ALPENA — The wait is over.
After waiting and waiting, and then waiting some more, the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 took its place among the area’s all-time best during the Hall of Fame’s annual banquet Saturday at the APlex.
The Class of 2019 — Eric Puls, Terry Thomas and Tom Lavoie, Bruce VanderWall, Bob Kelley, Jim Hubert, and Shannon Domrase Woloszyk — was originally announced in February 2020 and slated to be inducted that May.
But COVID-19 concerns canceled two consecutive banquets, prolonging their induction to well over 800 days after the announcement.
But the wait proved to be more than worth it. Along with Boosters of the Year, Joyce Gohlke and Jim Townsend, and the Team of the Year — the 2010 Alpena High baseball team — the inductees finally got their moment in the spotlight in front of an enthusiastic and supportive crowd of more than 200 people.
Puls was a basketball star for Alpena High, who set several records and put together an accomplished resume before going on to play at the University of Michigan. Among those accomplishments were 937 career points, all-conference honors, and playing on a district title team.
Appearing via video, Puls thanked his coaches and said community support played a big factor in his standout career.
“It’s a huge honor to be a part of this and join such great company,” Puls said. “The community and community support is what makes Alpena special and makes me proud to be from Alpena.”
VanderWall played during one of the most successful stretches in Alpena boys basketball history and was part of teams that won district and regional championships. He finished his Alpena career as the No. 2 all-time scorer before playing at Alpena Community College.
Alpena had a profound impact on VanderWall’s life, even as he noted he wasn’t exactly thrilled to move there from Grand Haven at 12 years old.
“That skinny 12-year-old boy didn’t want to move to Alpena, but I’m glad I did,” VanderWall said. “Any success I may have had personally was done with contributions from many others and I had great teammates that helped me athletically and personally.”
Woloszyk was a softball star and became an integral part of Alpena High’s lineup. After a decorated high school career, she played for Alma College and was part of one of the best teams in program history in 1994.
Saturday marked Woloszyk’s second induction into a Hall of Fame after she was inducted into Alma’s Hall of Fame in 2013.
“I’m truly honored and grateful to be here tonight, surrounded by so many athletes, friends, and family,” Woloszyk said.
As a coaching duo, Thomas and Lavoie led the Alpena girls basketball program to great success, including the program’s first district and regional titles. Supported by numerous former players on Saturday, the pair noted that the relationships they formed with players and parents paved the way for Alpena’s success.
Kelley earned eight letters at Alpena before going on to play at ACC and later getting into coaching. He was also a noted slow-pitch softball player and speedskater.
Hubert was a noted baseball star, nicknamed Yogi after New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra, and also spent many years as a coach. With his induction, Hubert is one of the few inductees to also be named a Booster of the Year, an honor he earned in 2015.
“Wins didn’t matter, it was about making friendships because friendships last forever,” Hubert said. “I always told my players to follow their dreams because, with hard work, determination, heart, and desire, you can be whatever you want to be.”
A fervent supporter of Wildcat athletics, Gohlke could always be found in the front row at Alpena home games, no matter the sport. When she wasn’t cheering on the Wildcats, Gohlke could be found in The Alpena News office, clipping sports articles to send to local athletes.
“Like an angel from heaven, she was always there to help,” John Stender, the evening’s master of ceremonies said. “It was never what or why, it was, ‘How can I help?’”
Townsend made a career of helping kids, helping to found the CHAMPS organization, and spending years as a youth coach and board member for youth sports organizations.
“This is a really special honor for me, especially when you love what you do,” Townsend said. “Coaching has been far more about relationships and life rather than winning and losing and I have been truly blessed by those relationships.”
Alpena’s 2010 baseball team went 26-12, setting new program records and individual records on the way to winning a district championship.
A dozen players were on hand to be honored Saturday along with two assistant coaches and head coach Scott MacKenzie.
“It was outstanding. It’s great as a coach to see kids come back and be as successful as they are,” MacKenzie said.
Before inductions, Gary Mischley, a Hall of Fame founder and longtime president, was honored for his service of more than 40 years and received a standing ovation from those in attendance.