This Friday evening, Sept. 21, will be a big night for St. Michael-Albertville athletics. The STMA Knights football team will face off against Centennial for their first home game at the high school’s new all-purpose facility. But before the 7 p.m. kickoff, the school will take time to look back on some exemplary athletes and athletic supporters of yesteryear.
The STMA Coaches Association Hall of Fame has selected five individuals and one team as inductees into the STMA Hall of Fame. The honorees include Matt Spaeth, Chas Betts, Rachel Jobes Johnson, Mike Thorn, Darrell Skogen and the 1983 girls volleyball team, coached by Mike Kral.
The inductees will be honored first in the high school cafeteria at 4:30 p.m. The public will have the chance to meet the honorees before a dinner begins at 4:45. The catered event costs $10 per person and is open to the public, though they cannot guarantee there will be enough food prepared for last-minute attendees. If you are interested in the dinner, contact organizer Steve Rothweiler at his school email address email@example.com.
For those who would like to see the induction, this will take place around 5:15 p.m. in the high school’s performing arts center (PAC). The inductees will also be celebrated at halftime of the football game.
Here’s some information about each inductee:
Matt Spaeth (class of 2002) excelled in football and basketball at STMA. He captained both teams, setting team records in both sports. He went on to play football for the Minnesota Gophers, winning the Mackey Award as the top tight end in Division 1 football. Drafted in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he played 9 seasons in the NFL for the Steelers and the Chicago Bears, and played a key role in the Steelers’ victory in Super Bowl XLIII.
Chas Betts (class of 2004) starred in wrestling, with a 134-24 career record for the Knights. He won the state tournament at 160 pounds in his senior year, and helped lead the Knights to the first of their four consecutive state tournament championships during that season. Chas pursued Greco-Roman wrestling after graduation, attending the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. In 2012, Chas participated in the Olympics as a member of the U.S. Greco-Roman team. Chas currently is wrestling with the WWE organization.
Rachel Jobes Johnson (class of 2001) starred as a three sport athlete in volleyball, basketball, and track. She captained the volleyball and basketball teams and helped lead the basketball team to its first state championship in 2001 and the track team to its first state championship in 1999. Offered many division one scholarships in volleyball and basketball, Rachel went to the University of South Florida, where she excelled until a back injury cut her college career short. She and her family live in St. Michael, where she coaches Junior Olympic volleyball and girls youth basketball.
Mike Thorn (class of 2006) was a dominant wrestler with a 185-7 win-loss record at STMA. He was a three time state champion and finished second as a freshman. His team won three state championships, and he was selected Mr. Minnesota Wrestler in 2006. Mike also ran on the cross country team his final two years at STMA. He moved on to wrestler for the Minnesota Gophers, twice winning All-America honors.
Darrell Skogen, who taught 42 years at STMA before his retirement, was selected for his service to the athletic area of the high school. He developed and still maintains today the football record book which chronicles the history of the team from 1969 to the present. This fall he will begin his 51st season as a football statistician, a career that began in his senior year at Coon Rapids and continued through his years at Augsburg College and Wabasso High School. Darrell has also charted basketball games for more than 20 years during that time, and he has kept scorebooks, run clocks, umpired baseball and softball games, and coached middle school girls basketball and softball at various times throughout his years with the district.
The 1983 girls volleyball team was the first to win a state championship for STMA under the direction of coach Mike Kral and his assistant Joyce Casey. The girls completed a perfect 30-0 season, and defeated Milroy in the championship. Spirited play by Vickie Kessler, Bonnie Lindenfelser, Pam Hackenmueller, and Dawn Kessler as well as the rest of the young ladies on the team vaulted the underdog to the championship, the first in the history of a young STMA High School.