GRAND RAPIDS – The Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame has announced its Class of 2017, and it includes a National Football League player, a pioneer small college women’s basketball star and a professional women’s basketball player who became a standout coach.
It also includes a dominant record-setting golfer, a world class local amateur baseball club and a legendary small college football coach and athletic director.
Mike Franckowiak, Kathy Grzegorski-Johnson, Carla Sterk-Fles, Bob Sakocius, Sullivan’s Baseball and Ray Smith will be honored in a ceremony on Sept. 26 at Van Andel Arena.
“It’s another incredible class that achieved on so many levels and represent the best of Grand Rapids sports over the years,” GRSHOF president Mark Kimball said. “Each year I think we can’t possibly match the last group of inductees, but it always seems we do. I’m in awe of their accomplishments and excited for the chance to honor them with our induction ceremonies.”
* Franckowiak led West Catholic to the 1970 City League title and Central Michigan University to the 1974 NCAA Division II National Championship as a quarterback, and then played four years in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills as a tight end, fullback and kicker.
* Grzegorski-Johnson also starred at West Catholic, but in basketball in the early years of girls basketball becoming a varsity sport. She then went on to Aquinas College where the team was 90-25 as she scored 2,037 points, which topped the all-time scoring list for 26 years. She was also named an NAIA All-American in 1982 and ’84.
* Sterk-Fles led the unbeaten 1988 girls basketball team at South Christian to the Class B state championship, went on to Central Michigan University where she became the all-time leader in blocked shots and second all-time scorer. She also played professionally and then coached Cornerstone University to 301 wins and four championships.
* Sakocius, an NAIA All-State golfer twice while at Aquinas College, was dominant in local golf in the 1980s and 90s with nine West Michigan Amateur titles, seven Kent County Amateur wins, six City Championships and three City Match Play Championships. His 25 local wins are second all-time, and he was a Michigan Amateur semifinalist in 1994.
* Sullivan’s Baseball, created and coached over 45 years by local businessman Bob Sullivan, will be inducted as the Outstanding Team Honoree. With alumni like Kirk Gibson, Jim Kaat and Al Kaline the Sullivan’s won 26 National Baseball Congress state titles, four NBC World titles and the international Haarlem Baseball Week championships six times.
* Smith, the Hope College coaching legend, is being inducted as the Warren Reynolds Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2017. An All-American fullback at UCLA he played professionally before becoming the winningest coach in MIAA history with nine championships in 25 years. He was also athletic director for 29 years, and Hope won 24 MIAA All-Sports Awards during his tenure.
The Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame honors prominent West Michigan athletes as well as those who have contributed greatly to sports on a local, state or national level. As part of their mission in honoring sports heroes, the Hall of Fame presents annual events in support of West Michigan athletics and raises funds to support local youth organizations and charities.
For more information visit www.grshof.com and follow the Hall of Fame on Facebook.