Five elected to DECC Athletic Hall of Fame
Awards dinner planned for May 4.
DULUTH — The DECC Athletic Hall of Fame nominating committee announced the 2023 class on Saturday morning.
The five enshrinees include athletes, coaches and administrators who have made an indelible mark on athletics in Duluth, the Northland and abroad: Norm DeBriyn (baseball coach), Pat Francisco (coach/administrator), Kara Goucher (running), Scott Keenan (running/administrator) and Karen Stromme (basketball coach/administrator).
Those five will be honored at the DECC Hall of Fame Dinner & Program, being held Thursday, May 4 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center’s Harbor Side Ballroom.
- Born in Ashland, Wisconsin and was a football, basketball and baseball standout at DePadua High School (Catholic High School that closed in 1967).
- Continued his playing career at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, earning his degree in 1963 while playing split end on the football team and first baseman on the baseball team.
- Thirty-three year (1970-2002) head baseball coach at the University of Arkansas Razorbacks whose highlights include four NCAA College World Series appearances, 15 NCAA tournament berths, three conference championships, seven conference coach of the year awards and a 1,161-650-6 overall record, making him the winningest coach in Arkansas baseball history.
- Retired from the University of Arkansas in 2002 and has served as a part-time scout for the Colorado Rockies and executive director emeritus of the Razorback Foundation.
- Inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Athletic Hall of Fame, the University of Arkansas Athletic Hall of Honor, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Southwest Conference Athletic Hall of Fame, named a Southeastern Conference Baseball Legend, and received the ABCA Lefty Gomez Award.
- Hockey and football player at Duluth Denfeld High School.
- Four-year player on the famous Huffer Christiansen line at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
- Third in WCHA scoring his senior year.
- Recipient of UMD’s “Top Senior Scholar Award.”
- High school coach and assistant UMD coach.
- Driving force and inspiration for the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.
- Raised in Duluth, Minnesota and started her running career at Duluth East High School.
- Competed at the University of Colorado where she was a three-time NCAA champion in both track and field and cross country.
- Represented the United States in the World Championships in 2007 at Osaka, Japan, where she earned a silver medal in the 10,000 meters with a time of 32:02.05.
- The following year at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing she raced to a ninth-place finish in the 10,000 meters with a 30:55.16 time, a personal best.
- Later that year, she made her marathon debut at the New York City Marathon where she finished in third place with a time of 2:25.53, becoming the first American on the podium since 1994.
- She represented the U.S. and competed at the World Championships in the marathon at Berlin, Germany in 2009 and again at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
- Her final tuneup for the 2012 Olympic Games was Grandma’s Half Marathon in which she set the course record that still stands today.
- She has gone on to become a commentator on distance events as part of the NBC Track and Field Television crew during the Summer Olympics and various championships.
- Her recently published book, “The Longest Race,” became a New York Times bestseller within a week of release.
- Founded Grandma’s Marathon in 1977.
- Developed Grandma’s Marathon into one of the longest-running, best-known and best-organized marathons in the world.
- Started the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the William Irvin 5K and well as the Whippersnapper series of free races.
- Created Duluth’s Young Athletes Foundation.
- Has brought hundreds of millions of dollars into the Duluth economy while attracting new generations into the sport of running.
- Born in Duluth and a graduate of Duluth Central High School.
- Spent 21 years as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth (winningest coach in UMD basketball history) before stepping down in 2005 to become the senior associate athletic director at UMD for 19 years. Retired in 2023 after 40 years of service to Bulldog athletics.
- Compiled a 440-184 overall record (.705 winning percentage).
- Posted 21 consecutive winning seasons during her coaching career.
- Guided the Bulldogs to 12 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference titles, four NSIC Tournament championships, eight NCAA II regional playoff berths and seven appearances in the NAIA National Tournament.
- She churned out three All-Americans and 44 All-NSIC first team honorees, including the UMD Athletic Hall of Famers: Lori Ogren (also DECC Hall of Fame Member), Julie (Hay) Klun, Denise (Holm) Olson, Kelli (Ritzer) Thomas, Dina Kangas (the all-time scoring leader in Minnesota collegiate history) and Lindsey Dietz.
- Coached women’s golf at UMD for that program’s four seasons of varsity competition.
- Chaired the USA Women’s Basketball Team Selection Committee for the 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney) Olympic Games.
- Served as president of the NAIA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
- Chaired the Women’s Basketball Kodak All-American Team Selection Committee.
- Member of the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the St. Olaf College Hall of Fame and the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame.
- Special Merit Award recipient from the “Minnesota National Girls & Women in Sports Day” 50th anniversary of Title IX.
- Received the NCAA DII Women Leaders in College Sports Administrator of the Year award in 2019.
Selection criteria include having a connection with Northeastern Minnesota or Northwestern Wisconsin, and having gained local, national or international prominence through participation or affiliation in athletics.
The DECC Athletic Hall of Fame has 74 members, starting with the class of 1968. The 28th induction ceremony on May 4 will begin with a 6 p.m. social hour, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and then the awards presentation at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for the event may be purchased at the DECC — or online at
— starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 1. They are $50 apiece.