Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame inducts 2021 class


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame inducted six new members Tuesday evening.

The induction ceremony was held at Van Andel Arena, where the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame is housed.

The inductees are:

Bob Kaser

Kaser was honored with the Warren Reynolds Lifetime Achievement Award. He has spent the last 22 years calling play-by-play for the Griffins. He also serves as the team’s vice president of community relations and president of the Griffins Youth Foundation.

An undated photo of Bob Kaser.

“It meant a lot to get a call from Bob Sack, who I’ve admired and looked up to for so long. I worked for Bob with the Griffins when I first came here,” Kaser, who did not attend the event after testing positive for COVID-19, said during an interview.

“I’m thankful that I work for an organization that really supports the things that we try to do in the community with the players and the coaches. I get a platform,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that do a lot of great things behind the scenes in the community.”

He said getting inducted is “truly an honor.”

Tom Werkmeister

As one of the most dominant Michigan amateur golfers ever, Werkmeister won more Grand Rapids area amateur championships than anyone else, including two Michigan Amateur titles. In 2013, he became the first amateur in 38 years to win the Michigan Open before going pro to play on the PGA Champions Tour.

Tia Brooks-Wannemacher

Brooks-Wannamacher was a standout in shot put at East Kentwood High School, went on to win an NCAA National championship at the University of Oklahoma in 2012 and then represented the U.S. in the Olympic Games in London later that year.

She said walking into the stadium to compete at the Olympic Games in London is one of the most memorable moments of her athletic career.

“This is an amazing honor, I feel like every athlete works for it. For it to happen is such a surprise, but I’m so excited,” Brooks-Wannamacher told News 8 before the ceremony.

Shot putter Tia Brooks-Wannemacher was inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.

She said so many people believed in her and she wouldn’t be where she is today without them in her corner.

Kelly Butler

Butler started at Grand Rapids Union before moving on to Perdue University. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions and went on to play for the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz and Winnipeg Blue Bombers before retiring in 2012.

“It’s a team award, it’s a family award because when I came here (to Grand Rapids), I lost my parents, I had recently been kicked out of my house,” Butler told News 8. “So, somebody scared, alone and afraid being welcomed and embraced by a community of diversity and also just being able to help me develop those habits, being here says thank you and saying, that this is us. And I feel good for all that hard work and effort because it paid off because now, we did this together. So, it’s a great feeling.”

Beth Launiere

Launiere is a graduate of Northview High School and Aquinas College. She began coaching volleyball at Ferris State University. She went on to earn acclaim as the coach for the University of Utah for the last 32 years, during which time she has racked up 16 NCAA tournament appearances and six conference titles.

Beth Launiere, graduate of Northview High School and Aquinas College and volleyball coach, was inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s my hometown. I’m so excited about this and I’m so honored because I know what a great, rich history Grand Rapids has in the sporting world,” Launiere said. “To be a part of this, I’m very humbled. But also just to share it with my high school, college teammates, coaches, and I have a lot of family in Grand Rapids, so very excited to be here.”

East Grand Rapids High School State Championship football teams of 2006 to 2010

The East Grand Rapids football team earned five straight state championships between 2006 and 2010 under the leadership of Peter Stuursma, now the head coach for Hope College football. The teams matched the Michigan High School Athletic Association record for consecutive titles, posting a 67-3 record including 33 consecutive wins.

The East Grand Rapids High School State Championship football teams of 2006 to 2010 was inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.

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