Canadian Football League

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Former Canadian Football Leagur great elected to Hall Of Fame

Yooper Pride.
That was the main theme of 34th annual Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet Saturday evening at Iron Mountain.
Four locals were among the 10 inducted -- Bob Figuli, a runner from Bessemer; Rom Gilbert, a football official from Wakefield; Bobby Jurasin, a retired Canadian Football League player from Bessemer; and Larry Tiziani, a golfer from Ironwood.
Seeing it all was Scott Price, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. Price said he was there to work on a story about Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci and Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo, both Iron Mountain natives.
Mariucci attended to see his father Ray Mariucci join him in the Hall of Fame.
The other five inductees were: Bill Gappy, Houghton, the winningest basketball coach ever at Michigan Tech; Lowell Johnson, Negaunee, a two-time all-state basketball player; Rick Olds, Iron Mountain, a coach in three sports, including two trips to the state semifinals in basketball; Wil Rasmussen, Negaunee, a member of the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame; and Bill Santilli, Crystal Falls. Santilli scored 24 points in the Trojans' 1975 Class D championship victory. He currently coaches the team.
Hall of Fame member Gene Maki of Wakefield said there was a good turnout from Gogebic County.
Rom Gilbert
Gilbert earned 15 varsity letters in Wakefield before graduating in 1958. That was just the beginning of a long career in football.
He went to Michigan Tech and received letters in football and tennis.
Gilbert worked for 26 years as a football official in the Southeastern Conference. Besides that, he has been a rules analyst for ESPN along with giving clinics for announcers.
He said he was the first "non-southern" to be accepted as an SEC official and was fortunate to be a referee for as long as he was.
He spoke of being proud of being from the U.P. and of making its sports hall of fame. He also reminisced about his coaches back in Wakefield.
Maki, the Wakefield tennis coach then and now, said Gilbert was a busy young man in high school. He said Gilbert lettered in five sports.
Gilbert and partner Dave Cvengros won Michigan-Wisconsin Conference tennis titles each year from 1956-58. They won two U.P. Championships, as well.
"He made time for everything," Maki said.
Maki said whenever he watched Gilbert refereeing on television he was wearing the white cap, signifying head official.
Gilbert said Maki was more than just a tennis coach. He said there was a Friday tennis match that was followed by U.P. track relays in Marquette. Maki drove him there and then back to Stambaugh for the tennis finals the next day.
Gilbert, who lives in Keystone Heights, Fla., ended his speech with a southern: "thanks y'all."
Bobby Jurasin
"Everything you get in the U.P. has got to come the hard way," said Jurasin, a Bessemer native and 1982 graduate of A.D. Johnston High School.
He went from playing football at Bessemer to starting at defensive lineman for four years at Northern Michigan University (1982-1985). He moved on to the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1986 and played for 12 years.
In 1987, he was the team's most outstanding player and most outstanding defensive player. He ended up second in the CFL in career sacks, 142, and career tackles, 411. He was an All-Star three times.
He entered the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and the NMU Sports Hall in 1998.
Looking towards Mariucci, he said, "It's a better game than the NFL if you guys have ever watched it."
Jurasin said many people have blessed him along the way, including his parents and high school coach and U.P. Hall of Fame member Pat Gallinagh.
"I stand in front of you as a humble person, yet a proud yooper," Jurasin said.
He is currently an assistant football coach at NMU.


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