Lou Slapnik

Induction Year : 2023

Sport: Track & Field

Slapnik won nine state championships in his 17 years as Collinwood’s girls track coach. He also won the Jesse Owens Cleveland City championship every year he coached. His nine state titles rank third in Ohio history, and is the most by any coach in Cleveland history.

Slapnik—called “coach Slap” by his students—was inducted into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross-Country Coaches Hall of Fame in 2012. In his career, his athletes won 41 individual events in state championship meets. Prior to coaching Collinwood, Slapnik spent nine years coaching at Patrick Henry Middle School, where his teams won eight MS Cleveland City Championships.

Slapnik grew up in Cleveland and went to St. Joseph High School and Ashland University, where he pitched on the baseball team. He spent 32 years teaching physical education in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Athletes coached by Slapnik have talked about his emphasis on classwork and team. Collinwood’s Athletic Complex is named after him.

Greg Urbas

Induction Year : 2018

Sport: Wrestling

Greg Urbas retired this past spring as head wrestling coach at St. Edward High School where in 29 years his Eagles won four national championships and 24 state championships. In addition to the team success Urbas coached 76 individual state champions.

In March, when Domenic Abounader advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA wrestling tournament, it marked the 35th consecutive year that the St. Edward program had produced at least one college All-American.

Born and raised in Collinwood, Urbas went to St. Mary grade school and then to St. Joseph High School where he played football and wrestled. After playing football for four years at Grove City College he served four years as a Marine Corps officer.

A math teacher during his entire career at St. Edward, Urbas will remain with St. Ed’s as a math tutor and also with the wrestling team in what they’re calling a “support capacity.”

John Heffernan, a former St. Edward state champion and college all-American at the University of Iowa, will succeed Urbas as head coach. He has been Urbas’ assistant coach since 1991.

“Actually, we’re changing titles but not the jobs,” Urbas said. “He has done the coaching alt these years and I’ve done the paper work.”

Urbas recalled that when his predecessor, Howard Ferguson, died suddenly in 1989, the wrestling staff pooled their thoughts and picked him to take over the head job. Greg had been an assistant coach for almost a decade.

“They said the assistant coaches would handle the coaching and I’d do the interviews,” Urbas said. “That’s the only difference from now on. I’ll do the paperwork but not the interviews.”

“Beyond his success as a coach and a teacher, Greg is a man of incredible character, integrity and wisdom,” said St. Edward president Jim Kubacki. “For a generation of students, he is the model for a life rooted in faith, the formation of genuine relationships, and a commitment to service.”

Tom Tupa

Induction Year : 2018

Sport: Football

Tom Tupa left a lasting imprint on football at every level. From his state championship days at Brecksville High School to Ohio State to the NFL, Tupa established himself with both his passing arm and punting skills.

As quarterback at Brecksville, he helped lead the Bees to the Ohio title in 1983. He also lettered in basketball and baseball. He joined Ohio State, where he was the punter for four seasons, setting the top two seasonal punting averages as a freshman and senior. He was the starting quarterback in 1987, passing for 2,252 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was named All-American and All-Big 10 punter that year and played in the 1988 Hula Bowl.

Tupa was drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals in the third round, the 68th pick overall, to begin an 18-year professional career. Primarily a punter after joining the Indianapolis Colts in 1992, he was with the Browns for three seasons where he became notable for scoring the league’s first two-point conversion off a fake extra-point attempt against Cincinnati in the 1994 opener. As holder, he scored two more conversions that year to earn the moniker “Two Point Tupa.”

He kicked for New England and the New York Jets, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in 1999 with the Jets. He was with Tampa Bay for two seasons, punting for the Buccaneers in 2002 as they won Super Bowl XXXVII against Oakland.

Tupa finished his pro career after two years with the Washington Redskins in 2005. As a pro, he averaged 43.4 yards per punt, passing for 3,430 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He returned to his home town to help coach at his alma mater high school, where his three sons and daughter played. Married to Beth, he is also Brecksville Recreation Director.

Tom Slater

Induction Year : 2017

Sport: Golf

In 2001, Tom Slater—at age 56—was Low Amateur and won a playoff to qualify for the USGA Senior Open at Salem, MA. During the first round of play, his score was -2 under par and he was leading the tournament. It was a thrill for him to see his name at the top with Tom Watson, Ray Floyd, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. It was a difficult course and Bruce Fleisher eventually won at even par.

Slater has triumphed in dozens of golf championships, but he perhaps has saved his most rewarding victories for the cancer treatment rooms of the Cleveland Clinic.

Slater, a life-long amateur golfer, has twice defeated lymphoma. These days, he spends time helping others deal with the disease so they can move forward with a positive lifestyle.

He practices what he preaches. In 2011, after a two-year battle with cancer, Slater parlayed conquering the disease with winning the inaugural Florida State Super Senior Championship.

Born in Warwick, R.I., he was attracted to the competitiveness of sports at a very young age. He started playing golf and baseball at five and hockey at six. He played all three sports through college, but golf emerged as his love.

Slater won his first tournament at 12 and went on to win the Rhode Island championship for 21 and under when he was 16, defeating the captain of the University of Rhode Island team. In college, he was part of the Yale team that won the Ivy League Championship.

In 1970, after completing college and three years military service, Slater moved to Cleveland where he began his business career and started his family.

He soon became part of the local golf scene, dominating play and winning 22 club championships. In 1992, Slater decided to play in national level competitions. He found success, qualifying for a United States Golf Association Mid Amateur, a USGA Senior Amateur, A USGA Senior Open and finally, two USGA Senior Amateurs. He was Medalist or low scorer in 4 of these qualifiers.

In 2008, Slater was selected to be a playing member on the United States Senior Golf Association International Team. He was Team Captain in 2013 and led his squad to victory over Great Britain and Canada at Prestwick, Scotland. His International record is 15-6-6.

Slater and his wife live in Cleveland. They have eight children and 12 grandchildren.

Peter van Dijk

Induction Year : 2015

Sport: Swimming & Diving

A lasting legacy has to start some place. In 1946, teenager Peter van Dijk represented the New York Athletic Club at the AAU national swimming championships in Columbus, Ohio. Robert Busbey was swimming for Cleveland’s Fenn College, the forerunner of Cleveland State University. A chance meeting before the meet wound up with the two young swimmers rooming together during the event and establishing a lifelong friendship.

An immigrant from the Netherlands born in Indonesia, van Dijk grew up in Venezuela as his father worked in the oil industry. He continued his swimming career at the University of Oregon and during a two-year stint in the U.S. Army.

He earned a Master’s Degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Busbey (1976 Greater Cleveland Sports hall of Fame) was on his way to becoming CSU Athletic Director. With van Dijk having established his design work with Cleveland’s Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building in the early 1960’s, it was natural that Busbey looked to van Dijk’s firm for CSU’s physical education building and natatorium in 1971.

Van Dijk’s design for the pool’s wide gutters, depth and lighting earned national acclaim as CSU went on to host national championships. He also won acclaim for his work at Blossom Music Center, Cain Park, John Carroll University and Ursuline College.

He also found the time during the past 40 years to compete in age-group swimming throughout the world. He won 50 national championships in freestyle and backstroke. In 2014, he won his 17th international gold medal as he brought home four golds at the Montreal Masters World Championship at age 85.

Northeast Ohio’s landscape bears the lasting legacy of the talented architect with a love for water.

Elmore Smith

Induction Year : 2014

Sport: Basketball

Elmore Smith was one of the greatest shot blockers in NBA history during his eight-year career in pro basketball from 1971 to 1979. Twice he finished as the league leader in blocked shots and set a single game record of 17 in one game, a mark which still stands 40 years later. He spent two seasons each with the Buffalo Braves, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The seven-footer’s name will always be associated with the greatest big men in basketball history, known as “Elmore the Rejector,” he was drafted by the Buffalo Braves and after two seasons was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers to replace Wilt Chamberlain. Two years later the Lakers traded him to Milwaukee for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Cleveland acquired him to replace Nate Thurmond as the backup center.

Although he had grown to seven feet tall by the time he was in high school in Macon, Ga, his career did not look promising. Only three colleges recruited him. He enrolled at Wiley College where the coach told him he probably never would get to play. Wiley had not won a game in three years. So Elmore transferred to Kentucky State which went on to win two straight NAIA national championships and Elmore was a two-time All-American.

He was the third player picked in the 1971 NBA draft and signed a multi-million dollar contract with Buffalo. For his career he averaged 13.4 points per game and 10.6 rebounds. Knee surgery in October, 1978, hastened his retirement. He remained in Cleveland and now, at the age of 65, lives in Beachwood. He is frequently seen at Cavs games. He also has a line of barbeque sauce available in many retail stores. Cleveland was by far the best experience, he once said, “The guys I played with were all good friends and we stay in touch.”

Jim Tressel

Induction Year : 2012

Sport: Football

Jim Tressel’s college football legacy was forged on eight crisp autumn afternoons.

Before packed houses in Columbus and Ann Arbor, Tressel coached the Ohio State Buckeyes to an octet of victories over the University of Michigan. He lost just once to the arch-rival to the north.

Tressel is the only OSU head coach to win seven consecutive games against the Wolverines. The eight victories over Michigan are more than any Ohio State coach other than Woody Hayes (16 wins).

While the most die-hard OSU fans believe nothing can top a victory over Michigan, Tressel led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship with a double overtime victory over the University of Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

The dramatic victory completed a perfect 14-0 season, the first such campaign in college football history and gave the Buckeyes their first national crown in 34 years.

It also earned Tressel the American College Football Association Coach of the Year award, making him the first coach in NCAA history to collect the honor in two divisions. Tressel had won it in 1991 and 1994 as the head coach at Youngstown State, a Division I-AA member school.

In nine seasons at Ohio State, Tressel won eight Big Ten championships and had two 19-game winning streaks. He won 94 of 126 games, a success rate of 81 percent.

Tressel’s roots are deep into Greater Cleveland. He was born in Mentor, graduated from Berea High School, and played quarterback at Baldwin-Wallace under the watchful eye of his father, head coach Lee Tressel.

Before taking his first head coaching position at Youngstown State in 1985, Tressel served assistant coach roles at Akron, Miami of Ohio, Syracuse, and Ohio State.

At YSU, Tressel dominated Division I-AA football, winning four national championships. The first one, in 1991, allowed him to join his dad as the first father and son duo to capture national crowns. Lee Tressel coached Baldwin-Wallace to the 1978 Division III title.

Tressel is currently serving as Vice-President of Strategic Engagement at the University of Akron.

Jack Staph

Induction Year : 2010

Sport: Track & Field

Jack Staph has become a rite of the Cleveland spring.

It’s because when May rolls around, Northeast Ohio’s running community comes together for the annual Cleveland Marathon race and Staph has been at the center of the organization directing the event.

Since it began as the Revco Cleveland Marathon in 1977, Staph has served as the executive director and race chairman as the event evolved into the CVS Marathon and the Rite Aid Marathon in 2002, when Staph acquired the race’s rights under his Cleveland Marathon, Inc.

Through different course routes, the vagaries of Cleveland’s spring weather, the ups and downs of running participation, Staph has persevered to maintain the event through its various stages. For runners of all genders and ages, it has become a highlight event and Staph’s organization has accommodated participants with races of varying distances, including the popular 10-kilometer and half-marathon.

While adding to the economic well being of the city, it has also become a important fund-raising event for local charities. The Northern Ohio chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Stroke Association and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation are a few of the charities that benefit.

Reaching out to area students, the races have encouraged participation from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the YMCA of Greater Cleveland.

In staying the course with commitment, Staph’s persistence has paid off as the race has grown in recent years to more than 15,000 participants. It has distinguished itself as one of the nation’s best organized events.

A graduate of Youngstown State and Cleveland State’s Marshall College of Law, Staph served as senior vice president and general counsel for Revco, D.S., Inc. from 1972 to 1997.

Staph, who found the time to run seven marathons, lives in Moreland Hills with his wife, Bernadette. They have three children.

Buddy Schultz

Induction Year : 2010

Sport: Baseball

Buddy Schultz inspired the Ohio High School Athletic Association to make a major rules change for the state baseball tournament after he pitched Shaw to the state championship in 1968. Because of rain, the state semi-finals and championship games were played on the same day, back to back, and Buddy pitched every inning of both games. In the first game the hard-throwing lefthander crafted a three-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts. In the second game he threw a two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts. Before another tournament was played the OHSAA adopted a rule limiting the number of innings a pitcher is permitted to throw on one day. It is called the “Buddy Schultz Rule.”

Buddy pitched seven of Shaw’s eight tournament games that year and did not allow an earned run.

One of the greatest athletes in the storied history of Shaw High School, he lettered in three sports. In football he was an all-scholastic quarterback with a record of 15-1-1 in games in which he started. In baseball he was a starting pitcher for four years. In successive years he was all-league, all-scholastic and all-state.

Buddy went on to set five pitching records at Miami of Ohio and after 38 years he still holds two of them. One is likely to stand forever — 26 strikeouts in a nine-inning game.

While playing summer baseball for the Gardner Realty team in the Lakewood A League, Buddy broke Bob Feller’s strikeout record in the AABC national tournament in Battle Creek, Mich. Buddy struck out 18 in 8 1/3 innings.

He went on to pitch in the Major Leagues with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals from 1975 to 1979. He retired with a five-year record of 15-9, 12 saves and 3.68 earned run average. He lives in Phoenix and owns a marketing and promotion company.

Stacey Lee Smith

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Figure Skating

A three-time United States National Ice Dance champion (1978, 1979 and 1980), she was also a member of the United States Figure Skating World Team, placing ninth in both the 1978 and 1979 World Championships and eight in 1980. Finished eighth in 1980 Olympics competition, then turned professional and won the United States Professional Figure Skating Championships in 1981.