The St. James Athletic Hall of Fame inducted ten new members and two teams in the class of 2019 on Saturday night, with over 150 people in attendance at the VFW.
The 1965 baseball team and 1999-2000 wrestling teams were presented first.
The 1965 Saints placed 4th in the state, while the 1999-2000 wrestling team finished third at state. Jim Moody spoke on behalf of the 1965 team, and Gene Hildebrandt spoke about his experiences as a coach of that wrestling team.
The first inductee, Dick Bakke, a standout running back for the Saints in the 1950s, grew up loving the Saints, showing up for games two hours early and sitting right at the 50-yard line.
Being obsessed with football at a young age translated to Bakke’s success on the field.
“St. James had many strong football teams in the 1950s,” said Bakke. “I was fortunate to play on some of those teams.”
Following his time with the Saints, Bakke played football at Gustavus.
Contributor Denny Kaus was presented by Steve Walker.
“Denny had a love for anything involving the St. James Saints,” said Walker. “He truly was a St. James Saint.”
Kaus was a contributor to St. James sports for over 20 years.
He was a statistician for football, a line judge for volleyball, and a Saturday morning youth basketball coordinator.
He was a scorer and timer for basketball, as well as the public address announcer, where his famous “Now everybody up for the St. James Saints” echoed in the high school gym for years on end.
Kaus was also a public address announcer for baseball, offering kids a dollar for their three quarters when retrieving foul balls.
Kaus’ sons, Tyler, Coby, and Justin, also shared their favorite moments of their father.
Al Adams, one of two St. James coaches inducted, was represented by Gene Hildebrandt.
Adams coached 58 seasons, spanning various sports. Adams coached golf for 17 years (‘84-’01), was the head coach of St. James wrestling for three-season (‘75-’78) before being an assistant coach to Hildebrandt for years to come. Adams also coached junior high football.
While Adams was unable to be in attendance, he provided a letter, which Hildebrandt read, “I can’t believe time went by so fast. My goal was to try and reach every student and every athlete.”
Track star Teresa (Schmidt) Kolstad praised her coaches and God for her success on the track.
“Being speedy is a God-given talent and not everyone gets the same dose,” said Kolstad. “I was proud to wear a St. James uniform because we were so well-coached.”
Schmidt qualified for state four straight years in hurdles, placing three times in the 110M hurdles and twice in the 200M hurdles. Schmidt also played four years of volleyball.
Jodi (Helget) Collings, a talent in tennis, basketball, and track, provided comedy in her speech, while also being thankful and grateful to the community of St. James.“I hated running... I still do.”
She competed in track for the triple jump, long jump, 100M, and 200M.
She helped the Saints qualify for the state tournament in basketball, recording a 20/20 game in the subsection vs. St. Peter. Collings, however, was expected to put up 40 points and 40 rebounds by her father.
“St. James is a great place,” said Collings. “I miss it, and I still keep up with St. James athletics.”
Doug Burkhardt spoke on behalf of his dad, Maurice Burkhardt.
Burkhardt was a center and linebacker on the great football teams of the 1950s. Despite being undersized, Burkhardt still found his way to the University of Minnesota, playing one year under Murray Warmath.
“Hearing all the stories brings back some awesome memories,” said Burkhardt. “He would be honored to be inducted tonight.”
Jerry Dalen, a 13x letter winner for the Saints, credited his parents for his success in athletics, spanning across basketball, baseball, golf, and football.
Dalen was presented by his younger brother, Dean.
“He taught me how to be good, but he didn’t teach me enough to beat him,” said the younger Dalen.
Jerry Dalen was a part of the undefeated state champion basketball team in 1972. He also qualified for state in golf and was second-team all-state in basketball as a junior. Dalen went on to play baseball at St. Olaf following his graduation from St. James.
“My parents taught us the right way to play,” said Dalen. “I was lucky to have great coaches.”
Dave Dose, the second coach inducted, shared his favorite memories of fifth and sixth-grade students asking him if he was attending the homecoming game... while he was the coach of the football team.
Dose coached football for six years, compiling a 37-19 record, with four winning seasons. Dose also mentioned a run in the playoffs, highlighted by matching up against powerhouse Rosemount.
Heading into the game, with Rosemount heavily favored, Dose and his staff rallied the Saints for a 22-0 upset victory.
“You talk about tough, hard-nosed kids,” said Dose. “That’s what we had in 1980.”
Bradlee Wolner, a member of that 1980 team as a linebacker and fullback, remembered his years on the gridiron.
“Friday night lights were the best thing ever,” said Wolner. “It’s been a great fortune to play sports.”
The final inductee, Jeff Whitney, wrapped up the ceremonies, much like he finished wrestling meets, wrestling as the heavyweight for the Saints.
Whitney, well known for his pin to win a state championship, also found success in football and baseball.
Whitney was a kicker for St. James and practiced kicking with his father’s dress shoe before getting an actual kicking shoe. “St. James is a good place, and I’m glad I’m back here.”
In attendance were current and former athletes, coaches, and St. James athletics supporters.
Hometown Cafe catered the event.