Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame honors another outstanding class

By Tom Kendra
localsportsjournal.com

Legendary Muskegon hockey player and coach Moose Lallo used to tell
fans tongue-in-cheek:

“Don’t clap, throw money.”

Moose uttered that line once again Saturday night as the 1962 Muskegon
Zephyrs, the team he served as player/coach, was inducted into the
Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame. And if the number of cheers
cascading through the banquet room had been dollar bills, each of the
nine members of that team on hand would have left with a wad of cash.

The induction of that championship Zephyrs team was the emotional
highlight as the local hall of fame started its second quarter century
with its 26th annual induction banquet on a picturesque night at
Muskegon Country Club.

“Muskegon is known as a hockey town all across North America,” Zephyrs
team member Warren Back, who spoke on behalf of the team, told the
gathered crowd of 275. “What you have here is very special.”

Joining the Zephyrs in the “Class of 2012” were Fred Storck, Trinity
Townsend, Distinguished Service Award winner Pete Gawkowski and
Student-Athlete honorees Lauren Hazekamp of Fruitport and Jason
Ribecky of Muskegon Catholic.

The new inductees bring the hall’s membership to 101 individuals, nine
teams, 22 Distinguished Service Award winners and 34 Student-Athlete
honorees.

Here’s a look at the MASHF’s newest members:

Fred Storck
Storck may be 84 years old, but he remembers his glory days of
professional baseball as if it were yesterday.

“My first professional baseball job in Batavia, N.Y., they paid me
$125 a month,” Storck told the crowd. “Heck, I would have done it for
$25 or less.”

Storck, the pride of Muskegon St. Mary’s High School, played 11
seasons of professional baseball, advancing as high as the Triple AAA
level. His ascent to the big leagues was jettisoned when he was
drafted in 1950.

Storck returned to Muskegon after retiring in 1956 and worked 30 years
for the Muskegon Police Department.

Storck and his wife of 62 years, Yvonne, have five children and 14
grandchildren.

Trinity Townsend
Townsend’s induction comes as a breath of fresh air amidst the turmoil
in the Muskegon Heights school system.

Townsend was a 400-meter state champion at Muskegon Heights in the
1990s, who went on to be an All-American at the University of Michigan
and to run in the Olympic Trials.

He credited his parents for getting him running down the correct path of life.

“My parents, honestly, were much more interested in the numbers on my
report card than any of my times in track,” said Townsend, who was
joined Saturday at the head table by his brother, Travis.

Both of the Townsend brothers were members of Heights’ award-winning
Quiz Bowl team in the 1990s.

Townsend credited his high school track coach, Mark Belrose, and his
brother for encouraging him to keep running when he wanted to give up.
Travis ran with him every day for a full year in Ann Arbor while
training for the U.S. Track & Field Championships.

Townsend is now an attorney with the King & Spalding law firm in Atlanta.

The 1962 Muskegon Zephyrs hockey team
Warren Back illustrated the toughness of his team during his remarks
on Saturday night, noting that players of that era rarely missed a
game with an injury.

“We got plenty of stitches, but that’s not getting hurt,” Back said,
adding, “I don’t remember ever seeing Ken Hayden (one of the Zephyrs
team members) without stitches.”

The 1962 Zephyrs finished with a 43-23-2 record for 88 points, winning
the International Hockey League’s prestigious Turner Cup championship.
The team was led by two of the IHL’s top scorers in Bryan McLay and
Joe Kastelic, who are both already members of the MASHF and now live
across the street from each other in Muskegon.

The team’s other wingers were Ron Stephenson, Stan Konrad, Ken Hayden
and Claude Boucher. The centers were Lyle Porter, Warren Back and
Larry Lund.

Muskegon only had three defensemen on the final roster, with one of
those being player/coach Moose Lallo, along with Gerry Glaude and Joe
Kiss. The star player in the Turner Cup finals was goaltender Jim
McLeod.

The Zephyrs, who were owned by Jerry DeLise, were the first hockey
team to bring a professional hockey league championship to Muskegon.

Pete Gawkowski
Gawkowski joked he could have catered Saturday’s dinner with Subway
sandwiches, but other than that, it was a perfect evening.

Gawkowski, the owner of 15 Subway franchises in West Michigan,
received the annual Distinguished Service Award for his tireless
support of baseball in the Muskegon area – specifically, his
commitment to the refurbishment of Muskegon baseball’s crown jewel,
Marsh Field.

“I stand up here humbled and somewhat embarrassed by this honor,” said
Gawkowski, a 1969 Muskegon Catholic Central graduate.

Student-Athlete honorees
Jason Ribecky didn’t show up until the very end of the banquet and he
arrived under-dressed, but he had a great excuse.

Ribecky led his Muskegon Catholic Central baseball team to a regional
championship Saturday in Mount Pleasant, then rushed back with his
family for the ceremony still wearing his MCC baseball uniform.

“Sorry to keep you all waiting,” said Ribecky, who thanked his family
and especially all of his teammates, adding, “Without them, I wouldn’t
have had the wonderful experience of high school sports that I had.”

While Ribecky closed out the evening, Lauren Hazekamp of Fruitport
started the night with an emotional speech using each of the letters
in the word SUCCESS.

Hazekamp, who was the setter and leader of the Fruitport volleyball
team which won back-to-back Class B state championships, concluded by
saying:

“I have learned a whole new definition of the word success and it’s
not about the trophies or anything like that,” Hazekamp said.

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