By Chris Barlow

Commemoration of high school of athletics comes in many forms, but none is more important then the enshrinement of the best athletes that have roamed the halls. When Athletic Director Jeff Gabrielsen arrived at Wauwatosa West, his prior experience with these honors inspired him to create a Hall of Fame as a way to recognize what had come before him.

“It’s critical to connect the past with the present and the future,” Gabrielsen said. “It’s a labor of love, because the people are so excited about it and happy we are doing it.”

Once Jeff chose to create the Hall of Fame at West, decisions on how, who and when were next on his list.

“When you start a Hall of Fame there are so many people that need to be in it,” Gabrielsen said. “The entries for about the first ten years are real easy. We still have pages of slam dunk entries that aren’t in yet, because we have just started.”

Included in the first class of inductees were well known and longtime figures in the Trojan Athletic program.  Former Athletic Directors John Thomsen and Tom Janssen, and coaches Daniel Benson and Bob White were part of a who’s-who list of those that have brought the Trojan program from its beginnings to the present day.hof-resize

“They’ve been here since the start of the school, so no one has gone through here that they did not know,” Gabrielsen said. “We were lucky to have some very historical icons still around, and most of the nominees have come from their suggestions.”

The first class was inducted in 2015 and, along with the four coaches and AD’s, athletes from the 1960’s to 2005 were honored. The inductees receive a plaque on the wall, a tour of Tosa West, an induction dinner and a pregame announcement at the East vs West basketball game.

Included in the inaugural Hall of Fame class was Class of 1964 all-around athlete Art Sanders. Since photography was quite different back then, finding a picture for Sanders’ plaque from his high school days was not an easy task.

“Art mentioned to me that he remembered his picture was on the cover of the Milwaukee Journal,” Gabrielsen said. “So I went to the public library and checked out the microfilm and found the shot of him crossing the finish line in a track uniform saying Tosa West.”

“It’s a lot of work, but anytime you do the work and the people are so grateful for it, it doesn’t feel like work in the end,” Gabrielsen said.

In 2016, nine new members were allowed into the Hall and the plan is to induct as many as eight more in early 2017.

“We want to gradually get down to a point where we are only doing four to five each year,” Gabrielsen said.

To nominate an athlete, coach, or anyone associated with the Trojans program, there is a form available on the schools website. After Gabrielsen and his group review the nominations, they will reach out to those selected through modern means.

“We put [inquires for finding the nominees] out there on social media, and someone is bound to know the person we are looking for,” Gabrielsen said.

Despite the early classes being dominated by males, the hope in the future is to get a good balance of both genders on the wall. This has been a challenge thus far because athletic opportunities for women were not as prevalent years ago as they are today. Jeff welcomes any discussion regarding who should be included and takes it all in stride.

“It’s a lot of work, but anytime you do the work and the people are so grateful for it, it doesn’t feel like work in the end,” Gabrielsen said.


2015 class (alphabetical order)

Debbie Arps; Athlete – Class of 1975

Daniel G Benson; Coach

Dan Benson; Athlete – 1977

Becky Cera, Athlete – 2005

Tim Foulks; Athlete – 1968

Tom Janssen; Coach and Athletic Director

Jeff Marohl; Athlete – 1975

Daniel Relich; Athlete – 1975

Art Sanders; Athlete 1964

John Thomsen; Coach and Athletic Director

Jill Weidenbaum/Schindhelm; Athlete – 1995

Karen Weis; Athlete – 1975

Bob White; Coach

2016 Class (alphabetical order)

Mary Donohoo; Athlete – Class of 2004

Dr Michael Dussault; Athlete – 1966

Rick Geracie; Coach

Courtney Groff; Athlete – 2002

John Ryan; Athlete – 1965

Suellyn Schellpeper-Roherer; Athlete and coach – 1965

David Scherer; Coach

Robert Sells; Athlete – 1974

Steve Sperl; Athlete – 2003