BORN: MAY 16, 1952, FREMONT, MI
athlete at Newaygo High School, Dennis Adama competed in football,
basketball and track for the Lions. An All-Newaygo County Athletic
Association basketball player, he is best remembered for his performance
as a high jumper for the track team.
Adama established a new Class C state record with a jump of 6-5 in his junior year. On April 9, 1970, the senior set a school record with a 6-7½ jump against Morley-Stanwood. Dennis competed in the prestigious Mansfield, Ohio meet, showcasing the nation's top prep high school athletes. He finished second in a field of 75 jumpers with a jump of 6-6. In May, Adama jumped 6-8 in the Class C regional, and then broke his previous best with a 6-8½ leap at the state meet. Named to the Detroit News All-State track team, Dennis was invited to compete in the Golden West meet in Sacramento, California in the summer of 1970. He finished third in a field limited to the nation's top six jumpers.
Heavily recruited, he selected Indiana University, where he became the school's first freshman to qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association finals. As a sophomore he jumped 7-1¼ while competing against Nebraska. In his senior year, Adama set a new conference mark in the high jump with a 7-2¾ leap in the Big Ten Outdoor Track meet in May 1974. It marked the third consecutive year that Adama swept the conference's indoor and outdoor titles.
The Newaygo graduate capped his collegiate career with a third-place in the NCAA indoor meet and a second-place finish in the NCAA outdoor championships. The second-place finish qualified him for a trip to China as a member of the United States' AAU track team.
Following college graduation, Adama jumped 7-3 during the 1975 indoor season to qualify for the Olympic Trials. However, at the Olympic Trials in June of 1976, Dennis failed to clear the opening height of 7 feet.
In 1977, Adama moved to competition in the decathlon, with the hope of making the 1980 Olympic squad. However, in 1979, he announced that he had given up on the Olympics. Citing the difficulty of trying to remain competitive as an amateur athlete once an individual is out of college, he joined the staff of Indiana University as an assistant track coach.
BORN: AUGUST 6, 1934, CHICAGO, IL
Muskegon pharmacist by day,
Dick Dolack spent his spare time rolling up countless hours as a referee for
various sporting events. Ultimately, he embarked on a 25-year career as a
field judge in the National Football League.
Dolack began his journey in 1952 as a college student at Ferris State, refereeing junior high and high school contests as a way to earn extra money for school. As a basketball referee, he worked district and regional high school games for the Michigan High School Athletic Association before moving to the college game as a basketball referee in the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA). He continued along that path, working Mid-American Conference and Big Ten contests. A top official in the Mid-West Pro League in 1963, he was named supervisor of officials for the newly formed North American Basketball League in 1964. Between 1960 and 1966, he also worked a number of National Basketball Association contests.
On the gridiron, Dolack also began at the junior high and high school levels before adding college and semi-pro contests to his resume. In March 1966, he received the call from the NFL and was assigned to the job of field judge. Dolack worked his first NFL preseason contest on August 6, 1966 in St. Louis - the day Busch Stadium was dedicated.
Among his NFL career highlights: field judge for Tom Dempsey's NFL record 63-yard field goal against the Lions in 1970 and member of the officials crew for Super Bowl IX at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans in 1975.
His years of working games in the old United Football League and Professional Football League of America were recognized in 1987 with his induction into the American Football Association's Minor Professional Football Hall of Fame. The lingering effects of a knee injury suffered in 1968 forced Dolack to retire from NFL service in 1991.
BORN: JULY 11, 1932, MUSKEGON, MI
DIED: APRIL 2, 2012, ATHENS, GA
Co-captain of the Muskegon Big Red football team in 1949, Jim Neal earned
Associated Press first team all-state honors at center as a senior.
Following graduation, the 6-2, 205-pounder joined high school
teammate Paul Dekker at Michigan State University.
Neal became a starter for the Spartans in the third game of the 1952 season. Coached by Clarence L. "Biggie" Munn, Michigan State rolled to its first national championship, finishing the season with a 9-0 record.
Jim returned for his senior season in 1953. In their first year as a member of the Big Ten, the Spartans posted a 5-1 conference mark. Big Ten co-champions with Illinois, Michigan State was selected to represent the conference in the 1954 Rose Bowl. The squad responded with a 28-20 come-from-behind victory over UCLA to end the year ranked third nationally, with a 9-1 overall record. The game also marked the end of Munn's seven-year career as Spartan gridiron coach.
A forestry major while in college, Neal earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors in 1953, as well as the team's Ross Trophy, given annually to the athlete with the best contribution athletically and scholastically.
Following the 1953 season, Neal was invited to Hawaii for the Hula Bowl and to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. The two games conflicted and Neal accepted the invitation to Mobile, playing for the victorious North squad. Drafted in the second round of the National Football League's annual draft by the Detroit Lions, Neal bypassed the NFL to work in his chosen field of study.
BORN: FEBRUARY 16, 1953, MUSKEGON, MI
three-sport performer for the Muskegon Heights Tigers, Russ earned All-Lake
Michigan Athletic Conference honors as a defensive tackle in 1970, averaging
14 solo tackles a game as a senior.
A member of the National Honor Society, he was recruited by a handful of schools, including Indiana University. Russ opted to attend the University of Michigan and joined the Wolverines football team in 1971 as a walk-on. He made the team and quickly impressed the coaching staff with his play on the freshman squad. An able backup as a sophomore, Carl became a starter for Coach Bo Schembechler's Wolverines in the fall of 1973. The former Tiger finished the '73 season second in tackles with 94, including a team leading 15 in a 10-10 tie with archrival Ohio State. Unfortunately, the tie prevented Michigan from going to the Rose Bowl, as the Big Ten selected the Buckeyes for the post-season trip to Pasadena.
While at Michigan, the 6-2, 215-pound linebacker earned a reputation for quickness and great mobility. Drafted in the 13th round of the 1975 National Football League draft by Atlanta, Russ signed a three-year contract with the Falcons. A backup for 10-year veteran, Tommy Nobis, Russ saw action in 14 regular-season games in 1975 as a member of the special teams. Released by the Falcons just prior to the 1976 opener, he signed on with the New York Jets.
Russ started in two of the first three games of the 1976 season for the Jets, before a knee sprain sidelined the linebacker for most of the season. Despite successful off-season surgery, New York waived him following training camp. However, Russ returned to the Jets' lineup in October 1977, when he was signed as a replacement for linebacker Bob Martin. He retired following the '77 season.
BORN: JANUARY 20, 1918, NEW YORK, NY
DIED: APRIL 18, 1987, ATLANTA, GA
Considered one of the
finest athletes ever turned out by Muskegon High School coach C. Leo
Redmond, Paul Soper led the Big Reds to state titles in football and
basketball during the 1936-37 season. Soper lettered in football,
basketball and track at Muskegon. Despite a knee injury that kept him out
of action for two games as a junior, Richard Remington of the Detroit News
selected Soper as halfback and honorary captain of his 1935 all-state
Muskegon marched through a nine-game schedule undefeated in 1936, as Captain Soper and his backfield teammates Ira "Ike" Kepford and Frank Wainwright wreaked havoc on their opponents. An electrifying runner, the 5-10, 175-pound Soper pounded out over 800 yards on the ground, including a 159-yard performance from the quarterback position against cross-town rival Muskegon Heights in the season finale. Soper scored four touchdowns in that contest as Muskegon cruised to a 32-0 victory, its first over the Tigers in four seasons. The victory gave Muskegon a share of the state's mythical gridiron championship - an honor held by Heights the previous three years. In early December, to no one's surprise, Paul once again made Remington's all-state squad.
The Big Reds rolled to 18 straight victories on the basketball court during Soper's senior year as he and his teammates grabbed the Class A basketball crown with a 31-27 victory over Holland in the state finals. An outstanding student and president of the student council his senior year at Muskegon, Paul was heavily recruited by colleges throughout the country. He turned down a scholarship to the University of Michigan to attend Big Ten rival Northwestern University in the fall of 1937.
In 1939, the halfback led the Wildcat ground attack with 291 yards in 46 attempts, highlighted by a 74-yard dash for a touchdown to seal Northwestern's 13-0 victory over Illinois.
Hard hit by graduation, little was expected of the 1940 Wildcats. The Northwestern staff moved Soper to fullback for his senior year. Joined by high school running mate "Ike" Kepford and future NFL quarterback Bill DeCorrevant, the Wildcats surprised everyone with victories in their first four contests before losing to top-ranked Minnesota, 13-12. Paul broke free for a 73-yard touchdown run as the Wildcats downed Illinois 32-14 to boost their record to 5-1 on the year. A 20-13 loss to No. 3-ranked Michigan in the following week of the season was the team's only other defeat. Northwestern brought the year to a close with a smashing 20-0 shutout of Notre Dame. The Wildcats finished the year ranked seventh nationally by the Associated Press with a 6-2 mark.