The Lorain Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 includes eight stellar athletes, two dynamic coaches and one remarkable team. Their accomplishments exemplify excellence, honor, dedication and hard work — the very best of what Lorain, the International City, has to offer.
This year's class, honored Saturday, September 4th, 2021 at German’s Villa in Vermillion, includes Brad Balmert (1977 Lorain High grad, sailing), Anjie Chet-Caffarel (1995 Lorain Catholic, basketball and volleyball), Lisa Nickoloff-Lindberg (1992 Admiral King, volleyball and basketball), Mary Lou Rebman-Poli (1977 Lorain Catholic, bowling), Barry Rush (1981 Lorain, football and track), Vince Villanucci (1982 Lorain, football and wrestling) and the 1984 Admiral King boys tennis team.
Being inducted in the senior category are Chris Gregg (1964 Admiral King, football and track) and Otis Jenkins (1973 Clearview, football and track), while Karen Boyle (1975 Lorain, track, lacrosse and coaching) and William Reagan (1970 Lorain Catholic, football and coaching) will be enshrined in the special category.
The Lorain Sports Hall of Fame dates back to December 1969. Since then, hundreds of athletes, coaches and teams have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame Museum, now located at Lorain High School.
More about this year’s inductees:
Brad Balmert | Brad Balmert is only the third competitive sailor ever to be inducted into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame during its 51 years of existence. He began sailing as a toddler on his parent’s boat, but became serious with his own boat by age 14. He was racing with and against the top sailors from around the world. Being named US Sailing’s “Sailor of the Week” was only one of his many accomplishments. Brad raced in multiple world, national, regional, and local regattas. He even was invited to the Champion of Champions races, where only the elite few from around the world are allowed to enter. He spent most of his winters in Miami so he could race year around.
Anjeannette Chet Caffarel | Anjie Chet was an exceptional scholar-athlete. She excelled and lettered all three years in both basketball and volleyball, and at the same time also was on the conference’s All-Academic Team. Anjie had quite a career playing volleyball. She made All-District and All-Lorain County each of her three playing years. The Lorain Catholic team Anjie’s senior year was very special — they finished with a 26-1 record and second in the state. It was the first Lorain County volleyball team to be in the championship game, and they have since been inducted into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame.
Basketball is where Anjie received the highest recognition; she was a four-year letter winner and made All-Ohio for three of those years. She was the leading scorer and rebounder on the team, also for those three years. Her senior year was quite special — All-Ohio Second Team, Northeast District’s “Player of the Year,” and Lorain County’s “M.V.P.” Following a tremendous high school career, Anjie went on to play for John Carroll University. When playing days ended, she gave back by going into coaching, first at Lorain Catholic and now at Vermilion High School.
Mary Lou Rebman Poli | Bowling was not Mary Lou Rebman’s only sport; she also lettered all three years in both basketball and softball at Lorain Catholic and competed in swimming for local clubs. However, it was in bowling where she excelled.
Following in her family’s footsteps, she started her bowling career at the age of 6. Like most young competitive bowlers, she started in the Junior Bowling Leagues. What set her apart was in 1975, she had bowled the highest game in Ohio, and in 1976, she had the highest average in the state. Mary Lou participated with success in the Women’s Professional Bowling tournament circuit. She has been inducted into the Lorain Women’s Bowling Association Hall of Fame.
Vince Villanucci | Vince Villanucci is reminiscent of some of the other all-time great sports legends from Lorain. He acknowledges the toughness of the city led to a lot of his success. Vince gravitated toward and specialized in the physical sports. He was a mainstay on the wrestling and football teams at Lorain High School. His success in football led to some of the highest awards a Lorain kid could receive — the Golden Helmet and Lombardi Award — proving that he was the best all-around player in all of Lorain County.
Vince qualified for the state wrestling tournament twice; placing third in the state his senior year. Being only 185 pounds and a defensive tackle led some big-time Division 1 college programs to think Vince would be too small to play for them. Not Bowling Green; they recognized his dedication, recruited him and he started all 4 years, leading them to two conference championships. After graduation, Vince played one year for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL. When his playing days were finished, Vince moved on to coaching. He had a very successful career not only in football but also coaching wrestling and track. He reached the pinnacle of his career when he was named Coach of the Year in Arizona.
Barry Rush | Barry Rush had a special skill set as an athlete — both speed and strength. The speed was especially noted in his overall track performance. His success in the 100 meters earned him All-Buckeye Conference First team, and he set the-then Lorain County 100-meter dash with a blistering 10.8 second finish. At one time, he led the 400-meter relay team in setting the Lorain High record. His speed was also instrumental in football. Awards given in his senior year were First Team Lorain County, Northwest District First Team, Buckeye Conference’s “Back of the Year”, and All-Ohio Special Mention.
Barry’s strength played the biggest part of Lorain High’s success in those year’s Bench Press “Lift-a-Thons.” He set a Lorain County record in the “Lifting Pounds to Beat Cancer” event with an unbelievable lift of 188.5 pounds over his body weight. After graduation, Barry went onto Illinois Valley Community College, where he helped them to become ranked third in the nation in the National Junior College Athlete Association.
Lisa Nickoloff Lindberg | Lisa Nickoloff’s first sport season at Admiral King High School was on the volleyball team; she proved to be very good at the sport. She was a three-year letter winner and earned First Team All-County her senior year. She was good enough to be offered scholarships by many teams including Division 1 Kentucky State University. But, basketball was her first love and she accepted an offer from the University of Mount Union, Ohio. Her high school Division 1 basketball awards followed a very impressive three years — First Team Lorain County, All-Conference First Team, and Honorable Mention All-Ohio. At Mount Union, she impressed her coaches so much with her skills and work ethic that she started every single game during her collegiate career — a total 115 consecutive games.
Lisa was a prime reason Mount Union did as well as it did during her four-year career. The ’94-’95 team compiled a record of 24-6 and advanced to the NCAA “Final Four.” The following year, the team made it all the way into the championship game, where they finished second in the nation out of the 384 teams in Division III. Lisa averaged a double-double for her senior year, 10.4 points and 12 rebounds. Lisa now coaches middle school volleyball and basketball, compiling a 226-24 record.
Otis Jenkins | Otis Jenkins was a three-sport all-star at Clearview High School. He was the starting point guard on the basketball team both his junior and senior years, but it was in football and track that he made people take notice. In football, Otis led the very talented Clearview team to a 9-1 record and a second in the state finish in the very first state championship game. For his effort, he earned first team All-State and Class A “Back of the Year.”
Track is unique in that there are team results and also individual results. For two years, Otis and Clearview were very impressive. In 1972, the team was second in the state, and Otis had earned three gold medals — 100-yard, 220-yard, and 880-yard relay. In 1973, Clearview was crowned state champion, while Otis again won the 100 and 220, and also placed second in the long jump. What made this year extra special was the team championship was the first for a Lorain County team since 1939 and Otis’ five state first place finishes places him as the greatest male track star in all of Lorain County, a record still never broken.
Chris Gregg | Offensive and defensive linemen usually don’t receive a lot of recognition with record-setting performances, but any football fan knows that those linemen are the mainstay of any great team.
Chris Gregg earned those rewards by his steady line play, especially on defense. As a junior, he played on the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame inducted 1962 Admiral King High School team, but it was in his senior year that he projected into one of the top linemen in the state. He was selected All-Buckeye Conference First Team Offense and Defensive Lineman and also All-Ohio First Team Defense. And, as a unique and rarely seen award for a Lorain player, he was selected as a Prep All-American by Coach and Athlete Magazine. Chris was also a three-year letter winner on the track team as a shot and discus thrower. After his playing career, he continued to give back to the sport he loved by coaching football at Lorain Catholic High School.
Karen Boyle | Karen Boyle and girls varsity sports arrived at Lorain High School at the same time. She was a participant on the inaugural softball, gymnastic, and track teams; she also lettered in volleyball and basketball. It was in track where she excelled, being one of the first local females to break the 60-second mark in the 440-yard dash.
The crowning achievement in her athletic high school career occurred when she was awarded the Madeline Manning Jackson Award. This award was designed to honor the very top female athlete in all of Lorain County. Karen participated in two NCAA Division 1 sports at Bowling Green State University —track and lacrosse. After graduation, she made her decision to make a life-time commitment to sports, by entering the college coaching ranks. First at Heidelberg University for three years, where she developed several All Americans; then she was hired to teach and coach the Midshipmen of the US Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Maryland. She coached cross country and track at the academy for 32 years. Besides her very successful coaching career at the academy, she has also achieved acclaim by coaching the USA teams in Europe and Asia. With her outstanding leadership abilities, she has been selected to serve on many nationwide committees setting standards for the Division 1 coaching and certification curriculum.
William Reagan | William Reagan was an outstanding quarterback at St. Mary’s in Lorain and then upon the closing of the school, he moved onto Lorain Catholic High School. He lettered in basketball and track, but it was football where he made his mark. He attended St. Joseph College in Indiana after graduation. He set many career passing records as the starting quarterback for the Pumas, and in 2005 he was inducted into the St. Joseph College Hall of Fame.
After his college graduation, he gave back to the sport of football by his dedication to coaching. Starting in the high school ranks and then back to St. Joseph, first as the defensive coordinator and then as the head coach for 11 years. William then spent six years as the offensive coordinator at Ashland University before joining the staff at the University of Notre Dame in 2001 as the director of football operations. He has since served on quarterback coaching staffs at the University of Michigan, Youngstown State University and Miami University. William founded the Top Gun Quarterback Training School in 2003. He also served as a member of former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer’s renowned Elite 11 coaching staff.
1984 Admiral King Boys Tennis | The 1984 Admiral King High School Boys Tennis Team finished the regular season undefeated with a record of 18-0. They were ranked fifth in the state. They finished the post season with a total record of 21-1. The team’s only loss came at the hands of the best team in the state, Orange High School. The Admirals won several team titles this year, including Buckeye Conference, Lorain County, and Lorain City Championship.
The team advanced two singles and two doubles teams to the District Tournament. Jim Gray made it to the state tournament and finished in the top eight. Both Gray and Adrian Harris completed the season undefeated. John Hwang was third singles, Frank Polito and Mike Spinale were at first doubles and the second doubles team was George Gonas and Dale Andorka. Matt James was a substitute player.