Wide range of athletes, coaches, figures inducted into Gladstone Athletic Hall of Fame

WELLS – A class of athletes, coaches and sports figures encompassing the full range and history of Gladstone High School athletics were inducted Saturday night at the Third Annual Gladstone Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Banquet.

From Alton Kircher (1926) to Desmond Schultz and Jude VanDamme (1992) and several others including Mike Gobert (1965), Ron Klintworth, the 1987 Braves wrestling team, and The Delta Reporter (Don Howes).

The class included championship teams, multi-sport college athletes and success stories.

Kircher, represented by committee member Dennis Grall, played three sports at Michigan State University. He was tailback for the football team, captain of the basketball team and an outfielder on the baseball team. Later he assistant coach in all three sports at MSU and s[ect the 1949-50 season as the head basketball coach. Later he was the head football coach at Washington State (1952-55). Kircher was also a World War II veteran, earning a purple heart after being wunded during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, also earning a Silver Star and a two Bronze Stars for his military action.

Gobert was a football and track standout at Gladstone and earned eight varsity letters in three sports, Among his accomplishments are having held the school record for the 220 dash for 25 years and being co-captain of the football team his senior year while leading the team in rushing and scoring.

Schultz, one of the most decorated athletes in Gladstone sports history, earned 11 varsity letters in three sports. He was All-U.P. in football and basketball, an All-State athlete in football and a record-setter in track where he held the school mark for the 100 and 200 dash for several years. After high school, Schultz earned an athletic scholarship to Central Michigan University where he was a member of the 1994 MAC Championship team and was a four-year letterman.

Houle recalled Schultz at the track regionals in 1989 as a “skinny little freshman,” who got into lane one, a tough lane for a young runner, and won the race. “It was one of the most unbelivable stories, winning the 100 yard dash as a frehsman in lane one,” Houle said.

VanDamme was also a multi-sport standout athlete at the same time as Schultz. He was named All-U.P. in basketball and football, and went on to play baseball at Central Michigan University. There, he was named team MVP in 1996 and was a four-year letter winner from 1993-96.

Houle called VanDamme “one of the smartest quarterbacks I’ve ever seen, displaying the leadership and humility he continues to show today in his position as an administrator at Escanaba Public Schools.”

Klintworth coached the Braves wrestling team from 1976-1993, including leading the Braves to its only Upper Peninsula wrestling championship in 1987.

Klintworth never participated in the sport of wrestling and when he met with the team, he told them he’d probably learn more from them, then them from him. But Klintworth was determined. He picked up books, went to clinics, talked to coaches, watched different teams and incorporated what he felt would help the Braves, including bringing on Matt Houle as an assistant. It all culminated in the 1987 U.P. championship team, which was also present and honored Saturday night.

The Delta Reporter was Gladstone’s local newspaper until it closed its doors in 1993. Up until that time, the work of sports reporter Don Howes and photographer Dorothy McKnight among others kept Gladstone athletes in the headlines each week.