The Voice: Six set to join elite group in Hall of Fame

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgThis Friday evening, the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame will add six new members -- Jim Haluska, Jim Haines, Lawrence Johnson, Karen Lunda, Cory Raymer and Dick Bennett.

In Varsity magazine a couple of weeks ago, Mike Lucas took us down memory lane with Raymer, the All-America center who helped the Badgers to their first-ever Rose Bowl victory, as well as with Coach Bennett, who no doubt is best known for leading the Badgers on the magical run to the 2000 Final Four.

In addition to being a great player, Raymer was a reporter's dream. Maybe the best way to describe Cory Raymer is by saying he was John Moffitt before we ever heard of John Moffitt. During a media day, some photographers were gathering players for various photos. Raymer emerged from the tunnel and heard his name. The center responded "I answer to anything with 'dumb' in front of it."  

Raymer was dumb like a fox.

The media loved Bennett, as well. He liked to tell fans that he could show Barry Alvarez's football team how to pass, while Coach Alvarez's boys could teach the basketball squad how to run.

But never confuse their sense of humor with their competitive nature. No doubt the desire to maximize his or her potential is what drove each member in the Class of 2012.

Wrestler Jim Haines overcame a knee injury and competed in the 1976 Olympic Summer Games. The following season at Wisconsin, Haines became an NCAA champion by beating Big Ten rival Mike McArthur of Minnesota.

Former coach Duane Kleven says Haines had a combination of toughness and smarts that made him extra special, referring to him as a "mental giant."  When his wrestling days were done, Haines became a coach -- of girls' softball at Pepin High School. He led his team to two state titles.

With this year marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX, one could make a strong argument that Karen Lunda is one of the more important athletes in UW history. Lunda lettered both in field hockey and soccer. While attending Madison West High School, she also played tennis, softball and competed in speed skating.

After starring in field hockey in her first three years at UW, the school dropped the program, so she turned her attention to the new varsity sport on campus, soccer.

In 1981, Lunda became the first Badger women's soccer All-American. More than three decades later, she remains the UW single-season leader in goals (22), assists (18) and total points (62). Her coach, Craig Webb, believes if Karen Lunda played soccer today, she would be an Olympic gold medalist.

Lawrence Johnson also was a two-sport athlete. A Big Ten champion in four events in track, Johnson was an All-America defensive back for the Badgers in 1978. His coaches said he played man coverage better than anyone on the team, and opposing coaches must have agreed. Johnson's interception total was modest, in large part because quarterbacks would tend not to test him.

Johnson also likes to tell the story of how, in his freshman year, there was a 100-yard dash after a practice. Before the race, his new football teammates must have had little if any knowledge of Johnson's speed. Halfway through the race, they found out. Simply put, Lawrence Johnson was more than a track star who could play football, or vice-versa. He simply was a star in both sports.

Today, Badger football fans are well aware of transfer quarterbacks, but the story might not be as new as you think.

In 1950, Jim Haluska enrolled at Michigan. In time, he decided that Ann Arbor was not for him, so the Racine native returned to his home state. In 1952, he went from being the fifth-string quarterback to the starter. A few months later, Haluska led the league in completion percentage, and the Badgers were Rose Bowl-bound for the first time in school history.

Each inductee should be very proud to be a UW Athletic Hall of Famer. That elite group grows to 190 members. What already is a good "team" is about to get even better.