Hall of Fame

Each year, Spring Lake Park High School seeks nominations for its Athletics & Activities Hall of Fame. The purpose is to give special recognition to former students, coaches, advisors and administrators who have exhibited outstanding achievement in athletics and activities, who have made significant contributions in promoting athletics and activities, or who have brought prominence to Spring Lake Park High School through post-high school accomplishments.

Nominations are due each year by April 1 and can be submitted via print or online, and honorees are recognized by the school community at a fall varsity football game.

Anyone – students and staff, parents, community members and alums – can nominate an individual for the Hall of Fame in the areas of athletic or activities achievement, coach, director, advisor or Panther supporter.

Additional details, including criteria for selection of honorees in the three categories, can be found below, as well as the nomination form.

Click on the tabs below to learn more about the previous Hall of Fame honorees.

2008- Don Watson and Denny Halvorson

DON WATSON, DENNY HALVORSON NAMED CHARTER MEMBERS

Coach Denny Halvorson in 1957

Coach Halvorson in 1957

The inaugural class of inductees to the Spring Lake Park High School Coaches Hall of Fame were honored on Friday, October 3, 2008.

Charter members of the hall of fame for the school’s coaches are Don Watson and Denny Halvorson. Each was a vital coaching presence from 1955 to 1983.

Watson was the school’s first head track and field coach and head cross country coach. He was also an assistant basketball coach and junior high football coach. A “do it all” guy, he also served as high school principal and as athletic director during his career.

Legend has it that Watson, along with then-superintendent Ed Knalson, literally built the school’s first track using a World War II bulldozer from what had been sand dunes, which the area was famous for at the time.

Halvorson was the first head football and head wrestling coach, and a long-time assistant track and field coach.

Coach Watson in 1957

Coach Watson in 1957

The early days of athletics in Spring Lake Park had to be just a little bit interesting. One historical account has 1957 high school football team employing a secret

weapon: "A layer of soil beneath the sod that consisted of odiferous dirt and mink droppings from a mink farm in Columbia Heights."

Watson and Halvorson will be honored at an induction ceremony, part of a special halftime celebration at the Spring Lake Park vs Totino-Grace football game on Friday, October 3. The game, at Spring Lake Park High School’s Panther Stadium, is the school’s homecoming game. Activities director Dave Alto said, “It is a great honor for the school and our community to initiate the Coaches Hall of Fame with such illustrious charter member. These two were here from the beginning and were instrumental in establishing our proud Panther athletic traditions.

 

Track team

The 1957 track team, coached by Don Watson. 

  From left to right: Don Watson, Stan Prokopowicz, Denny Halvorson

From left to right: Don Watson, Stan Prokopowicz, Denny Halvorson

The 1957 football team, coached by Denny Halvorson and below is the 1957 track team, coached by Don Watson.

The 1957 football team, coached by Denny Halvorson.

2009- Don Wojchiechowski

WOJCHIECHOWSKI BECOMES THIRD INDUCTEE INTO COACHES HALL OF FAME

Long-time Spring Lake Paark High School teacher and coach Don Wojchiechowski received the ultimate honor on Friday, September 25, 2009. He became the third from the school to be inducted into the Spring Lake Park High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony took place during halftime of the school’s 7 p.m. Homecoming game against Columbia Heights.

Wojchiechowski taught math and physics in Spring Lake Park from 1962 to 1997. Prior to 1962, he taught math and science for several years at Westwood Junior High in the same district.

Don was responsible for started the school’s math team and served as its coach for 15 years.

If his reputation as an educator was exemplary, his career as a coach was near legendary. It included starting the school’s boys hockey team and serving as its coach; and started the school’s tennis program, serving as coach for 29 years.

Don Wojchiechowski left his mark on Spring Lake Park High School and positively influenced thousands of students in countless classrooms, math competitions, hockey rinks, and tennis courts. If you have the opportunity, take in his induction on September 25, or thank him when you pass him on the street.

 

2011- Gary Rettke

GARY RETTKE IS NEWEST MEMBER OF ATHLETIC COACHES HALL OF FAME

Gary R.

During halftime of the Friday, September 30, 2011 Homecoming game between the Spring Lake Park High School Panthers and the Richfield Spartans, Gary Rettke was inducted into the high school’s Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame.

Gary Rettke’s name will forever be synonymous with wrestling at Spring Lake Park High School where he coached the sport for 35 years.

His 339 wins rank him in the top 30 in the history of wrestling in the state of Minnesota.

Gary was recognized for his peers for his wrestling success by being inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1994, and he continues to have an interest in wrestling at the national and international level.

Gary coached many all-state wrestlers throughout his career and had nine Panther wrestlers achieve individual state championships.

Gary also coached football for 35 years at Spring Lake Park, mentoring students from the junior high level all the way up to the varsity team.

Gary was a much-respected educator at Spring Lake Park High School where he taught physical education, health, and science.

Gary R. and AD Matt St. Martin

 

2010 - Pete Tebben

Pete Tebben coaching basketball

2016- Harvey Kienholz, Paul Nielsen, Jane Szymanski, Larry Wallin, Phyllis Wheeler

On Friday, September 30 five new nominees were inducted to the Spring Lake Park Athletics and Activities Hall of Fame. The special recognition is for former students, coaches, advisors and administrators who have exhibited outstanding achievement in athletics and activities, made significant contributions in promoting athletics and activities, and/or brought prominence to Spring Lake Park High School through post-high school accomplishments. 

The SLP Athletics and Activities Hall of Fame Class of 2016 includes Harvey Kienholz, Paul Nielsen, Jane Szymanski, Larry Wallin and Phyllis Wheeler.

 

Harvey Kenholtz

Harvey Kienholz 

  • 1961–1969 SLPHS Health and Physical Education Teacher
  • 1970–1972 SLP District Athletic Director
  • 1973–1994 Westwood Junior High Health and Physical Education Teacher
  • 1961–1968 Boys Varsity Wrestling Coach
  • Coached three individuals to MSHSL State Champions

 

 

Paul Nielson

Paul Nielsen

  • Baseball – All Conference (1983), 3-year letter winner, Region Team Runner Up (1983)
  • Football – All Conference (1982, 1983), Metro All State Team (1983), 3-year letter winner
  • Wrestling - All Conference (1981-1983), Region Champion (1981-1983), State Tournament Participant (1981-1983), career record 100-19
    – 1982 and 1983 Individual State Champion – Wrestling
    – 1982 – Individual 3rd Place – Wrestling
  • North Dakota State University – Football
    – 1985-1986 – 1st Team All Conference
    – 1983 – 1st Team All American Football News
    – 1983 – 2nd Team All American Associated Press
    – 1983, 1985, 1986 – National Champions
    – 1984 – National Runner-Up
    – 1983 – 1986 North Central Conference Champions
    – 2004 – NDSU Hall of Fame Inductee 

 

Jane Szymanski

Jane Szymanski

Szymanski has been an instrumental member of the Spring Lake Park school community since 1997. She has been involved with the football, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball booster clubs.  Her genuine support and outreach has benefited numerous student-athletes and their families over the years. 

Szymanski’s support of the SLP Fine Arts Department is most notable. Jane’s impact on the various theater productions over the past 20 year are far reaching. From costumes, to hair and makeup, to tickets and concessions, Jane has truly made her mark on SLP theater productions.

 

Larry Wallin

Larry Wallin 

  • Baseball – All Conference (1962 and 1963), 5-year letter winner, 2-time captain
  • Basketball – All Conference (1962 and 1963), 3-year letter winner, 2-time captain, team leading scorer (1962 and 1963), Skyline Conference Scoring Champion (1963)
  • Football - All Conference (1962), 3-year letter winner, 2-time captain
  • Track and Field – 1961 letter winner
  • In addition to his athletic achievements, Larry was Senior Class President, National Honor Society Vice President, a participant in choir and appeared in five musicals and plays while a student at SLP
  • Post college, Larry signed a contract with the New York Mets, played four seasons at the AAA level and caught three MLB Hall of Fame pitchers including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver and Gaylord Perry

 

Phyllis Wheeler

Phyllis Wheeler 

  • 1986–1996 Girls Varsity Tennis Coach
  • 1994 and 1995 NSC Champions - Girls Tennis
  • 1994 MNHSCA Girls Tennis Coach of the Year
  • 1967–1997 SLP Health and Physical Education Teacher
  • 1983–1988 SLP Health and Physical Education Department Chair
  • 1987 Outstanding Minnesota Secondary Teacher of the Year  

 

 

Congratulations to the Class of 2016 and thank you for your years of service, support and commitment to Spring Lake Park High School Athletics and Activities.

2017- Merdyce "Mert" Fox, Mike Tello, Robert Shattuck

2017 Hall of Famers

On Friday, October 13, three new nominees were inducted to the Spring Lake Park Athletics and Activities Hall of Fame. The special recognition is for former students, coaches, advisors and administrators who have exhibited outstanding achievement in athletics and activities, made significant contributions in promoting athletics and activities, and/or brought prominence to Spring Lake Park High School through post-high school accomplishments.  

The SLP Athletics and Activities Hall of Fame Class of 2017 includes Merdyce Fox, Mike Tello and Robert Shattuck.

Merdyce "Mert" Fox

Merdyce "Mert" Fox was a loving, caring and dedicated math teacher. She was the math department chair at Spring Lake Park Junior High and cheerleading adviser for over 25 years. She contributed her time and passion by supporting all activities – from athletics to fine arts. She was a teacher and advisor that everyone wanted to emulate because she was successful at engaging students. It did not matter the event, Mert was there either volunteering, working or simply supporting SLP students. One colleague gave her the ultimate compliment by saying, “Mert Fox was the heart and soul of the school during her tenure.”

Mike Tello

Mike Tello, Class of 1967, was a two-time Wrestling State Champion at the 112-lb. weight classification. During his career at Spring Lake Park High School, he competed in three state wrestling tournaments. These accomplishments are even more impressive because the state tournament only had one weight classification at this time. Tello earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan and became a two-time All-American wrestler. 

Robert Shattuck

Robert Shattuck served Spring Lake Park Schools as a teacher and coach for 34 years, from 1971 to when he retired in 2003. Shattuck was instrumental in starting both the boys’ and girls’ hockey programs and the boys’ soccer program. During his career, he coached boys’ and girls’ hockey, boys’ soccer, football, tennis and baseball. As a head coach, he won conference championships in boys’ hockey and tennis. He also directed the driver’s education program for over 25 years. Rob continues to serve SLPHS as a beloved substitute teacher.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017 and thank you for your years of service, support and commitment to Spring Lake Park High School Athletics and Activities.