New Richmond Hall of Fame selects inaugural inducteesThe charter class of the New Richmond High School Athletic Hall of Fame has been selected.
The charter class of the New Richmond High School Athletic Hall of Fame has been selected.
Nine athletes and three coaches have been selected as charter members of the NRHS Hall of Fame. They were selected for their significant contributions to New Richmond athletics and for their accomplishments following high school.
The first class of the Hall of Fame features nine inductees being honored as athletes and three being honored as coaches. Those being inducted as athletes include Mike Hebert, Johnny “Blood” McNally, Bob Meath, Karen (Musch) Kennedy, John Otteson, Holly Spoo, Jim Tjader, Tom Tjader and Jason Zahradka. Those being honored as coaches are John Ball, Stan Barr and Betty Komula.
The Hall of Fame induction will be part of NRHS Homecoming weekend on Oct. 5-6. The Hall of Famers will be introduced at the Homecoming football game on Friday, Oct. 5, with a reception to follow the game. The formal induction banquet will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6. The induction banquet will be open to the public, with tickets $15 for adults and $10 for students.
“We are absolutely honored and thrilled we can recognize these tremendous people, both for their athletic skills and that they are tremendous people,” said New Richmond High School Athletic Director Casey Eckardt.
Eckardt said it was difficult to narrow the list to the 12 inductees because there are so many worthy candidates. To be considered for the Hall of Fame, an athlete has to be nominated. Nomination forms are available at the high school and another class will be inducted next year.
The inductees were selected by a 12-member Hall of Fame committee which possesses a cross-section of knowledge of New Richmond athletics and history. A hall of fame candidate must have graduated at least 10 years before the voting to be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame committee includes Stan Barr, Casey Eckardt, Chad Fehrman, Betty Komula, Bill Komula, Dave Mehls, Rick Montreal, Tom Munson, Dave Newman, Roger Reuvers, Jim Saliny and Judy Weiss.
Here are biographies of each of the charter members of the New Richmond High School Athletic Hall of Fame:
A 1970 graduate of New Richmond High School, John Ball competed in three sports earning all-conference honors in football and track and field. He is best known for his stellar career as 32-year head baseball coach and 18 years as Activities Director. Coach Ball’s glowing career record of 554 wins and 226 losses earned him induction into the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1999. Under his direction, the Tigers won 16 conference championships, 21 regional titles, and nine state tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish in 1983. During his tenure, he developed 161 all-conference players, 88 all-district players, 32 all-state players and 47 players went on to play college baseball. As activities director, Ball supervised the addition of girls golf, girls hockey, girls soccer and boys soccer as WIAA sports.
After coaching at Mineral Point and Monroe High Schools, Stan Barr moved to New Richmond in 1966, serving 26 years as head track and field coach, 17 years as Activities Director, three years as cross country coach, four years as a basketball assistant coach, three years as wrestling assistant, and two years as football assistant. As track coach, Stan’s teams earned two state titles – 1961 at Mineral Point and 1982 in New Richmond, as well as a runner-up finish for the Tigers in 1981. His teams earned six conference championships, eight regional championships, and four sectional championships for which he was inducted into the Wisconsin Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007. Eleven individuals earned state titles under the development of Coach Barr. During his tenure as Activities Director, Barr ushered in the sports of boys hockey, girls tennis, cross country and gymnastics to New Richmond High School and also spearheaded the construction of the track and tennis facilities. He is also a highly decorated WIAA official and has worked the state track meet for more than 20 years.
A 1986 graduate, Mike Hebert lettered 12 times in four sports: football, basketball, tennis and baseball and was an all-conference selection seven times. In football, he was a two-year starter earning all-conference honors his senior season. A three-year starter and two-time all-conference player in basketball, he led the Tigers to conference championships his junior and senior year and was leading scorer and conference MVP his senior season. In tennis, Hebert lettered all four years and was a three-time state qualifier as the Tigers won three conference championships. A two-time all-conference baseball player, he was all-conference and All-Northwest in 1984. Hebert combined strong athletic ability with academic drive, earning New Richmond High School valedictorian honors and WIAA Scholar Athlete honors (one of only 12 male athletes statewide). After high school, Hebert continued his athletic career earning three letters in basketball for St. John’s University and was a two-time MIAC all-conference player as well as team captain and team MVP in 1989. After college, Hebert continued his athletic career as a runner and triathlete. He also treats athletes as an orthopedic surgeon.
Coach Betty Komula coached multiple sports for New Richmond High School and was the driving force behind the advent of women’s athletics in New Richmond. Limited records are available for Komula’s career coaching record. As 19-year head varsity volleyball coach, her teams won four conference championships, qualified for sectionals seven times, and earned a state tournament appearance in 1986. Forty-five of her players were all-conference selections and three played college volleyball. As coach of the boys tennis team for 10 seasons, her teams won six conference championships, had six players qualify for state, and had 13 all-conference players. Komula also coached girls middle school basketball, middle school and high school cheerleading, as well as advising many student groups. Komula was head coach for the Girls Athletic Association prior to the WIAA recognizing girls sports as she worked diligently for equalizing facilities, equipment, coaching pay, recognition, and many other areas for women’s athletics. Komula also served the athletic program as scorer for girls basketball games and finish line recorder for track for more than 20 years.
Johnny “Blood” McNally
A 1918 graduate, Johnny “Blood” McNally was too small to participate in athletics for the Tigers. However, his accomplishments beyond high school are legendary, including induction as a charter member of the National Football League Hall of Fame in 1963. McNally was known as the “Vagabond Halfback” for his exploits during his 14-year career in professional football for five different teams, most notably the Green Bay Packers, where he is enshrined in the Packer Hall of Fame. McNally also coached the Pittsburgh Pirates, prior to being renamed the Steelers. Attending college at St. John’s University, McNally participated in football, basketball, track, and baseball earning captain honors in football and basketball. A highly intelligent renaissance man, McNally used the pseudonym “Blood” to play professional football while still retaining his college eligibility. A true pioneer in professional football, Johnny “Blood” McNally remains New Richmond’s most famous athlete.
Robert “Bob” Meath
A 1950 graduate, Robert “Bob” Meath had a celebrated college boxing career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While boxing for the Badgers, Bob was a three-year starter finishing third in the nation his junior season and winning the 156-pound national title his senior season, as the Badgers won their second national title during Meath’s career. After his senior season, Meath was named team MVP and won the John S. LaRowe Award as the nation’s top collegiate boxer. As a high school boxer, Meath lost only one bout during his three seasons going undefeated as a junior and senior. He was a two-year starter in football at guard, tight end and linebacker. Meath also played two years of baseball for the Tigers.
Karen (Musch) Kennedy
A 1985 graduate, Karen Musch participated in cross country, volleyball, basketball and track and field, earning 10 letters. A three-year all conference runner in cross country, Musch was Middle Border Conference individual champion her junior and senior seasons and team MVP both years. A three-year letterwinner in basketball, she was all-conference all three years as she led her team to the MBC championship her junior year, setting single season and career rebounding records. Musch was most decorated in track and field in which she was all-conference all four years and participated in 11 events at the state meet. That culminated in individual state championships in 1984 (400 meter run) and 1985 (200 meter dash), becoming the first New Richmond female athlete to win a state title. Musch held school records in the 200 and 400 dashes for more than 25 years. After high school, Musch received a full-ride scholarship to United States International University to run cross country and track.
A 1969 graduate, John Otteson participated in football, wrestling, and track and field. A bruising running back and linebacker, Otteson was a three-year starter earning all-conference honors his senior year. In wrestling, he was a two-time conference championship and wrestled at the state tournament his senior season where he lost in the semifinals after dislocating his shoulder. A four-year letterwinner in track and field, Otteson set the school record for pole vault his freshman year and participated in the state meet as a junior in the 880-yard relay. After high school, Otteson continued his football career at Gustavus Adolphus College where he was a three-year starting linebacker and leading tackler for the Gusties. They won MIAC titles his junior and senior seasons (captain his senior year). After college, Otteson has continued his athletic participation in golf and handball capturing a Minnesota state doubles championship.
A 1994 graduate, Holly Spoo was an all-around athlete who competed as one of the top basketball players in the history of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as well as all of NCAA Division III basketball. A four-year all conference player in the WIAC, Spoo started her career at UW-River Falls and then transferred to UW-Oshkosh. Winning a national championship in 1996 with the Titans, Spoo was a two-year captain, team MVP, WIAC player of the year (1998), and Kodak All-American. As a New Richmond Tiger, Spoo was an outstanding student and athlete excelling individually but always promoting team goals. She was all-state in basketball (1984) played in the WBCA all-star game, was three-year all-conference selection, and holds most Tiger scoring records. She also earned four varsity letters in volleyball, where she was a two-time all-conference player. In track and field, she lettered and competed at the state meet all four years of high school. Still the record holder in the 300 hurdles, Spoo captured a state individual championship in 1992, as well as a second and third place finish at state. After college, Spoo, coached college basketball at Nebraska-Omaha, Wayne State, UW-Milwaukee and she has taught and coached at Divine Holy Savior High School in Milwaukee.
A 1976 graduate, Jim Tjader was a superior all-around athlete excelling in football, basketball and baseball. Earning 10 letters, Tjader was a true leader being selected team captain in all three sports. An All-Northwest selection in all three sports, Tjader was an all-conference choice seven times – two in football, two in basketball, and three in baseball. In 1975, Tjader led the Tigers to an undefeated conference championship in basketball. Following high school, Tjader won a national junior college championship in baseball with Western Iowa Junior College and was selected to the National Junior College Hall of Fame. After transferring to the University of Texas, Tjader was the starting second basemen for the Longhorns in the College World Series. Drafted by the Texas Rangers, Tjader played three years of professional baseball at the minor league level. A successful businessman, Tjader remains a true leader and role model.
A 1971 graduate, Tom Tjader was an outstanding all-around athlete for the Tigers competing in football, basketball and baseball and earning 10 letters during his four years of high school. During his freshmen year in football, Tjader moved up to the varsity at the end of the season where he threw a touchdown pass, kicked and returned punts. During the next three years, he was seldom off the field playing defensive back, quarterback, running back, kicker, punter and kick returner. Selected as an all-conference defensive back after his sophomore and senior seasons, (broken leg junior year), Tjader was the top football player in the MBC. In basketball, Tjader remains one of the all-time leading scorers in Middle Border Conference history as well as New Richmond High School all-time leading scorer. He was a three-time all-conference honoree, two-time all-Northwest, two-time scoring champion, and led the Tigers to a MBC title his senior season in which he was MBC Player of the Year. A four-year starter on the baseball team, Tjader led the Tigers to four straight Middle Border Conference titles where he pitched, played shortstop, and led the team in every offensive category. Recruited to play baseball at the University of Minnesota, Tjader was drafted into the Army and stationed in Germany. After military duty, he played baseball at UW-Eau Claire and spent years coaching youth athletics in Eau Claire.
A 1987 graduate, Jason Zahradka participated in football, basketball, golf and baseball earning 10 letters and seven all-conference recognitions. A three-year basketball letterwinner, the Tigers were conference champs in all three of those years including Zahradka’s senior year in which he was all-conference and team captain. In golf, he lettered all four years and was all-conference three times and team captain his senior year. Zahradka was an individual qualifier for the state golf meet three times and the Tigers also qualified as a team three times. In baseball, he was selected as all-conference three times, team captain as a senior and was twice named all-state. During that time, the Tigers won two conference championships and appeared at the 1987 state tournament. In all, Zahradka’s teams won six conference titles, seven regional championships, four sectional championships and made four state tournament appearances during his high school career. After high school, Zahradka competed for four years on the UW-Stevens Point golf team earning Freshman “Male Athlete of the Year” for the Pointers and earning Academic All-American Honors in 1990 and 1991. He continues to excel in athletics today as the 10-time winner of the New Richmond Golf Course championship as well as an outstanding WIAA basketball official.