Hall of fame welcomes four

Thatcher, Werner, Lecy, Vitse Amaris are inducted

By Bob Brown

Dick Thatcher never gave himself credit for coaching John Marshall to four consecutive state tennis championships in the 1960s.

And he didn't do it Monday night as he and three others joined the Rochester Quarterbacks Club Sports Hall of Fame during the organization's 12th annual induction dinner at the Kahler Hotel.


"They were looking for a tennis coach and called me in and asked what I knew about tennis," Thatcher said. "I told them I knew that you played singles with one racket and doubles with two. I got the job.

"I asked them what it paid," Thatcher said. "They told me, '$300, (and) you get to work from March until June after school every day and on weekends.' What a deal."

Thatcher's JM teams went on to win state tennis championships in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965.

"We had so much talent," Thatcher said.

Thatcher also coached swimming at JM and then went on to coach both sports at Mayo when that school opened in 1967. He coached several state champion swimmers. In addition, he coached the Rochester Swim Club team in the summers. He retired from coaching in 1975 to go into the swimming pool business full time.

"I was fortunate to coach and teach in Rochester," Thatcher said.

Joining Thatcher in the Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame Class of 2002 were former John Marshall track and cross country coach Ron Werner, former JM hockey standout Scott Lecy and former Mayo track star Christy Vitse Amaris.

Ron Werner


Werner's JM teams won eight straight Big Nine Conference championships (1971-78) and finished second in the state meet five straight years (1972-76).

Werner credited his assistant coaches and his athletes for the success JM enjoyed while he was coaching from 1967-81 and 1986-88.

"We would not have won without our two event coaches: Craig Sheets and Snuffy Williams," Werner said.

"But it was the dedication and hard work of the athletes that was responsible for any success we had. I appreciated all of you, even though I might not have shown it at the time."

Scott Lecy

Lecy was a member of the JM team that won the Minnesota high school hockey championship in 1977. Even though he went on to play for an NCAA championship team at Wisconsin in 1981, he said winning the state title at JM was the highlight of his hockey career.

"Nothing came close to that," he said.

Lecy thanked members of the old Rochester Mustangs hockey team and his father, Don, for getting him off on the right foot.


"My dad was the most influential person in my hockey career," he said. "He was always there for me."

Lecy's voice choked with emotion as he talked about playing for Gene Sack, the former JM coach who died last month.

"What can you say about Gene Sack," Lecy said. "He was so fun to play for. He kept things in perspective."

Lecy asked the 400 who attended the dinner to toast Sack.

Christy Vitse Amaris

Vitse Amaris, a 1977 graduate of Mayo High, was one of the first superstars of high school girls track in Minnesota. She won four state championships in 1976 and 1977, including two in the 400-meter dash. Her state record of 55.4 seconds in the 400 held up until last year. She still holds Mayo school records in four events. She went on to the University of Wisconsin, but a knee injury cut her college career short.

"My coaches, my family, even my competitors had such an influence on my life," said Vitse Amaris, who continues to live in Rochester and work at Mayo Clinic. "Receiving this honor is so wonderful. It's like Christmas."

The four newest members bring the number in the Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame to 49.


Southeastern Minnesota native Jerry Seeman, a former NFL official and supervisor of NFL officials, was the guest speaker for the dinner.

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