225 alumni, faculty, staff and friends attended the 2019 Bemidji State University Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Brunch on Feb. 16 in the Beaux Arts Ballroom. The ceremony recognized alumni, former coaches, administrators and others who have excelled at their sports and brought acclaim to the university through their accomplishments and championships.
Each inductee was honored with a special video detailing their accomplishments at BSU and afterward, plaques were given to the honorees to commemorate their induction into the Hall of Fame.
Former BSU volleyball coach and professor emerita Dr. Donna Palivec spoke about the anniversary of women’s collegiate athletics at BSU. Along with honoring the founders of the university’s first women’s athletics programs, she reminded attendees to participate in the variety of activities and programs planned in the coming months to celebrate this historic milestone in BSU athletics. For more information about the 50th Anniversary of Women’s Athletics, visit https://www.bsualumni.org/womens50celebration
Established in 1978, the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame includes 195 individuals, 25 BSU coaches, 22 teams, nine selected for the Alumni Coaching Achievement Award and seven John S. Glas Honorary Letter Winners.
2019 BSU Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees
Denis “Denny” Lemieux — 1968 – 1972
A four-year letter winner, Dennis Lemieux played in 91 games for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team from 1968-71. The centerman posted 129 points on 59 goals and 70 assists for an average of 1.47 points per game and remains 22nd on BSU’s all-time scoring list. In 1970-71, he led the team in scoring (52 points) and goals scored (32) and remains tied for 10th on BSU’s single-season goal-scoring list. Lemieux is one of just two players in Beaver Hockey history to register six goals in a single game. He accomplished the feat in an 11-1 victory over Wisconsin-Superior Feb. 13, 1971. Following the 1970-71 season, he was selected as the ICHA Most Valuable Player and was voted as a team captain in 1971-72. Lemieux earned All-America honors at the conclusion of the 1971 season and is one of BSU Hockey’s 50 Legends for 50 Years. As a Beaver, he was a member of three ICHA championship teams (1969, 1970 and 1971) and three NAIA National Championship teams (1969, 1970 and 1971).
Len Rothlisberger – 1968-1972
A three-year captain, Len Rothlisberger helped lead the Bemidji State Men’s Swimming and Diving team to four consecutive Northern Intercollegiate Conference titles spanning 1969-1972 and was a member of a team that finished ninth at the NAIA meet as a freshman. As an individual, Rothlisberger won the NIC 50 free championship. A member of NIC championship 400 medley (3:44.7) and 400 freestyle relay (3:22.7) teams in 1971-72, Rothlisberger had his name entered into the BSU Swimming record book as a contributor to both relays. Rothlisberger earned NAIA All-America accolades in 1969 and 1971 was an All-American Honorable Mention in 1970 and capped his swimming career as an NIC selection and earned NAIA All-American Honorable Mention accolades in 1972. Rothlisberger also competed in track and field as a student-athlete. He specialized in the javelin and placed fourth at the NIC meet as a freshman before devoting his energy to swimming.
Rich Schwartz – 1981-85
A four-year letter winner for the Bemidji State Football team from 1981-85, Schwartz was a three-time All-NIC selection (1983, 1984 and 1985) and was a Second Team NAIA All-America pick in 1985. The 1984 and 1985 team captain finished his career with 293 tackles, 32 passes defended, eight fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and 20 interceptions. One of the best defensive backs in small college football during his era, he was second in the nation with seven interceptions in 1983 and led the nation with eight interceptions in 1984. He remains BSU’s all-time interceptions leader, is first in career interception return yards (209), is atop BSU’s career passes defensed list (52), ranks ninth all-time in tackles and eighth in solo tackles (134). In addition, he sits fifth in single-season interception return yards (106). He was selected as BSU’s Defensive MVP in 1984 and the team MVP following the 1985 season. Schwartz was a five-time NIC Player of the Week selection and earned NAIA National Player of the Week laurels once during his career.
Karen Morrissey – 1993-97
A two-time All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference pick and four-year letter winner for the BSU Women’s Basketball team, Karen (Morrissey) Stellrecht was selected as the NSIC’s MVP in 1996-97. She led the team in rebounds in 1994-95 (9.1), 1995-96 (8.4) and 1996-97 (10.3), and paced the team in scoring in 1995-96 (18.2) and 1996-97 (21.9). Stellrecht posted 12 double-doubles during her career, including 10 as a junior. She remains BSU’s all-time leading scorer (1,728) and rebounder (952). In addition, she scored 992 points in 1996-97, which stands as BSU’s top single-season total. She also owns two of BSU’s top 10 single-season rebounding marks. Stellrecht was also a three-year letter winner for the BSU Softball team and remains second on BSU’s all-time batting average list going 99-for-295 for a .335 average in three seasons for the Beavers. She is fourth on the program’s all-time runs scored list (70), fifth in RBI (52) and her 13 career triples is a program record. As a pitcher, she saw action in 42 games and pitched 229 1/3 innings, which are both among BSU’s top 10 of all-time. She is also among BSU’s top 10 strikeout leaders with 80 career batters fanned.
Andrea (Block) Zenner – 1998-2001
Four-time All-NSIC selection and the 2000 NSIC Pitcher of the Year, Annie (Block) Zenner helped lead the BSU softball team to a conference title in 1999. From 1998-2001, she rewrote the BSU pitching record book. She left as BSU’s all-time leader in appearances (115), innings pitched (636), wins (45) and strikeouts, while she was second in career ERA (2.33). She remains among the top two in each category to this day. Offensively her 493 career at-bats rank fifth all-time and her 93 runs scored stand as a program record, while she is sixth in hits (142), walks (40) and doubles (22). She is also third all-time with 23 stolen bases and her 319 career assists in the field place her second all-time. In 1998 she played in 50 games to rank third on BSU’s single-season list. She scored 33 runs and stole 13 bases to rank second on BSU’s single-season lists. In the circle, she pitched 27 complete games (1st) and totaled 14 wins (3rd) with 122 strikeouts (10th). She led the NSIC in ERA (0.79), innings pitched (68.1), strikeouts (42), wins (7), appearances (12), complete games (9) and shutouts (4) in league play in 1998. She owns three of BSU’s top 10 single-season win totals (14/1998, 11/1999 and 9/2000) and holds four of the top ten single-season strikeout totals (155/2001, 148/2000, 122/1998 and 115/1999).
Alumni Coaching Achievement Award
Wynn Gmitroski ‘82
A four-year letter winner for the Bemidji State Men’s Track and Field team and 1979 graduate, Wynn Gmitroski’s track and field coaching career has taken him to six Olympic Games, 17 World Championships and five Commonwealth Games over nearly 40 years. In 1988 he became a registered physiotherapist pursuing optimal performance and wellness, and in 1990 he founded Cedar Hill Sports Therapy Clinic and has developed highly regarded expertise in periodization training, long-term athlete development, optimizing performance and methods of recovery and prevention. Gmitroski has worked with track and field, rowing and triathlon athletes, such as Gary Reed, Diane Cummins, Angela Chalmers and Bruce Deacon, that hold several national records, an Olympic bronze medal, a World Championship silver medal, three Commonwealth golds and a silver medal along with a combination of 19 top-8 world rankings or finishes at major championships. From 1982-90 he also served as the middle distance and cross country coach at the University of Manitoba, where he helped the Bisons to three national titles following a brief stint as a physical education teacher for students ranging in age from 5-17. In addition, Gmitroski has worked with organizations in other athletic areas such as the San Francisco 49ers, Cirque Du Soleil UK Athletics and Athletics Australia. A level 5 certified coach in Canada, Gmitroski has been a member of Canadian Physiotherapy Association, College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia, Canadian Professional Coaches Association, Coaching Association of British Columbia and Athletics Canada / BC Athletics.
BSU Coaches Hall of Fame Inductee
Dr. Muriel Gilman (1986-1992)
Arriving at Bemidji State in 1975 as a women’s athletic trainer and professor in the University’s Department of Physical Education, Health and Sport, Dr. Muriel Gilman served as the only head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country ski teams during their run of existence from 1986-92. Under her direction and cutting-edge training methods, the BSU men’s team competed at the national championships on four occasions and the women’s team earned three national championship berths.
While the men’s team placed as high as third in 1991 and the women second at the 1992 U.S. Collegiate Ski Association National Championships, Gilman also coached many student-athletes to individual success. Margaret Borchers earned the 1988 Smith Corona Outstanding Scholar Athlete honors at the regional and national championships. John Schricker, Jon Halvorson and Kris VanWilgen each earned All-American laurels as Beavers.
In addition to her teaching/coaching roles at BSU, she was selected as the Central Division of United States Ski Association (USSA) coach for the Junior National Ski Championships. She has also been active within the ski community as a presenter speaking on subjects such a High Performance Eating for the Competitive Edge to the 1991 U.S. Ski National Development Team to wax clinics for the Bemidji Area Cross Country Ski Club and serving as an instructor and speaker at the University of Minnesota, Duluth’s Nordic Skiing Camp and the Minneapolis Ski Club Camp.
In 2001 Gilman was honored as the Johnson-Jarvi Snowjourn Award recipient for demonstrating a long-term commitment and support for cross-country in the Bemidji area. In 2004, she was awarded the Merit Award at Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day for leadership and support of girl’s and women’s sports. As a member of the first class of women’s athletic trainers in 1975, Dr. Gilman was an active member of National Athletic Trainers’ Association for more than 35 years.
BSU Athlete Team Inductee1992 Women’s Cross-Country Ski Team
In a look through the most successful teams in Bemidji State athletic history, it won’t take long to discover the 1992 women’s cross country ski team. The squad of Kim (Michels) Rudd, Kris (VanWilgen) Hammit, Keri (Nuorala) Schricker, Kelly (Krenner) Olson, Kristina Robisch and Lisa Strand, who where under the direction of Dr. Muriel Gilman, made tracks through the region, placing third at the Midwest Regional Collegiate Ski Association Championships, all the way to a second-place finish at the U.S. Collegiate National Ski Association Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.
In a season with tremendous individual, relay and team accomplishments, the relay team of VanWilgen Hammit, Schricker and Rudd was a highlight placing second in the relay event, while VanWilgen Hammit earned All-American honors.