Cruiser Athletic Hall of Fame inductees named

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

The Groveport Madison Cruisers Athletic Hall of Fame welcomes five new inductees this year.

“As always, we are so excited to welcome this year’s class,” said Groveport Madison Athletic Director Steve Petros. “The basketball influence is heavy. We have a central Ohio basketball legend, Bill Alspach, three former players (among their other sports) and a long time cheer coach. Clarence Royal and Brandon Johnson won titles while here at Groveport. Chris Downing is getting inducted as a package of player, coach and community member. Linda Smittle coached for 20 plus years for both fall, winter and competed with her teams. It should be a great night as we open the football season vs. Gahanna on Aug. 27.”

The Cruiser Hall of Fame ceremony will be on Aug. 27 at Groveport Madison High School, 4475 S. Hamilton Road. The induction ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. The inductees will also be introduced to the crowd at 6:30 p.m. in Cruiser Stadium prior to the varsity football game vs. Gahanna.

The inductees:
•William “Bill” Alspach: 1943 Canal Winchester graduate and the 1943 state champion in 880 yard run. He came to Groveport in 1954 and was an assistant football, head basketball, and track coach through 1959. He became the athletic director in the early 1970s and worked for the OHSAA starting in 1980. He is a member of the OCC Hall of Fame, Canal Winchester Hall of Fame, District 10 Basketball Hall of Fame, Ohio Athletic Directors Hall of Fame, Central District Hall of Fame, OHSAA Hall of Fame, and the The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

•Chris Downing: A 1984 graduate of Groveport Madison and a talented football quarterback, he earned All-American Honorable Mention, first team All-State, All-Metro, All-OCC, and All-Central District honors. He is a 35 year of coach of football, basketball, baseball, softball and the three time OCC Coach of the Year in softball.

•Clarence A. Royal, Jr.: He was two time OCC Player of the Year in basketball, back to back OCC titles in basketball; second team All-District, and MVP of District All Star game. He earned multiple letters in football, baseball, and basketball. He was a member of Ohio State football team 1993-95. He graduated as the Cruisers’ career leading scorer in basketball.

•Linda Smittle: A teacher at Groveport Madison for 35 years from 1979-2008 where she was cheerleading coach for 20 years. Her cheer squads were district champions in 1999-2000 and 2004-05, fourth place in the 2001 Nationals, and State Champions in 1999-2000.

•Brandon Johnson: A four year letter winner in basketball, Johnson was twice named first team OCC, was the 2005 OCC Player of the Year and on the 2005 OCC champion team. He is a 1,000 point scorer. At the College of Wooster, he was the 2006 NCAC Newcomer of the Year, four years All-NCAC, won four league titles, made four NCAA appearances, and was on the 2007 Final Four team. He is third all-time at Wooster for assists and steals.

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