Otsego begins its Hall of Fame PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Monday, 10 December 2012 10:29
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The Otsego High School Hall of Fame inductees Steve Kendall (from left) standing in on behalf of his wife Deb, Dan Cocke, Holly Prantz, and Gordon Wenig pose after recieving their awards. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
TONTOGANY - They were students and teachers. Coaches and athletes. And the difference they made in the community will live on.
On Saturday, four Otsego alumni - Dan Cocke, Holly Frantz, Deb Kendall, and Gordon Wenig - were honored as the inaugural class of the Otsego Hall of Fame.
"It's a great way to honor the special community members that have accomplished a lot of great things over the years, affected a lot of students over that time," said Superintendent Adam Koch at a reception for the honorees that night. Each later received a plaque while being recognized at a ceremony following Saturday's junior varsity basketball game. Their names are emblazoned on a plaque to be displayed in the school complex.
"It's very special," said Cocke, who taught high school physical education for 35 years at Otsego, and retired this year. He was the head football coach for 26 years - compiling a record of 186 wins, 8 league titles, and nine playoff appearances, leading the team to be being state runner-up in 1981.
"This place has always been very special to me," he said. "This is a very, very nice honor."
Frantz, a 1998 graduate and a star in volleyball, basketball and softball, receiving numerous academic and athletic honors, was also recognized for her personal perseverance - she was at one time diagnosed with a form of brain-lymph cancer and was not expected to survive. Now a cancer survivor, she is an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Tennessee, and volunteers with cancer patients in Knoxville, Tenn.
"It's great," she said. "I'm just excited to get back to my roots."
"The support over the years has been tremendous," she said later. "I'm just thankful for the opportunities I was given."
Kendall, a beloved Junior High Language Arts teacher, died in 2011 in a car crash just after her retirement, following 35 years with the district. She was remembered fondly for her tireless support of students, and her innovative classroom units involving topics such as Greek mythology and the disabled. Her husband, Steve Kendall, accepted the award in her honor.
"She always felt it was a privilege to be an Otsego school teacher," he said.
Wenig, a 1971 graduate, has been instrumental in assisting the Otsego community in a variety of ways, including through his work with the FFA and his leadership as co-chair for the privately-funded Otsego Sports Complex, helping to raise more than $500,000. He additionally helped organize donations for the Haskins Ball Park renovations, and has been widely featured for his farming work.
"It's very humbling, and a huge surprise, but a great honor," he said. "I graduated from here in 1971. I still attend lots of events here," and continues to live in the district.
"All of the inductees tonight did a great job," said School Board member Elizabeth Gorski. "They are just a total asset."
 

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