1997 Manager: Frank Holan

Frank Holan

Frank Holan’s Miller Taggers team won the USSSA Major World 16-inch Title in 1990 and again in 1991. Holan was named All-Tournament Manager both years. He managed at 13 USSSA State Tournaments and 14 USSSA World Tournaments. Besides the two World Titles, the Taggers finished in the Final 8 eight other times.

Retired from softball as a player and coach in 1977, Holan’s sons asked him to coach their newly-formed team, one made up of faces he had seen many times across the dinner table when his sons had friends over for dinner.

Overall, Holan managed or played on 16-inch teams for 34 years, competing against most of the top 16-inch teams and players starting in the 1940s. His greatest thrill in softball, though, was winning his second USSSA World with his regular league team that featured his four sons in key roles.

Holan was an inaugural inductee into the new Chicago 16-Inch Hall of Fame in October of 1996.

2000 Manager: John Larson

John Larson

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John “Moon” Larson managed the powerhouse Bank of Westmont team throughout the 1980s. A competitor of such legendary teams as Lilly Air Systems, Joe Black’s and Burla Construction, “The Bank” compiled a 954-307 mark under Larson over a 21-year period – 14 of those in the USSSA. During the 80s, The Bank won two State Titles, posted annual top five state finishes and had numerous top ten final national rankings.

In 1984, The Bank experienced their breakthrough, pulling off an upset win in a Class A qualifier. They traveled to Anaheim, California to play in the Class A World and went 5-2 to finish in the top ten, at a time when “A” was the top division.

Larson particularly enjoyed competing against Ken Adam’s One Hour Cleaners (now Home Run Inn), as well as banging heads with such top competition as the Kings, Lilly Air, Burla/Malnar’s, RMA, Rogers Drywall and Joe Black’s. He prizes being respected by the guys on those teams.

“With any one of those teams, you knew you were gonna have your hands full,” he said. “They always battled. They always came to play.”

In fact, big games aside, he mainly remembers the people he competed against, noting that he made more friendships out of softball than anything else.

2001 Manager: Gloria Kolbusz

Gloria Kolbusz

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In 1974, manager Gloria Kolbusz’s 16-inch softball team was looking to play some 12-inch softball. She checked around and discovered the Northeastern Illinois Women’s Slow Pitch Softball League, which featured the best women’s teams in the area.

Kolbusz and her team, The Chicagoans, featured great players like Mary Pat McGuire, Mary Schaeffer, Karen Foley, Mary Malpede and Jan Wilson. They were soon playing against the best teams in northeastern Illinois. Wanting to measure themselves against the very best competition that was available, Kolbusz and her teammates were soon looking beyond Chicagoland.

“When you’re a big fish in a small pond, you want to see what else is out there,” Kolbusz said.

The Chicagoans originally played ASA softball, but switched to the USSSA in the mid-70s.

“I didn’t like their tournament set-up,” Kolbusz confided.

The Chicagoans now found themselves playing against nationally ranked powerhouses like top-ranked Little Caesar’s out of Detroit, Michigan and the Cincinnati Knights of Columbus, Ohio. For over a decade, the Chicagoans traveled throughout the country, including many Rockford tournaments.

Though never finishing higher than eighth nationally, the Chicagoans were routinely ranked among the top 20. Here in Illinois, they won three State Class A Titles in 1982, 1984 and 1988. Along with the Lassies and Coors Lite, they were perennial favorites throughout the 80s.

“Gloria’s teams competed in our program longer than any other Class A team,” State Director Brenda Paulson said. “They didn’t just play, they were competitive. That had a lot to do with Gloria Kolbusz.”

Beside the satisfaction of working with and against so many quality ball players, Kolbusz most appreciates the spirit and pride of her colleagues.

“Softball gave me the opportunity to meet and associate with so many great people, both here and around the country,” she said. “There’s so many memories.”

2003 (Spring) Manager: Don Loid

Don “Pinky” Loid

In over 20 years as a player and manager in USSSA softball, Don Loid has been associated with some of the best talent in the game. That, he says, is why he is entering the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.

“You’re only as good as the rest of your teammates,” he said of the guys with whom he played. “I’m excited and proud. I never really thought too much about it. All the things we accomplished were enough for me, but it’s still a great honor [to be inducted].”

As a manager, Loid has compiled statistics second to none in Illinois. His 35 & Over and 40 & Over teams have won eight straight State Titles, two National Championships, two runners-up and two third-place finishes.

He’s been associated with such top Illinois teams as the Bank of Westmont, Mid America Concrete, Tron Piping and Ken’s Beverage.

Actually, Loid’s career as manager started back with the Bank of Westmont, where he provided important input to the running of that team while still a player. Starting in 1993 with Mid America Concrete and Tron Piping, Loid non only managed but organized the teams, securing sponsorships that allowed them to compete at the upper levels of the game.

In 1996, Tron Piping won the USSSA 35 & Over World with a 6-1 record, then won another association’s National the next weekend for good measure.

Ken’s Beverage was the USSSA 2001 Men’s B State Champs, and just last fall, Loid managed Ken’s Beverage to a 7-0 record and USSSA Men’s 40 & Over World Championship (originally written in March of 2003).

Loid’s talents aren’t limited to managing. In 1995, he won the MVP of the USSSA Illinois State 35 & Over tournament with an .833 average and a 3-0 pitching record for Tron Piping. Tron Piping went on to post a 3-2 record good for third at the USSSA 35 & Over Nationals that September.

When talking about softball, Loid talks about the people. He recalls being asked to play with the legendary Lantern team back in the mid-70s, where he learned about playing competitive softball with class.

“They didn’t care who you were or how good you were. If you were a jerk, you weren’t asked back,” Loid said of The Lantern.

Soon Loid was playing for the Bank of Westmont, a period he remembers fondly because of the sense of family that sponsor Marcel Levesque fostered for the consistently victorious team.

Throughout the years, Loid says, he’s had the privilege of being on great teams with players like Gary Stone, Jeff Davies, Ron Havelka, Jim Duffy, Jim Cushing, Brian Schultz, Steve Mai and Bernie Carroll. After entering the USSSA Masters program, Loid began managing teams with players he’s always admired on opposing teams such as Bill Sahagian, Al Van Gampler, Larry Sheppard and Dan Prater.

“They were guys I’ve always admired and now you’re one team,” Loid said with satisfaction. “The biggest thing is being with the group of guys.”

2013 Manager: Brenda Cowell-Dressel

Brenda Cowell-Dressel

Brenda’s coaching philosophy and success stories revolve around the 3 D’s: dedication, determination and defense. Those three words have helped guide Brenda to a present coaching record of 1,360 wins and 340 losses.

As Dashners’ skipper, Brenda described the ladies of the team as very much fun to be with, a close-knit group and very competitive.

In 1986 and 1989, Dashners captured State Tournament titles in Class C. They also finished eighth, tenth and fourteenth in World Tournament competitions during the mid- to late-80s. Brenda’s managerial efforts were recognized during the 1988 Divisional NIT in Louisville, Kentucky when she received the All-Tournament Co-Manager Award.

Upon reflecting on what opportunities the USSSA organization has provided her teams, she said, “The USSSA is a class act, as our team was made stronger through the years of going to the larger tournaments and playing the tougher competition.”

Brenda mentions some of her most outstanding players that she has managed as Jeri Siegfried-Mueller, Cinda Liefer, Glenda Junge, Denise Aubuchon and Nancy Theis, to name a few. Her guidance on the field has guided her to induction into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.

2010 Manager: Al Studt

Al Studt

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With a .850 coaching win percentage (952-168), Al established himself in 16 years of managing as one of the best on field leaders in Illinois, after beginning his coaching career in 1972. That is when he formed the Bee-Hive team of Waterloo. During the following 10 years, he led Mike's Tavern of Waterloo and B-Street Blues of Belleville to winning seasons, which prepared him to form and lead one of the finest teams in Southern Illinois history, the Belleville Budweiser squad.

This team captured the 1984 Class B State title and went on to finish 2nd in the Class B World Tournament. In 1986 and 1987 the team finished 2nd in the Class A State Tournament and went on to six Top 8 World Tournament finishes in ten years. During this span, the team also captured a 2nd and a 3rd place in five National Invitational Tournament appearances.

Al realizes that to create a winner, you have to have winners and he had plenty of talented individuals to go around with the likes of Dirk Androff, Danny Albert, Mike O'Connor, Leon Kreher, Larry Malone and hopefully more future hall of famers. Al also acknowledges that the USSSA provided opportunities for his teams to play in some great sports complexes across the country, while also competing against some of the best teams.

Al recalls that perhaps his biggest thrill was playing against Elite Coatings when they reached #1 at the men's major level and the Bud team was tied with them in the last inning, even though they wound up losing by three runs. He also is thrilled that he got to see Dirk Androff succeed to the top level of the softball game, while playing for Steele's and Richie's Superior in the Men's Major program.

Al's most memorable experiences were capturing the Class B State Tournament in Peoria and being the last undefeated team in the Great Lakes Class B Divisional Tournament in Rockford. Any good manager takes care of his players, which Al was trying to do with the sun shining in outfielder, Danny Albert's eyes, but when Al asked him if he needed a pair of sun glasses, Albert replied, "No, I am fine!" Soon afterward, Albert lost a ball in the sun and got hit on top of the "noggin!"

Tonight, Albert again might again need sunglasses, as his shining star manager is welcomed into the Illinois Hall of Fame.

2012 Manager: Tom Starck

Tom Starck

When building a team, a good manager always does his best in bringing his team close together through good on and off field comradeship.  During a period of 26 years of managing, Tom Starck has accomplished this feat with outstanding teams, such as The Jokers (1975-85), Joe Blacks Softball Club (1988-2000), and The Florida Heat/Nave Plumbing/Joe Blacks/Worth (2000-2002).

Tom’s managerial abilities have resulted in over 1500 victories at the highest levels of softball competition. His teams have won state championships in Florida, Wisconsin, including the 1993 Class A title in Illinois. In 1989 at Milwaukee and in 1997 at Sterling Heights, MI the Joe Black teams finished 3rd in the Men’s Major NITs, before capturing the Cincinnati Major NIT in 2002.

In 2002, Tom co-managed his team to the USSSA Men’s Major World Series at Orlando, Florida.

With all of this success, perhaps his most outstanding accomplishment is that his teams each year from 1976 thru 2002 participated in the USSSA Divisional and/or World Tournaments.
During a span of 15 seasons, Joe Blacks Softball Club became a national program that was known as the best team in Illinois during that period, with no less than 26 former players in state Hall of Fames from the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida.
Tom says his biggest softball win was winning the USSSA World Series at Kansas City in 2002.

It is likely, his biggest softball moment is being inducted into the USSSA Illinois Hall of Fame.

2014 Manager: Rich Kaiser

Rich Kaiser

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When it comes to being a coach that sacrifices himself for his team, you would have to put Rich Kaiser at the top of the list. Perhaps his best coaching move included him getting tossed out of a game to get his team fired up. This move proved to be just what his team needed as they went on to win not only the game, but the tournament as well.

Over a span of 11 years, Rich guided his southern Illinois Loggers team to 1,130 wins, with only 97 losses. Under his guidance, this exceptional team claimed 3 state tournament championships in 1973, 1978 and 1981, while also finishing 4th in the 1979 National Invitational in Cincinnati, Ohio and 5th at the 1981 NIT in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Loggers went on to capture 4th Place in the 1980 World Tournament in Cincinnati and 5th Place in the 1982 World Championship Tournament.

Rich began coaching due to his driving desire to put together a very competitive and winning club, and he even surprised himself with the success that he put on the field with players like Mike Kreher, Leon Kreher, Dan Helfich, Ron Bievenue, Matt Myers and Denny Albert.

Rich admits, "We had some great players that all had an intense desire to win." This intensity shined the brightest during the state tournament at Taylorville in 1978, as they captured the title over a heavily favored and everyone's pick win team.

Rich also never lacked confidence in his own abilities, as he put himself into the line-up at the World Tournament when his team's bats seemed to go cold and went 4 for 4. Needless to say, he is still holding that over his teammate's heads.

Without a doubt, Rich deserves this Hall of Fame honor, as perhaps no one knows how to motivate and create better.

2015 Manager: Lonnie Keck

Lonnie Keck

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Without a doubt, 25 years of managing the same team should qualify you for sainthood or a place you into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame. That is exactly what Lonnie Keck did while becoming one of the top managers in southern Illinois.

He began his coaching career while being a player/manager for Lonzos in 1975. During this team’s early years, Lonnie built the team into a very competitive and winning unit at the Class C level of play. As success was found, Lonzos traveled up the competitive ladder to Class B where they continued their winning ways.

Coach Keck has many special memories of his team’s competition. For example, during the 1979 season they captured a tournament championship at Red Bud against some very outstanding teams and went 4-2 against an outstanding field of Class B teams in Pevely, Missouri. The high note, however, may have been when Lonzo won the 1989 Class C tournament in Louisville, Kentucky – a moment Lonnie will treasure forever. This opened the door for continued success during the 1990s as the team traveled across the state of Illinois and surrounding playing some terrific teams.

Over the years, Lonnie had numerous outstanding players who played on his team and out of respect for each one of them he does not wish to pick only a few to comment on as they are all very special to him. He also has the highest regard for the competition that he played and managed against during his 25-year career. He also has the highest respect for the people who make up the USSSA program and the tournament directors that provide the great facilities and tournaments.

He is so happy for the many friends he has gained over the years while playing the game of softball as he continues to share the memories of success with them.

2017 Manager: William Wax

William Wax

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After moving to Illinois in 1999, William began playing in local softball leagues in Romeoville and Bolingbrook. After a few years of playing, he began to learn about tournament softball and wanted to see if he could get involved helping local players get the opportunity to play against other teams around the country. He watched the better teams like KA Softball and players like Dave Shaff, Jim Cushing, Scott Klein, Lincoln Adams, Jim Phad and many more.

Precision began play as a sanctioned USSSA E team in 2006. They continued play through 2012 ultimately as a C team winning B and Open State Tournament that year. William decided to enter the USSSA Conference in 2012 comprised of the best local talent he could find. They began as a B team and went 21-21 finishing fifth in B World and 13th in the Major World Series at Wide World of Sports at Disney. (Qualifying their first year in the Conference)

In 2014, Precision returned as a B team and went 46-19 winning their first conference event in Indianapolis (Circle City Major), winning the B World Series, second place in the A World Series and fourth in the Major World Series as a B team.

In 2015, they were bumped to A and had the best record of any A team in conference ehistory (80-28). They captured the Circle City Major again, finished second at the coveted Smokey Mountain Classic beating The Shoppe and previous eight-year champions, Resmondo. Precision took second place in the Conference Championship and a disappointing runner-up at the A World Series and ninth in the Major World Series. Precision compiled at 39-23 record-winning the Atlanta Conference Major, Conference Championship Open and the AA World Series in 2016. They were competing in the AA division that the USSSA had reinstated this season.

2017 has been another great year for this powerhouse team. Second place at the Cincy Major, winning and repeating as Conference Champions in the Open Division and coming up a little short to finish second in the AA World Series. Also, Precision finished seventh in the Major World Series to end their season. To date, with a 224-113 won loss record in conference play and two World Series titles and more runners-up than William Max cares to remember.

“This is incredible for a Class E team to rise to the top of the most competitive softball in the world and to shine on that state in the span of eight years. This is the only team in Illinois USSSA history to achieve such a feat,” Brenda Paulson, retired Executive State Director, said.

“None of these achievements would have been possible without the best players a man could be blessed with,” adds William. He wants to give special thanks to Keith Laski, Jeff Laski, Jeff Keske, Mark Tomse, Matt Marzec, Torry Caniglia and Todd Ankney who have given selfelessly to this game we love. William also wants to note that Todd puts in countless hours without asking for anything except effort from those around him. “Although I am being recognized, I share this honor equally with all the players who made this possible. I will cherish the memories of all the players that wore the Precision uniform over the years. I can’t thank you enough.”

We congratulate William Wax on his induction into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame and continued success for his Precision players.

2016 Manager: Dave "Cat" Catalani

Dave "Cat" Catalani

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Dave Catalani’s managerial journey began in the 1970’s with Highland Liquors and was competitively fueled in 1985 with the creation of Shortley’s Corner, which won the highly competitive Stone City League over Class “A” Burla Construction. This accomplishment drew attention to the team and its individual players.

In 1999, one of the finest teams in Illinois USSSA play was created in Ken’s Beverage Inc. (KBI). This team won numerous state and national tournaments, 15 Joliet city tournaments and 2 world titles in the 40 & Over in 2002 and 2014. In addition, the team had several other top 10 finishes during world tournament play.  This included Class B, C, D and 40 & Over and 50 & Over divisions over the years.

Cat boasts that his success could be attributed to the recruitment of 28 Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame players that have played for him over the recent years. A line-up of hall of famers can make anyone look good, he admits.  He also credits his 26 year affiliation with team sponsor Ken Reimer, a 2011 HOF inductee in the sponsor category, for making this great journey possible.

Dave is honored to become a member of the 2016 Illinois Hall of Fame and promises that the journey will continue as long as he still cares about winning, while not letting a non- hustling umpire off the hook, and still has the desire to hang out with the team instead of staying in his room reading a book.

We know that it may be a while before Cat reads a best seller, and welcome him to the Hall of Fame!