By Rick Palsgrove
The Groveport Madison Cruiser Athletic Hall of Fame will welcome five new inductees this year.
The inductions will take place Sept. 9 in the gym at Groveport Madison High School, 4475 S. Hamilton Road.
The event begins with a closed invitation only reception from 5-5:45 p.m. At 5:45 p.m. the public will be welcomed into the gym for the public induction ceremony which begins at 6 p.m. At 7:10 p.m. the inductees will be introduced to the fans in Cruiser Stadium prior to the home varsity football game.
“We are very proud and excited to introduce our fifth Cruiser Hall of Fame Class,” said Groveport Madison Athletic Director Steve Petros. “This class covers from 1919 to 1999 and represents the best of our history. It is great to have our former inductees and community members join us in welcoming our newest class. It is such a great time in our community as we look forward to our new building. This is our annual opportunity to remember and celebrate our past. I encourage anyone to come out and join us for this event.”
•Lisa Miller Debiase – a 1989 graduate who played three sports earning seven varsity letters. In softball, she earned four letters and played on a district championship while being named All State Scholar-athlete and All OCC. She went to Notre Dame and was a four time letter winner there. She set the single season and game stolen base records.
•Larry Drake – is a 1999 graduate. He is the all-time basketball leading scorer for the Cruisers. He also graduated as the career leader in three pointers made, attempted and percentage. He earned a full ride scholarship to Miami University. He is a high school basketball coach at Archbishop Hoban High School.
•Jack Coppess – is a 1983 graduate. He was a multi-sport athlete and excelled at football as a two-way player. The defensive side is where he excelled earning a reputation as one of biggest hitters in Central Ohio and holds the school sack record. He was first team All State and first team All OCC. He went on to play football at Bowling Green.
•Coach Gary Smittle – was a head varsity baseball coach for 22 years and amassed more than 200 career wins. He came to Groveport as a championship coach at Northeastern High School to lead the Cruisers for 13 years. Smittle lead the Cruisers to OCC championships in 1987 and 1989. His teams made five appearances in the district semi-finals. Coach Smittle also served as the defensive coordinator for the Cruiser football program. He lead the defense during the Cruisers last championship in 1982.
•The 1919 girls varsity basketball team – went 22-0 over back-to-back seasons dominating the old Franklin County League. In writing about the team, the Ohio State Journal newspaper on March 9, 1919 wrote that the team did not know “how it feels to lose.” Over a two season period, the team’s margin of victory averaged in the double digits and the team held a half dozen opponents to single digit scoring. In an era when games were typically low scoring, the Cruisers scored more than 50 points in a game several times, which was a lot of points under the rules of those days. Before 1923, the high school did not have its own gym, so the team played its games on the second floor of Groveport Town Hall.