Featured photo: All the 2023 Inductees or their representative lined up for a photo.
Story and photos by L. M. Land
I have never been a ‘sports person,’ so being invited to the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame 2023 Induction Banquet was a revelation to me. I did not know Flint was such a shining star in the sports world, but I do now!
Held at the Genesys Conference & Banquet Center on December 2, 2023, the large room was filled to capacity with excited people wearing all their finery. The inductees all had amazing stories about their respective sports to share.
Overwhelmingly, all those who were part of team sports spoke movingly of a lifelong bond and loyalty to each other many years after high school graduation.
There is also a lifelong loyalty to their coaches, even if the coaching was 20+ years ago.
Teaching a team to work together as a community forges deep bonds. How wonderful would it be if neighbors, businesses and governments viewed themselves as a community who can work together, like award winner Michael Tucker of Powers who helped lead their team to their first hockey state championship in 2023?
Spectators and family also bond with the teams. I only have to mention the rabid loyalty of University of Michigan’s fan base to explain this. This is community, people getting together over something they love and forming relationships, and hanging in there to continue support even if the team has a few bad years (the Detroit Lions come to mind here). These are some valuable life lessons for every person, whether you’re a sports star, in a quilt guild, or in a family.
I now have a whole new concept of sports being much more than hitting a ball with a bat.
The 2023 inductees are (with a very short summary of their accomplishments):
- Chris Byrd, boxing, two time Olympian
- Ervin Leavy, basketball, Flint Central Champion All-State 1983, Central High School
- Ellen Tomek, 3-time rowing Olympian
- Flint Northern 1976 Track Team Class A State Champions, Northern High School
- Robaire Smith, football, 11-year career in the NFL, donated $100,00 in 2005 to refurbish Atwood Stadium, football star at Northern High
.Dan Skuta, football, 8-year NFL career, outstanding player at Carman-Ainsworth High
- Tom Dutkowski, Powers coach, 18 district championships, five regional titles, three quarterfinals and two semifinals, seven Big Nine Championships
- Deyamporte “Dee” Cavette, boxing, winner welterweight championship in Golden Gloves 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1936
- Duane Brown, inventor of blooper ball and extraordinary educator.
- The Lapeer West 1995 football team, first state championship for Lapeer West High
The website has all the inductees since the beginning of the organization, and some information about each one. Go to www.GFASHOF.org for more information.
Top area high school students were also inducted. Kate Brody of Grand Blanc High School is currently attending the University of Wisconsin. Golf is her sport, and last fall she won 13 of 14 tournaments, a two-time Division 1 State Championship, was Miss Golf of Michigan and more.
Jaylin Townsend from Beecher High School is now attending Ferris State on a combined football and track scholarship. A couple of his many accomplishments are being a two-time All-State Football champ and being a two-time 200-meter State Champion. He is rated as one of the top 40 athletes in Michigan by 247Sports.
The High School Coach of the Year is Travis Perry, Hockey Head Coach at Powers Catholic High. This is his 18th season as coach. He has a record of 342-105-20, 11 League Titles, 11 Regional Titles, eight final four appearances and won the state championship in 2023. He is also a high school graduate from Powers, with impressive performances there and at CMU.
The Ben Roof A-Frame Awards Scholarship was awarded to Michael Tucker. Without his leadership, hard work and dedication, Powers would not have won their first hockey state championship in 2023.
One inequity in the event was voiced by Ellen Tomek, who pointed out how few women have been inducted. The master of ceremonies, Bill Troesken, agreed. He explained that the board does not make nominations; we the people do, and he encouraged everyone in the room to do so.
You too can recommend the next local athletes who should be nominated at www.GFASHOF.org, the deadline is April 2024.
What are you waiting for? Go find a community for yourself, a sports team, an exercise class, a church, whatever community works for you! Then, enjoy it!