Since 1999, 119 former Pioneer athletes have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. These inductees’ lives demonstrate the value of athletics in education.
Seven former Pioneer High School athletes will be inducted into the AA Pioneer Athletics Hall of Fame Friday during a banquet and ceremony at Weber’s Inn.
The inductees are Emily Kelley-tennis; Cokey Huffman-Olympic diver and Michigan Diving coach; Keith Bostic-former professional football player; Colleen Creal-former gymnast and PHS counselor; Aaron Bailey-former professional football player; and Mike Staebler-football/basketball player and local attorney.
Lorin Cartwright, Pioneer Athlete Director from 1995 to 2011, explained that the Hall of Fame honors athletes who graduated at least 20 years ago.
“The athletes these days are bigger, stronger, and even better trained,” she said. “So it is a testament to their skills, their records, and their other honors that they have withheld the test of time and many other athletes. Most of these athletes have contributed to AA Pioneer by giving their time, their talent or support so that others can be successful.”
Asked what the most common response from athletes to being told about the honor, she said: “Most often they say “Are you kidding me!” “This is not real!” Then they are deeply humbled.”
Former gymnast and retired Pioneer High School counselor Colleen Creal said she’s honored to be among the inductees to the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Pioneer is where my gymnastics career really took off,” she says. “I learned the importance of being part of a team and contributing whenever and wherever I could. My favorite memories are traveling to meets together and cheering each other and nailing my routines in competition! I also loved coaching Pioneer Women’s Gymnastics for eight years. I enjoyed working with the young ladies and building their confidence and their character.”
A 1979 Pioneer High School graduate, Keith Bostic earned nine letters on the Pioneer football, basketball, and track and field teams.
He says he feels honored and blessed to have been chosen as a 2023 AA Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame inductee.
“As a former student-athlete at Pioneer, my fondest memories were Friday night football at Holloway Field,” Bostic recalls. “Those games at Pioneer prepared me to play across the street in The Big House. That was one of the many childhood dreams that became a reality. Wearing what I called the Purple People eaters in every game brought a determination to excel at the highest level in the three sports I played. Some might say I’m an avid sportsman who always sets my sights on winning and being successful.”
About the Hall of Fame
The Pioneer Athletics Hall of Fame was formed in the late 1990s to honor former student-athletes, coaches and administrators, and volunteers whose performances on and off the field represent the values of the Athletics Department and the school and enhance the development of both.
Since the first inductee in 1999, the Hall of Fame has inducted 119 members, including the class of 2019, in recognition of their accomplishments on the field and their achievements beyond any field or arena. Their lives provide testimony to the essential value of athletics as part of an education model that can transform lives.
Candidates for the Hall of Fame can be nominated by anyone, including the nominee as long as they meet minimum time since graduation (for student-athletes). Applications are reviewed and voted upon by a Hall of Fame induction committee and are either approved or tabled for future consideration. Up to five individuals from the three categories are chosen each year and are inducted and celebrated at a banquet held each year.
As it has grown, and as the need for additional funding for the Athletics Department has grown, the Hall of Fame has chosen to leverage itself to raise funds in support of Pioneer sports. Any proceeds go to support the Department.
Pioneer Athletic Director Eve Claar calls the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony “an amazing celebration of the rich history of Pioneer athletics.”
“Becoming part of this elite group of athletes is a well-deserved honor for each of this year’s inductees whose accomplishments at Pioneer were legendary,” says Claar.
The event will also include in memoriam tributes to members Susan Thrasher (2006); Rip Kinney (2007); John Nordlinger (2008); and Colleen Barry Sherman (2019).
In addition, the 2023 Female Ray Pittman Award Winner will be presented to Natalie Millman, while the 2023 Male Ray Pittman Award Winner is Gabe Sanchez-Burk.
The 2023 inductees are: