Hall of Fame class reflects on past glories

April 18, 2018

The Rochester Quarterbacks Club Sports Hall of Fame banquet gives the city a chance to celebrate elite athletes from the past. And it gives those athletes a chance to reflect on their careers.

The 28th annual Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame banquet was held in front of a crowd of more than 300 on Monday at the Kahler Apache. Four new members were inducted along with one contributor to sports.

This year’s Hall class includes Karl Erickson (Century graduate), Todd Lecy (1978 John Marshall grad), Todd Spratte (1979 JM grad) and Katie Shea (1997 Lourdes grad). Jake Manahan was honored with the Ben Sternberg Award for contributions to sports in the city.

Lecy was a member of John Marshall’s legendary 1977 state championship hockey team. He becomes the fourth member associated with that team to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, including his older brother, Scott (HOF class of 2002).

“In ’77, that was as good as it gets,” Todd Lecy said.

After high school, Lecy spurned a chance to play hockey at the University of Minnesota. He decided to join his brother at Wisconsin. “I could not pass on that opportunity,” Lecy said. The pair teamed up to win an NCAA national championship in 1981.

“I was able to play alongside Scott that whole incredible year,” Lecy said. During Monday’s ceremony, Todd told his brother, “You are a huge reason I am here tonight.”

The younger Lecy also helped Wisconsin win another national championship during his senior season in 1983.

• Like Lecy, Spratte was a standout athlete at John Marshall who got a chance to play for an NCAA title. Spratte was a linebacker on the 1980 Nebraska team that lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl that decided the national champion. Spratte said Monday his goal was to play in the NFL. But he suffered injuries to both of his knees and had to retire before finishing four seasons at Nebraska.

“That was extremely painful for me,” Spratte said. “It was very difficult.”

Spratte credits his wife, Peg, for getting him through the tough times following his shorter-than-expected football career. “My life could have gone a lot of different ways,” he said.

Without football, Spratte became a success in the business world and retired in 2016. He has spent the past 25 years in Wisconsin.

“I still hold Rochester in very high esteem and am proud to call it my home,” Spratte said.

• Erickson also was a Division I athlete after excelling in three sports in high school.

“I am grateful for the many opportunities that I had growing up in Rochester,” Erickson said.

Coach Dan Eickhoff convinced him to try track and field, and Erickson accepted the challenge as a sophomore at Century. He went on to become a state champion in both the shot put and discus and then excelled at the University of Minnesota, where he still holds team records in the throwing events.

“I can’t give enough credit to ‘Eck’ and how he impacted my athletic career,” Erickson said.

Erickson also got a chance to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trails in track and field in 2004. He now resides in Rochester and works in sports medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

“I had a successful college career which opened up other opportunities in my life,” Erickson said.

• Like Spratte, Shea had her college career cut short by injuries. After helping Lourdes win a pair of state championships in girls basketball, Shea spurred Division I offers to play at Division II St. Cloud State.

“To receive an award like this is something that I never would have thought would happen to me,” Shea said.

After winning at an extremely high level at Lourdes, Shea had to deal with a struggling St. Cloud State team in college. She was a 1,000-point scorer for the Huskies but suffered a broken wrist as a senior and was limited to five games.

“Devoting 13 years of my life (to basketball) has helped me become the woman I am today,” Shea said.

Shea has held several jobs during her business career. Despite having knee-replacement surgery, she said she has now found her niche as a mail carrier.

“Basketball will always be that chapter in my life that I can look back on for a little pick-me-up,” she said.

• Manahan is the 12th recipient of the Ben Sternberg Award, presented for sports contributions within the Rochester community. Manahan co-founded the Northern Hills Women’s Breast Cancer Golf Tournament, which has raised more than $300,000 for breast cancer research.

“I feel very humble standing here, but I sure appreciate it,” Manahan said.

He was the Northern Hills head golf professional for 33 years but also was known for his fundraising.

“The biggest thing for a fundraiser is sponsors and volunteers,” Manahan said.