CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame inducts Class of 2011

CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame inducts Class of 2011

Six former student-athletes, one outstanding coach, one outstanding team and ‘Friends of Football’ organization comprise class.

PUEBLO, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com – Nov. 11, 2011) – The CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame added its Class of 2011 Friday, inducting six former-student athletes, one outstanding coach, one outstanding team and the “Friends of Football” organization. 

It was the third ever induction class into the young hall of fame, conceived in 2008 with the charter inductions of longtime men’s basketball coach, Harry Simmons, and women’s basketball coach, Jessie Banks.  The CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame joins together the legacies of athletics at CSU-Pueblo as well as the previous incarnations of the school, including Southern Colorado Junior College (1933-37), Pueblo Junior College (1938-63), Southern Colorado State College (1963-1975), and University of Southern Colorado (1975-2003).

The Class of 2011 included five student-athletes from the University of Southern Colorado era - Carey Brading (Men’s Tennis, 1976-79), Dan DeRose (Football & Men’s Track, 1981-84), Niki Toussaint-Whitaker (Softball, 1998-2001), Sherry Vallejos (Women’s Basketball, 1988-92), and Angie Wintz (Volleyball, 1994-97), another student-athlete from the Southern Colorado State College era, Dennis Jones (Baseball, 1967-70), longtime wrestling coach Doug Moses (1982-2001) and the 1982 Women’s Gymnastics Team, which finished 2nd in nation at that year’s NAIA National Championships.

The CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame currently boasts 32 inductees, which includes six coaches (Simmons, Banks, Moses, former track coach Jim Blasing, former football and basketball coach, Dale Rea, former basketball and tennis coach, Don McIntosh), three contributors (Pueblo Chieftain publisher Robert H. Rawlings, Art & Lorraine Gonzales, Friends of Football), and three outstanding teams (1982 gymnastics teams, 1996 Division II finalist baseball team, 1961 national championship basketball team). 

The CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame is always accepting nominations for future classes.  Anybody is eligible to nominate.  To nominate, visit GoThunderWolves.com and enter the Hall of Fame section.

Carey Brading (Men’s Tennis, 1976-79)
Carey Brading is one of the most decorated male student-athletes in school history. His list of honors are as long as the list of men he defeated on the court: two-time All-American, a mind-boggling four-time Conference Champion, three times at one-singles and once at two-singles, and another four conference titles at one-doubles. He was a three-time NAIA District VII singles champion and three-time district doubles champion as well. He headlined a squad that reached great heights, finishing in the Top 10 nationally three times in his four years, including a fourth place finish in the NAIA Championships in 1977, the best national finish ever for the tennis program. His resume was so obviously impressive, he was selected for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference All-Century Team in 2009. 

Dan DeRose (Football & Men’s Track, 1981-84)
Today, Dan DeRose is recognized as one of the most prominent boosters of CSU-Pueblo athletics, his biggest passion being our football team, which is currently ranked #2 in the nation. But behind his list of post-graduate accomplishments, which include serving as the Athletic Director at the University of Southern Colorado and chairing the Friends of Football organization, just to name a few, are his accomplishments as a proud student-athlete at the USC. When he played football at USC from 1981 to 1983, he was simply the best at his position and quickly established himself as the finest linebacker in school history. The career leader in tackles with 415 over just three seasons, his dominance still lives in the memory of the RMAC, as he was an All-Century team selection in 2009. To top it all off, he is still the school record-holder in the shot put during his days as a track athlete. 

Dennis Jones (Baseball, 1967-70)
The SCSC baseball teams, led by Coach Tom Muhic at the end of the 1960s, were some of the most memorable in school history. Perhaps the most memorable player of the group is Dennis Jones. The level at which he dominated from the pitching mound is simply unsurpassed in school history. The crafty southpaw from Jetmore, Kansas, known affectionately as “Gomer”, is still headlining the CSU-Pueblo pitching records over 40 years after his collegiate career ended. He was drafted by multiple major league teams, including the Baltimore Orioles in 1968 and the Oakland A’s in 1970, playing in the A’s system for four years. Today, the legend of “Gomer” still lives on as the standard by which all CSU-Pueblo pitchers are judged. 

Niki Toussaint-Whitaker (1998-2001)
Many of you might know Niki Whitaker as the Associate Director of Athletics at CSU-Pueblo, or maybe just the woman who hands out the raffle prizes at the football games and the free t-shirts at basketball games. But what you may not know is that she was bar none the best hitter to ever suit up for the CSU-Pueblo softball team. During her four-year career from 1998-2001, she helped turn an average CSU-Pueblo softball team into a national power, leading the team to the 2001 RMAC Championship with a mind-boggling 52-14 record, a season in which she hit .441 and earned All-American honors. Today, she is still the program’s all-time leader in home runs and RBIs and in 2009, she too was named to the RMAC All-Century team. 

Sherry Vallejos (1988-92)
You would be hard-pressed to find another women’s basketball alum that dominated the floor as much as Sherry Vallejos. From 1988-92, she tore it up for the USC Indians in the backcourt, first helping the Indians to the 1989 RMAC Championship, the team’s second straight title, and following it up by graduating as the program’s leading scorer with 1,426 points. Her finest season was her junior campaign when the team was playing its first season as an NCAA Division II school. Against the raised level of competition, she responded with an All-District selection, averaging 19.4 points per game, still the second-highest points per game total in school history, and the Colorado Athletic Conference Player of the Year award. She is still the only player in school history to have been named Conference Player of the Year. 

Angie Wintz (1994-97)
In the mid-1990s, the talk of the campus was certainly the success of the University of Southern Colorado volleyball team. In 1996, the USC volleyball team joined the RMAC and promptly knocked Nebraska-Kearney off its perch, claiming the RMAC Championship in the process. At the center of it was Angie Wintz. She was a two-time All-Region selection in 1996 and 1997, and was a 1997 All-American. She led both of those teams to back-to-back national tournament appearances. It was a long way to come for her, as she was an original recruit for then-new coach, Tom Shoji, who helped raise the program to those heights after taking over a team that won just nine games in two seasons. 

Doug Moses (1982-2001)
In the history of CSU-Pueblo Athletics, no coach has had such sustained high levels of success as Coach Doug Moses. He was the head man for the school’s new wrestling program in 1982, taking a rag tag group of wrestlers and quickly turning them into RMAC champions one year later. By 1985, they were National Runners-up. He recruited perhaps the finest wrestler in NAIA history in CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall-of-Famer, Chuck Pipher, and simply created a wrestling dynasty at the University. From 1982 to 2001, the program produced an amazing 64 All-Americans, accounting for nearly half of all athletic All-Americans in the school’s history, and a remarkable 11 National Champions. His teams turned in 12 national top ten finishes and eight top five finishes over 19 seasons, as well as seven Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships. His crowning achievements were the aforementioned 1985 squad and the 1991 team, each of which finished second in the nation, still the second-highest team finish of any athletic team in school history. 

1982 National Runner-up Gymnastics Team
It wasn’t until the late 1970’s that the NAIA and NCAA began holding championships in women’s sports, and teams at University of Southern Colorado were at the forefront of this explosion of women’s athletics. None more so than the gymnastics program at the University. Under the lead of coach Valerie Striggow, the USC gymnastics team blossomed into the shining beacon of the school’s athletics landscape. In the first season that the NAIA held a gymnastics championship, 1981, the Lady Indian gymnasts won the RMAC and finished third in the nation. The next year, the team aimed even higher, and nearly accomplished every goal it had set out. Buoyed by a crop of new freshman, including 1982 All-American, Kim Villers, it would win another RMAC Championship in 1982 and ultimately finish second in the nation, the second-highest of any team in school history had finished at the national level. 

Friends of Football
Today, the City of Pueblo has football fever. The ThunderWolves are ranked No. 2 in the nation, and fans hope we can keep it going all the way to the National Championship. It’s hard to believe that just five short years ago, Friends of Football was just a group of excited boosters with pie in the sky dreams to bring football, wrestling and women’s track back to CSU-Pueblo. It’s still hard to believe that they raised over $13 million from community members and alumni to start up the programs and built a stadium in the Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl that’s considered a gem of Division II. Fast forward to today, when the sports that Friends of Football help bring back in 2008, football, wrestling and track, will be hosting National Playoffs this season in Pueblo. Even more impressive than that, they helped reinvigorate a college campus, boost enrollment by over 33%, and heighten the community’s relationship with the City of Pueblo to unforeseen levels.