Beginning in 1991, the Hall of Fame board of directors decided to expand the hall to include an award to a member of the community in honor of their dedication to athletics in a non-participatory manner.  To date, the MASHF has been presented annually, and winner represent a vast array of services provides to a wide variety of sports.  The Muskegon area is fortunate to have such talent working to keep the community in the spotlight. In 2018, the award was named in honor of longtime Hall of Fame president, Gene Young.
Mart Tardani - 1991 DSA

    One of nine children, Mart is remembered by friends from his youth as a man who always loved sports.  Baseball was always a favorite, and although Tardani was never blessed with outstanding athletic skills, he was always a participant and the team statistician in neighborhood games.
    A 1938 graduate of Muskegon St. Joseph, Tardani found full-time work at Lakey Foundry following a two-year stint at the Muskegon College of Business.  A timekeeper for Lakey's during the day, Tardani worked as a freelance reporter at night and on weekends.  In 1961, after 21 years at the foundry, he accepted a full-time sports writing position with the Muskegon Chronicle.
    Tardani felt a rapport with the West Michigan community and tales from his own life were often interspersed among his sports reporting.  His coverage of the local sports scene included numerous features on the sports heroes of yesterday.  Filled with anecdotes, his writings offered many the chance to relive the glory days of Muskegon's varied sports scene.  During the high school football season his column predicting the week's winners were heavily read, as well as a source of inspiration for numerous prep squads.
    Coverage of the Newaygo girls basketball team's march to the 1984 state championship, as well as coverage of three World Series were personal highlights of his career.  His sensitive text covering a cancer-stricken athlete, as well as an article about the untimely death of another athlete won awards.
    On January 1, 1988, Tardani retired from The Chronicle, but not from sports writing.  He continued covering events, and writing features for the paper until his death in August of 1990.


Les David - 1992 DSA

"Mr. Baseball" to local residents, Les David's involvement with the national pastime in Muskegon covered a span of more than 60 seasons.  A major league scout for 47 years, he worked for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, and Cincinnati Reds.  David also served as president of the United Baseball League from 1966 until his death in 1988.
    David was the originator and driving force behind the Marsh Field Improvement Fund Tournament hosted annually in Muskegon.  Serving as caretaker of the city-owned baseball diamond at Peck Street and Laketon Avenue, David poured time and money into the site.  Les not only kept the grounds in playable shape, but his efforts were directly responsible for the electric scoreboard, lighting system, modern restrooms, rebuilt dugouts, and aluminum bleachers among other improvements to the facility.
    At the age of 18, David first became involved in baseball in Muskegon.  A catcher and third baseman with a number of local teams, he officially hung up the cleats in 1935.  Over a span of 50 years behind the bench, David managed the Muskegon Pepsi's, the Muskegon Civics, and the Muskegon Zephyrs of the United Baseball League, among others.  His greatest coaching triumph came in August of 1967 when the Pepsi's defeated the Grand Rapids Sullivans for the state National Baseball Congress title, and the right to represent Michigan in the NBC nationals at Wichita, Kansas.
In 1979, he was honored locally for his years of service to baseball in Greater Muskegon.  One year later, David was one of six baseball boosters from Michigan and Ohio honored before an exhibition game at Tiger Stadium for his contributions to amateur baseball.


Ray Cioe - 1993 DSA

    A 1932 graduate of Muskegon High School, Cioe served Muskegon Catholic Central for over 25 years as a teacher, coach, athletic director and business manager.  He received his start in coaching as a volunteer assistant football coach at Muskegon Central Junior High in 1933.  In 1950 he joined the staff of St. Jean's High School as an assistant basketball coach.  With the merger of the area's three Catholic schools into Muskegon Catholic Central in 1953, Cioe was put in charge of the junior high school athletic program.  In 1954, he served MCC as a study hall supervisor, and handled the Crusader frosh football squad.
    Presented with the opportunity to teach, he returned to school in 1956, taking extension courses at Muskegon Community College and Aquinas College.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University in 1966 at the age of 52.
    Cioe retired from MCC in 1979, but his ties to the school remained strong.  "Catholic Central is what he talked about all the time," noted his sister Teresa Cioe, "and that's where he went every day."  In 1986, the school showed its appreciation with the formal dedication of the school's gymnasium in his name.
Yet Cioe's volunteer work was not strictly limited to Catholic Central.  A devoted fan of baseball, for years he managed teams in the Greater Muskegon Little League, American Legion, and Connie Mack circuits.  In 1989, he was honored for 35 years of service as a volunteer worker at city track meets.  In 1993, he was honored with posthumous induction into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.


Nelson Volz - 1994 DSA

    A native of Toledo, Ohio, Nelson Volz has been active in the local sports community since his arrival in Muskegon in 1937. Best known as the public address announcer for Muskegon Big Reds, Volz has served the area in a variety of ways.  A baseball, basketball and football official for 30 years, he was recognized by the Michigan High School Athletic Association for his years of service.
    Volz received his start in announcing in 1939, as a color man for a local radio station.  In 1941, he began a 38-year stint as P.A. announcer for the Big Reds gridiron program.  In between, Volz handled the same duties for the Muskegon Lassies of the old All-American Girls Baseball League.  The team played their home games at Marsh Field from 1946-1950.  In later years, he worked the microphone for Muskegon High School boys and girls basketball games, and a number of prep contests at the L.C. Walker Arena.  In 1986, he was selected by the Michigan High School Coaches Association to handle the P.A. duties at the East-West All-Star game, played at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
    A graduate of Western Michigan University, Volz taught mathematics in the Muskegon Public Schools for 38 years before his retirement in 1979.  Since that time, he has been active member of the community, assisting the elderly with their taxes and serving on the Muskegon Elks scholarship committee.  An avid bowler and horseshoe pitcher, Volz has also worked on the design and promotion of the Moose horseshoe court.


Charles W. Marsh - 1995 DSA

    Arriving in Muskegon in 1900, Charles Marsh soon established himself as one of the community's most successful businessmen and a respected civic leader.  In addition to his prominent role in community affairs, he also made a significant personal contribution to sports in Muskegon, specifically in the area of baseball and high school athletics.
    After Muskegon entered the Michigan State League in 1910, Marsh immediately became one of the baseball team's most active boosters.  In 1912, he became president of the club and served for two years.  When the State League folded after 1914 and one of the principal home fields, Castenholz Park, was dismantled and converted to residential property, Marsh spearheaded a campaign to build a new downtown ballpark.
    Professional league baseball returned to Muskegon in 1916 with the grand opening of Marsh Field.  In 1919, Marsh and his associates generously deeded the new baseball park to the city of Muskegon at its original cost.  Marsh continued to provide financial and moral support to keep Muskegon in professional baseball and returned as president of the 1923-24 Michigan Ontario League franchise.
    As an influential and respected member of the Muskegon Board of Education for the last 27 years of his life, Charles Marsh continued to promote local sports programs in the school system.  He was instrumental in the campaign to construct the concrete stands of Hackley Stadium, which opened in 1927.


Lyle Moran - 1996 DSA

    The late Lyle Moran devoted a lifetime to the encouragement and development of youth sports programs in the Muskegon area.  Although his contribution was felt throughout the county, the people of North Muskegon especially treasured his impact.  Much of the past sports traditions at North Muskegon High School were influenced by the hard work and dedication of Moran at the younger age levels of competitive sports.
    It is fair to say that Lyle was the “Godfather” of youth sports programs in the Greater Muskegon area.  In the 1940's he founded Little League football and in 1952 he co-founded the local Little League baseball.  Many area youngsters learned their sports fundamentals under the guidance of Lyle Moran. Not just an organizer, Moran was an expert coach who managed youth teams throughout his adult life.  Along with his dedication to promoting and teaching youth sports, he often contributed personal sums from his own modest income to help support the programs.
    Another lesser-known contribution made by Lyle Moran to the area's sports history was done through one of his hobbies - home movies.  With his own movie camera, he recorded numerous sports events from the distant past.  His surviving films offer a rare window for us to relive games and other sports activities of earlier decades.
    After his death, the city of North Muskegon honored Lyle by naming the city’s Little League Field in his honor.


John E. "Jake" Outwin - 1997 DSA

    Jake Outwin was Muskegon’s “Grand Old Man” of baseball at the time of his death in 1954.  His contributions, especially in later life, in giving local fans entertaining and quality baseball at Marsh Field for many seasons cannot be overlooked.  Numerous legendary stars of the game, as well as the “cream” of local talent were showcased for Muskegon fans during the 1940’s when Mr. Outwin organized his own semi-professional teams and later a class A level of fully professional baseball with the Muskegon Clippers of the Central League.
    Jake came to Muskegon around WWI and participated in local factory leagues as player and manager for several years.  He later had a brief fling in the front office of Muskegon’s MINT League club as secretary and business manager in the 1920’s.  When WWII put the Muskegon Reds of the Michigan State League on the shelf, Outwin filled the void by assembling the best of local players into a semi-pro team called the Outwin Zephyrs.  From 1942 to 1947, the Zephyrs attracted an interesting variety of first-rate opponents at Marsh Field, including visits by the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox.   Many of the great Negro League teams made stops in Muskegon, as did the Great Lakes Navy team, made up of big league stars serving their wartime obligations in the military.

    The post-war boom of minor league baseball gave rise to the rebirth of the class A Central League in 1948.  Mr. Outwin was among the organizers of this new circuit and was instrumental in gaining a franchise for Muskegon.  Jake was president and principal stockholder in the Muskegon Clippers, a Chicago White Sox farm team.  Many future major leaguers appeared at Marsh Field during the Central League years.  Thanks to the dedication of Jake Outwin, Muskegon was on the baseball map once again in his lifetime.


Elsa Lowe - 1998 DSA

    An ice skating instructor at outdoor rinks and at the L.C. Walker Arena since the 1950's, Lowe embodies the spirit of what the Distinguished Service Award is all about.  While she received a nominal fee for her time of teaching figure skating, she has consistently took on skaters free who could not afford the classes, while spending her own money, talents and time in an effort to promote figure skating.
    A native of Austria, where she became a professional skater at a young age, Elsa toured Europe performing in ice shows.  A resident of Muskegon since 1948, she took over the L.C. Walker Arena's skating program from Gil McKellen in 1962.  Lowe's dream was to produce national champion-type figure skaters from the area and she pushed on toward that goal with a vengeance.
    She staged shows at the Arena in which she personally did all the sewing of the costumes for the 50-plus participants, in addition to designing and building the props for the set.  During the 1960's and early 70's, Elsa's annual shows would draw more than 2,000 fans to the arena. She continued this work tirelessly for 15 years, until ice time at the arena became so expensive that she could no longer host shows there.  Interest in skating peaked during this era, as nearly 150 skaters enrolled in her classes annually.  Lowe continued to teach the sport she loved into 2000, and was credited with instructing nearly 5,000 skaters during her long career in the Port City and during the summer months at Bowling Green State University, Michigan State University, in Columbus, OH and at the famous Wagon Wheel, a sprawling 300 acre resort in Rockton, IL.
    Elsa was a member of the US Figure Skating Association and was rated a Senior Professional with the Professional Skaters Guild of America.  While only one of Elsa's skaters became professional, many were gold skaters (highest honor) at national amateur competitions in Ohio.  "I've always believed there would be a champion coming out of Muskegon someday," said Lowe.  I still believe that."

Jim Dodson - 1999 DSA

    Jim Dodson's technical job description at Muskegon Heights High School was equipment manager - counting jerseys, taking care of the balls and washing towels.  But his real work went far beyond that.  Dodson made the Muskegon Heights Tigers look good on the outside from 1966 until his death in 1992, but his real gift was the ability to reach youngsters' minds, hearts and souls.
    An all-state football player for the Heights in 1945, Dodson was invited back to help out at his alma mater by Heights sports legend, Ossie McCarty.  For 25 years, Dodson's daily routine for nine months of the year was the same - work eight hours delivering mail, come home and eat dinner, change his clothes and head to the high school.
    'Dr. D.' as he was known to Tiger athletes was eventually paid for his work of taping ankles, cleaning jerseys, fixing lockers, sweeping dressing rooms, rubbing his special ointment on sprains and sore muscles and anything else the coaches needed.  But he was never paid for his extensive counseling work.  And he never charged for his shirts, pants or jackets the he would give to kids that desperately needed them.
    The father of three children with his wife Helen, Dodson was active in the U.S. Army Reserves for almost 40 years.


John "Smitty" Vanderplow - 2000 DSA

    Muskegon area sports teams and individual athletes enjoyed the benefits of one of the city's most generous boosters in beverage distributor Smitty Vanderplow during the mid-twentieth century.  Smitty, himself a football and basketball star at Muskegon High School in the 1920's, was committed to the promotion of athletics in his home town and gave generously of his own time and money to make Muskegon proud of its sports programs and its heroes.
    Among his considerable contributions were team sponsorships, primarily for youth baseball and softball leagues and numerous bowling teams in the area.  Many, many local athletes participated in their favorite team sports under the banner of "Smitty's Beverage".  Smitty was devoted to local sports and reached into his own wallet on many occasions to accommodate requests for sponsorship.  He also took a personal interest in individual athletes needing financial support to further their careers in college by providing summer jobs at his distributorship.  
    When professional baseball returned to the city in 1948 with the formation of the Muskegon Clippers of the Central League, Vanderplow was one of the stockholders, along with the parent Chicago White Sox.  After two disappointing seasons, the White Sox attempted to buy out local shareholders and dissolve the franchise.  Determined to keep baseball in Muskegon, Smitty purchased the team and arranged a working agreement with the New York Yankees and other Central League clubs to assemble quality players to continue the Clippers operation another year.  Unfortunately, poor attendance here and throughout the league in 1950 forced Smitty to sell out in a sea of red ink, but he managed to pay off all outstanding debts, many of them out of his own pocket.
    In 1966, local sports enthusiasts toasted Vanderplow at a special banquet.  On this occasion, Smitty donated over $8,000 to the creation of a new athletic facility in Norton Shores, which was named Vanderplow Field in his honor.


Michael Knight - 2001 DSA

    Michael Knight was not a native of Muskegon. But few have championed her causes as Knight has. He fell in love with the area shortly after moving here in the 1970s and immediately got involved with many civic projects on a volunteer basis. He is credited with personally fighting through miles of red tape to get a luge, cross-country ski trails, and an ice-skating facility built on state park land in North Muskegon. The facility, known as the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, has been utilized by hundreds of thousands of people since it was established in the late 1980s, averaging 25,000 participants a year. The complex’s lodge is called the “Michael Knight Memorial Sports Lodge,” in honor of Knight who died in 1988 at age 45 of heart failure.
    In addition to the Winter Sports Complex, Knight helped establish the Amateur Athletic Union winter games in Muskegon, which lured hundreds here for competition in everything from cross country skiing to gymnastics, to karate. Those games even received national TV exposure. Knight also established a biathlon near the state park that was among the most competitive and well attended in the state. Outside of the sports arena, Knight busily promoted Muskegon in whatever capacity he could. He served as president of the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant, was founder and executive director of the Northside Summer Spectacular, served on the North Muskegon city council and was executive director of the Muskegon Heights Festival in the Park.


Bill Tilton -2002 DSA

     Bill Tilton moved to the Muskegon area from Terra Haute in 1964.  An avid golfer, he won 38 golf tournaments during his days in Muskegon, but he is best remembered for his work within the sport.
    A retired engineer, Tilton spent much of his adult life passing golf lessons on to hundreds of area junior golfers and to the less fortunate.
Gathering unclaimed and demonstration clubs from area courses, Tilton would put together free sets of clubs for those who want to try the game.
    Among his many accomplishments, in 1967 Tilton developed the junior program at Oak Ridge Golf Course, then known as the Pontaluna Country Club. He started the county junior traveling golf program in 1971 and helped run it for the next 19 years. Soon after, Tilton began the local “Golfer of the Year” program and was the driving force behind the tournament which is now known as the James Henderson Memorial Match Play Championship. From 1989 to 1993, he coached the Muskegon Community College golf team and he served as president of the Greater Muskegon Golf Association in 1994.


Leo Campbell - 2003 DSA

    Leo Campbell, who taught physical education in Muskegon Public Schools for 44 years, helped thousands of kids learn the rules and the value of sports long before they reached high school. Campbell never married. Instead, he devoted his energy and free time to his students. A native of Anderson, Indiana, Campbell lived in Muskegon for 65 years. He started teaching gym at Muskegon’s elementary schools in 1920 and didn’t retire until 1964 — working with Big Red greats from Ike Kepford to Earl Morrall to Don Arnson and even future Ice Follies stars Gil and Gordon McKellen.
    His final gift to Muskegon’s youth came after his death. The antiques in his home and shop were auctioned shortly after his death, with the proceeds going to establish a fund with the Muskegon County Community Foundation to benefit recreation sports and young people. In 1990, money from that fund was given to the Muskegon Area Special Olympics program.

Team Doctors - 2004 DSA
20 or more years of service
Louis Beechnau
Tim Beechnau
Ed Fugate
Yousif Hamati
Muskegon Catholic
Ned Krohn
Robert Pierce
Larry Poel
Grand Haven
Charles Teifer

     Times were when doctors with black bags full of stethoscopes, band aids and ointments, stalked the sidelines at high school football games.  Times were when they volunteered their services to help out the young athletes in their communities.  They performed team physicals, taped ankles, wrapped knees and checked out bumps and bruises young football players would incur during practice and on the playing field.  There are few left now, replaced by athletic trainers in the growing area of sports medicine.  They include eight who have given at least 20 years of service on the sidelines.  The distinguished service award honors these individuals for so selflessly giving their time and talents back to the schools in their communities.

The father-and-son duo of Dr. Louis Beechnau and Dr. Tim Beechnau at Ravenna kept Bulldogs going for more than 50 years.

Dr. Ed Fugate, who retired in 1990, served Muskegon High School for 42 years.

Dr. Yousif Hamati, an orthopedic surgeon who started manning the sidelines at Muskegon Catholic Central in 1979, continues to serve today.  Hamati has not only treated, but has performed surgery on many a Crusader football player.

Dr Ned Krohn of Whitehall who began treating football players in the 1960s, continued serving the Vikings for over 30 years.

In addition to football, Dr. Robert Pierce of Fruitport made it a point to be at girls and boys basketball games, and served the district for over 25 years.

Grand Haven's Dr. Larry Poel also made it a point to be at girls and boys basketball games, served the Buccaneers for over 25 years.

Dr. Charles Teifer served Muskegon football from the 1920s until 1952.


Ralph Burr - 2005 DSA

    Most Little League baseball fields in the older parts of towns do not look as beauti­fully manicured as Sheldon Park in East Muskegon. Of course, most fields do not have an individual like Ralph Burr to work on like a second front lawn. Burr has often single-handedly maintained his own "field of dreams” for no pay since 1958.
     In 1999, Sheldon Park hosted the little League baseball state tournament a true feather in Burr’s cap. Burr has also served his hometown as the unpaid offi­cial scorekeeper of Muskegon profession­al hockey games for the past 26 years and a minimally-paid official and coach for high school and youth games for the past 49 years.
    Burr, a 1954 Muskegon High School graduate, worked as a supervisor at Brunswick Corp. for 35 years. When he was not working, he was serving others. Many Muskegonites still remember him as ‘Coach Burr,’ as he did quite a bit of youth football and baseball coaching in the 1960s. Ralph and Kathy Burr have seven children, 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild.


Jerry Porter - 2006 DSA

For almost 40 years, Jerry Porter was "Mr. Bowling" in Muskegon County. Elected to the Greater Muskegon Bowling Association board of directors in 1969, Porter worked his way up to GMBA president in 1979. In 1982, he became the organization's executive director, and 25 years later, remained on the job. He and his wife, Paulette, who served a the assistant executive director of the GMBA, worked thousands of hours running tournaments at bowling alleys all over the state and even more hours compiling scores and awards at their longtime home in Lakeside. Porter was one of the founders of the Muskegon Bowling Hall of Fame in 1995 and was inducted into that organization in 2000. He also served the sport of bowling on the national level for 15 years, starting in 1990, as the only Muskegon-area board member ever for the American Bowling Congress. Well-known among area bowlers, Porter also was one of the founders of the Greater Muskegon Golf Association in the 1960s.

Mark Jastrzembski - 2007 DSA

Mark JastrzembskiMark Jastrzembski has given more than 20 years of his time to many area groups, particularly the West Michigan Speedskating club and the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex.  Fitting the job description of the Distinguished Service Award to a 'T', Jastrzembski has almost single-handedly run the speedskating organization for nearly 20 years, seldom missing a practice.  The club has produced many top skaters, including the organization's first national champion, Grand Haven's Kelly Anderson, as well as Caledonia's Kimberly Derrick, who competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Italy.  Jastrzembski is also the founder of the Michigan Winter Triathlon, and Muskegon's Wintersportsfest.

Jack Crowell - 2008 DSA

Jack Crowell fell in love with boxing while watching Pete Petroskey work Kenny Lane’s corner during a 1963 title fight on a hot August afternoon in Saginaw. In a dozen or so fights over the next decade, Crowell proved he could punch and developed "a decent left hook." From the start, though, Crowell knew his boxing legacy would be built outside the ring, not in it.
    He began his coaching career in 1976.  Working out of his small Cloverville garage with kids from the neighborhood, Crowell laid the groundwork for a local boxing renaissance that blossomed in the mid 1980's. And it was Crowell who, along with Lane, Petroskey and Terry Markowski, helped keep the Muskegon Area Boxing Club going as it was kicked around town for almost three decades before finding a permanent home in the Muskegon Recreation Center at Smith-Ryerson Park on Jackson Hill.
    Featuring a strong stable of successful fighters, the sport returned to local glory.  With bulging crowds filling local auditoriums, Crowell moved his shows to the L.C. Walker Arena.  With his reputation as a trainer growing nationally, Crowell was named a coach for the U.S. Golden Gloves team from 1980-82.
    Crowell lives in Muskegon with his wife, Sandy. They have two children.

Earl O'Brien - 2009 DSA

     For 45 years, kids’ smiles were Earl O’Brien’s only reward for the endless hours he spent coaching, refereeing and organizing youth sports leagues. For O’Brien, that was always more than enough.
     "I didn’t do the things I’ve done my whole life for an award," said O’Brien said, a 1955 Muskegon High School graduate. "I did it for the kids."
     Since he first coached the Bluffton Elementary School softball team in 1964, O'Brien saw the profound effect team sports can have in shaping a child’s attitudes.
     In 1970, O’Brien took on his first big volunteer challenge when he established the Tri-Cities Family YMCA’s Youth Basketball League. The league he served as volunteer coordinator for until 1993 now has more than 800 participants. One of O’Brien proudest accomplishments is giving girls an opportunity to play in the YBL.
     A soccer and T-Ball coach and referee from 1970 until 1988, he remained a part-time soccer official until he turned 64.
     In 2005, O’Brien organized a fishing tournament in Grand Haven to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. To date the tournament has raised $104,000. Organizing this year’s tournament is going to be real challenge, O’Brien says, due to the poor economy, but he's not backing down.


Barney Sutherland - 2010 DSA

     Barney Sutherland, who taught social studies and coached at Reeths-Puffer High School for 38 years before retiring in 2001, continues to work at R-P as an event manager.  Sutherland is truly a Rocket legend who earned the Distinguished Service Award, presented annually to an individual who has made a major contribution to sports in the area, but not as an athlete.
     Many longtime Reeths-Puffer sports fans can't remember ever going to a home game and not seeing the jovial, white-haired Sutherland working the event.  He is also a giant in Laketon Township's black community, starting a human relations club at R-P in 1964, which brought students of different races together to talk and work out problems.
     "I sensed the need, which is why I started it," said Sutherland, who is still invited to the primarily-black Buel Playground neighborhood gathering every summer.
     Sutherland was a standout athlete in a graduating class of 26 at New Buffalo High School, who went on to run track at Western Michigan University, specializing in the long jump.  Sutherland has an amazing memory, recalling details about thousands of games and star athletes and average kids who have gone through the Reeths-Puffer system.
     Sutherland and his wife, Janet, combined to teach 71 years at Reeths-Puffer. He has two daughters and three sons.

Jim "Red" Heeres - 2011 DSA

     Heeres never married and has no children, but he became a father figure of sorts to thousands of Whitehall High School students through 48 years of service as a teacher and coach.
      His sports background started in his prep days at Western Michigan Christian High School, where he was part of the school’s first graduating class in 1953 and played basketball for Hall of Fame coach Elmer Walcott. In 1962, Heeres got a teaching job at Whitehall. Heeres served as the Vikings’ athletic director for one year and coached football for 22 years, basketball for 10 years, baseball for 13 years.

     He started the softball program at Whitehall and led the program as head coach for 17 years. In 2005, the district renamed their softball field in his honor. In the summer, Heeres worked as the waterfront director at Camp Pendalouan for eight years, then served for 30 years as the director of the swimming school at White Lake Yacht Club.  For over 30 years he led the Whitehall chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
     But for many, Heeres greatest impact came in the classroom where he taught the class for which he is best known, Entitled "Self-Discovery" Heeres asked Whitehall seniors to look inside themselves and evaluate who they are and what type of person they want to become.

Pete Gawkowski - 2012 DSA

     Pete Gawkowski has invested thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to better the sport of baseball in the Muskegon area, most notably refurbishing historic Marsh Field.  A 1969 graduate of Muskegon Catholic Central High School, he played football, basketball and baseball and also ran track for the Crusaders, then played baseball at Muskegon Community College.
     After his playing days ended, he remained involved in baseball as a coach, a board member for Roosevelt Park Youth Athletics, Mona Shores baseball boosters and Lakeshore Baseball Club. A "behind the scenes guy," he has worked to help the sport he loves make a comeback in West Michigan.
     In later years, he became the owner of indoor training facilities, Line Drives and Extra Innings. Through his involvement in the Lakeshore Baseball Club, he has helped resurrect Marsh Field, a city-owned baseball park that opened in 1916 and once served as the home to minor league baseball. During the 1940's the park also served as home for the Muskegon Lassies of the old All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.


Jim Moyes - 2013 DSA

     One of the most well-known and respected media personalities in Muskegon area history, Moyes was the long-time owner of the Bear Lake Tavern in North Muskegon, but is even better known for the trademark "Hello sports fans" introduction he used throughout his 43 years as the radio voice of local high school sports.
A 1959 graduate of North Muskegon High School, where his father had served as head coach, Moyes played basketball and baseball for the Norsemen, and worked as a stringer for the Muskegon Chronicle, covering area sports during his high school days. He received his start in broadcasting in Traverse City. 
He returned to Muskegon in 1976. A self-proclaimed sports nut, the one-of-a-kind Moyes spent most of his non-working hours contributing to the betterment of sports in the area and beyond.  He co-founded the West Michigan Track Club, was the driving force behind the restoration of the North Muskegon baseball field, the PA announcer at city and conference track meets for 30 years, and has served as emcee for numerous prep sports banquets. With a love for research and learning, on a statewide level he assembled a history of prep track and field in Michigan that dates back to 1898.
A member of the board of directors for the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame from 1988 until 2012, Moyes was also master of ceremonies for the Hall of Fame's annual induction banquet for many years. As with his radio broadcasts, his blend of humor and encyclopedia-like knowledge on America's past times kept those "sports fans" entranced and in stitches.


Cyndi Blair - 2014 DSA

     Cyndi Blair founded No More Sidelines in 2006, a program to provide children and young adults with various special needs the opportunity to participate on athletic teams and have opportunities afforded to mainstream children. Blair, the mother of five children and the Nursing and Medical Supervisor for Muskegon County Community Mental Health, began the organization with seven children, including her own daughter Alivia, who has cerebral palsy and autism.
     While several organizations exist nationally that advocate for special needs children, these organizations either narrowly define their participants, or focus on medical research, social service, and advocacy for special needs populations. Blair's vision was for an organization dedicated to integrating children with special needs into the community. The focus was on sports, and on fun for all involved.

    Today, No More Sidelines involves more than 300 local special needs children and their families in a variety of activities, including 13 area high schools and four colleges which participate in integrated clinics and games. For the majority population of children, the opportunity to engage with children with special needs increases their understanding and tolerance for the many differences in people.
     Headquartered in an former government office and warehouse, the organization has renovated the space to provide for a plethora of activities and jobs for those with special needs. The model has expanded beyond the city limits and now includes programs in Grand Rapids, Holland and Lansing. Calls are now fielded from advocates looking to start No More Sidelines programs in other parts of the country.


Dick Topp - 2015 DSA

     Dick Topp helped put Muskegon-area golf on the state map in recent years, leading the charge to bring the prestigious Michigan Amateur championship to his beloved Muskegon Country Club in 2005 and 2013.
     A Holland native and past president of the Golf Association of Michigan who still sits on the organization’s board, has also steered numerous other USGA and state-qualifying events to Muskegon. Topp, a member of White Lake Golf Club since 1969 and Muskegon Country Club since 1978, has also served as a rules official for the Golf Association of Michigan and is the in-house historian for the Muskegon club.
     A resident of the Muskegon area since 1965 and a retired executive from Webb Chemical, he fell in love with the game while working as a caddy in his youth in Holland. A tireless promoter of junior golf, "Topper" as has was called by friends, sent handwritten letters to the top Muskegon-area finishers at the high school state golf finals every year.


Jerry Harris - 2016 DSA

     Jerry Harris devoted almost 50 years of his life to Muskegon Heights schools, and more accurately, to the thousands of children who have walked those halls in the past. He first came to Muskegon Heights in 1968 as a teacher but quickly became involved with the Tiger athletic program, handling the ticket booth for football and coaching basketball at the elementary school.  By 1971, he had become facilities manager for the high school. Scheduling games and officials, and managing events  became part of his routine for the next 40-plus years.
     Daily contact with students as a teacher, administrator, and travel companion on the bus to away games, Harris became a constant in the lives of many.  Known as "Brother Harris" by students, he served as a bridge to the past, as he taught, coached and crossed paths with parents and grandparents of the athletes. He retired from teaching in 2009, but remained with the athletic program, serving as associate athletic director.
     An active member of Sacred Heart Church in Muskegon Heights, Harris was a charter member of the Muskegon Heights Jaycees and the Knights of Columbus, serving the needs of his community. A sponsor and contributor to the African-American Book Club at the high school, he also has served the area as an active part of youth football programs in Muskegon and North Ottawa County.


Mike Robillard - 2017 DSA

     A Michigan High School Athletic Association basketball and football official for more than 40 years, Mike Robillard spent much of his free time mentoring new officials, coaching, and volunteering with youth clubs in the Greater Muskegon area.
     A past president of the USA Officials Association, his skills were well-respected across the state. During those years he refereed five state boys basketball finals, one girls state final, a football final and over a dozen state semifinal contests for the MHSAA. At the collegiate level, he officiated in Division II, Division III, NIAA and for Junior College contests. His work was recognized by induction into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame in 2013 and the National Association of Sports Officials Hall of Fame in 2014.
     For 15 years, from 1986 to 2001, Robillard served as president of the Reeths-Puffer Summer Baseball and Softball League. Beginning in 2009, he worked with the baseball program at Muskegon Catholic Central, serving as an assistant coach for four seasons. The time was highlighted by the Crusaders' run to the MHSAA Division 4 state title in 2015.
     A 1970 graduate of Orchard View High School, Robillard was a veteran of the United States Air Force and served as a flight medic during the Vietnam War. He passed away unexpectedly after a brief battle with leukemia.


Edwin "Gene" Young - 2018 DSA

    Many would argue that Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame president Gene Young should have been honored with the Hall's Distinguished Service Award long before 2018. After all, he joined the board of directors a mere five months after the Hall was formed in November 1985, then stepped in as president following the death of his predecessor, Dick Hedges, in early 1994. But in his eyes, the board was always a team effort, and there were many other individuals in the area that were far more deserving of recognition for their years of distinguished service to sports in the West Michigan area.
Young spent countless hours working with the directors to make things happen, and it was work he loved. Under his direction, the Hall thrived. Young teamed with Muskegon Chronicle editor and publisher, the late Gary Ostrom, to lay the groundwork for the annual scholar-athlete awards, recognizing male and female high school seniors from around the area, and in 1996, the presentation of the award was added to Hall's annual induction ceremony. When the hall needed a new home, Young and his board guided it to the newly renovated L.C. Walker Arena in 1997. Under his guidance, in 2002, the Hall began sponsoring an annual Christmas basketball tournament with the goal of giving the proceeds back to the participating schools as a new form of fundraising for cash-strapped sports programs. His push to go beyond the four major sports of football, baseball, basketball and hockey was embraced by the board. Today, the MASHF honors male and female athletes from over 20 sports categories.
     Beside the hall, Young was a longtime school administrator at Fruitport, a booster of the Muskegon area on a number of different boards and an area sports radio broadcaster for football and basketball for nearly 40 years. Back in the day, Young was a star basketball player at Muskegon Heights who went on to play at Central Michigan and Weber State before returning to the area as a teacher and coach, first at Reeths-Puffer, and later at Fruitport.
     Because of his impact on the hall and the sports community, the hall's annual service award will now be known as the Gene Young Distinguished Service Award in his honor.

Jon Russell - 2019 DSA

Cal Van Singel - 2019 DSA


    Jon Russell and Cal Van Singel have been fixtures on the Muskegon-area airwaves for nearly two-dozen years, calling more than 1,100 high school football and basketball games in total. The duo are very well-respected for their promotion of all area schools and both boys and girls sports.
    Russell, a 1979 Muskegon High School graduate, is the play-by-play man, while Van Singel, a 1977 Grant High School graduate, is the color commentator. Russell and Van Singel became a radio team in the 1990s at WSHN in Fremont. They moved their act to WLCS in the early 2000s and have been fixtures in the area sports scene ever since. seemingly everywhere and always present at the big games. Russell is a longtime radio guy, both on-air and in sales, while Van Singel is co-owner of Van Singel Farms, a large-scale vegetable operation in Grant, MI.

Jim Rudicil - 2021 DSA

    Two decades previous, the Hall of Fame honored Michael Knight with its Distinguished Service Award for his work in helping to establish Muskegon's Winter Sport Complex. Twenty years later, Knight might not recognize the facility, now known as the Muskegon Luge and Adventure Park. Much of the reason is tied to the efforts of Jim Rudicil. As hands-on executive director of the park for the past 22 years, he and his staff have worked to transform the small non-profit facility into a year-round destination, built around outdoor activities. Those that use the complex know him simply as "Jim" - the guy who does it all, from icing the luge track at 3 a.m. to jumping on a snowmobile to go out in a blizzard and set cross-country ski tracks. In 2021, the park opened 1,400 foot dual zip lines to the mix of entertainment options. Soon to come will be a year-around multi- sided rock-climbing wall.
    Rudicil, a Reeths-Puffer High School graduate, grew up sledding on the hills that now make up the facility, and he and his friend Mark Grimmette (a two-time Olympic medalist in luge) helped construct the original luge run that originally put the complex on the map. For Rudicil, the adventure park is not a job, it's a passion and a way of life - a spirit which made him an ideal choice for the 2021 award.

Ken Erny - 2022 DSA

    A native of Burlington, New Jersey and a 1978 alumnus of Cedarville University in Ohio, where he played varsity tennis,  Ken Erny was initially hired by Fruitport Faith Christian following college graduation to teach history and begin a soccer program at the school. He stayed for 10 years.
    In 1990, Fruitport Community Schools hired Erny to work full-time with their Community Education. In addition, he was named coach of the Fruitport High School's first soccer team and would remain in the position for 19 years. Midway through the 1995-96 school year, he was named the school's interim athlete director, then embraced the position when it was offered.
    As the Trojan's AD, Erny oversaw the school's first three team state championships and a half-dozen individual state titlists. A self-described "workaholic," he stepped down as the Trojans' soccer coach following the 2008 season with a 242-133-20 record, including several trips to the regional finals. With an overall record of 335-182-32, he was named to the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2015.
     Universally respected as an athletic director, Erny was not quite ready to retire from the role, but was forced to step down in the summer of 2020 after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. In October 2020, Fruitport's soccer field was dedicated in his honor, forever to be known as "Ken Erny Field."

Gene Young Service Award