First state champ in school history, softball star, headline NOHS athletic HOF Class

Some of the best athletes in the history of North Olmsted High will be honored when they are inducted into the school’s sports hall of fame.

The 2016 HOF class includes the team which won the school’s first state title in any sport and a softball/soccer player who went on to become the head softball coach at a Division I college program, as well as two brothers who won individual state wrestling titles.

The class will be inducted in a ceremony at this Thursday’s home game, while the class will be celebrated during an Oct. 7 dinner at Springvale.

The class includes Besse Leick (1939); Walt Balinski (1965); Shonda Spagnola (1991); John DuBroy (1975); Mike Walsh (1975); Bill Walsh (1977) and the 1977 boys soccer team.

That 1977 boys soccer team finished the year 19-1-1 in winning the first state title in any sport in school history.

Leick, a 1939 graduate, would go on to become a dominant athlete in track and field. She finished third in the javelin at the 1943 National Outdoor Track and Field Championships and followed that up with a third-place finish in the high jump at the Indoor National Track and Field Championships; fourth place finishes in the 50-yard hurdles and high jump at the Indoor Junior Championships and fourth-place finishes in the javelin and high jump at the Outdoor National Championship.

In 1948, Leick finished third in the javelin in U.S. Olympic Trials and qualified for the team. However, she ended up being one of 12 female athletes who did not travel to the ’48 summer games in London due to budget constraints which resulted from World War II.

Mike Walsh earned his fame on the wrestling mat. He won a state title at 112 lbs as a sophomore, and in his senior year, finished as the state runner-up at 126.

He continued his wrestling career at Michigan State in the Big Ten where he was named his team’s most valuable wrestler his senior year. At one point in his collegiate career, he was ranked No. 4 nationally at his weight class and qualified for the Olympic Trials.

Walsh’s little brother, Bill, was no slouch on the mat, either. He finished fifth in the state as a sophomore and then won a state title at 119 as a junior in 1976 and then won another state title, this time at 132, as a senior.

Bill Walsh went on to wrestle at Cleveland State where he would win two individual conference titles and qualify for two NCAA tournaments.

Walt Balinski became the first athlete in school history to qualify for the boys’ state golf tournament in 1965, which just so happens to be the same year the school started the program.

Balinski never finished lower than first in any tournament he played in that year and won the district title in a three-hole sudden death playoff to qualify for the state tournament.

John DuBroy played and coached for the Eagles. He was the quarterback on the football team and the point guard on the basketball team and earned six varsity letters in total. He was all-conference in both football and basketball his senior year and was also the basketball team’s MVP, as well as its leading scorer and leading assist man.

DuBroy would go on to play football at John Carroll University, where he started at quarterback for three years.

He returned to North Olmsted to teach in 1988 and during that time coached a variety of sports at a variety of levels.

Shonda Spagnola-Stanton played both basketball and softball, but it was on the diamond where she truly excelled. An outstanding all-around athlete, she earned 11 letters during her career. She was a four-year starter on the softball team, and three-time captain. The team won two district titles and she earned numerous postseason awards.

In college, she would go on to play at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she was a four-year starter and three-year captain and finished eighth in the country in runs scored one year.

She is now entering her 17th year as head coach at Marshall and has already won 515 games in her career.

She also coached the Akron Racers for two years. The Racers play in a women’s pro softball league.

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