Ten high school athletic directors will be inducted into the fourth Hall of Fame class of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) December 18 in San Antonio, Texas, during banquet festivities at the 43rd annual National Athletic Directors Conference co-sponsored by the NIAAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
This year’s conference will be held December 14-18 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.
The 2012 NIAAA Hall of Fame class includes Jeff Dietze, CMAA, Virginia; Gerry Durgin, CMAA, Maine; Dr. Thomas Hallstrom, Nebraska; Robert Hopek, CMAA, New Jersey; Bill Mayo, Arkansas; Marquis Ross, CMAA, Idaho; Virgil Sasso (deceased), New Jersey; Otis Sennett, New York; Ken Shultz, CMAA, Illinois; and Wayne Taylor, CAA (deceased), Florida.
Following are biographical sketches of the 10 members of the 2012 NIAAA Hall of Fame class:
Jeff Dietze, CMAA, Virginia
A commissioned officer in the United States Army from 1964 to 1969, Jeff Dietze, CMAA, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and furthered his education at George Mason (Virginia) University, where he earned a master’s degree in secondary administration.
In 1970, Dietze began an outstanding 38-year career in education that included three schools in Fairfax County, Virginia. His first stop was at Groveton High School, where he served as science department chair, chemistry instructor, intramurals director and baseball coach. In 1975, Dietze moved to Fort Hunt High School as director of student activities. He spent 10 years there until Groveton High School and Fort Hunt High School merged to form West Potomac High School. He was director of student activities at West Potomac for 23 years and retired in February 2008.
A charter member of the NIAAA, Dietze has held numerous leadership positions within the NIAAA and the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (VIAAA), including VIAAA president, VIAAA state certification coordinator, the Virginia delegate to the NIAAA Delegate Assembly, and chair of the Professional Development Committees for both the VIAAA and NIAAA.
Dietze had two articles published in Interscholastic Athletic Administration and 11 in the VIAAA’s ADMission. He co-hosted the 2003 NIAAA Leadership Training Summer Institute in Richmond, Virginia, and currently teaches several LTC courses.
In recognition of his many outstanding achievements in Virginia, Dietze has received several awards, beginning with the Fort Hunt Sportsman Outstanding Service Award. He subsequently received the Athletic Director of the Year Award, the Presidential Leadership Award and the John C. Youngblood Lifetime Achievement Award – all from the VIAAA.
Dietze has also been recognized at the national level for his exceptional dedication and hard work. In 1997, the NIAAA conferred him a Distinguished Service Award and a year later, he received an NFHS Citation. In 2008, Dietze was named the National Association for Sport and Physical Education Athletic Director of the Year for both the Southern District and the nation. That same year, he received the NIAAA Frank Kovaleski Professional Development Award for possessing and contributing to the vision of professional development and making significant contributions and demonstrating excellence in professional development at the local, state and national levels.
As an enduring testament to his lifelong dedication to young people, the Fairfax County School Board named the West Potomac High School stadium after Dietze in September 2008, at which time he received the Virginia Delegate Assembly Citation. A month later, Dietze was inducted into the Virginia High School Hall of Fame.
Gerry Durgin, CMAA, Maine
Gerry Durgin, CMAA, was a teacher, coach and athletic administrator at three schools in Maine for 38 years and has given countless hours to the athletic administration profession at the local, state and national levels.
From 1993 to 2011, Durgin was athletic director at Gorham (Maine) High School after 10 years at Fryeburg (Maine) Academy and 11 years at Telstar Regional High School in Bethel, Maine. At Fryeburg, Durgin was dean of students as well as teacher, coach and athletic director. In 2011, Durgin began work as assistant executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA).
Durgin has been the leader of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). He served on the MIAAA Board of Directors for 15 years and was assistant executive director from 1997 to 2005. He also was chair of the MIAAA State Conference for 10 years, editor of the organization’s newsletter for a number of years and a frequent presenter at the state conference.
Durgin was MIAAA liaison to the Maine Summer Institute for Athletic Administrators, and he was the state’s NIAAA Leadership Training Institute coordinator from 1999 to 2007. In 1993, he was named Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA and in 2010, the MIAAA established the Gerry Durgin Leadership Award.
Durgin was a founding member of the Western Maine Conference, and has served as secretary, vice president and president. He also has been a member of numerous committees of the Southwestern Maine Activities Association and has hosted numerous events at Gorham for the (MPA). Durgin was director of the Class A & B State Basketball Tournaments.
Durgin has been a fixture with the NIAAA for more than 20 years. He was chair of the NIAAA Publications Committee from 1993 to 2004, served a four-year term on the NIAAA Board of Directors and was president of the organization in 2007. Durgin, who has attended the National Athletic Directors Conference since 1987, was chairman of the NIAAA’s third Strategic Plan in 2009 and has been a Leadership Training Institute instructor at two national conferences. In 2011, Durgin was elected chair of the NIAAA Accreditation Committee.
Among his awards, Durgin received the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 1999, the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 2000 and the NFHS Citation in 2002. In 2010, he received the NIAAA Award of Merit for outstanding leadership in interscholastic athletics.
Durgin has given numerous presentations at the NFHS Summer Meeting and National Athletic Directors Conference, and has had a number of articles published in the Interscholastic Athletic Administration (IAA) magazine.
Durgin earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine-Farmington in 1972 and his master’s from Plymouth (New Hampshire) State College in 1986.
Dr. Thomas Hallstrom, Nebraska
By the time the NIAAA was founded in 1977, Dr. Thomas Hallstrom was winding down a legendary 30-year career as coordinator of physical education and athletics for the Omaha (Nebraska) Public Schools. Hallstrom served the Omaha schools from 1949 to 1978 and was one of the nation’s early leaders in high school athletic administration.
In 1958 to 1978, Hallstrom represented the Omaha Public Schools as an ex-officio member of the Board of Control and as a member of the Board of Directors of three Nebraska athletic organizations – the Inter-City Athletic League, Quin-Cities Athletic and Activities Conference, and the Metropolitan High School Activities Association.
Hallstrom was instrumental in implementing high school boys gymnastics in the Metro Conference in 1963. He also was largely responsible for introducing high school girls gymnastics in 1971 and directed the state’s first unofficial championship. During that time, Hallstrom provided leadership in the successful recruitment of minority basketball and football officials. At the state level, Hallstrom was president of the Nebraska Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
In addition to his day-to-day duties with the Omaha Public Schools, Hallstrom made significant contributions to track and field. From 1965 to 1972, Hallstrom was national chairman of the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Track and Field program for boys, helping to conduct workshops all across the country.
From 1972 to 1978, Hallstrom was director of the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) State Track Meet, and was instrumental in the NSAA moving the meet to Omaha. He set the organizational blueprint that remains in place today. Hallstrom also introduced the Accutrack electronic photo timer for finish lines. During this time, Hallstrom served on the Board of the Nebraska Athletic Directors Association until 1975.
One of the founders of the Nebraska Athletic Directors Association (NADA), Hallstrom’s term on the NADA Board of Directors concluded in 1975. That same year, Hallstrom was successful in urging the NFHS to hold the 1977 National Athletic Directors Conference in Omaha.
Upon his retirement in 1978, Hallstrom and his wife established an “Inspire Nebraska” endowment trust fund at Nebraska Educational Telecommunications that is dedicated to the perpetual programming and televising of both the Nebraska High School Boys and Girls State Basketball Championship Tournaments.
Hallstrom was previously inducted into the Omaha Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame and the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame. His other awards include an Outstanding Service Award from the Nebraska Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and an NFHS Citation.
Hallstrom earned his bachelor’s degree from Peru (Nebraska) State College in 1949, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Northern Colorado in 1954 and 1965, respectively.
Robert Hopek, CMAA, New Jersey
Robert Hopek, CMAA, retired in 2004 after 31 years as director of athletics and assistant principal at North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, but has continued his service to athletic administration at the state and national levels the past eight years.
Hopek was the founder of the Hunterdon/Warren County Directors of Athletics Association in 1982 and remains president of the association today. He was president of the Delaware River Conference from 1980 to 1982, secretary of the Mid-State Conference from 1983 to 1987 and has been secretary of the Skyland Conference since 1987.
Within the Directors of Athletics Association of New Jersey (DAANJ), Hopek has served on the DAANJ Executive Committee since 1980 and was president from 1989 to 1991. He also is editor of the DAANJ newsletter and has been chairperson of the Athletic Director of the Year Awards Committee since 1982.
Hopek also has devoted many hours to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), serving two terms on the NJSIAA Executive Committee, 18 years on the Eligibility Committee and a term on the Scheduling Committee.
In addition to his work with the DAANJ and NJSIAA, Hopek was president of the North Hunterdon Administrators Association from 1999 to 2004 and the Hunterdon County Administrators Association from 2000 to 2004. He also served on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the New Jersey Garden State Games.
Hopek’s contributions to athletic administration at the national level are equally impressive. He has been the state’s coordinator for the NIAAA Leadership Training Institute since 1998 and was a member of the NIAAA Board of Directors from 1999 to 2003. Hopek, who earned his CAA designation in 2002 and his CMAA in 2003, has served as state liaison to the NIAAA and as a member of the Leadership Training National Faculty.
Hopek has been inducted into five halls of fame, including the NJSIAA, Minnesota State University-Moorhead, National Council of Secondary School Athletic Directors, North Hunterdon High School and the DAANJ. In addition, he received the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 1989, the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 1990, the NFHS Citation in 1999 and the NIAAA Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence in 2010.
Hopek earned his bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead in 1969 and his master’s from Trenton (New Jersey) State College in 1973. Hopek currently lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, and has three children and seven grandchildren.
Bill Mayo, Arkansas
Bill Mayo retired in 1996 after an outstanding 25-year career as athletic director at Blytheville (Arkansas) High School. Overall, Mayo was an athletic director for 30 years and a football and track coach for 14 years.
In 1957, as an ROTC participant, Mayo was ordered to active duty and served in the United States Army for two years. Before his service began, Mayo was assistant football coach at Osceola (Arkansas) High School, and then coached football and basketball when he relocated to Fort Lewis, Washington.
After the completion of his military obligation, Mayo joined the staff at his alma mater, Blytheville (Arkansas) High School, in 1959 as football line coach and assistant track coach. In 1961, Mayo became the youngest head coach in the Memphis (Tennessee) City School System, serving as athletic director, head football coach and track for the newly instituted Memphis (Tennessee) Trezevant High School. By 1964, Mayo had established a successful athletic program at Trezevant, consisting of football, basketball, track, baseball, tennis, golf and swimming.
From Trezevant, Mayo moved to Amarillo, Texas, to become the first assistant to the head football coach at Caprock High School, and a year later, he became football line coach and assistant track coach at Southwestern (Tennessee) College. In one year’s time, Mayo became head track coach, along with his other duties. After four years at Southwestern, Mayo took the positions of head football coach and chair of the physical education department at Emory & Henry (Virginia) College.
By 1971, Mayo was back in Blytheville, to begin his 25-year term as athletic director for the Blytheville School District. Mayo then became activities director for the school district and was bestowed an additional duty of drug prevention coordinator for the school district.
Mayo gained statewide and national prominence in his latter role for crafting the drug-abuse program for the Blytheville schools known as “TARGET Blytheville.” The program, which was modeled after the national TARGET program established by the NFHS, was aimed at educating teachers, parents and students about drug abuse and is still in place today.
During his tenure in Blytheville, Mayo became the first president of the Arkansas High School Athletic Administrators Association (AHSAAA) in 1977. He also was responsible for starting the NIAAA Leadership Training Program in Arkansas.
At the national level, Mayo has served the NIAAA since its inception in 1977. He served a term on the NIAAA Board of Directors and was president in 1988. Mayo was a member of the NIAAA Ways and Means Committee for eight years and chair of the NIAAA Hall of Fame Committee from 2005 to 2010.
Among his numerous accolades, Mayo was the recipient of the AHSAAA Athletic Director of the Year in 1982, the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 1988, the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 1990 and the NFHS Citation in 1986. Mayo was inducted into the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame in 1998, and the AHSAAA Hall of Fame in 2007.
Marquis Ross, CMAA, Idaho
Marquis Ross, CMAA, has been one of Idaho’s top leaders in high school athletic administration for the past 35 years. Ross retired in 2010 after serving in two school districts and directing the state’s athletic directors organization.
Ross began his athletic administration career in 1978 at Lowell Scott Junior High School in Boise, Idaho. He established the “Intervalley League” – made up of eight schools – and developed the league’s bylaws and initiated Intervalley League tournaments.
In 1987, Ross became athletic administrator at Boise (Idaho) Centennial High School during which time he was a member of the Idaho High School Activities Association (IHSAA) State Football Scheduling Committee. In 2000, Ross became athletic administrator of the Nampa (Idaho) School District and, in 2001, he was chosen executive director of the Idaho Athletic Administrators Association (IAAA) and served in that position until his retirement.
Ross has given invaluable service to the IHSAA, serving as state tournament director for four sports – tennis for 25 years, girls basketball for five years, boys basketball for three years and football for two years.
Prior to becoming executive director of the IAAA in 2001, Ross was president-elect, president and past president for six years. He also coordinated the IAAA state conference for 10 years.
An NIAAA lifetime member, Ross’ contributions to the NIAAA have been tremendous. He was elected to the NIAAA Board of Directors in 1999 and served terms on the Professional Development Committee, Credentials Committee, Certification Committee, Hall of Fame Committee and Awards Committee.
Ross was the Idaho liaison to the NIAAA for five years and a member of the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee for four years. In addition to his 20-year attendance at the National Athletic Directors Conference, Ross was a national delegate at eight national conferences. He led the way in Idaho to promote the profession of athletic administration as the first Leadership Training Institute coordinator in the state, serving for eight years.
Among his accomplishments and awards, Ross received his CAA in 1991, the NFHS Citation award in 1992, the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 1994 and 1996 and the NIAAA Distinguished Service award in 1999. In 2000, Ross became the first person in the nation to achieve CMAA status. He was inducted into the IHSAA Hall of Fame in 2001.
Ross earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho in 1967, as well as two master’s degrees in 1971 and 1981, respectively, from Idaho. Ross currently resides in Star, Idaho.
Virgil Sasso, New Jersey
During an amazing career that spanned 47 years, Virgil Sasso was the visionary leader and father of high school athletic administration in the state of New Jersey.
In his dual role as athletic director at Fair Lawn (New Jersey) High School (1944-79) and executive director of the Director of Athletics Association of New Jersey (DAANJ) (1958-91), Sasso touched the lives of thousands of student-athletes and fellow athletic administrators.
After serving as Fair Lawn athletic director for 18 years, Sasso added the role of assistant principal to his duties in 1962. He also coached baseball and received numerous Coach of the Year honors. He also was selected Bergen County Athletic Director of the Year several times.
In 1951, Sasso founded the DAANJ – the first state athletic directors association in the United States. He served as the organization’s first president and then became executive director in 1958 and served in that capacity until 1991. For the entire 40-year period (1951-91), Sasso was a member of the DAANJ Board of Trustees.
As chairman of the DAANJ Athletic Director Manual Committee, Sasso led the production of the first athletic administration manual published in the United States – “The Administration of High School Athletics.” The first edition was printed in 1967 and was requested and used by schools in 27 states.
Among his many honors, in 1991 the DAANJ named a scholarship in Sasso’s honor, and Fair Lawn High School named its football field “Virgil Sasso Field.” Sasso was awarded the first DAANJ State Athletic Director of the Year award in 1974, as well as the National Eastern Regional Athletic Director of the Year award that same year. Sasso was inducted into the West Chester University Football Hall of Fame, the Fair Lawn High School Hall of Fame in 2006 and the DAANJ Hall of Fame in 2008.
Otis Sennett, New York
Otis Sennett was the early leader among high school athletic directors in New York during his 29 years at Baldwinsville (New York) Central School.
Among Sennett’s accomplishments at Baldwinsville was the initiation of girls sports programs. He was the first athletic director in the Onondaga High School League to schedule girls sports competition and buy them uniforms – long before the implementation of Title IX. In addition to serving as athletic director at Baldwinsville, Sennett also coached six sports and led the cross country team to state titles in 1955 and 1956.
After his retirement from Baldwinsville in 1983, Sennett accepted the position of executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section III office. Among other duties, Sennett was responsible for budget development, tournament organization, public relations and office administration until his retirement in 1992.
On the state level, Sennett was a major force in developing girls sports program as equal participants in league, sectional and state competitions. Sennett is one of three original organizers of the New York State Athletic Administrators Association (NYSAAA), and he served as the organization’s conference chairman from 1983 to 1987 and director of the first NYSAAA conference. Sennett is past president of the Onondaga High School League and past member of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame Committee.
At the national level, Sennett is a charter member of the NIAAA, and a past chairman of its Membership Committee. He was a member of the NFHS Athletic Directors Advisory Committee from 1985 to 1989. In addition, he has made two major program contributions at the National Conference and has written several articles for the IAA magazine.
Sennett has received many honors, including the NFHS Citation in 1979, NIAAA Special Commendation in 1982 and 1990, NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 1985, NIAAA State Award of Merit in 1989 and the NIAAA Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence in 1991. In 2007, the NYSAAA Award of Excellence was named the “Otis Sennett Award.”
Sennett, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from State University of New York at Cortland in 1949 and 1959, respectively, was inducted into his college alma mater’s “C-Club Hall of Fame” in 1986, which recognizes Cortland alumni who competed as athletes at the college and who have since distinguished themselves in their professions and within their communities. He was also inducted into the NYSPHSAA Hall of Fame in 2007.
Kenneth Shultz, CMAA, Illinois
Kenneth Shultz, CMAA, concluded his outstanding 32-year career in education in 2005, which included 26 years in athletic administration primarily in Illinois.
After starting his career as a teacher and coach at Morris (Illinois) Community High School in 1973, Shultz launched his administrative career in 1979 when he became associate director of athletics and intramurals at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor, Illinois – a greater Chicago suburb.
Two years later, Shultz became athletic director at North Olmsted (Ohio) High School, but returned to Homewood-Flossmoor in 1983 as director of athletics, intramurals and student activities.
During Shultz’s 22 years as Homewood-Flossmoor athletic director, his accomplishments were extraordinary. He was tournament manager for 201 conference meets, 152 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) regional meets, 129 sectional meets and 473 Homewood-Flossmoor invitationals. Under Shultz’s guidance, the athletic program won 275 conference championships, 130 regional championships, 121 sectional championships and 10 state championships, and had 15 runner-up finishes.
In addition to the athletic program’s success, Shultz gained considerable attention for the development and implementation of a random drug-testing policy. Shultz appeared on multiple news outlets – including “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and several national news networks – and spoke at multiple venues concerning his policy and procedure of drug testing.
In addition to leading a successful athletic program, Shultz directed the school’s intramural program involving 1,500 participants, and the Student Activities program with more than 100 clubs and 2,000 participants.
At the state level, Shultz served on the Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA) Executive Board for eight years, including a term as president. He also was a member of the Illinois Athletic Directors Advisory Committee and the IADA Conference Committee for six years. Shultz also was a member of the IADA Strategic Planning Committee and served as its Leadership Training instructor and CAA test administrator. He also was a non-voting member on the IHSA Board of Directors.
A lifetime member of the NIAAA, Shultz served on the NIAAA Board of Directors, as well as the NIAAA Professional Development Committee and the Certification Committee. He was a voting delegate to the NIAAA Delegate Assembly for seven years, and he attended 24 national conferences, speaking at the 1998 conference in Las Vegas.
Shultz, who earned his CAA status in 1989 and CMAA in 2002, was named IADA Athletic Director of the Year in 1992, and in 1993, he was named the National Council of Secondary School Athletic Directors Illinois Athletic Director of the Year and Midwest Athletic Director of the Year. Shultz received an NFHS Citation in 2004 and the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 2005. In 2008, Shultz was inducted into the Illinois Athletic Directors Hall of Fame.
Shultz earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Illinois in 1970 and 1971, respectively.
Wayne Taylor, CAA, Florida
The late Wayne Taylor, CAA, contributed to high school athletics from an administrative position for more than 40 years. After graduating from Elon (North Carolina) College in 1959, Taylor relocated to Florida where he worked as an athletic director, coach and business manger for 33 years. He then spent three years as the director of competition for the Miami Mega City Special Olympics, serving more than 3,000 special athletes, before his retirement in 1994. Until his death in December 2011, Taylor continued to serve interscholastic athletics with his knowledge and expertise on various committees at the state and national levels.
From 1966 to 1974, Taylor was athletic director and business manager at Miami Coral Park High School. He then served 16 years as director of athletics at Miami Palmetto Senior High School, and finished his career with one-year stints with the Dade County Public Schools and G. Holmes Braddock High School.
During his years at Palmetto High School, Taylor directed numerous district, regional and sectional tournaments for the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA). He was co-director of the first FHSAA State Wrestling Tournament.
Taylor was a founding member of the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (FIAAA), serving on the 1977 organizing committee. He also was a charter member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). He served on the boards of directors and as president of both organizations, as well as on the NIAAA Hall of Fame Committee from 2007 to 2011. In addition, Taylor was the first FIAAA representative to serve on the FHSAA Board of Directors, and he consistently served as the chairperson of the host committee each time the National Conference of High School Directors of Athletics was held in Florida. In addition, Taylor spoke at numerous state athletic directors conferences across the country.
Taylor received nearly every athletic administrative award available, including the FIAAA National Recognition Award in 1982 and the FIAAA Meritorious Service Award in 2002. At the National Conference of High School Directors of Athletics in 1991, Taylor received the highest award given by the NIAAA — the Award of Merit. He was inducted into the FHSAA Hall of Fame in 1998, the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Miami Coral Park High School Hall of Fame in 2007.
More than the prestigious posts he held and the awards he received, Taylor stood apart for his spirit of service to the profession of athletic administration. He left a lasting legacy through the professional organizations he helped to shape and through his willingness to go beyond what is expected in order to create opportunities for others.
Biographical profiles for this press release were written by Shane Monaghan, graphic arts technician/editorial assistant in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department.
About the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA)
The NIAAA is the largest national organization for high school athletic administrators with more than 8,500 individual members. The NIAAA consists of athletic director organizations in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia and provides an efficient system for exchange of ideas between the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and state athletic administrators organizations as well as individual athletic administrators. The NIAAA, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, strives to preserve the educational nature of interscholastic athletics and the place of these programs in the curricula of schools. The NIAAA is a full and equal partner with the NFHS.