 he has also been active with the YMCA summer swim teams in Fort Dodge.
But you need look no further than his work with special needs children to see where DeCicco has made his most indelible mark. He has been an area co-coordinator with the Iowa Special Olympics and a volunteer course clerk with the Iowa Games since 1985. With Special Olympics, the science teacher has been the driving force behind the games in Fort Dodge, where he recruits high school students to help with the events.
“It gives the athletes a chance to compete and gives high schoolers a chance to be exposed to special needs kids,” DeCicco said. “A lot of kids have the wrong idea about special education kids. I’d like to make people less nervous around other groups.”
A fixture at UWS and an ardent supporter of Yellowjacket athletics in the 1960s, Curt Hammerbeck is the 2011 recipient of the Carl Vergamini Contributions to Yellowjacket Athletics Award. Hammerbeck is inducted to the UWS Hall of Fame posthumously.
A large part of university athletics in this day and age is centered on recruiting. In the 1960s, the recruiting game was different and Mr. Hammerbeck was front and center for UW-Superior (then Wisconsin State University Superior). Without a budget dedicated solely to the recruiting of student-athletes, Hammerbeck took on the responsibility of recruiting student-athletes to the university, donating his time and often using his own funds to do so. With a focus on finding talent for Yellowjacket football and wrestling, it was Hammerbeck who would venture to the various state tournaments, talking about the university and making student-athletes aware that there was a four-year university in Superior. Once the talent was discovered, Hammerbeck would report his findings to Mertz Mortorelli, and the legendary coach would set out to make these young recruits Yellowjackets.
No distance was too far when it came to recruiting, as Hammerbeck often could be found talking with student-athletes in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York in addition to closer locales such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois. In the end, Hammerbeck put his fingerprints on Yellowjacket athletics, being responsible for many student-athletes who played football and wrestled at UWS.
Prior to recruiting for the Yellowjackets, Hammerbeck was a scout for the Cleveland Browns of the NFL, the team that originally drafted another Yellowjacket legend, Dom Moselle.
1963 Wrestling Team
The 1963 Yellowjacket wrestling team was among the best groups of grapplers ever assembled at UWS (known as Wisconsin State University Superior at the time). The team compiled an overall record of 7-2-2 and placed fifth at the NAIA National Meet.
Combining tremendous skill with depth that provided wins in all weight classes, the Yellowjackets rode a steady improvement from the beginning of the season to the end and finished in second place in the WSUC behind only conference champion River Falls State College, a powerhouse in its own right that had won the conference title the previous year as well.
From conference play it was off to the NAIA National Meet, where the Yellowjackets would eventually place fifth, the highest finish of any Yellowjacket wrestling team in history.
Five athletes claimed medals at the national meet — Chuck McCreary, who placed third in the 130-pound weight class; Willie Falwell, who placed fifth in the 137-pound weight class; Herb Schutt, who placed fifth in the 147-pound weight class; Glenn Getgen, who was the national runner-up in the 157-pound weight class; and Bob Zimmerman, who finished third in the heavyweight class.
An interesting sidebar to this season is that the Wisconsin Badgers added the Yellowjackets to their schedule and, because the Yellowjacket teams were so competitive, kept them on the schedule through 1969.
The team was coached by Mertz Mortorelli. The assistant coaches were Bill McCreary, Ron Pifer. Don Rock was the manager and team members were Rick Case, Terry Cole, Willie Falwell, Glenn Getgen, Larry Gunn, Bill Kadlecek, Tony Leonardo, Ron Markley, Chuck McCreary, Herb Schutt, Dennis Wagner, Tom Wile and Bob Zimmerman.
1998-99 Men’s Hockey Team
The 1998-99 Yellowjacket men’s hockey team was a typical UWS hockey team in the 1990s. Not necessarily having the success some would want in the regular season, this team did the same as others before it — it started playing its best hockey as the end of the season neared, and rode the wave of momentum into the NCAA tournament.
Despite a fifth-place finish in the NCHA, the Yellowjackets found themselves sweeping a home playoff series over UW-Stout before bowing out of the NCHA playoffs in the semifinals at St. Norbert, losing in a mini-game. On NCAA selection day, the Yellowjackets got a call, giving them new life and an NCAA berth. And after a series win on home ice over St. Thomas, the Yellowjackets headed to Northfield, Vt. as the only west region entrant in the NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championships.
There, they dispatched host Norwich University in the semifinals, thanks to a hat trick by senior Steve Wiggins. In the final, they fell to four-time defending champion Middlebury, settling for second place in the nation, the third Yellowjacket team to be the national runner-up.
Still, the experience was crucial in paving the way for national glory, as the seniors on the 2002 National Champions were freshmen on this team.
Under the guidance of head coach Steve Nelson, the ’Jackets had an overall record of 22-8-3, were 9-6-1 in the NCHA; and 5-3 in the WIAC.
Nelson’s assistant coaches were Dan Stauber, Dean Reed and Mark Wick and team members included: Randy Barker, Keith Bartholomaus, Kris Biosselle, Chris Bell, Chris Chelios, Nate Cockerham, Randy Currie, Cameron Donohue, Todd Drouin, Sheldon Friske, Jeff Glowa, Brian Grycan, Dave Harbinson, Clint Johnson, Mike Kaehler, Matt LaValley, Bruce Leonard, Chad Matushak, Mark Meier, Kevin Paschal, Tom Pink, Eric Pitoscia, Ivan Prokic, Ryan Sarazin, Jay Stewart, Milan Tomaska, Scott Wagner, Tim Walsh, Steve Wiggins and Kris Wilson
2002 Women’s Softball Team
When UWS hired Roger Plachta to take over the Yellowjacket softball program in 2000, it signaled a change in direction for the team, and the program makeover came to fruition in 2002. In just his second season, Plachta assembled a team and instilled a mentality that led the team to the top, as the Yellowjackets placed in the upper half of the conference in the regular season, finishing fourth. In the conference tournament, wins over UW-La Crosse, UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire, who they defeated twice, gave the Yellowjackets the conference tournament championship for the first time in school history.
The victory in the WIAC tournament also gave the Yellowjackets a berth in the NCAA tournament, making them the first women’s team in the history of UWS to qualify for NCAA play. There, they lost a pair of tough games in the NCAA regional, played in Tacoma, Wash.
Consistency across the board, the Yellowjackets were ranked third in the WIAC in hitting and pitching. They led the conference in slugging percentage, as they had the conference leader in triples (Melissa Nelmark) and home runs (Sarah Tarasewicz). On the mound, Amanda Johnston led the conference in innings pitched and strikeouts and was among the league leaders in all pitching categories, including wins where she was one victory off the conference lead.
Several players on the 2002 Yellowjackets would also be a part of the 2004 team, which was enshrined into the UWS Hall of Fame in 2010.
The UWS women were 20-15 overall and 6-4 in the WIAC.
Plachta’s assistant coach was Mike Sylvester and team members included: Katie Beadles, Jamie Busche, Abby Glawe, Jodi Irlbeck, Amanda Johnston, Nelmark, Erika Olson, Anna Quilty, Shelly Stewart, Tarasewicz, Rachel Weimar, Theresa Williams.