Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Five head coaches whose names are synonymous with their respective sports -- Bill Haller (softball), Scott Hanna (baseball), Neil Ladsten (wrestling), Don “Doc” Roach (men’s tennis), and Karen Stromme (women’s basketball) -- along with the late Bruce Bennett, a legendary local sportswriter and longtime Bulldog booster, will be paid a lasting tribute on Sept. 30, 2011 when the University of Minnesota Duluth Athletic Hall of Fame holds its 14th enshrinement ceremony.
The UMD Athletic Hall of Fame membership, which was established in 1991, will boost its membership to 105 with the addition of these six distinguished individuals.
Haller closed the books on a distinguished coaching career following the 2005 season ranking 16th on the NCAA II charts for both all-time victories (he was 657-306 during his 24-year tenure) and winning percentage (.682). In addition to racking up more triumphs than any other coach in Bulldog history and failing to register a winning record only twice, Haller and the Bulldogs captured 13 of a possible 20 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championships, made two visits to the NCAA II North Central Regionals (1996 and 2002) and qualified for three NAIA National Tournaments (they placed second at the 1988 event and followed that up with seventh- and fifth-place finishes in 1990 and 1991). In 1991, he was chosen the NAIA Coach of the Year and the NSIC bestowed him with that same honor following both the 2000 and 2002 seasons. Haller was named UMD’s compliance coordinator in 1984 (two years after he signed on as the new Bulldog head softball coach) and currently serves full-time in that role.
Hanna, a two-time NSIC Coach of the Year honoree, was involved in one form or another with UMD baseball since its inception as an intercollegiate sport in 1972 through the spring of 2005. He was a starter (designated hitter) during the Bulldogs’ inaugural two seasons and spent five years as a UMD assistant before landing the head coaching job prior to the 1979 campaign. Among Hanna’s numerous accomplishments during a 27-year coaching stay were a 550-257-3 overall record, four NSIC regular season titles (1992, 1993, 1999, and 2003), one berth in the NCAA II Central Regionals (2003), two NAIA Area 4 playoff appearances (1990 and 1991) and only three seasons of sub-.500 baseball. Under his watch, UMD produced four Major League Baseball draft picks, eight professional players, seven NCAA II All-Central Region selections and one American Baseball Coaches Association NCAA II All-American. Hanna, who lettered four years – two as a starter -- in football and was the recipient of UMD’s Outstanding Senior Lineman Award in 1972, has been the Bulldogs’ equipment manager since 1978-79 and spent 22 years as a UMD assistant football coach (1978-1999).
Stromme, who like Hanna and Haller was born and raised in Duluth, has been employed full-time as UMD’s senior woman administrator and assistant athletic director for operations since stepping down from coaching six years ago. She was appointed the Bulldogs’ head women’s basketball coach in 1984-85 following one season of assistant coaching activity, and proceeded to compile a 440-184 overall record (for a .705 winning percentage) and post 21 consecutive winning seasons. Stromme also guided the Bulldogs to 12 NSIC regular season titles, four of a possible five NSIC Tournament championships, eight NCAA II North Central Regional playoff berths, and seven appearances in the NAIA National Tournament. From 1988-91, she also doubled as UMD’s first -- and only -- head women’s golf coach. Stromme, a member of the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the St. Olaf College Hall of Fame, served as the chairperson of the USA Basketball Team Selection Committee for the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games and as an assistant coach for Team East at the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival.
Ladsten presided over the UMD wrestling program for 25 of its 30 years of existence (1969-71 and 1973 to 1996 when the sport was dropped) over that span his Bulldogs went 172-141-4 in dual meets and laid claim to six NSIC titles. A NSIC Coach of the Year honoree on six occasions, Ladsten helped develop some 24 NCAA II/NAIA All-Americans, including the school’s first national champion in any sport -- Mike Hirschey (NAIA in 1987). In addition to his wrestling responsibilities, he served as a UMD football assistant coach for 23 seasons, resigning from that post in 1993. Ladsten, a Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee in 2010, started on both the UMD offensive and defensive lines for four years and was a member of the All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Team in 1967 and 1968. During his senior season, he captained the football Bulldogs and went on to be named UMD’s Top Scholar-Athlete Award winner that year.
The longest-serving athletic trainer UMD has ever employed (1969-98), Roach continues to own the best overall winning percentage (.786 off a 364-99 record) of any coach in Bulldog history. He directed UMD to 18 NSIC tennis championships (including the school’s first in 1977), two runnerup finishes over the course of 23 seasons and reeled off 87 straight NSIC wins before retiring at the conclusion of the 1998 season. His Bulldogs also earned four trips to the NAIA National Tournament (1986, 1987, 1990 and 1991) and one to the NCAA II regionals (1989) while landing NSIC Coach of the Year honors 14 times.
Bennett passionately covered all facets of UMD sports as an award-winning editor, sportswriter and columnist for the Duluth News-Tribune for 38 years. He also served on a number of Bulldog volunteer groups as well, including the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee and the UMD Hoop Club. Bennett, who died at the age of 61 on April 13, 1998 -- just three months after his retirement from the newspaper business -- is the namesake of the Bruce Bennett Award, which since 1998 has been presented on a regular basis to an individual for his/her service to UMD Athletics. The University of Michigan alumnus has been inducted into the DECC Hall of Fame (1996) and the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame (1997) and was named the Minnesota sportswriter of the year by the Associated Press in both 1965 and 1997.
Article Courtesy: UMD Athletics Web Site
Posted by Zach Schneider