BOURBON — The Triton Athletic Hall of Fame inducted another class on Saturday at the third annual Hall of Fame induction banquet. The Hall of Fame recognized two contributors, one coach and four student athletes.
Rounding out this year’s class were contributors William Moriarty and the late Kenneth Keller, coach Mark Heeter, and athletes Julie Lozier, Jack Carpenter, Curt Kreft and James Erwin.
The seven inductees were honored during the Hall of Fame weekend, which began with recognition at the Triton boys basketball game against Culver on Friday. The inductees were then honored at a dinner ceremony at the Back Forty in Bourbon on Saturday.
The Athletic Hall of Fame was developed by Triton High School Athletic Director, Mason McIntyre, in 2011.
“I believe it’s important to know and understand our rich athletic tradition,” McIntyre said. “Since the school’s inception during the 1963-64 school year, many athletes have worn the blue and gold. But these athletes, coaches and contributors that were recognized set themselves apart by running the fastest, winning championships and otherwise distinguishing themselves in high school and college athletics.”
The inductees were chosen by a selection committee of five members, who include Larry Lemler of Bourbon, Dave Shively of Etna Green, Ken Blackford of Tippecanoe and at-large members Duane Walters and Hal Kuntz.
Todd Gongwer, author of “Lead…for God’s Sake,” was the featured speaker for the evening. Since writing “Lead…for God’s Sake!” and having his book endorsed by coaching greats such as Urban Meyer and Lou Holtz, Gongwer has become a sought-after speaker, teacher and coach on the subject of leadership throughout the nation. Gongwer gave the inductees and the 170-person crowd an inspirational speech about reaching excellence by focusing on being your best instead of being the best.
Retired Triton bus driver Moriarty was the first contributor inducted into the Class of 2013. He began driving the bus full time for the Tippecanoe schools in 1957 and officially became a Triton School Corporation employee when Tippecanoe consolidated with Bourbon and Etna Green in 1963. Moriarty retired in 2007 after 49 years as a full time bus driver. During his time, he drove as many athletic trips as he could and has two championship rings as the bus driver for the girls basketball IHSAA State Championship teams in 2000 and 2001.
The late Keller was the second contributor inducted. He was represented by his daughters Maria Keller, Ramona Keller, and Cindy Keller-Shaffer. Keller’s grandson, Craig Keller-Shaffer was also on-hand to celebrate the many contributions of his late grandfather.
Keller was a longtime teacher, guidance counselor, athletic director and IHSAA official. He was also in charge of the construction of the current Triton High School baseball field named in his honor.
Heeter followed the Keller family as he was inducted as the third Triton Hall of Fame coach.
“I have always said that great players make good coaches look great. I know this was certainly the case for me,” Heeter said as he addressed the crowd of former players, coaches, faculty, staff and students during his acceptance speech. Heeter is best known for the back-to-back state championships that his teams won in 2000 and 2001.
Lozier was the first student athlete who was inducted. Lozier scored 1,421 career points at Triton and went on to play basketball at Ball State University. She was twice named MAC player of the week and still sits toward the top of the record books in field goal percentage and blocked shots at Ball State. She currently resides in Muncie, where she is the Director of Operations at Central Indiana Orthopedics.
The next athlete inducted was 1981 graduate Carpenter. Carpenter, who is currently the Triton Elementary physical education teacher, is no stranger to being in a Hall of Fame as a member of the Bethel College Hall of Fame after being inducted there in 2005.
“Being a Hall of Fame member is great,” Carpenter said. “But I want to ensure that I am a Hall of Fame father, a Hall of Fame husband, and a Hall of Fame son.”
Kreft, current Triton Elementary third-grade teacher, is one of Triton’s greatest male cross country and track athletes and went on to compete at Liberty University in Virginia. He is the current Triton record holder in the 800 meters with a time of 1:56 as well as the 1600 meters with a time of 4:20.
He also remains in the top of the record book at Liberty University in the indoor 1500 meters with a 4:07. During his acceptance speech, Curt recognized his grandfather, saying, “As I look back and reflect about achieving those goals, though fun and exciting, I realize that they didn’t satisfy me as I thought they would. My Grandpa Kreft wrote me a letter while I was at Liberty, and though I don’t remember much of what was written in the letter, I have never forgotten his closing words, ‘Only Jesus can satisfy the soul.’ That’s a truth that has helped me live through achievements and disappointments.”
The last induction of the evening was Erwin.
A 1973 graduate of Triton High School, Erwin was a man of firsts. He was a member of the first winning season in Triton football history in 1970, going 8-1. He was a member of the first Triton wrestling team in 1971 and was also the first Triton individual wrestler to advance to the IHSAA state finals.
During his induction speech, Erwin confessed to purposely tripping up a teammate during the final seconds of a game against North Miami, so he couldn’t make a tackle to prevent a touchdown.
“North Miami hadn’t scored a touchdown all year, and this was the final game of the season. I didn’t want them to finish the year without at least scoring one. I’ve held that in for all of these years and I’m so relieved to finally confess,” he said.
Erwin is the owner of the Pickin’ Patch in Plymouth, where he currently resides.
The induction banquet was full of laughter, tears, stories, and highlights from the many accomplishments, contributions and lives that have been touched by these inductees.
“Although I am saddened to see the evening come to an end, I’m excited about tomorrow and what the future holds for the Triton Athletic Hall of Fame,” McIntyre said.
Plans for the 2014 Hall of Fame weekend have already begun. The selection committee and the Triton Athletic Department look forward to recognizing a new class of individuals who have distinguished themselves on the courts and the fields of Triton High School and beyond.