Michigan State will induct nine Spartans into its Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 15, as part of its annual “Celebrate” weekend. The 2023 Hall of Fame Class includes: Guy Busch (men’s soccer), Nicole Bush (women’s cross country/track & field), Al Dorow (football), Stan Drobac (men’s tennis), Rob Ellis (baseball), Nance Lyons Hall (field hockey/softball), David Morgan (wrestling), Emily Regan (rowing) and Javon Ringer (football).
“This year’s Hall of Fame Class includes record-breakers, trailblazers and innovators,” said Michigan State Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller. “The honorees have experienced team success and individual accolades and many have left a foundation of success on which current programs now stand, while others have helped grow their sport. From Al Dorow’s first career start at quarterback in 1949, all the way up until Emily Regan’s final Big Ten Championship in 2010, and countless achievements in between, the nine-member class touches part of eight decades of Spartan success. Combined with the 10 different programs honored, it demonstrates the depth and diversity of Spartan excellence.”
The Celebrate 2023 weekend includes the 13th-annual Varsity Letter Jacket Presentation on Wednesday, Sept. 13, and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday. There will also be a special recognition of the 2023 MSU Athletics Hall of Fame Class during the Michigan State-Washington football game at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 16.
The MSU Athletics Hall of Fame, located in the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center, opened on Oct. 1, 1999, and displays plaques of the 171 previous inductees. The charter class of 30 former Spartan student-athletes, coaches and administrators was inducted in 1992.
Below are bios on the nine inductees for the 2023 Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame Class:
Men’s Soccer (1965-67)
St. Louis, Mo.
One of the most decorated players in Michigan State men’s soccer history, Guy Busch is one of the trailblazers of the storied Michigan State men’s soccer program.
Over 50 years after the hanging up his boots, Busch remains the Spartan leader in points scored with 130. He is also second all-time in goals scored with 54 and tied for fourth in assists with 22.
When Michigan State Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller called Busch about the upcoming honor, the word that Busch used to describe himself was “overwhelmed.” Haller caught the unsuspecting Busch on the golf course.
“I was overwhelmed; there are a whole lot of thoughts rushing your mind,” Busch recalled. “The experience I had at MSU was so great, and so positive. The opportunity to go there at that time in life for me and my family was a dream. All I could think about was the opportunity to be able to go there and what it meant. So, after I hung up, I proceeded to hit two balls out of bounds, and I think a five-foot drive before I got it together. So that kind of describes the emotion.”
Busch was a three-time letterwinner, including serving as a captain of the 1967 team.
The St. Louis native wasted no time bursting onto the scene as a sophomore in 1965. He scored a team-leading 24 goals in his first season in the Green and White, which still stands as the second-most in school history. He ended the campaign with 56 points, which also still stands second in the Spartan record books. His offensive expertise landed him a spot on the All-America first team as well as the NSCAA All-Region first team.
As a team, the Spartans finished the 1965 season as the National Runners-up.
He showed no signs of slowing down during his junior season in 1966. Busch continued to lead the team in scoring with 49 points. He was second behind Tony Keyes with 20 goals and tied for the team lead with nine assists. His consistency led him to his second-straight first-team NSCAA All-Region honor, as well as NSCAA honorable mention All-America honors.
During the 1967 campaign, Busch scored 14 goals as a senior to go along with five assists. The Spartans outscored their opponents, 73-11, and finished with a stellar record of 12-0-2. They settled a score with Long Island with a 4-0 win in an NCAA semifinal. Michigan State battled to a 0-0 tie against St. Louis to share the NCAA Championship. This was the Spartans’ first soccer national championship.
Busch is the fourth member of the men’s soccer program to enter the Hall of Fame, joining Gene Kenney, Joe Baum and Trevor Harris. Busch was a teammate of Baum and Harris on the 1967 team that was coached by Kenney. The first to be inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame was Kenney in 2005. Harris followed in 2016 with Baum completing the trio in 2017.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Joe Baum, who I’ve known for many years. He was here behind me when we were players, and I’ve known him all my life,” Busch said. “I was thrilled to be joining him. Gene Kenney, I remember attending his induction. I was at Kellogg Center, and it was just a little bitty affair. Trevor, I went to his induction because he couldn’t come since he had some serious health issues. Those are the three in the Hall of Fame. And I’m glad to join them, and I’m thrilled. I am kind of the next man up, maybe one more of them will get in too.”
Busch is grateful for his time at Michigan State for the fellow student-athletes, coaches and administrations that he encountered during his time as a Spartan. It wasn’t just the soccer team that helped shaped his life, but he credits his experiences with MSU programs from the football team to the wrestling squad that made him who he is today.
“It was a fun time to be there,” Busch said. “And if you really look at fall of 1965 through ’68 and you see how many Big Ten Champs and National Championships MSU won, it was like no other era. To be there and be part of that was really cool for me. I did get to work for a little bit in the athletic director’s office. I worked for Burt Smith when he was an assistant to (Athletic Director) Biggie Munn. Seeing it at that level was fun for me, a great experience. I really have to thank Biggie Munn. He started writing checks, and we started getting scholarships. If he doesn’t do that, I don’t get to MSU. It was life changing for me and my family.”
Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field (2004-09)
When Nicole Bush received the call from Michigan State Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller that she was part of the 2023 Hall of Fame class, a distant memory immediately came to mind.
“I remember walking through the Hall of Fame when I was a freshman and looking at how small it was in terms of the number of female runners that were in there,” said Bush. “I just immediately went back to that memory and was like, ‘Wow, I get to be in there.’ So much time has passed since I first thought that, and that memory just came back really fast.”
Bush is the second women’s cross country athlete to be inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame and eighth women’s track & field athlete.
A year after that walk through the Hall of Fame, as a sophomore, Bush began to make a name for herself in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, an event that had only been contested at the NCAA Championships on the women’s side since 2001 and that she had never run prior to college. She finished third at the 2006 Big Ten Championships and sixth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the event, earning First-Team All-America honors.
Bush carried this momentum into the following cross country and track & field seasons. During the 2006 cross country campaign, she was named to the NCAA Great Lakes All-Region team and competed at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. She continued to flourish on the track, recording All-Big Ten honors in both the indoor and outdoor seasons and earning another First-Team All-America nod in the steeplechase at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships by virtue of a sixth-place finish.
The 2007 cross country season saw Bush earn her first All-America distinction in cross country, where she finished fifth at the NCAA Championships for the highest-ever finish by a Spartan at the time. She also picked up a pair of All-America honors during the indoor track & field season, finishing fourth in the 5,000-meter run and sixth in the 3,000-meter run at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships. She opted out of the 2008 outdoor collegiate season to focus on training for the 2008 Olympic Trials in the steeplechase, the first year the event was contested for women on the Olympic level. She finished fourth overall, just one place shy of qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Bush was named the 2008-09 Michigan State George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year after putting together a spectacular final year in the Green & White. She won the 2008 Big Ten cross country individual title and Great Lakes Regional title before earning her second-straight All-American honor with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. She won her second conference title of the year with a dominant performance in the steeplechase at the 2009 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and was the runner-up in the event at the NCAA Championships.
Since Bush’s graduation from Michigan State in 2009, the Spartan women’s cross country and track & field programs have continued to produce multiple NCAA All-Americans and conference champions in addition to team and individual national titles.
“I knew when I came in, I wanted to help make the program eventually what it has become,” said Bush. “There was definitely something in my 17-year-old brain that made me be like, ‘I really want to be a part of making this program really special.’ About five years after I graduated, they won a national championship in cross country. I would like to think I played a part in that because that’s what I wanted; I wanted that sort of stuff to happen.”
Bush was roommates with current Michigan State Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Lisa Breznau when they both ran for MSU. She says she and Breznau talked about making an impact from the very beginning.
“Lisa and I had those conversations together that we wanted to have impacts on the program. It’s really fun to look back and see that we both very much have,” said Bush. “It makes me proud to be like, ‘We really had the foresight to think of those things and have those conversations and look where it’s gotten us.’ It’s really cool.”
While there is no doubt Bush left an impact on the distance program at Michigan State, she also has made it clear that the program made a lasting impact on her. She pursued a career as a professional runner after graduating from MSU, winning a national title in the steeplechase in 2013 that gave her the opportunity to represent the United States at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia. Now retired, Bush lives in Portland, Oregon, where she works for Nike in a fellowship program for retired athletes as one of two track & field representatives.
“Everything that I did at Michigan State that set me up to go pro and do all of that stuff is still paying off,” said Bush. “Running changed the trajectory of my life. Running has brought the best people into my life. All of the really great things that have happened in my life are because of running and the people who have helped me throughout my career. And that’s my high school coach, that’s my collegiate coach, that’s my teammates and my friends. My family.”
Bush will now have a permanent spot in the hallway she walked through as a freshman at Michigan State.
“Those women before me made it possible for there to be a place for me to compete and to chase that dream and to meet some of the most influential people in my life,” said Bush. “Those people made it possible for me to do any of these things.”
Imlay City, Mich.
Al Dorow, who passed away at the age of 80 in 2009, will take his place among the all-time Spartan greats posthumously as part of the 2023 MSU Athletics Hall of Fame Class.
“Our family is very happy and excited that our father is going into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame,” said his daughter, Jill. “He would have loved that honor and it would have meant everything to him. He loved being a Spartan.”
Jill, who was born in 1966, remembers going into work with her father at Jenison Field House when he was the team’s quarterbacks coach under Duffy Daugherty. She laughed and said whenever they drove by the Spartan statue, Al “made her believe, for entirely too long, that he was the model for Sparty.” She also recalls going to games and hanging out with other kids from the coaching staffs, including the Bulloughs and Perles’. She said Al met most of his lifelong friends either when he was playing at Michigan State or coaching.
Jill also recollected standing near the tunnel of the field as a young child when the band marched in on game days, something she still loves to this day going to games at Spartan Stadium.
“Anyone that knew him was going to hear about football, and was going to hear about Michigan State,” Jill recalled.
Dorow was Michigan State’s starting quarterback on the school’s first-ever National Championship team in 1951 under Hall of Fame Coach Clarence “Biggie” Munn. A three-year letterwinner (1949-51), Dorow was 20-3 while playing games at quarterback for the Spartans and compiled a 17-1 record as the team’s starting signal caller his last two seasons, including back-to-back Top 10 finishes in 1950-51 (No. 8 AP in 1950, No. 2 AP in 1951). He won his last 15 starts in a row.
Dorow finished his collegiate career as Michigan State’s all-time leader in pass completions (125), pass attempts (259), passing yards (1,875) and touchdown passes (19). He accounted for 26 total TDs, including four scoring runs and three TD receptions.
A product of Imlay City, Michigan, Dorow is also a member of the Imlay City Athletics Hall of Fame. A four-sport star who earned 16 letters at Imlay City High School, Dorow actually arrived at Michigan State in 1947 to run track after winning state titles in high hurdles, low hurdles and the pole vault his junior and senior seasons. He was noticed running around the track by backfield coach Forest Evashevski, who convinced him to try out for football, a sport Dorow also excelled in as a halfback at Imlay City. Dorow played on the freshman team in 1947 but a knee injury forced him to miss the entire 1948 season.
Although he never had previously played the position, Dorow was thrust into the starting quarterback role as a sophomore in 1949 due to multiple injuries on the team, and he never looked back. In his first collegiate game at quarterback, he threw a touchdown pass in a 24-0 win over Penn State on Homecoming on Oct. 22, 1949. He played a majority of the time at quarterback the rest of the season, ranking second on the team in passing yards (379) and passing touchdowns (5).
As a junior in 1950, Dorow threw for 654 yards and five scores while leading the Spartans to an 8-1 record, including a 14-7 victory at third-ranked Michigan.
Dorow’s strong junior campaign set the stage for Michigan State’s first National Championship in 1951, as the Spartans went a perfect 9-0 and were crowed champions by three major selectors while finishing second in the national polls (AP, UPI). He completed 64-of-114 throws for 842 yards and nine TDs and produced wins over three ranked opponents: No. 17 Michigan (25-0 in Ann Arbor), No. 7 Ohio State (24-20 in Columbus) and No. 11 Notre Dame (35-0 in East Lansing).
With the Spartans facing a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit at No. 7 Ohio State on Oct. 6, Dorow led the way in one of Michigan State’s most famed comeback victories, throwing a 3-yard TD pass to Paul Ekker and scoring on a 28-yard reception – known in Spartan lore as the “transcontinental pass” – from Tom Yewcic on a fourth-and-6 play as the Green and White rallied to record their ninth straight win, 24-20.
In a university press release written on Dorow, Hall of Fame Coach Clarence “Biggie” Munn said that “Al was at his best when the chips were down, and was more than great when the club needed that extra lift.”
In the win over Notre Dame on Nov. 10, Dorow earned United Press International’s Midwest Back of the Week honors after completing 11-of-17 passes for 112 yards and two TDs in MSU’s shutout win over the Fighting Irish.
Following the season, Dorow was selected a first-team All-American by the International News Service (INS), becoming the just the second Michigan State quarterback to earn first-team All-America honors.
His distinguished college career earned him spots at numerous all-star games following the season, including the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. He earned MVP honors at the Senior Bowl after returning an interception 87 yards for a touchdown and also throwing the game-winning TD pass in the fourth quarter. Dorow also played in the annual College All-Star Game in Chicago on Aug. 15 against the NFL Champion Los Angeles Rams.
After graduation, Dorow enlisted in the United States Air Force, and reported to Bolling Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., a week after the College All-Star Game. He played football while in the Air Force, and made the all-service team back-to-back years (1952-53) in addition to helping his team win the 1952 national service football championship.
A third-round draft pick by the Washington Redskins in 1952, Dorow first played for Washington in 1954 following his military service. He played three years for Washington (1954-56), including a Pro Bowl appearance in 1956, and one with Philadelphia (1957) before going to the Canadian Football League for two seasons (Saskatchewan and British Columbia in 1958; Toronto in 1959).
He joined the New York Titans of the newly formed AFL in 1960 and led the league with 26 TD passes, earning second-team All-AFL honors and finishing fifth in the AFL Player of the Year voting. Dorow earned All-Pro honors for the second time in his career in 1961, this time with the Titans, and was also named the team’s most outstanding player. Injuries forced Dorow to wrap up his AFL career with Buffalo in 1962.
As a pro, Dorow completed 572-of-1,207 passes (.474) for 7,708 yards and 64 TDs.
Dorow began his coaching career at Hillsdale College in 1963. He returned to his alma mater in 1965 and served as an assistant coach under Duffy Daugherty for six years (1965-70), including the 1965 and 1966 Big Ten and National Championship teams. Two starting quarterbacks under Dorow’s tutelage, Steve Juday (1965) and Jimmy Raye (1966), are in the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Dorow left Michigan State to become head coach of the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1971.
“Al Dorow was one of the pioneers of Michigan State football along with Lynn Chandnois and Sonny Grandelius, who played during the heyday for ‘Biggie’ Munn,” said the late George Perles, who served as an assistant coach alongside Dorow under Duffy Daugherty from 1967-70, at the time of Dorow’s passing in 2009. “Al was involved in one of the most famous plays in Spartan history, catching the transcontinental pass from Tom Yewcic to complete MSU’s fourth-quarter comeback against Ohio State in 1951.
“He was simply a great player and a great coach. Al really helped groom those outstanding quarterbacks who played for Duffy Daugherty in the mid-1960s. He was a true Spartan, who touched many lives.”
Men’s Tennis (1952-53)/Men’s Tennis Coach (1958-89)
In an era when the sport was in its infancy at the collegiate level, former Michigan State tennis head coach Stan Drobac was an innovator.
And competing in an area of the country where it would be challenging to compete with some of the best programs in the nation, Drobac helped put Michigan State in the conversation.
The late Drobac, who passed away in 2016, was a standout player at MSU as a collegian (1952-53) and then made a substantial impact on the Spartan program during his 32 years as head coach (1958-89).
“It’s a big deal, and it means a lot to our family,” Stan Drobac, the second of his three children, said. “He’s been recognized in the tennis community with the all-century team, but having broader recognition in the MSU community is really nice.
“Being a coach in what many would refer to as a non-revenue sport, guys like my dad and some of the other coaches, whether it was fencing, wrestling, they lived in a different world than the football or basketball coaches, but there was still a great community there.”
It was a community that the younger Drobac remembers fondly as a child growing up in nearby Okemos, from picking up balls after his father conducted lessons on the old courts in the shadow of Spartan Stadium and seeing tennis greats like Arthur Ashe or Dennis Ralston on campus when Michigan State hosted the 1964 NCAA Championships.
“Tennis wasn’t that popular, certainly when I grew up,” said Drobac, who now lives in Northern California. “My dad was the tennis coach, but I always played baseball and didn’t really pick it up until high school. Some of the stuff he did as coach, pushing for the team tennis championship and being one of the first to say there should be one, has really blossomed. To see what that is today in the sport, it’s pretty cool.”
His father’s ties to Michigan State started as a collegian.
As a Spartan student-athlete, Drobac captured the Big Ten singles title in 1953, after finishing runner-up in 1952. He also teamed up with Tom Belton to win the Big Ten doubles title in 1952 and 1953. In 1952, Drobac won both the Wisconsin State Open and Closed Single Championships, and he also competed in the National Singles Championships at Forest Hills, New York, for three years.
Drobac was named the Most Valuable Player of the MSU Tennis All-Century Team in 2013, and the annual MSU men’s tennis MVP award is named in his honor.
Drobac, the longest tenured coach in program history, spent 32 seasons as head coach of the Spartan men’s tennis program from 1958-89. Throughout his coaching career, Drobac made a substantial impact on the Michigan State tennis program. He won 267 matches and led the Spartans to their second Big Ten Championship in 1967. His teams posted winning records 10 consecutive seasons from 1959-1968, including a 15-4 mark overall and a perfect 9-0 record in conference play in 1967. The Spartans also finished second in the Big Ten in 1961, 1966 and 1968 and third in 1960 and 1962.
Under Drobac, 10 Spartans claimed individual conference singles titles, along with four conference doubles titles, and his players earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades on seven occasions.
In addition to his work as Spartan head coach, Drobac was a leader and innovator who helped shape the intercollegiate tennis team championship. He was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 1990.
“Our MSU tennis program would not be where we are today without Stan’s vision and impact on college tennis and our community,” said Gene Orlando, who was head coach at MSU for 31 years before retiring in 2022. “Stan and Dr. M. Cecil Mackey helped pave the way for our MSU indoor tennis center to be built in 1986. It was a huge moment in our program’s history and gave us the opportunity to compete on the national level for a northern school.
“Stan was a legendary coach, but his legacy is that of a teacher, mentor and someone who cared for his players and was an inspiration to many. He brought people together and together united our Spartan tennis family.”
Drobac was born June 1, 1927, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While serving in the U.S. Army in Europe in 1946, he met Frank Beeman, who became MSU’s head tennis coach in 1948. Drobac represented the United States in international tennis competitions, including Wimbledon in 1946, where he teamed up with Beeman for doubles play.
Drobac completed his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State in 1953 and became the tennis coach at East Lansing High School before becoming a physical education instructor at MSU in 1955. He earned his master’s degree from MSU in 1956 and served as an assistant coach under Beeman for two seasons (1956-57) before succeeding Beeman as head coach in 1958, when Beeman was promoted to men’s intramural director.
In 1961, Drobac, along with Jim Griswald and Bob Rood, invented the “Tenniscor,” a copyrighted scoreboard which aided spectators in following tennis matches. The scoreboards were used for several years at the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships.
In 1969, Drobac was appointed to the first NCAA Tennis Committee and served on it until 1974. He was an officer in the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association for 14 years, serving as president from 1969-73. He also developed a scorebook that was used by the members of the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association for more than two decades.
In 1973, Drobac inaugurated the National Intercollegiate Team Indoor Championships, which was held at the Nielson Tennis Stadium at the University of Wisconsin. This event was the forerunner to the team format now being used to determine the NCAA team champions.
Drobac was also instrumental in developing the first wheelchair tennis program at MSU.
“Stan was a pioneer and innovator who help shape our current collegiate game to what our current competitive format is today,” Orlando said. “So many great Spartans that played for Stan have stayed connected to the game and our Spartan Family continues to make a difference in our tennis community worldwide.”
Grand Rapids, Mich.
In just two seasons, Rob Ellis left his mark on the Michigan State baseball record book, while becoming the only National Player of the Year in program history.
Ellis came to MSU from Grand Rapids, where he was the top hitter in the city his junior and senior seasons in high school. He was drafted out of high school by the San Francisco Giants in the 34th round of the 1968 MLB June Amateur Draft. Ellis passed up the Giants to improve his talent, pad his stock and stay in school, opting to follow in his older brother, Tom’s, footsteps to East Lansing and Michigan State. Tom lettered for the Spartan baseball team in 1967 and 1968.
Younger brother Rob had quick success upon arrival in East Lansing, leading the Spartans in hitting as a sophomore in 1970 with a .380 average, setting a then-school record for single-season hits with 60. Ellis played second base most of the season and posted a team-leading 78 assists in the field. He started his Spartan award collection by earning Third-Team All-Big Ten Conference honors.
Shifting to primarily an outfielder as a junior in 1971, and just like at second base, Ellis also excelled at his new position, with six outfield assists, an astonishing number for an outfielder. He also exceeded his 1970 stats at the plate, batting an eye-popping .407, and just missing his own year-old hits record by one knock, finishing with 59 hits in 145 at bats. With the .407 average, Ellis became just the 10th member of MSU’s “.400 Club,” a mark that is still current at No. 20 in the Spartan record book. He had a stellar .848 slugging percentage, a mark that still stands as the school record.
His individual success helped the Spartans experience team success, as Ellis smashed an inside-the-park home run for the lone run in a 1-0 win at the University of Detroit on April 24, 1971, a Victory for MSU that was legendary head coach Danny Litwhiler’s 200th victory as the Spartans’ skipper.
The home run was Ellis’ ninth of the season at the time, tying MSU’s single-season mark matching Spartan greats Al Luce (1957) and Steve Garvey (1968) for the record. Less than a week later, Ellis broke the record in dramatic fashion on April 30, 1971, with a 380-foot blast to left-center to boost the Spartans to a win at in-state rival Michigan.
He padded his record with four more home runs that season to finish with 14 round-trippers, a mark that stood for seven seasons when another Spartan legend, Kirk Gibson, broke his record, finishing with 16. The 14 homers by Ellis is still tied for No. 6 on MSU’s single-season HR list.
The success by Ellis was just part of many Spartan highlights that season, as the Green & White went on to win the Big Ten title, the school’s first league championship since 1954, and the first of Coach Litwhiler’s two Big Ten rings. The Spartans boasted a .307 team batting average as a team, along with the pitching staff posting a paltry 2.68 ERA. While the banner season came to a disappointing ending with two losses at home in the first MSU-hosted NCAA regional, the Spartans finished with a 36-10 record, breaking the program record for wins at the time, a mark that is still tied for No. 4 in the MSU record book.
Ellis added another “first” for the Spartans, becoming the first Michigan State baseball player to be named The Sporting News’ “College Player of the Year,” earning the accolade in 1971. His award collection expanded, including garnering First-Team ABCA All-American and First-Team NCAA District IV All-American accolades, in addition to earning First-Team All-Big Ten honors in 1971.
Following his banner season as one of the best hitters to ever wear an MSU uniform, Ellis had the difficult decision to return for his senior season or advance to the professional ranks. He chose to put his hat in the ring for the MLB Draft, and was drafted in the first round with the third overall selection of the secondary June draft in 1971 by the Milwaukee Brewers, fulfilling that childhood dream of signing a contract to become a professional athlete.
The Brewers rushed him right to the major leagues, and Ellis made his MLB debut on June 18, 1971 against the Oakland Athletics, and got a hit in his first at bat, knocking a pinch-hit single off future Cy Young winner and Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter.
Ellis went on to spend parts of three seasons (1971, 1974, 1975) in the big leagues, seeing action in both the majors and the minor leagues, all the while completing his physical education degree in 1976. He finished his American baseball career in AAA for the Portland Beavers in 1980 before playing one season in the Mexican League for the Mexico City Reds in 1982.
Nance Lyons Hall
Field Hockey (1976-78)/Softball (1976-79)
Shock and honor were the first two thoughts that came to mind for former field hockey and softball student-athlete Nance Lyons Hall when she received news from Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller of her forthcoming induction into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame. Shock because for Lyons Hall it’s always been about putting others before herself and honor because she continues to bleed green over 40 years after her graduation.
“My first reaction was that it was a prank phone call,” said Lyons Hall. “I finally realized after Mr. Haller knew what years I played that it wasn’t something a regular person would know. I was screaming, I was crying and kept saying ‘Are you kidding? Are you joking?’ over and over again. My husband wasn’t sure whether something bad had happened. This is not anything I have ever thought about happening.”
Lyons Hall is the seventh softball inductee into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame, joining fellow 1976 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national champions Gloria Becksford, Carol Hutchins, Diane Spoelstra and Kathy Strahan. She is the third member of the field hockey program to receive induction joining Shirley Cook and Floor Rijpma.
“I am so honored,” said Lyons Hall. “I love Michigan State, so there is nothing that is more of an honor to me than an institution that I’ve loved so dearly paying some respect back to me. It’s beyond understanding.
“Gloria Becksford was someone who showed me how to take my game to another level by watching her and seeing her mental attitude. (Teammate and longtime Michigan softball coach) Carol Hutchins is the only person that can get me to cheer for Michigan, so I have the utmost respect for her. These are women that I put on pedestals and followed their careers, so for my name to be incorporated along with theirs, it doesn’t seem real.”
Despite not playing field hockey her freshman season and without the tracking of assists, Lyons Hall still ranks No. 2 in program history for career points with 150 and her program record 75 goals hasn’t been sniffed. Lyons Hall owns two of the top three seasons in all-time points and goals (60 in 1977, 56 in 1978) along with four of the top six single-game goal marks. Her seven goals and 14 points against Grand Valley State in 1978 still rank No. 2 in program history. Lyons Hall helped the field hockey program to a 32-10-6 record over her three seasons.
“It’s an honor to know that the game has changed, but that it’s still been the same enough that I had an impact,” said Lyons Hall. “Someone once said to me ‘Did you ever think that for every young girl who came to Michigan State, that your name or that record was something they were aspiring to be?’ and that’s really cool if somehow I set a benchmark for someone else to try to exceed.”
One of the crowning achievements of Lyons Hall’s career is winning the 1976 AIAW softball national championship for the Spartans. Playing in just the eighth ever Women’s College World Series (WCWS), the Michigan State softball team defeated Northern Colorado, 3-0, to win the national title. Along with Lyons Hall, Michigan State softball amassed a 91-53 record over her four seasons.
“For those of us on the 1976 softball team, participating in the World Series in Omaha, and then actually winning the World Series will always hold a special place in our hearts,” said Lyons Hall. “Some of the special memories were the opportunities that opened up because of us winning the World Series. We played in New Mexico and then the following year we were invited to go to Belize to play in one of the first international tournaments.
“Some of my favorite memories came from being together as a team. People have often asked me if I’m jealous of the way teams travel now, and I’m not. Some of my favorite team moments are of seven of us traveling in a university station wagon with two people facing backwards in the third row. I don’t regret that. That camaraderie is what made us close.”
Now the Women’s College World Series is one of the biggest events in all of college athletics, drawing sellout crowds to Oklahoma City annually to watch the finals. Televised viewership of the 2023 championship series peaked at over 2.3 million and averaged 1.9 million viewers.
“I remember our championship game being postponed and when they finally decided to play, we played on an AstroTurf football field, not a softball diamond,” said Lyons Hall. “They put bases down, and you know what? We didn’t care because it was the finals of the World Series against Northern Colorado. I went to a payphone at a restaurant and called my parents collect to tell them we had won. When we got back to the university there were students and faculty waiting for us to congratulate us. Those are the moments that I’ll never forget.”
Lyons Hall looks back at her time playing at Michigan State fondly as she recollects the life lessons it taught her, while also crediting her mentors that shaped her experience along the way.
“Sports were the roots that molded me into what I did later in life because it teaches you so much,” said Lyons Hall. “Sports teach you so much about people, they teach about time management, and they teach you about challenges and setting goals. I carried everything I learned on the field hockey field and on the softball diamond into my profession later in life.
“At Michigan State it was important for me to find mentors that challenged me to improve. I know it’s cliché but learning from failures and being able to celebrate the victories are life lessons that athletics teaches you. Accepting that you’re not always the best and identifying what you need to do to change that is an important lesson.”
After graduating from Michigan State with a bachelor’s degree in medical technology in 1979, Lyons Hall went on to work in the clinical laboratory field as a Medical Technologist before eventually transitioning to the marketing field where she helped to design, develop and market products used worldwide in clinical, environmental and pharmaceutical research. Before retirement, Lyons Hall held the role of Vice President and General Manager of PerkinElmer’s Robotics, Liquid Handling and Detection Systems division.
Records are meant to be broken, but for former Spartan wrestler David Morgan, his program-best 44 single-season victories at 118 pounds in both 1997 and 1998 pose a challenge that seems insurmountable in today’s wrestling landscape.
“Looking back at it now, I don’t know if anybody’s going to break that record based on the amount of matches that guys wrestle now,” said Morgan. “It’s great to see after this many years that those records still stand.”
This fall, Morgan is set to become the 10th Spartan wrestler and the 12th member of the Michigan State wrestling program to be inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame. Legendary MSU head coaches Grady Peninger and Fendley Collins are only non-Spartan grapplers among the bunch for a program that has now seen seven inductions over the last decade, a testament to the historic greatness of the program.
“I was really surprised when I took the phone call from (MSU Vice President and Director of Athletics) Alan (Haller),” said Morgan. “Shock was my initial reaction; the news almost brought me to tears. To be just the 10th wrestler inducted is unbelievable and is something that I’m really proud of. It’s something that’s going to be really good for our family and our community. It still feels like a dream, but at the same time it made me reflect on a lot of stories and the different people that had a hand in this happening.”
With his father as his coach, Morgan started wrestling in the basement of his childhood home at the age of nine. Morgan’s father, Charlie, wrestled on the first Ferndale High School wrestling team in 1968 and continued with the sport in 1969.
“My dad always tells a story of how he wished that he started wrestling earlier because of all the benefits that he got from the sport,” said Morgan. “He made it one of his missions to train myself, my brother and other kids in the community to get them involved in the sport early.”
Morgan spent one season at Morgan State wrestling alongside his brother, also named Charlie, before making the difficult decision to return to his home state and wrestle for the Spartans. At Morgan State, Morgan went 23-10 and was an NCAA qualifier.
“I was recruited to Michigan State out of high school, and I was really attracted to MSU at the time,” said Morgan. “Even when I go back to campus now there’s just this feeling about East Lansing, a good feeling in your stomach and your mind when you’re walking on campus.
“My senior year I was deciding between Michigan State and Morgan State along with a couple of other schools. On my recruiting visit Coach (Tom) Minkel laid out what the plan was potentially going to be for me at Michigan State, and based off of what the situation would have been, I thought it was a better decision to go to Morgan State to compete for a starting spot immediately. I was able to do that my first year there, but although I loved it there as well, I didn’t feel like it was going to be able to get me to the place that I wanted to be athletically.”
Two members of the Spartan wrestling program that helped shape Morgan’s career once he arrived in East Lansing were Kelvin Jackson and current Michigan State head coach Roger Chandler. Jackson was the 1995 NCAA Champion at 118-pounds, the same weight as Morgan, during Morgan’s first year on campus as a redshirt. It was Jackson’s record setting 42 wins during the 1994-95 season that Morgan surpassed the following year to break the program record.
“KJ and I were really tight,” said Morgan. “When I transferred in, I was driving to campus and my car broke down. My dad had to pick me up and take me to the wrestling offices. I showed up with only two or three bags and Coach (Tom) Minkel, Coach (Dave) Dean and Coach (Joe) Pantaleo told me I’d be staying in an apartment with Kelvin. We were roommates from the first time I came to campus, so we were hanging out and working out every single day. It was important for everybody on the team at that time to see that you could win national titles at Michigan State and KJ and Dan Wirnsberger were in the finals that same year. For me to see him (Jackson) on a daily basis and be next to that provided some confidence that we could get it done here.
“Roger’s first year at MSU was the year I competed for an NCAA championship, so we worked out together a lot when he came in as a graduate assistant my senior season and continued to train together post-collegiately.”
Named Michigan State’s George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year in 1995-96, Morgan finished his career at MSU with 129 victories, which was then the second-most in program history. A three-time NCAA All-American, Morgan placed as high as second at NCAA’s (1998), while winning Big Ten championships at 118 pounds in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Morgan was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Big Ten Championships in 1996 after shutting out each of his opponents en route to the title. He is the only Spartan wrestler in history to record 40 or more wins in three seasons.
“The coaching staff knew what they were going to get out of me every single time I stepped on the mat, and I knew what I was going to give,” said Morgan. “I prided myself on, especially in our home arena, that my opponent wasn’t going to come into our home and beat me.”
In fact, nobody ever beat Morgan within the confines of Jenison Field House. Morgan finished his career as a Spartan with a spotless 35-0 mark inside those walls.
“I prided myself on being able to show up every single day, every competition, being there and competing at a high level,” said Morgan. “That single season wins record speaks for itself as far not only showing up but being able to consistently compete at my best.”
Wrestling is a sport known for its teaching of discipline and principles. The principles Morgan learned while competing at Michigan State are still ones he thinks back on frequently and uses while coaching the next generation of wrestlers in the state of Michigan out of Wrestling University in Sterling Heights.
“I still use a lot of the same principles of wrestling that I learned from Coach Minkel,” said Morgan. “He would always talk about having a foundation, pillars to support the foundation and a roof. I remember them off the top of my head and go through them all the time. It’s not just showing up every day and training hard, there’s more of a philosophy to it and there’s more of a structure just like everything else in life and in business. Whether you’re with a great company or a great team, surrounding yourself with people that continue to push you is important.”
Emily Regan is a Spartan Hall-of-Famer of rare air.
Big Ten Athlete of the Year? The Hall of Fame has scores of those. Olympian? Those are more rare, but there are still several. Gold medal winner? The Hall even has some of those.
But how about an Olympic gold medalist who only began participating in that sport when they arrived at Michigan State?
“It’s probably a very different feeling for me than a lot of the others,” Regan jokes. “I literally started and learned my sport at Michigan State. That was the start of it all for me. I would not have had the opportunities or career I enjoyed if it were not for that first year at Michigan State where the coaches – specifically novice coach Christiina Tymoszewicz Donley – taught me how to row, saw some potential in me, and stayed on me to be my best.”
Collegiate rowing is a rare sport – coaches actively seek out athletes who are on their campus that are not continuing in their sports. Regan was one of those – she was a multi-sport athlete in high school, but thought she’d be putting all of that behind her when she enrolled at MSU. At AOP, her mother, Barbara, got into a conversation with the coaches who were recruiting these high school athletes to try a new sport. Her mother spent a good amount of time trying to talk Emily into giving it a try on their drive home from the MSU orientation back to Buffalo.
When she returned to campus for move-in, the 6-2 Regan was paired up with her new roommate, the 5-1 Lindsey Archambo. Their mothers saw a flyer about joining the rowing team, and urged their daughters to give it a try.
“We did it to appease our moms,” a laughing Regan remembers.
And thus began her journey. The first year was rough, but Regan had the body type (tall with broad shoulders), and an amazing work rate that the coaches noticed early on. She remembers that as a sophomore in 2007-2008, the leadership in the senior class and the closeness of the novices was the first time that she felt things “clicked.” Rowing was fun, she was seeing results, and the team was experiencing success. Her natural gifts as an athlete combined with being a quick study in the techniques required for the sport, Regan had ascended into the MSU varsity eight – the top Spartan boat – and won her first gold medal at the 2008 Big Ten Championships.
It was her first of three straight, in fact.
Regan, who graduated in 2010 a three-time Big Ten Champion in the varsity eight, helped the Spartans to two Big Ten titles and three consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championship regatta throughout her career.
The 2010 Big Ten Rowing Athlete of the Year and Pocock First Team All-American, Regan was also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, two-time All-Big Ten pick (2008, 2010) an earned All-Central Region honors for each of the final three seasons of competition for the Green and White.
Quick study indeed.
In the fall of her senior year, she attended an ID camp at Notre Dame and, from there, earned an invite to train with the national team after her collegiate career finished. After a top-10 finish at NCAAs in 2010, Regan moved on to Princeton, New Jersey, to start what would become a near-decade of residency with the US National Rowing Program in Princeton.
As Regan was getting ingrained with Team USA, the Red, White, and Blue was in one of the most dominant periods in all of women’s rowing history. Regan’s first international races – in the U23 World Championships the summer after her graduation – resulted in a gold medal in the eight, which began her transition from college standout to international mainstay.
Team USA didn’t just win during Regan’s time in the storied women’s eight. It *dominated*. The US Women’s eight went 11 years undefeated at major international meets, and Regan joined the program four years into that dominance. The 2016 gold medal at the Rio Olympics was the third straight for the Americans, and Regan – in the bow seat of the boat, furthest from the coxswain – was the first US rower across the finish line. Three years prior, (2013), Regan was a part of the women’s eight which set a world-record time at World Rowing Cup III in Rotsee/Lucerne, Switzerland. That time of 5:54.160 is a record which stood for eight years.
Over her career, Regan earned 17 international medals: an Olympic gold, five gold, one silver, and one bronze medal from World Championships, as well as four gold, one silver, and four bronze from World Cup competition.
“I have to thank the Hall of Fame committee for considering me for induction,” says Regan. “I owe so much to both Christiina Donley and former head coach Matt Weise for being a huge influence in my career. Literally – without these two guiding and pushing me, my adult life would look so very different. My entire Spartan rowing family was an inspiration daily, because they made me want to be better for them. And obviously, the largest thank you has to go to my family – my largest and most supportive cheering section in whatever I choose to do.”
Since her retirement from Team USA in 2021, Regan has begun work on her MBA and between classes, she serves as an assistant coach for the men’s heavyweight team at Boston University. Last season, she guided the Terriers’ third eight to a 10th-place finish at the IRA National Championships. Regan had begun her coaching career while still an active member of the US National team, early on coaching at a club and also aiding the US Rowing coaches during summer development camps to help prepare athletes to compete at the USRowing Summer National Championships.
Her next steps? Combining her wealth of experience on the water with her degree. She’s looking to pursue a career in helping organizations create cultures of excellence.
Much as she did as an undergrad and professional athlete.
Javon Ringer’s name is scattered all throughout Michigan State’s record book. But for all his accolades, perhaps the most impressive aspect of his career was the humble nature in which he carried himself on a daily basis, from his demeanor to his work ethic to his praise of his teammates. It’s also why the news of getting inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame caught him off guard. He simply wasn’t expecting it.
“I can’t tell you the last time I was legitimately shocked and at a loss for words,” remarked Ringer upon getting the call from MSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller. “That’s how I felt…I was left speechless. I was emotional. I can’t truly put into words the gratitude that I felt, the humbleness that I felt, the emotional state that I was in – it was unbelievable. I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, didn’t think that this would be possible right now.”
Ringer ranks first on MSU’s all-time list in all-purpose yards (5,426), second in rushing yards (4,398), carries (843) and 100-yard rushing games (19), and fifth in total touchdowns (35) and rushing TDs (34). Along with Lorenzo White, Ringer is one of just two Spartans to lead the team in rushing four consecutive seasons (2005-08).
His record-breaking 2008 season as a senior was one of the best ever in Michigan State history. The consensus first-team All-American and Doak Walker Award finalist led the nation in scoring (132 points; 10.2 ppg) and carries (390) while ranking fourth in rushing (125.9 ypg). He also set a school record with 22 rushing touchdowns and his 1,637 rushing yards rank third most in a single season.
The Dayton, Ohio, product made an immediate impact for the Spartans. In just his fourth game as a true freshman in 2005, he rushed for a Spartan-freshman record 194 yards on 13 carries in a win at Illinois, and went on to lead MSU with 817 rushing yards for the season, the second-best single-season rushing total by a true freshman in school history. A knee injury sidelined Ringer for four games during his sophomore campaign in 2006, but he still led the team in rushing with 497 yards on 86 carries and earned the team’s Biggie Munn Award as the most inspirational player.
In 2007, Mark Dantonio took over as head coach of the Spartans, and his run-first philosophy of “Pound Green Pound” was perfect for Ringer, who proceeded to have two of the most productive seasons on the ground in school history.
“I can’t thank Coach D enough,” said Ringer. “He brought back that toughness to Michigan State. I wanted to grind with my brothers, and I wanted us to be a team – that toughness, I wanted that, I thrived on that. I loved that, and appreciated it so much.”
During MSU’s resurgent 2007 season, Ringer rushed for 1,447 yards to become the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher in six seasons, and he was named the team MVP while garnering second-team All-Big Ten honors.
But it was during his senior season in 2008 that Ringer became a household name throughout the country. He had a blazing start to the season and became the first offensive player in Big Ten history to earn Player of the Week honors in three consecutive weeks. He rushed for five touchdowns and 135 yards vs. Eastern Michigan in Week 2, then in a constant downpour the next week vs. Florida Atlantic, he compiled 309 all-purpose yards, including a career-high 282 rushing yards on 43 carries.
Ringer was selected the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the third week in a row after becoming the first Spartan back to record back-to-back 200-yard rushing games, gaining 201 yards on 39 carries in Michigan State’s 23-7 victory over Notre Dame. His 201 rushing yards were the most ever by a Spartan against the Fighting Irish. On MSU’s final scoring drive, Ringer carried the ball seven straight times for 77 yards, including a 63-yard gain to set up his second TD run. But after the game, Ringer was determined the share the spotlight, as he had his entire offensive line, along with tight ends and fullbacks, join him around the podium in the post-game press conference.
“If a running back is having a good season, that means the offensive line and the fullbacks and the tight ends are working hard – it’s not just you,” recalled Ringer, who was voted a captain by his teammates as a senior. “The offensive line is not a glorious position, and I was getting a lot of interviews at that time, so I was trying to direct some of that attention toward them. So I told them, the next time this happens, I’m going to bring them with me. After the Notre Dame game, I called them all over, and told them they were all going with me (to the interview room). Football is the ultimate team sport – without your lineman, you won’t be able to accomplish anything. That was a moment that I’m glad we were able to share.”
Ringer nearly made it three games in a row with 200 rushing yards as he collected 198 yards on 44 carries the next week in a win at Indiana. He also came to close to eclipsing the 200-yard mark at Michigan on Oct. 25 – but that legendary performance almost didn’t happen.
Ringer tweaked his hamstring at Thursday’s practice before the annual Paul Bunyan Trophy game while working out on special teams on a kick return.
“But nobody was keeping me out of that game,” said Ringer. “By the grace of God, I thank God that He held me together for that one.”
Ringer ended up rushing 37 times for 194 yards and two scores in the 35-21 victory over the Wolverines, as the Spartans snapped a six-game losing streak in the series and won in Michigan Stadium for the first time since 1990. He broke off a season-long 64-yard touchdown run down the sideline in the second quarter and also had a 3-yard TD in the fourth quarter that put MSU on top for good in the 14-point win.
Ringer led the Big Ten in rushing for nine consecutive weeks (Sept. 14-Nov. 9) and helped lead the Spartans to their first New Year’s Bowl game in nine years with an appearance in the Capital One Bowl vs. Georgia.
When everything was added up at the end, Ringer accounted for 97 percent of Michigan State’s rushing yards (1,637 of 1,692) and 76 percent of its rushing attempts (390 of 511) in 2008. He also returned kicks and caught passes out of the backfield, giving him a total of 429 all-purpose plays on the season – the most in Big Ten history, and a record that still stands today. His 390 carries in a single season also rank No. 2 in conference history.
“I will always be grateful to Coach D because he trusted me,” said Ringer, who earned team MVP honors for the second straight year in 2008. “He trusted me with putting a lot on my shoulders, especially my senior year. I appreciate that Coach D trusted me to be able to handle that, which gave me an opportunity to showcase my talent and accomplish what I was able to accomplish.
“I also have to give props to Coach Dan Enos, who was my running backs coach at Michigan State. I really connected with him well and had a good vibe with him. I owe a lot to him as well. Having that coaching change (midway through Ringer’s career) and having that relationship with Coach D and Coach Enos meant the world to me.”
Ringer finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy balloting for the 2008 season and was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the fifth round (No. 173 overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons (2009-12) with the Titans, rushing for 486 yards and three touchdowns on 120 carries in 37 career games.
“It was funny, when I got drafted by the Tennessee Titans, some of the players when I got there, they thought I was bigger than what I was,” Ringer said. “They thought I was like 230-some pounds, because of how much I carried the ball. I was only 205 pounds. Granted, I was put together, thanks to Coach (Ken Mannie); he really helped me out. From my freshman year all the way to my senior year, I worked hard in the weight room – the weight room was my friend.
“Having a strong mindset – that’s where it starts first. To be mature enough not when the lights are on, but what you’re doing in the offseason. You really have to put in that work. And I’m thankful I had teammates that pushed me and helped me along the way, especially Blair White. He was one of my favorite players I’ve played with. He was a walk-on at the time, and every day he worked hard, and if he was pushing himself every day, then I had too as well.”
Following his playing career, Ringer returned to Michigan State as a recruiting intern in 2016 before working with the Toledo Rockets as a quality control coach and in operations. He is now back at MSU as a recruiting assistant under head coach Mel Tucker.
“It’s been a tremendous blessing to be able to be back,” said Ringer. “I’m thankful that Coach Tucker has been good letting me play my role and help the program.
“Another thing that really stood out to me was that Coach D was always talking about the Michigan State program, that it was going to continue to build, and continue to grow. And he would ask us how big do we want our brick to be? By the time I was a junior (and Coach Dantonio became head coach), I was like, in two years, I’m going to be gone, and Michigan State is going to continue to grow. So while I’m here, how big do I want my brick to be in the process of continuing to uplift Michigan State University? That meant a lot to me. And after I left, I came back a lot and was still around the program. I still think about that. It’s special at Michigan State, and I’m just thankful that I’m still able to give back to the place that has been such a huge blessing to my life.”