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'01 softball team, 4 people inducted into Hurley hall of fame


Jason Juno/Daily Globe

The 2014 Hurley High School Athletic Hall of Fame inductees include from left, first row: Sarah Smith, Emily Swetkovich, Eva Vokolek Sanchez, Sarah Tarasewicz Turcotte, Becky Brackett Girard, Connie Loden (who accepted the award for her son Tony), Gary Giancola and Joe Sargent; second row: Charlie Zinsmaster, Joe Manzanares, Ashley Levra, Crystal Kuklinski, Nicole Zanella Wicklund, Heather Manzanares Sbraggia, Kristin Zinsmaster, Erica Alvey Mason and Jim Kivisto. Missing from the photo were Nichole Mazurek Nasi, Alyssa Mazurek Paro and Sabrina Jurmu Spets. Giancola, Brackett, Loden and Sargent were individual inductees; the rest were from the 2001 state runner-up softball team.

HURLEY - One of Hurley's best running backs. An all-around female athlete. The school's first WIAA scholar athlete. Hurley's all-time wins leader in boys basketball.

Tony Loden, Becky Brackett, Joe Sargent and Gary Giancola joined the 2001 state runner-up softball team in the Hurley High School Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday.

Becky Brackett (Class of 1994)

Competitiveness is what made Brackett such a great athlete, softball coach Jim Kivisto said.

"What I was most amazed about was size didn't matter to her," he said. "Coaches knew when she went out on the floor, she was going to give it her all."

She earned 13 varsity letters in five different sports and was named team MVP in volleyball, basketball and softball as a senior. She also played tennis and was a second baseman on the boys summer baseball team that year.

She pitched for Kivisto during her junior and senior years. The Midgettes went undefeated in the regular season both times before falling in close games to Flambeau in regional title contests. Brackett (Girard), who now lives in Appleton, Wis., led the basketball team in scoring and defense in her senior year.

Brackett told a story that occurred when she went away to college. Her lab partner had a Tomahawk baseball shirt on and she told him she was from Hurley.

"Don't say Hurley," he replied.

He was pitching and a Hurley girl hit a triple off of him.

"I never lived that down," he said.

"I said, 'That was me,'" Brackett said.

Tony Loden (Class of 1996)

Loden was one of the best players for the 1995 state runner-up football team.

But before that season started, coach Scott Erickson had a request. After being a 1,000-yard rusher in his sophomore and junior seasons, Erickson wanted to move Loden to fullback. Especially fast players were coming up and they would be suited for the perimeter rushing in the wishbone option offense.

"He said, 'I'll do whatever it takes to win,'" Erickson said Saturday. "That's what you need."

He rushed for 1,467 yards from that fullback position, bringing his career total to 3,431 yards, both of which at the time were school records. Loden was plenty good on defense also, contributing 99 tackles (66 solo) and six interceptions.

"He was as good as we had," Erickson said. "We rode his back."

Loden was a regional and sectional track champion in the 300-meter hurdles. He finished seventh at state.

Loden could not attend Saturday's ceremony because something came up where he is stationed, at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado as the Weapons and Tactics Officer for the 21st Security Forces Squadron. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 before his current assignment.

His mom, Connie Loden, accepted the award for him.

"I was always known as Tony's mom," she said. "Tony really wishes he could be here today. Boy watching those teams was about the most fun I ever had."

Joe Sargent (Class of 1996)

There have been seven Hurley athletes honored with the prestigious WIAA Scholar Athlete award, but Sargent was the first, in 1996.

Sargent led the Indianhead Conference with 20.7 points per game in his senior basketball season. He was also named honored mention on the Associated Press All-State team.

He scored 36 points in a tournament game against Park Falls, which is good for third all-time in Hurley history. The 461 points he scored in the 1995-96 season is sixth on the school's season scoring list.

Sargent started on both offense (tight end) and defense (defensive end) for the 1995 football team, plus he was the punter. He was named all-conference and Hurley's special teams player of the year. Sargent was also MVP in basketball and baseball as a senior.

Sargent was a tight end and defensive end.

"Joey was a fantastic all-around athlete," Erickson said.

Sargent said he was a never a great athlete compared to Loden as he wasn't the fastest or strongest.

"I think I just wanted it more than the next guy," he said.

Coach Gary Giancola

Giancola coached the boys varsity basketball team for 11 seasons and he announced his retirement in May of this year.

He bows out as the school's career wins leader with 172. He helped break the school's 26-year regional championship drought with a title in 2005; that was Giancola's second season. The Midgets ended up winning four regionals under Giancola - 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2013.

The Midgets also won four Indianhead Conference titles and four Gogebic Range Holiday Tournament crowns under Giancola.

It's a good thing Giancola ignored the bad omen from his first season as varsity coach. A fire at the school forced the cancellation of classes with basketball activities eventually moved to the Lindquist Center in Ironwood.

Hurley started with three losses and he was up in the middle of the night wondering what to do with undefeated Washburn coming to town. He picked up his first win that night.

There are other hard times people don't know about. For example, one of his best players, Chris Thewis, was bit by a black cat and needed five stitches on his shooting hand, and Hurley got beat in its next game.

"People don't know that story," Giancola said.

But there were many good times.

"Gary's passion and love of basketball cannot be measured," said Greg Rigoni, a friend and refereeing partner of Giancola's who introduced him Saturday. "The game is what made Gary, Gary."

Giancola only missed one hall of fame induction ceremony.

"I never envisioned myself standing up here, being on this side," Giancola said.

He is one of just 10 coaches inducted into the hall of fame.

The community support and appreciation has been "overwhelming" since announcing his retirement, Giancola said. He said he was blessed with all the talent that came along, which included four 1,000-point scorers and 18 all-conference selections.

"It's a very well-respected program from Highway 29 north," Giancola said. "I don't think I've seen a school this size with the following and support we have."

Giancola even coached varsity tennis for one year. He recruited kids in the hallway, handing them a tennis racket and telling them to get on the bus to a meet. Two singles players ended up being conference champions.

Mike Swartz takes over as coach for the Midgets. He was one of the best players on Hurley's 2005 and 2006 regional championship teams under Giancola, who will also be Swartz's father-in-law next month.

"He doesn't need my help, but he's going to get it," Giancola said.

2001 state runner-up softball team

This was the first year private schools were in the way of a state title for Hurley. It played Wisconsin Rapids Assumption and all of the players were introduced before the game. The Midgettes had many good players, but they weren't very big, so one stood out during intros, Sarah Tarasewicz.

"They came out, Assumption, and they were all Sarah Tarasewicz," Hurley coach Jim Kivisto said. "It just looked like David vs. Goliath."

Hurley had three seniors; everyone on Assumption was a senior. Both teams had sparkling records, but Kivisto remembered Assumption had beat everybody via the 10-run rule, even in the state semifinal.

"We played them right to the end," Kivisto said. "We went in there and lost 4-3. I am so proud of how you went there and weren't intimidated. You went there and played our game and came up one darn run short of a state championship."

Kivisto was happy to see his assistant coaches of 16 years, Charlie Zinsmaster and Joey Manzanares recognized on the plaque and at Saturday's ceremony.

This was the second softball team to be inducted into the hall of fame. The first was the 1996 state finalist team.

The Midgettes have been to state seven times - 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2011. They were runners-up in 2001 and 2007.

Tarasewicz is also in the hall of fame as an individual athlete.


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