space
space
Peshtigo Times
space
space
space
Perspectives
* Country Cousin
space
space
Sports Shorts
* Thunder Split Last Two Games on Civic Center Ice
* Coleman Claims 16th Straight M&O Title
* Wausaukee and Oneida Share M&O Penthouse
* Bulldogs Out Last the Blue Devils for Home Win
* M&M Stingrays Take To The Pool in Oshkosh

space
Peshtigo Fire
space
e-Edition
Now Available
For more information
click here
dot
THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
space
dot
space

Marinette High School Sports Hall Of Fame

Issue Date: October 18, 2018

By Jerry Harpt

As a young kid in the early 1950's, I couldn't wait for the M&M football game to be played at Lauerman Field on Water Street in Marinette. I lived two blocks from the field and, while at home, could  hear the roar of the crowd, like the people were in my back yard. 7,000 and 8,000 fans created the seismic noise in those days. As a young kid, I would have given anything to have carried the helmets of Bebo Pazdera, or Dan Kunesh. I also found myself tongue-tied around coaches with names like Batterman and Basler.

Sometimes the players helped me sneak into the game by placing my friends and me between them as they walked from Water Street, through the stadium gates. Once inside, we broke from the players, ran down the cinder track, and hid among the crowd.

As I grew older I had new heroes with names like Erv Kunesh, Pete Messenger, and Tom Pfaffl. I remember  watching them play basketball in the little cracker-box gym. Oh, if only I had muscles like Kunesh, I thought.

And now, 60 years later, I find myself sitting at a sports banquet, at Little River Country Club, honoring a new host of Marinette high school sports heroes, some coaches, some players, and one an inspirational sports writer. And this is what I learned:

Bruce Basler

Bruce Basler was more than just a coach who stood at a blackboard and diagrammed plays with (Xs) and (Os). He modeled genuineness and gentleness in character. He fit like an old shoe with anyone who was lucky enough to have known him. He was a person's person who spent a good share of  his  break time at school, having coffee with the janitors in the furnace room just off the gymnasium. He played golf with former players and modeled for them what it was like  to be humble and non-threatening. As a coach he chose not  to yell at his players. He has said, "When you see men die in combat, losing a basketball game is not that big." Bruce served in the army in the Pacific theater during World War 11.

Bruce lived by the slogan that, "Self sacrifice and desire would overcome lack of size." While coaching Marine basketball in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, he built powerhouse teams, (one of which held number one ranking in the state, for three weeks,) while competing against schools with much larger enrollments. And he had fun with his players. He wowed them sinking free throws underhanded while blindfolded. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches  in 1983. He would  easily be inducted into the Gentlemen's Hall of Fame.

John Sitek

John Sitek is a big guy with an easy-going disposition. The first words he said after he was presented with his Hall of Fame plaque was, "The first thing I want to do is thank my beautiful wife, Judy." A few sentences later he said, "Being hired by Marinette was the best thing that ever happened to me."

A Physical Education teacher and Driver Education teacher, John coached girls who won 13 conference titles and 3 state titles. His boys won 3 conference championships along with regional titles and a sectional championship. He coached 48 individual state champions and  5 all-state re-lay teams. He was inducted into the Wisconsin State Track and Field Hall of Fame. His hope, as a coach, was to have his kids say, "I did the best I could do today."

A U.S. Army vet, John was asked, after coaching for 40 seasons, "Why do you still coach?"

He answered, "Why do you still go fishing?"

Mike Leanes

People are still talking about Mike, "The Pied Piper of  Coaching," when he taught at Garfield School. At recess and noon hour, he had tons of kids running around the city block that borders the school. Mike, who taught himself how to run so he could compete, and win, the 880-yard dash in competition at Marquette, Michigan's Bishop Baraga High School, went on to coach the most prolific group of runners Marinette has ever  had.

For some reason, Mike could get kids to come to his house at 5:30 in the morning and head out for a run. His teams complemented their talent with hard work and would go on to win 19 girls conference titles. When he first started leading the high school runners, 17 gals turned out as Freshmen. All 17 were still running as Seniors. A number of his runners have won state honors.

The humble coach talks, not of his accomplishments, but about the parents who have been so supportive to him over the years. He talks with pride about a runner, Janet Weshphal, a state champion, who gave so much of herself in one race that she ran out of gas just before the finish and had to crawl across it. He turned her disappointment into a heroic act. He also talked, tongue in cheek, about his wife badgering him that, because of all his coaching road trips, he spent more nights in motels with his assistant coach, Jerry Brown, than he has with her.

Marine Girls State Track and Field Champs

Under the tutelage of Coaches like Sitek, Brown, and Leanes, the Marine Girls Track and Field teams became state champions from 1992 to 1994. Various track and field stars shined brightly for the marines. They have names like Janet and Jenni Westphal, Missy Oleson, Lisa Lemack, Niki Falkenberg, Erika Zellner, Suzi St. Claire, Jody Bolen, and Jackie McKenney, and so many more.

Many from those championship years, walked to the podium, introduced themselves, and mentioned their track specialty. When they left the podium many also approached their beloved coaches and gave them a hug. 

Dan Messenger

Dan Messenger once was standing in the tunnel, waiting to go out onto the the field where the Wisconsin Badgers would be playing Ohio State. He realized that he was standing next to the legendary coach, Woody Hayes. Hayes looked at him and said, "Good morning son. Good luck today."

The name Messenger, will take up a lot of space on the Marine honor wall for Hall of  Fame athletes. Jeff, Mike, and Dan Messenger, followed in the footsteps of their dad, Pete. The three boys all starred in Marinette sports and went on to play big ten ball, Jeff and Dan at Wisconsin, and Mike at Michigan State.

An outstanding Marinette High School athlete in both football and baseball, Dan rushed for 169 yard and scored two TDs  in Marinette's win over Menominee during the M + M game his senior year. He was twice player of the year for the Marinette Legion baseball team. He played in the Legion All Star game at Milwaukee County Stadium and won Most Valuable Player honors.

Dan returned punts and started as a defensive back for the Badgers until a career ending knee injury erased his dreams of  playing professional football.

Joe Kresky

Long before names like Basler, Kunesh, Messenger and Westphal became household names in Marinette, a man named Joe Kresky, class of 1925, starred for the gridiron Marines. Ironically, at 168 pounds, Joe was the heaviest player on the entire team. Known as a bruising fullback, he went on to start for the Wisconsin Badgers at both fullback and defensive lineman. He would follow his college exploits into the NFL, playing in 37 games for various teams.

Jody Korch

Everyone who knows Jody Korch has some thought that defines him. Mine goes something like this. I was looking out my window one January morning when I saw Jody skiing down the river past my house. His dog, "Beer Breath," was running alongside him. Vapor was puffing out of Jody's mouth and his arms were working like a busy set of scissors. I walked out the door and watched the two ski down the river and out of sight. Jody's dog is now longer with him but, in a way, it is. Jody's e-mail starts with the word, "Beerbreath."

Those scissor-like strokes and puffs of vapor say a lot about the tenacious Jody. He is an all-energy guy who gave more than asked of him as a local sports personality. He has never taken the easy way out when writing a column or preparing the history of past athletes who enter the Hall of Fame.  He is a gem.

The mild-mannered Jody personifies that image of an athlete who, because of his experiences in past athletics, becomes easier to work with in the world of work, is not afraid to compete, is attentive, and can accept constructive criticism without taking it personal. How about that?


Recent stories, opinions and photos

Issue Date Department Headline
01-23-2019Obituaries
Thomas E. Bell

01-23-2019Obituaries
Betty J. Betts

01-23-2019Obituaries
Gerald M. Brodzinski

01-23-2019Obituaries
 Delores H. Burrack

01-23-2019Obituaries
Barbara Campbell

01-23-2019Obituaries
Dolores Cramer

01-23-2019Obituaries
Dorothy E. Czapowski

01-23-2019Obituaries
Ronald C. Doran

01-23-2019Obituaries
Monica Goodlet

01-23-2019Obituaries
Joellen Wolcott-McDermid 

01-23-2019Obituaries
Paul A. Meier

01-23-2019Obituaries
Mary A. Menard

01-23-2019Obituaries
Richard A. Meneau

01-23-2019Obituaries
Randy A. Meyer

01-23-2019Obituaries
Joyce M. Milquet

01-23-2019Obituaries
Joshua P. Monnette

01-23-2019Obituaries
Barbara A. Kodric-Nordskog

01-23-2019Obituaries
Manuela C. Pecor

01-23-2019Obituaries
Melvin G. Raatz

01-23-2019Obituaries
Roderick T. Schuh

01-23-2019Obituaries
Ardis Schwittay

01-23-2019Obituaries
Joyce A. Scott

01-23-2019Obituaries
Noreen S. Smith

01-23-2019Obituaries
Curtis R. Strehlow

01-23-2019Obituaries
Dora Van Dreel

01-23-2019Obituaries
Olive, K. Victor

01-23-2019Obituaries
Arlene B. Wolfe

01-23-2019Sports
Thunder Split Last Two Games on Civic Center Ice

01-23-2019Sports
Coleman Claims 16th Straight M&O Title

01-23-2019Sports
Wausaukee and Oneida Share M&O Penthouse

01-23-2019Sports
Bulldogs Out Last the Blue Devils for Home Win

01-23-2019Perspectives
Country Cousin

01-23-2019Perspectives
From My Window

01-23-2019Perspectives
From our readers

01-23-2019Community - Wausaukee
3 Reps from School Address Town Board

01-23-2019Community - Wausaukee
Tiffany, Mursau In Wausaukee Jan. 28

01-23-2019Community - Wausaukee
Unit 66 Offers $1000 Scholarship

01-23-2019Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Rec Cancels Winter Fest

01-23-2019Community - Crivitz
Sip For a Cause at Crivitz Pantry

01-23-2019Community - Crivitz
Evangelist at Area Northwoods Churches

01-23-2019Community - Crivitz
9 at Even Monday Cards

01-23-2019Community - Coleman
Coleman Okays Contracts For 2019 Road Construction

01-23-2019Community - Coleman
Booyah Sale at Coleman, Lena

01-23-2019Community - Coleman
North Country Kickers To Start Jan. 30th

01-23-2019Front Page
GRANT WISH

01-23-2019Front Page
Advocate Aurora Health Becomes Owner of Bay Area Medical Center

01-23-2019Front Page
Salvage Business May Be Coming To Pound

01-23-2019Front Page
BPM Inc, City At Odds Over WWTP Charges

01-23-2019Front Page
Pound Village Board Again Votes To Hire Forensics Audit

01-16-2019Obituaries
Agnes C. Bridger-Bast

01-16-2019Obituaries
Joyce H. Bergold

01-16-2019Obituaries
Mary K. Bergstrom

01-16-2019Obituaries
Alex Brault

01-16-2019Obituaries
Nancy B. Butzlaff

01-16-2019Obituaries
Robert V. Cadieu

01-16-2019Obituaries
Gary F. Corwin

01-16-2019Obituaries
John Daul

01-16-2019Obituaries
Richard A. Dellies

01-16-2019Obituaries
Russell L. Drevs

01-16-2019Obituaries
Anna M. Fazer

01-16-2019Obituaries
Richard J. Hannon

01-16-2019Obituaries
Nancy L. Herson

01-16-2019Obituaries
James H. Jean

01-16-2019Obituaries
Fred Koehne

01-16-2019Obituaries
Eugene A. Kollmann

01-16-2019Obituaries
Lorraine M. Lindbo

01-16-2019Obituaries
Janice M. Mellgren

01-16-2019Obituaries
John M. Nason

01-16-2019Obituaries
Jacob K. Pedrotti

01-16-2019Obituaries
Lawrence D. Podoski

01-16-2019Obituaries
Audrey A. Richards

01-16-2019Obituaries
William Robinson

01-16-2019Obituaries
Ruth M. Roush

01-16-2019Obituaries
Elizabeth M. Schultz

01-16-2019Obituaries
Donald R. Slater

01-16-2019Obituaries
Lorraine M. Thornton

01-16-2019Obituaries
Thomas Tylee

01-16-2019Obituaries
Randi Williams

01-16-2019Sports
M&M Stingrays Take To The Pool in Oshkosh

01-16-2019Sports
Marines/Cougars Claim Invitational Titles

01-16-2019Sports
Crivitz & Wausaukee Grab Key Wins/ Peshtigo Stops Oconto in O.T.

01-16-2019Sports
Crivitz Downs Coleman To Take M&O Lead

01-16-2019Perspectives
Country Cousin

01-16-2019Perspectives
From our readers

01-16-2019Perspectives
From My Window

01-16-2019Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Okays Licenses For Rec Association Jan 26 Fun Fest

01-16-2019Community - Wausaukee
Open Enrollment at Wausaukee School

01-16-2019Community - Wausaukee
2nd Annual Wausaukee Winterfest is Jan. 19th

01-16-2019Community - Wausaukee
Athelstane/Silver Cliff ALA To Host county Council

01-16-2019Community - Crivitz
Apostolic Church Guest Speaker

01-16-2019Community - Crivitz
Ear Testing at Crivitz Library

01-16-2019Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Church Valentine Dance

01-16-2019Community - Crivitz
Bellin CPR Classes in Crivitz on Jan. 23rd

01-16-2019Community - Coleman
Coleman School Dist. to Meet Jan. 21st

01-16-2019Community - Coleman
Fred Kinzigers Celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary

01-16-2019Community - Coleman
CCR Tribute Band at Equity Jan. 18-19

01-16-2019Community - Coleman
Benefit for Sue Maye on Jan. 20

01-16-2019Front Page
Small Business Revolution Event Held At Enstrom Co.

01-16-2019Front Page
Administrator Metras No Longer Pembine School Superintendent

01-16-2019Front Page
Mike Swiatnicki Elected New Riverside Cemetery President

01-16-2019Front Page
Crivitz Opens Discussions On Forming a Fire District

01-16-2019Front Page
Town Board Postpones Decision On Plowing Bids

01-09-2019Obituaries
Mary Best

01-09-2019Obituaries
Joan M. Clarke

01-09-2019Obituaries
Alex J. Dudka

01-09-2019Obituaries
Harold W. Ebben

01-09-2019Obituaries
Donald P. Erdman

01-09-2019Obituaries
Larry L. Grady

01-09-2019Obituaries
Helen M. Hanson

01-09-2019Obituaries
Harold J. Horn Sr.

01-09-2019Obituaries
Joanne Howeth

01-09-2019Obituaries
Jo Ann M. Jors

01-09-2019Obituaries
Elaine E. Kohls

01-09-2019Obituaries
Daniel J. LaPoint

01-09-2019Obituaries
Gordon E. McMahon

01-09-2019Obituaries
Edward V. Moreno, Jr.

01-09-2019Obituaries
Maxine L. Nichols

01-09-2019Obituaries
Clarence G. Oudenhoven

01-09-2019Obituaries
Jill A. Pogrant

01-09-2019Obituaries
Carl L. Polach

01-09-2019Obituaries
Marian J. Schaut

01-09-2019Obituaries
Eleanor M. Schelk

01-09-2019Obituaries
Marion V. Schrank

01-09-2019Obituaries
Melvin A. Shepherd

01-09-2019Obituaries
Glorianne Anderson-Whitcomb

01-09-2019Obituaries
Donald R. Whitton

01-09-2019Obituaries
William Wilker

01-09-2019Obituaries
Mary F. Williams 

01-09-2019Sports
Cougars Drop Panthers; Fall to Spartans

01-09-2019Sports
Thunder Win Streak Ends With Home Loss to Dodgeville

01-09-2019Sports
Oneida Nation Stops Wausaukee; Grabs M&O Top Spot

01-09-2019Sports
Peshtigo Powers Past Richland Center in Milwaukee

01-09-2019Perspectives
Country Cousin

01-09-2019Perspectives
From our readers

01-09-2019Perspectives
From My Window

01-09-2019Community - Wausaukee
2nd Annual Wausaukee Winterfest is Jan. 19th

01-09-2019Community - Wausaukee
Trail Riders Set Jan. 12 at Athelstane

01-09-2019Community - Wausaukee
Spring 2018 MCS Scholarship Awards

01-09-2019Community - Wausaukee
Silver Cliff Card Series Start in January

01-09-2019Community - Crivitz
Town of Stephenson Board Satisfied With Employees

01-09-2019Community - Crivitz
Crivitz St. Vincent de Paul To Host Valentine's Dance

01-09-2019Community - Crivitz
Mansfield Retires After 27 Years As Firefighter

01-09-2019Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Legion To Meet Jan. 16

01-09-2019Community - Coleman
12th Annual Chris Baenen Ice Fishing Sportsman's Banquet

01-09-2019Community - Coleman
Coleman Utility Board Meet Monday, Jan. 14

01-09-2019Community - Coleman
Crop Budgeting Workshop at Lena

01-09-2019Community - Coleman
Abilgail Englebert Is New Teacher At Lena

01-09-2019Front Page
Peshtigo City Council Award, Certificate, Accepts Grants

01-09-2019Front Page
County Removes Representatives From MCABI Board Of Directors

01-09-2019Front Page
Marinette Rec Center To Open January 25


space
Peshtigo Times
WEB Poll!
space Yes
No
Undecided
space
TO VOTE CLICK
YES, NO or UNDECIDED

Suggest a Question
space .
space
FRONT
space
.
space
CLASSIFIEDS
space
.
space
COMMUNITY
space
.
space
GUEST BOOK
space
.
space
NEWS
space
.
space
OBITS
space
.
space
PERSPECTIVES
space
.
space
SPORTS
space
.
space
SUBSCRIBE
space
.
space
.
space
PESHTIGO FIRE
space
.
space
CUSTOM PRINTING
space
.
space
TIMES' SAVER
space
.
space
Click for Peshtigo, Wisconsin Forecast
FORECAST
space
Quick...
News or Ad Search
Enter News key words.
Enter Ad key words.



Peshtigo Times
841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
Email:
News@
PeshtigoTimes.com

space
Fax: 715-582-4662
© 2000-2019
All right reserved
space
Powered by
WEB Media
Interactive
COMMUNITY
WEB sites