From left, David Anderson, Bob Brown, Teresa Fitzgerald Brown, Ruth Hanson and Chuck Rath have been inducted into the 2012 Byron Athletic Hall of Fame. Photo by David Richards
By David Richards
The hurdler, the sprinter, the coach, the reporter, the team and Mr.Fit were all honored for the same reason Sept. 29.
All were named to the Byron Athletic Hall of Fame's Class of 2012.
The awards banquet and dinner was held at Byron High School. Head football coach John Austinson started the Hall of Fame four years ago.
This year's inductees are Bob Brown, Teresa Fitzgerald Brown, David Anderson, Ruth Hanson, the 1989 baseball team and Chuck Rath.
Bob Brown attended the Byron schools from 1974 until his graduation in 1986. During that time, he participated in football, basketball and track. Bob was captain of the Bears' 1986 Class A state track championship team. He placed third that year at the state track meet in the 300 intermediate hurdles and seventh in the 110 high hurdles. He still holds the second fastest time in school history in the 300 hurdles at 39.52 seconds and is a former school record holder in the 110 high hurdles with a time of 15.19.
"A person doesn't receive an honor like this without a lot of help along the way," Brown said, who thanked the committee, his teammates, coaches and family.
Athletics seem to run in the Brown family as just the night before Brown's son Ricky returned a punt for a touched for the Byron football team.
Bob qualified for the state track meet in 1985 as a junior in the 300 intermediate hurdles and placed fourth.
He is a 2-time MN all-state selection in Track & Field having earned that honor in 1985 & 1986. He ran college track for the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits in Brookings, SD in 1987 & 1988. Bob was also a 2 year starter on Byron's basketball team his junior and senior season.
He was team captain during the 1985-86 season and led the Bears in scoring, rebounding and steals that season while earning the teams MVP award. He earned 6 varsity letters during his high school athletic career.
After graduation Bob attended SDSU, graduating in 1991 with a Bachelors of Science degree in both Biology and Environmental Management with a minor in Chemistry. He then worked for the United States Department of Agriculture for 7 years in Brookings, SD before returning home to the Byron area in 1997. Bob currently works at the Mayo Clinic as a Senior Research Technician sharing his time between the Infectious Disease research lab and the Bone Histomorphometry Lab.
For the past 10 years, Bob has been a Byron Kasson Mantorville (BKM) youth football board member and a head coach, currently serving as President of the BKM association. He is also an assistant to the Byron varsity football team serving as their equipment manager and statistician. Bob and his wife Teresa are current members of the Byron Booster Club representing the Football team.
He is a member of Christ the King Catholic Church and has served on its pastoral council the past 3 years as vice president. Bob has been married to his high school sweetheart Teresa Fitzgerald-Brown for 22 years. They have two sons, Ricky is 17 and Nick is 12. Both boys are current student athletes in the Byron school system competing in football, basketball and track. Bob's hobbies include playing racquetball, motorcycling, hunting and fishing.
Teresa Fitzgerald Brown
Teresa completed her entire K-12 education in the Byron Public School system graduating in 1988 as the class Salutatorian. Teresa participated in school productions, Future Home Makers of America, declamation and was a member of the National Honor Society. She tried nearly every sport available in her junior high years including gymnastics and softball but ultimately became a three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball and track.
She served as a varsity captain in each of these sports and was named the Outstanding Female Athlete of the Class of 1988.
"I hope that my record holds up against the others who have been awarded the honor, of being in this group," she said at the banquet.
Teresa was a two-year starter and letter earner in volleyball. She was the leading hitter and passer on the 1987 varsity team and was named MVP. In basketball she used her quickness to create steals and hustle to make a recovery or rebound. She was a starter and two-year letter earner in basketball. In track, Teresa was a sprinter that was converted to a hurdler. She was the anchor leg of the 1986 4x100m relay team that placed 3rd at the MN State Track meet. She ran the lead leg of 4X100m relay that advanced to state the following year. At the 1987 regional meet she ran the 300m hurdles in 47.0 seconds setting a new school record and advancing to State. Her 300m hurdle record still stands today 25 years later.
"The biggest thing I learned in my career here was how to set and achieve goals," she said. When you set your goals, you have to break them down into achievable segments."
After graduation, Teresa continued her academic pursuits at Augustana College, in Sioux Falls SD, where she ran track for one season. In 1990, she transferred to South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD and married her high school sweetheart, Bob Brown. Teresa graduated with Highest Honors in May of 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. She then continued her studies at SDSU, earning a Doctorate of Philosophy in Chemistry. Upon completion of her degree the Browns moved home and Teresa began teaching at Rochester Community and Technical College. She was named RCTC Faculty of the year in 1998 and 2008. She continues to teach at RCTC while she and Bob raise their two sons, Rick and Nick.
David L. Anderson first came to Byron at the start of the 1971-1972 school year as a student teacher in the science department. He completed his major in biology at Winona State later that school year and began teaching in the fall of 1972. He would spend his entire thirty-four year career in Byron teaching sophomore biology as well as anatomy, ecology, and earth science. His coaching duties included JV football, golf, and eventually, all levels of baseball.
"It's been awhile since I've been in front of a class, I might be rusty," Anderson said before giving his speech. "
During his first year he took an interest in officiating basketball at the below varsity level. At that time only boys played other schools as girls involvement in sports was a few years away. The next year he began working area varsity and B team contests - this year will be his fortieth season of running the basketball court for games in the area. He also refereed varsity volleyball contests for fifteen years.
Anderson grew up on a farm near Mabel, Minnesota, second oldest in a family that grew to five boys and a girl. Early on, playing baseball in the yard occupied a large part of most summer days. Their dad was a sports fan and in spite of living on a farm, he was agreeable to having them play little league baseball when they reached that age - even when haying or other farm work beckoned, the boys never missed a game. And their mom always drove them to town so they could play. Dave and Craig, who is four years younger, became pitchers and their success in high school propelled them to continue as pitchers at Winona State. Both aspired to become high school baseball coaches. In 2004, a group of Mabel sports enthusiasts were commissioned to research local sports history - Dave and Craig were included on the nine man "All Century Team" for baseball.
Dave coached baseball at the B team and Jr. High levels until 1989 (brother Craig had been head coach at Pine Island since 1977). The 1988 Byron varsity team had won the Hiawatha Valley conference title that year. It was the first year in the new conference which featured larger schools. Veteran coach Tom Hallaway retired as head coach after the 1988 season and Anderson assumed the duties of head coach The Bears were expected to return a strong team in'89 and they came through, posting a 20-4 record and advancing to the state tournament in St. Cloud for the first time. Ironically, the opponent in the regional final was Pine Island. At that game Craig and Dave's mom, Lorraine, stood between them at the plate during the playing of the national anthem. The brothers would split over thirty games evenly over eighteen years. The Bears played well in their first state tourney, going 2-1 and beating perennial power, Greenway of Coleraine for the third place trophy.
Over the next eleven seasons, Byron was HVL champs four times. They followed up the state tourney season with consecutive HVL titles in 1990 and 1991. The team set a new school record by going 26-4 in 1999 and winning the HVL but lost to La Crescent in the sectional final.
Coach Anderson said that in baseball, you didn't have to be the strongest guy or the biggest.
"If you can catch it and you can throw it, you can be successful," he said. "I was always looking for that guy who was smaller, but could contribute."
The 2000 team won the conference and was the top rated AA team in the state, beating K-M in the final game before the state tourney. They lost a tough nine inning game to defending champion Montgomery-Lonsdale and went 1-2 to finish in 6th place. Anderson retired at the end of the 2006 school year with a head coaching record of 206 wins and 195 losses.
He continues to be involved in sports over the last six years, serving as a volunteer pitching coach at Rochester John Marshall during the spring and summer. During that time the Rockets have been Big 9 Conference baseball champs four times. The JM Legion team, the Patriots, was the state legion champions in 2009. Dave's son Brian, who used to chase foul balls at Bears home games, was a pitcher and clean-up hitter on that team.
In 2010, Anderson received the "Retired Coach of the Year - Jim Dimick Award" from the Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association.
In 2011, Anderson and long time officiating partner Greg Rathbun were recognized by the Section 1A Athletic Directors and received the 2011 Larry Teskey Award in recognition of their long time service to member schools.
Anderson's family includes his wife of 30 years, Jane, who is an R.N. at the Mayo Clinic. They have two adult children - Sally, a UW-Eau Claire graduate is employed by a large insurance firm in St. Paul and a son, Brian, is a senior in mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
While accepting the honor, Hanson told about how much she enjoyed covering students for so many years.
"It's fun to see people you don't recognize because it's been so long," she said. "It was fun to be a part of your school, from the first day of kindergarten to your graduation."
Hanson was born in Liberia, West Africa, the daughter of an Episcopal clergyman. She grew up in southern Ohio, Baltimore, Md. and graduated from Iowa State University, where she met her husband. She taught English in Ellsworth, Iowa, for one year.
Ruth and her husband, David, then moved to Cottonwood, Minn., where her husband was an Ag teacher, and where their first three children were born. After five years, they moved to Albert Lea where their fourth child was born. Then they moved to Dodge Center, where her husband became the county agent, their fifth child was born and Ruth did some substitute teaching.
Ruth taught Head Start 12 years before beginning a short stint reporting for the Village Press in Dodge Center. Then Ruth began her 29-year career with the Byron Review, covering Byron and the Byron Bears.
Her daughter said she "adopted the Byron Bears after her own kids graduated from school."
Ruth's life changed as the athletic program at BHS grew, from volleyball, football and cross country in the fall to the addition of boys and girls soccer and girls swimming; from boys and girls basketball, gymnastics and wrestling in the winter to the addition of boys and girls hockey; and from baseball, softball and girls and boys track and field in the spring to the addition of boys and girls golf.
She enjoyed congratulating athletes, coaches and parents. The memories for Ruth are many, like getting knocked down on the sidelines during a football game and talking to Coach Dan Alsbury, who always said, "make sure I sound intelligent."
Ruth Hanson has clearly touched the lives of hundreds of people over her decades of work with the Byron Review.
Even Fitzgerald Brown mentioned Ruth in her acceptance speech.
"You chronicled all of our lives," she said. "We have many treasured memories."
The 1989 Byron baseball team
Dave Anderson coached the team in his first year as head coach.
"They were a seasoned group," he said.
Members of the team at the banquet included Troy Prigge, Todd Strain, coach Kerry Linbo, coach Anderson, Jon Rathbun, Kevin Sannes, Craig Brown and Chad Clemensen.
Charles Rath, Jr. BIO
Chuck graduated from Byron High School in 1981. He participated in Football, Basketball and Track. Sports were a key outlet for Chuck and he was fortunate to have many great athletes to compliment his achievements as a Byron Bear.
Chuck earned three varsity letters playing Football and was awarded Mr. Fit for all three seasons.
"This is quite an honor," Rath said. "It's really hard to know where to start because this school was my family."
He continues to hold records for the most yards per carry; 6.2, most extra point attempts and most extra points. He earned all conference honors his Junior and Senior years and honorable mention his Sophomore year.
Chuck earned five varsity letters participating in Track. In his Sophomore year, participated in State running in the Mile relay. In each of his track seasons, Chuck broke records in the 100, 220, 440, Long Jump and Relays. Over the years, each of those records has been broken by other great Byron athletes.
Chuck earned a varsity letter his senior year in Basketball.
After graduating Byron, he attended and graduated from Augsburg College with a degree in Business Marketing. He earned four varsity letters playing football for Augsburg and honorable mention in the MIAC. Chuck also was awarded the "Whistle to Whistle" award each of the four years in football. This was a team award for one player that demonstrated the most effort from whistle to whistle.
After graduating college, Chuck married Tammy O'sell and celebrated their 26th year anniversary in September. They have two daughters, Jackie and Gracie. Jackie is a Junior at St. Olaf on the Pre-Med track and Gracie is a Senior at Lakeville North High School. Both daughters have won honors in Soccer both at the High School and Traveling levels.
Currently, Chuck runs a business consulting practice; Strategic Directions, Inc. He has worked with many Fortune 100 companies and the Pentagon. He and Tammy live in Lakeville, Minnesota.