By Dennis Grall
For The Daily News
ESCANABA - Versatility is the common denominator displayed by the newest group of 10 Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame selectees.
The group excelled across the board, with eight of them making notable accomplishments in eight sports as athletes and/or coaches on the prep, collegiate and professional levels. Two of the choices made their impacts in four Upper Peninsula sports outside the school-pro levels.
They comprise the 43rd induction class to be installed April 26, 2014, at the Island Resort and Casino in Harris. That event will begin at 5 p.m. (Central time). Tickets will be available in the spring.
Inductees include Whitney Bell of Sault Ste. Marie, Mike Caruso of Iron Mountain, Jim Corgiat of Bessemer, Terry Duval of Kingsford and Escanaba, Jon LeBrasseur of Nahma, Bill Lucier of Hancock, the late Holly Jean (Anderson) McCullah of Laurium, Mike Photenhauer of Menominee, Sharon Schultz of Escanaba and Jill (Gobert) VanDamme of Perkins.
A radio broadcaster from 1972-2012, Caruso announced state championship games for six area high schools, handled the first wrestling broadcast in the area, and did a weekly interview show with coach Tom Izzo of Michigan.
He played Wishigan League baseball from 1966-88 and was MVP of the Felch Labor Day tournament (1975). He also played fastpitch softball for 20 years and spent 25 years as a youth baseball umpire.
Duval spent more than three decades coaching football, wrestling and track teams at Escanaba High School (a total of 100 years). He was 205-60 in 17 years as head wrestling coach, and was an assistant for 13 years.
He was also head boys track coach for seven of his 36 years with the program and was jayvee football head coach and assistant varsity football coach during 34 seasons.
The U.P. team wrestling championship trophy is named in honor of Terry Duval. He wrestled, ran track and played football at Kingsford High School.
LeBrasseur, a multi-state championship girls basketball coach in Texas, is the second straight inductee from Nahma, a tiny village in eastern Delta County. Pat Groleau was installed last year while previous Nahma inductees include Harold "Babe" Anderson, Ira "Hack" Hanson and Ray "Dude" Ranguette.
Other Hall of Fame backgrounds follow:
WHITNEY BELL, Sault Ste. Marie - An all-state hockey player and three-year baseball letterman at Sault High, Whitney Bell made his biggest splash in football. He was a two-time U.P. Dream Team and two-time all-state lineman at Sault, was a second-team Football Gazette lineman at Ferris State University, played in Arena Football League (Green Bay and Grand Rapids) and Canadian Football League (British Columbia) and helped the B.C. Lions win the Grey Cup (2006).
JIM CORGIAT, Bessemer - A Class C all-state football player, Jim Corgiat also was a baseball, basketball and track/field standout in Bessemer, earning 12 varsity letters. Known for his tape-measure home runs in Bessemer, he turned down a minor league baseball contact offer to play football at Michigan State University and averaged 27.5 yards per catch as a senior in 1959, and was also a sophomore lineman as part of MSU's stout defense, but an Achilles heel injury short-circuited his career. He had a tryout as a punter for the Green Bay Packers in 1962. He helped the Lansing Rockets win the state ASA fastpitch softball title in 1962. He hit more than 700 career home runs in slowpitch softball and helped Detroit Kennedy Optical win a Class C state title in 1979.
JON LEBRASSEUR, Nahma - A three-sport athlete at Big Bay de Noc High School and MVP of the Lake Superior State University golf team, Jon LeBrasseur found tremendous success as a girls basketball coach in Texas. He compiled a stunning 850-212 record with 14 state championships in 35 years at tiny Sacred Heart High School in Muenster. The Tigerettes won seven straight titles (1998-2004). He also coached football, cross country, track, boys basketball and boys and girls golf, also winning state titles in track and golf.
BILL LUCIER, Hancock - A charter member of Michigan Tech University's sports hall of fame in 1985, Bill Lucier spent six seasons as Tech's head football coach (1963-68), leading the Huskies to two Northern Intercollegiate Conference titles. He was Associated Press small college coach of the year in Michigan in 1963 and NIC coach of the year in 1963 and 1965. He participated in seven NCAA hockey championship games, winning three as a player at University of Michigan and two as a Michigan Tech assistant coach (1962-1965). He also had a runner-up finish as coach and third place as a player.
HOLLY JEAN (ANDERSON) MCCULLAH, Laurium - The "Speedball Queen" pitched two teams to Upper Peninsula fastpitch softball titles, at age 14 and then returning 18 years later after becoming the mother of nine children. She threw a no-hitter and struck out 15 in her first game back and was 46-3 in four seasons after her return that included helping Horner's Hornets win the Class D state title in 1970. She was also a standout bowler, with two perfect 300 games and a high 778 handicap series and excelled in independent basketball. She died at age 57 in 1994.
MIKE PHOTENHAUER, Menominee - A three-time Upper Peninsula cross country champion at Menominee High School, Mike Photenhauer set records at every course he ran. He also set U.P. Class A-B track records in the mile, 1,600 meters and two-mile. He earned 12 varsity letters in track, cross country and wrestling. He was a four-year letterman in cross country and track at Central Michigan University, was Mid-American Conference cross country freshman of the year (1980) and was a MAC all-star in track and cross country (1981 and 1983). He was second in the NCAA regional two-mile in 1983.
SHARON SCHULTZ, Escanaba - A standout in the early days of high school girls basketball and track (1973-76), Sharon Schultz then earned three basketball letters at Northern Michigan University. She led Escanaba to three U.P. Class A-B track titles and twice won the 440-yard dash. She led the Eskymos to two Class A district basketball titles and had a school single-game record 33 points. She then became a sportswriter at the Green Bay Press-Gazette (1982-96) and USA Today (1996-2000), where she handled coverage of the Olympics, National Hockey League and college sports. She also became editor-in-chief of GirlsGymnastics.com for legendary gymnastic coach Bela Karolyi.
JILL (GOBERT) VANDAMME, Perkins - After earning 16 varsity letters at Mid Peninsula High School, Jill Gobert was a three-year basketball starter at Northern Michigan University. She scored a Mid Pen girls record 1,614 points and was Class D all-state in 1996. She was a two-time All-U.P. cross country pick, won seven U.P. track titles and helped win the U.P. Class D track title (1995), and was golf MVP. At NMU she started 87 consecutive basketball games, scored 1,243 points and was a three-time GLIAC all-academic choice and District 4 Kodak All-American. She also coached high school girls basketball and girls and boys track in California, girls basketball and track at Gladstone and at Mid Pen was boys track coach and girls basketball coach. She became the first female to coach a boys U.P. championship team, to the 2007 Division 3 track crown.
(Dennis Grall is secretary of the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame and former sports editor of The Daily Press in Escanaba)