Hall of Fame inductees humbled
Being honored as the best, especially in your hometown, can be a humbling experience. The five individuals honored Monday at the 20th annual Rochester Quarterbacks Hall of Fame certainly were grateful to take their place in the city's rich sports history.
The Quarterbacks Hall of Fame grew to 81 members as four men were inducted and another received a community honor. The event was held before about 400 attendees at Mayo Civic Center.
Joining the class of 2010 were Rod Raver, Shjon Podein, Gene Macken and Dale Massey. Dan O'Connor was also given the Ben Sternberg Award for outstanding sports contributions in the community.
"It's an honor to be up here," O'Connor told the crowd. That summed up the feeling of all those honored.
"This is truly an honor," Podein said. "I'm humbled."
He is a summary of those honored:
• Rod Raver was a 1973 John Marshall grad. He won two state championships in the high jump. His leap of 7-feet, 1 inch as a senior was the best high school jump for the entire country in 1973 and remains a Minnesota state record.
He still recalls attempting to clear 7 feet at the state meet.
"They stopped the track meet to announce I was going to make the jump," Raver said.
Raver was still using the western roll as a sophomore in high school. He then turned to the Fosbury Flop and he improved his height by six inches on the first day.
Raver earned a full scholarship to Iowa State, but after a fallout with the coach he left the school. He enrolled at Rochester Junior College and won a junior college national indoor championship with a leap of 7-feet to earn All-American honors.
He qualified to tryout for the U.S. 1976 Olympic team, but his career ended after he was in a motorcycle accident. He was hit by an elderly driver and suffered ligament damage in his knee.
Later, Raver turned to coaching. He helped the JM track team in 1986-87 and then at Century in 2001-04.
"It was nice to return to JM and coach with the coaches from when I was there," Raver said.
• Shjon Podein graduated from John Marshall in 1986. He went on to play college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth and then played 13 years in the NHL. He appeared in two Stanley Cup finals and helped the Colorado Avalanche win the Cup in 2001.
He has never forgotten his roots, however.
"I'll never be anything more then a northwest Rochester boy," Podein said. "I feel like the luckiest guy around."
Looking around the Mayo Civic Center, Podein recalls getting his start in skating in the building.
"But my mom put me in a chipmunk suit and started me in figure skating," Podein said.
Podein said he never took his hockey career for granted and had no illusions of playing in the NHL when he first began playing the game.
"I only wanted one thing," he said. "I wanted to be a John Marshall Rocket."
Now Podein gives back to the community. For the past 13 years he has sponsored the Shjon Podein Children's Foundation in Rochester. He currently lives in St. Louis Park.
"Working with kids, they make me want to be the two things I want to be more than anything in the world, a good father and a good husband," Podein said.
• Gene Macken was a 1968 Lourdes grad. He had another last-minute commitment and was unable to attend the event.
Macken played on the Lourdes state Catholic football championship teams in 1966 and '67. He wrestled for two years for the Eagles and was 19-1 as a senior.
Macken attended the University of South Dakota on a football scholarship and was the team's MVP as a freshman. He was all-conference as both a junior and senior and was named the league's most valuable lineman while being named to a pair of All-American teams.
He was a ninth-round draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals in football. He was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. He currently lives in Shorewood, Wis., with his wife and two sons and is a special education teacher.
• Dale Massey was the only 2010 inducted who was not raised in Rochester. He grew up in Appleton, Minn., and made his mark in Rochester as a baseball coach.
Massey coached John Marshall for one season, in 1966. He started teaching at Mayo the next year and coached the Spartans until 1994. He logged a career mark of 309-256 and guided four teams to the state tournament.
"To this day it's an honor to be called coach," Massey said.
He received the Dick Siebert Coach of the Year Award in 1992 and the Jim Dimick Coach of the Year Award in 2002. He has also been inducted into the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
"I'm proud of the relationships I have with the coaches in Rochester and all around the state," Massey said.
He was also thrilled the field at Mayo named after him in 2009.
"One of the highlights in my career was the naming of Dale Massey Field at Mayo," he said.
He continues to be involved with baseball in the city, most notably with the Rochester Royals.
• Dan O'Connor comes from a boxing family in Rochester. His father, Jack, was and is a trainer and his older brother, Pat, was an elite amateur champion and a professional. His son, Shawn, is a former fighter and now a trainer.
Dan won more than 200 amateur bouts himself and was an Upper Midwest champion at age 16. But it's for promoting the sport and working with youth, at his 4th Street Gym, that earned O'Connor the Ben Sternberg Award. The award is for contributions to sports in Rochester.
"I feel so privileged to get this award because I knew Ben for so many years," O'Connor said.
He gave credit to others for making the gym flourish.
"The people at the gym make the gym, it's not just me," O'Connor said.
"We have good people down there, that's what makes it run."
He also enjoys working with the area youth.
"That's why we do it," he said.