Sports Hall of Fame - The Inductees Class of 2002
Social hour begins at 5 p.m., dinner is at
6:30, and the induction program is at 7:30.
This years inductees are: late Hammond High/Purdue football player
1970s Hammond High girls sports pioneer Crystal Burns Moore, former Hammond High track and cross country coach Dan
Candiano, 1950s Hammond Tech wrestling state champion Harry Colias, 1930s Clark three-sport standout Wally Fritz 1960s Morton all-state football player James Gasvoda, 1960s Hammond High state wrestling champion Bob
Haley, 1970s Hammond High football standouts
and Jeff Tharp, 1980s Morton and Purdue University Calumet basketball star Tony
Vermejan, 1980s Bishop Noll and University
of Illinois shot put/discus honoree Amy Werkowski-Pleasant and late Catholic Central/Purdue/pro football player Joseph
After a legendary high school football
career at Hammond High during 1909-11, he went on to Purdue, where
he earned All-Big Ten honors as a guard and captained the 15
team. A big, agile player, Blocker became one of college footballs
first roving centers on defense, a forerunner to the linebacker
position. So effective was Blocker that other college teams adopted
the position in their defensive schemes. After graduating from Purdue
in 16 with a degree in engineering, he embarked on a brief
professional football career, playing with the Hammond Pros, predecessor
of the Chicago Bears. In 18, when the franchise moved to Chicago,
Blocker is reported to have been the teams highest paid lineman.
He closed out his football career playing for the Gary Elks in 20
and 21 and went on to serve as city engineer of Hammond and,
later, Calumet City, Ill.
CRYSTAL BURNS MOORE
This 1973 Hammond High graduate
helped pioneer girls high school sports in Hammond. Starring on
basketball, volleyball, and track and field teams, she competed
under the Girls Athletic Association (GAA) administrative umbrella,
which preceded Indiana High School Athletic Association-sanctioned
interscholastic competition. In track, she ran the anchor leg on
Hammond Highs GAA state championship 220-yard relay team in
72. As a basketball player, she played both the rover position
during the six-player era and then point guard when GAA adopted
the standard five-player rules. After completing her high school
career, she remained active in Hammond sports, coaching various
youth and school teams. She went on to earn a bachelors degree
from Calumet College of St. Joseph.
An outstanding distance runner in
high school (Gary Lew Wallace) and college (DePaul), where he set
school and university records in the mile during the 1960s and early
70s, he went on to achieve remarkable success as boys track
and cross country coach at Hammond High from 71 through 76.
Each year during that time, he led the Wildcats to conference championships
in both sports. During a three-year period (74-76),
Hammond High cross country teams won 38 straight dual meets. He
coached individual state champions and national record holders.
His extraordinary coaching methods helped 14 of his runners earn
NCAA Division I scholarships. Three of themfellow Hammond
Sports Hall of Famers Rudy Chapa, Tim Keough and Carey Pinkowskiturned
the high school track and field world upside down in 75 when
they managed the unprecedented fete of each breaking the 9-minute
mark in the 2-mile run.
HARRY W. COLIAS
This 1955 Hammond Tech graduate
was the Indiana high school 120-pound state wrestling champion in
55. He also earned third place state honors as a 112-pounder
in 53 and a 103-pounder in 52. Additionally, he was
a sectional champion in 52, 53 and 55 and claimed
conference honors in 55. He was inducted into the Indiana
High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 89. While at Tech, he
also ran on the cross country and track teams.
standout at Hammond Clark, this 1940 graduate earned all-state honorable
mention honors on the football field as a halfback. He also played
guard on the basketball team and was a track team sprinter. Away
from school, he also enjoyed an accomplished baseball career as
a catcher in American Legion and semi-pro circuits, earning a tryout
with the Cincinnati Reds. After his playing days ended, he involved
himself in community and church activities.
JAMES M. GASVODA
This two-time, all-state tight end
helped trigger Mortons run to the 1965 mythical state football
championship under the direction of coach and fellow Hammond Sports
Hall of Famer Maurey Zlotnik. Continuing his career at Purdue, he
converted to tackle and earned two varsity letters before graduating
in 70. As a Boilermaker, he played on a Jack Mollenkopf-coached
squad in 68 that was ranked No. 1 nationally for five weeks.
A versatile high school athlete, he also starred on Morton basketball
As a Hammond High wrestler (Class of 1962), he was a
state champion in 61 (127 pounds) and 62 (133 pounds),
his latter title helping the Wildcats to a team state championship.
The 2-time Wildcat team most valuable performer continued his mat
career at Indiana University (Class of 69), where he earned
three varsity letters. At Hammond High, he also was a standout on
the cross country and track teams, earning seven letters and achieving
MVP honors three years in cross country. Also inducted into the
Indiana Wrestling Hall of Fame, he went on to coach high school
wrestling for 10 years.
An all-state football player and
track and field state champion in two events, this 1980 Hammond
High graduate enjoyed a remarkable 2-sport career for the Wildcats.
A 3-year football starter, he was a 2-way tackle on conference championship
Wildcat teams that compiled a 29-3 record during his three seasons.
He earned all-state recognition in 79. The following spring,
he placed first in the shot put and discus at the Indiana high school
track and field state meet. The Times honored him and fellow 2002
inductee Jeff Tharp as the newspapers Athletes of the Year
A 3-sport Hammond High standout,
he earned all-state football honors in 1979 as an offensive tackle.
The 2-way lineman also gained all-conference honors for his play
on both sides of the ball. Continuing his gridiron career at Northern
Illinois University as an offensive tackle, this 85 graduate
earned all-conference recognition and induction into the NIU Football
Hall of Fame. In high school, he also starred in wrestling, winning
sectional and regional titles as a heavyweight his senior year.
On the baseball diamond, he excelled as an all-conference pitcher,
catcher and designated hitter. He and fellow inductee and Hammond
High teammate Mark Murakowski received The Times Athletes of the
Year recognition in 80.
After a standout basketball and
baseball career at Morton High (Class of 82), he walked on
the Purdue University Calumet basketball team and went on to star
for the Lakers as a heady, sharp shooting guard. The 2-time PUC
most valuable player and National Association of Intercollegiate
Athletics (NAIA) All-District 21 player was Player of the Year in
the district and honorable mention All-American in 86 after
averaging 17.9 points per game. The 88 graduate completed
his career as the Lakers all-time leading mens scorer
at the time (1,588 points). He also set team records in free throw
shooting proficiency. In high school, he was a two-time all-conference
player in basketball and baseball.
This 1986 Bishop Noll Institute graduate earned national
track and field distinction in the shot put and discus. She was
an AAU All-American in '85 and received the AAU Presidents Award
in '86 - the same year she placed 2nd in the U.S. Junior National
Track & Field Championships and 3rd in thePan American Games.
After a school record-setting career at Noll in which she was a
4-time state meet qualifier, she competed at the University of Illinois.
There, she was All-Big Ten in the discus all four of her competing
years before graduating with academic honors in 91.
JOSEPH C. WINKLER
At Catholic Central, this 1941 graduate starred in football
as a fullback. He was a 2-time recipient of the teams Outstanding
Player award and was named to the Indiana Catholic all-state and
Chicago Area All-Catholic teams. He continued his career in college
at Purdue (Class of 45), where he played center for the Boilermakers
unbeaten and co-Big Ten championship squad in 43. He also
played professionally in 45 for the National Football League
champion Cleveland Rams.