Three female athletes who seized the opportunity to play high school sports after the passage of Title IX in 1972 headline the 2008 class of the National High School Hall of Fame.
Jackie Brummer, four-time state gymnastics all-around champion from Amherst (New York) Sweet Home High School in the early 1980s; Natasha Kaiser-Brown, nine-time state champion (1982-85) in track and field from Des Moines (Iowa) Theodore Roosevelt High School; and Karen Smith, two-time California state basketball player of the year in the late 1970s from Sacramento (California) Rio Americano High School, were chosen in the Athlete category, along with Tom Kropp, Nebraska prep athlete of the decade in the 1970s at Aurora (Nebraska) High School.
These four former high school standouts are among 12 individuals who will be inducted in the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) National High School Hall of Fame July 7 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be the closing event of the 89th NFHS Annual Summer Meeting.
Four high school coaches with an amazing 184 combined years of experience were chosen for this prestigious honor. Coaches selected include Louise Crocco, who led Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Cardinal Gibbons High School to 18 state volleyball championships in 39 years of coaching; James Drewry, football coach at Booneville (Mississippi) High School who is No. 1 in state history in victories among public school coaches during his 48-year career; Warren Mitchell, who at 82 years of age is in his 55th year as track and field coach at Limon (Colorado) High School with 12 state championships to his credit; and the late Dewey Sullivan, the winningest football coach in Oregon prep history who won five state championships in 42 years at Dayton (Oregon) High School.
Two contest officials were selected for this year’s class: Tim Carr, a registered football and basketball official since 1973 from Midvale, Utah; and Dick Deitz, a multi-sport official from McLeansboro, Illinois, with 50 years of service, including the past 32 as the state’s basketball and baseball rules interpreter.
Selected in the administrator’s category is Jerry McGee, longtime coach and athletic director from North Carolina who has served as executive director of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association since 1991.
The final inductee in the fine arts category is Barbara Seng, coach/director of speech, drama and one-act play for 43 years at Henry Sibley High School and White Bear Lake High School, both in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The National High School Hall of Fame was started in 1982 by the NFHS to honor high school athletes, coaches, contest officials, administrators, fine arts coaches/directors and others for their extraordinary achievements and accomplishments in high school sports and activity programs. This year’s class increases the number in the Hall of Fame to 350, and this year’s event will be the 26th induction ceremony.
The 12 individuals were chosen after a two-level selection process involving a screening committee composed of active high school state association administrators, coaches and officials, and a final selection committee composed of coaches, former athletes, state association officials, media representatives and educational leaders. Nominations were made through NFHS member associations.
Brummer was the most accomplished female gymnast in New York state history. At Sweet Home High School in Amherst, New York, Brummer won the all-around title four consecutive years from 1979 to 1982. She also won the vault three times, uneven bars twice and balance beam three times. At Arizona State University, Brummer won the NCAA championship in uneven bars in 1984 and was NCAA balance beam and all-around champion in 1986. Brummer is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has appeared in several TV commercials, on the TV show “Moonlighting” and was a dancer in the movie, “The Purple People Eater.” She is a licensed attorney and teaches at Gleason School of Gymnastics in North Tonawanda, New York.
Kaiser-Brown dominated girls high school track in Iowa in the early 1980s during her days at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. She was a nine-time state champion (six individual events and three relays) and graduated in 1985 with school and state records in the 100 meters (:11.5), 200 meters (:24.1) and 400 meters (:54.09). She lost only one individual race during her high school career. Kaiser-Brown was a member of the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic teams and was silver medalist in the 4x400-meter relay at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Today, she is men’s and women’s track and field coach at Drake University in Des Moines.
Kropp was a four-sport (football, basketball, baseball, track) standout at Aurora (Nebraska) High School from 1967 to 1971. He was two-time all-state in football and played in the 1971 Shrine Bowl. In basketball, he averaged 33 points and 23 rebounds as a senior and was named one of the top five basketball players in Nebraska history by the Omaha World-Herald. He was the winning pitcher in Aurora’s state baseball championship and threw a no-hitter in the tournament’s semifinals. In track, Kropp was undefeated in the shot put and discus in his senior season. Kropp was named one of Nebraska’s 10 greatest athletes by the World-Herald, and he was Prep Athlete of the Decade for the 1970s as chosen by the Lincoln Journal Star. For the past 17 years, Kropp has been head men’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska, Kearney, his alma mater.
Smith excelled in basketball, softball and volleyball from 1976 to 1980 at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California. In basketball, she was California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division I Player of the Year in 1978 and 1979 and was a high school All-American in 1979 and 1980. She still holds school records for points (2,335), assists, steals and games played. She batted .444 in softball and was three-time all-league, as well as two-time all-league in volleyball. Smith played college basketball at the University of California, Berkeley, and owns the school record for most assists (male or female). Today, she is assistant commissioner of the CIF-North Coast Section.
Crocco recently announced her retirement as girls volleyball coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ending one of the most successful coaching stints in high school volleyball history. Crocco started the volleyball program at Cardinal Gibbons in 1969, four years after graduating from the school. In the ensuing 39 years, her teams won 1,132 matches and lost only 123, a winning percentage of .901. She led her teams to 18 state championships. Crocco ranks fifth all-time nationally in victories according to the NFHS National High School Sports Record Book. From 1975 to 1999, her teams won 368 consecutive regular-season matches. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1990.
Drewry is the most successful public-school football coach in Mississippi history with a 320-146-5 record. Still active at the age of 76, Drewry has coached at Booneville High School since 1990 after coaching there from 1965 to 1978. He has also coached at Kossuth, Brandon and Tishomingo in Mississippi. Drewry’s teams have won three state titles (1990, 1999, 2000) and have finished as runner-up four other times. He was inducted into the Mississippi Coaches Hall of Fame in 1992.
Mitchell began coaching at Limon (Colorado) High School in 1953, and amazingly, 55 years later, he remains as the school’s track and field coach. His track teams have won 12 state titles and finished second four other times. Mitchell also was the school’s head football coach for 10 years and an assistant for 27 years. He coached basketball for 24 years, registering a 399-162 mark and led his teams to four state championships. Mitchell’s overall three-sport coaching record stands at 694-247-6 with 27 team championships. He was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2001.
Sullivan compiled a 352-84-2 win-loss record before his death near the end of the 2006 season. He ranks 12th nationally in coaching victories by an individual at one school. Sullivan coached for 42 years (1965-2006) at Dayton (Oregon) High School and won five state championships in six appearances. He led his teams to 29 postseason appearances in 30 years, including 24 in a row to end his career. A member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, Sullivan registered a 36-game winning streak at one point in his career.
Carr has been a registered official in Utah for the past 35 years. He officiated basketball from 1972 to 1986 and has worked as a football official from 1975 to 1978 and since 1986. Carr has officiated more than 70 football playoff games, including six state championships. He officiated 25 basketball playoff games and was evaluator of basketball officials in Utah from 1986 to 1993. Carr has been a leader locally with the Salt Lake City Football Officials Association since 1974, serving 10 years on its board of directors. At the national level, Carr was state director of the NFHS Officials Association for six years and has served on the NFHS Officials’ Quarterly Publications Committee for several years.
Deitz has been working as a football, basketball and baseball official in Illinois since 1958 and has been the state’s rules interpreter in basketball and baseball since 1976. He also officiated softball for 26 years. Deitz is the head official for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) football playoffs, and he is an IHSA clinician in both football and basketball. Deitz officiated boys basketball state tournaments four times and worked the state championship games in 1974 and 1996. He also officiated state finals in football, making him one of a select few in the state to work finals in both major sports. He was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1998, and since 1993, Deitz has been mayor of McLeansboro, Illinois.
McGee was athletic director at Edenton (North Carolina) Holmes High School (1962-65) and Elizabeth City (North Carolina) Northeastern High School (1976-81) prior to serving as athletic director for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public School System from 1981 to 1997. Since 1991, he has been executive director of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association. McGee also coached four years at the high school level and 11 years at the college level (Kansas State University, Southern Illinois University, East Carolina University and Duke University). He was founder of the National Executive Directors Council, which was started in 2002 to unify the various state athletic director associations.
Seng retired from active teaching and coaching in 1997 after 43 years as coach/director of speech, drama and one-act play at Henry Sibley High School and White Bear Lake High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also served briefly at Sarasota (Florida) High School. Although retired from active teaching, Seng remains active in various roles with the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). She has been the MSHSL speech, debate and one-act play consultant since 1976 and has served as a judge in these programs since 1954. She conducts certification clinics for speech judges and in-service clinics for speech coaches.