New members inducted at Alpena Sports Hall of Fame’s 30th banquet
Individually, Andy Rohn, John Geddert, Mike Kollien and Dick Behning accomplished a lot in their athletic careers and all four were inducted as the 30th class of the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame at the APlex on Saturday,
But as each of them noted, they wouldn’t have achieved so much success without the help of their teammates, coaches and supporters.
Doris Puls and Mark Jacobs were inducted as the Boosters of the Year and the Miller/Eagles mens softball team was chosen as the Team of the Year.
Geddert was a standout gymnast at Alpena High School in the 70s, but since graduating he has built one of the strongest coaching resumes in gymnastics. His unparalleled success at the state level-his teams are 2317-62 in state championship competition since 1985-was a major reason why he was chosen to coach the US at the 2011 World Championships and was later chosen as the head coach of the women’s team for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, where he led the US to its second-ever team gold medal.
Geddert was inducted by his good friend, former Wildcat gymnast, fellow Olympic coach and current Michigan men’s gymnastics coach, Kurt Golder. Geddert, his wife Kathy and Golder were also presented with the keys to the city by Alpena mayor Matt Waligora for their dedication and accomplishments during the last Olympics.
Though Geddert has had so much coaching success, he said his biggest thrill is impacting the lives of the young gymnasts he teaches and he thanked his wife and coaching staff for their help and support.
“I get to live my passion every day. I fell in love with the art of teaching kids, challenging them to do better and teaching them life skills,” Geddert said. “Sports undoubtedly shaped my life and the examples set in sports, set me down the right path.”
Rohn became the third member of his family to be inducted after his father Bob in 1990 and his brother Dan in 1995.
Rohn achieved success in baseball at an early age when he was a part of the state Little League championship team at age 11. He was part of two championship Babe Ruth teams before he became a Wildcat and when he got to Alpena High, he became a star.
“It’s incredible the amount of talent (there was). I feel like to grow up in Alpena at the time when I did,” Rohn said. “It’s amazing how lucky I’ve been to have been associated with great teams and it all started here in Alpena.”
Echoing the night’s common theme of teamwork, Rohn pointed out much of his success came because of his teammates’ help. In his senior year at Alpena, Rohn batted between Mike Watters and Blaise Ilsley in Alpena’s lineup. All three went on to play Major League Baseball and all three are now inducted in the Sports Hall of Fame.
Rohn went to Central Michigan, where he made the team as a walk-on and became part of four straight Mid-American Conference title teams. He was later drafted by the San Francisco Giants and played one season of Class A ball.
Kollien was a star basketball player with the Wildcats, finishing as the school third all-time scorer (945 points). He then starred at Alpena Community College and also played at Concordia College where he set school records for shooting percentage and was named College Male Athlete of the Year.
“Four of five years ago, it was an honor to be nominated, now it’s an honor to be in,” Kollien said of his induction.
He was inducted by former ACC teammate and current ACC women’s basketball coach Bobby Allen who said he still looks to Kollien for basketball advice.
“He’s one of the most magnificent guys that’s ever been in Alpena. I really appreciate him letting me come into his life in 1989. It’s a friendship that will last forever,” Allen said.
Kollien thanked every coach he had in his career, starting with his grade-school coaches in the Thunder Bay Basketball Association. After Allen told a story about how Kollien averaged 33 points two games into his ACC career, Kollien pointed out that he wouldn’t have been so successful had it not been for the talents of Allen and other teammates.
Behning, a 1958 graduate of Alpena, was a bruising running back who found a lot of football success after high school at the University of Wyoming. He became a starter as a sophomore and set a school record with a 97-yard kickoff return. At Wyoming, he helped the Cowboys win three conference titles. He was later given a tryout with the Denver Broncos.
Behning is one of several Alpena athletes who followed former Alpena coach Bob Devaney to Wyoming and found football success. At the start of the banquet, Behning presented the Hall of Fame Board with a plaque from Wyoming, thanking Alpena for its contributions to Wyoming’s success in football. The group included five players and three coaches.
Alpena is still a special place to Behning and during his speech he thanked members of his high school offensive line.
“I have a special place in my heart for Alpena, I have roots here and I’m proud to say I’m from Alpena,” Behning said.
The Miller Eagles have become one of the premier team’s in the Alpena Men’s Softball League and have a 212-43 record since 2006. They have won the city championship six times since 1996 and won the MASA Class F state title in 2010, outscoring six opponents 107-49.
Seventeen members of the team were on hand to be honored and Jason Barbeau, who’s been with team since 2006, remembered how he was accepted into the team’s family atmosphere right away.
“They were going to Saint Louis for a tournament and I was a broke college graduate. These guys pitched in for my hotel, food everything. That’s what our team means,” Barbeau said.
Puls and Jacobs have spent many years supporting and coaching teams around the area, doing everything from working concessions to ordering uniforms. Puls was instrumental in the development of the Thunder Bay Basketball Association and has been involved in several booster clubs at Alpena High.
Jacobs has coached local runners for many years and was named ACC cross country coach last season. At Alpena High, he runs The Woods indoor track club, which has qualified kids for the state meet and has helped athletes get noticed by colleges. Jacobs, who was inducted by his friend Joe Gentry, said helping kids reach their athletic dreams is one of his biggest thrills.
“It means a lot to me because I love Alpena,” Jacobs said of his induction. “I used to bleed green and white and now I bleed green, maroon and silver.”