OSCODA – Preparations are in the works for the third annual induction ceremony of the Oscoda High School (OHS) Athletic Hall of Fame.
The event will be held on Friday, Sept. 27, before the Oscoda Owls versus Rogers City Hurons football game. Festivities will begin at 5 p.m. with a tailgate near the athletic entrance at the high school. A presentation of the hall of fame inductees will take place in the gymnasium at 6 p.m. Each inductee will receive a engraved plaque detailing their accomplishments at the presentation.
At 6:45 p.m. there will be a inductee presentation with introductions given on the football field featuring inductees including the OHS 1964 Football team, Pete LaRouech, Peter F. Bovan, Terri Fraser McKay, Sandra Niedergall and Cory Gildersleeve.
The game will begin promptly at 7 p.m. Each week with the exception of this week (which features a whole team) the Oscoda Press will profile two people who will be inducted into the hall of fame. One of the six to be inducted into the hall of fame on Sept. 27, is the 1964 OHS Football team which marked a decade of Oscoda football.
The 1964 team went undefeated in their season with their opposing team scoring no more than seven points against them, according to nominators Jim Draper and Rich Firebaugh. At season’s end the team totaled 305 points to their opponents 33 points. Out of their nine game season, the team had four blowouts against Alcona, Pinconning, West Branch and Standish.
“The record of the 1964 team speaks for itself. There were several really fine teams in the 1960s,” said Draper.
The team was also the 5th ranked team in the state at season’s end with five players receiving all-state honors. Players included co-captain John Sklepkowski, co-captain LaRouech, Jim Richards, Mike Roach and Coleman Lane.
At the end of Sklepkowski’s senior year he was selected for the NBC All-Conference Football team and received Most Valuable Player (MVP) from his teammates as well. LaRouech was selected to the all-state second team as a left halfback in his senior year. He also received three years of all-conference honors as a halfback and quarterback and was selected as co-MVP.
Richards received an all-conference nod at tackle along with an all-state honorable mention from the Associated Press football poll. Roach received his second straight year of all-conference honors and sophomore halfback Lane who scored 14 times during the season received all-conference honors and all-state honors.
“Our whole backfield went on to play college football which says a lot,” said LaRouech in response to the awards him and his teammates received.
Although only the ‘64 team is being inducted, Firebaugh stressed how good the team was even years after.
“From 64-70, Oscoda’s record was 54-9 in varsity football. This was the best of the best,” said Firebaugh.
Another face to be inducted at the ceremony is a triple threat from the 1964 team. That inductee being LaRouech, who, in addition to playing football, also starred in basketball and track during his time at OHS. He received first team all-conference in football in 1963, 64 and 65, was a varsity starter in basketball until 1965 and was named the conference champion for long jump in track in 1963.
His accomplishments continued in 1964 when he received a all-state honorable mention for football, achieved a undefeated season and became a team conference champion.
“Not only did we have ability but we worked really hard and I think a lot of people forget that,” said LaRouech.
Additionally, he became the team leading scorer in track. He also broke school records in long jump, high hurdles and low hurdles throughout that year. Additionally, he was the conference champion in long jump and low hurdles as well.
In 1965, he received all-state 2nd team, co-MVP and was the team captain in football. He received all-conference in basketball and was the team captain as well. It was in track; however, where a number of his accomplishments are evident.
In his senior year he was the team leading scorer and team captain, he broke the previous year’s four school records and conference records and set new ones in long jump, high hurdles, low hurdles and the 880 yard relay. He was also named the regional champion and attended the state finals in long jump, low hurdles and high hurdles. His team was also deemed conference champions.
Clearly a decorated athlete throughout his time at OHS, but his accomplishments didn’t stop there. He graduated in June 1965 and went on to the US Air Force Academy Prep School which helps athletes to train for one year prior to attending the academy. During that year, he received the team MVP in football and played basketball. In 1966-67, he played freshman football and participated in indoor track for the academy.
In 1969, he transfered to Western Michigan University (WMU) and played football later becoming a two time letter winner. He graduated from WMU in 1971 and received his bachelor of science in education. He went on to teach at Sturgis High School from 1972-1975 and was the assistant football and wrestling coach while he was there.
Even after receiving his degree, LaRouech continued to participate in a number of different competitions and receive opportunities. In 1973 he was invited to the 1976 Olympic trials for team handball. In 1982 he placed in the top ten for the Hawaiian Ironman World championship and in ‘85 he was named the US Canoe Association Triathlon National Champion in his age group.
He left Sturgis High School in 1975 and went on to serve as the General Manager at Lyman Lamps in Kalamazoo until 1985. He graduated with his master’s degree in educational development in 1986 and received his special education certificate in learning disabled in 1987. He went on to teach special education at Olivet Middle School in 1986 to 2002.
During that time he received All American Triathlon in his age group in 1987, 91, 92 and 05. He also received the All American award in race walking in his age group. Additionally, in the 3000 meter National Indoor Track championship he took second place.
In 1997, his team received first place in the Four Winds Adventure race in the four man division. According to the LaRouech, the race requires participants to travel 365 miles in a week. Participating in activities such as white water rafting, climbing, walking, biking, swimming and much more.
However, his adventures didn’t stop there. LaRouech said he was always someone who was looking for another challenge. In 2003 he climbed Mount Rainier in Washington.
“It was really exhilirating,” he said.
Around that time he had retired from teaching and decided he was looking for something new to do. He met a man who told him that he would love if he would come work at Summit Pointe in Battle Creek, Mich., as a liaison between Summit Pointe and Calhoun County.
He said he wanted LaRouech to go into the schools and use his experiences to teach students how to be successful. He said by the time he left Summit Pointe, he had spoken in 29 different schools. The objective of the program was to identify children who needed mental health care early so Summit Pointe could offer its services.
He continued to try new things racking up athletic accomplishments in the later 2000s winning the Michigan Power Lifting state championships in 2009. He received first in his age group and weight division setting a record in bench press and dead lift. He also received first place in the two man dead lift division for the Florida State Power Lifting championship and set a state record with his daughter Marci in 2011.
Upon learning that he would be inducted to the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame, LaRouech said he didn’t expect it to be so emotional.
“When you’re an athlete there are certain times in your life that stand out. This is one of those times,” he said. “To receive this award it really means a lot to me.”
He said it means a lot to him that he is being inducted, but the team being inducted alongside him is just as meaningful if not more.
“It was one of the years as an athlete that you dream about,” he said.
LaRouech said he has been very lucky and is grateful for all the opportunities he has had and the things he’s accomplished in the last 72 years.
“The hall of fame was created to honor athletes like Pete LaRouech. His outstanding career in sports while a student at Oscoda High School serves as an example of what can be accomplished with dedication and a strong work ethic,” said Reitler. These qualities served him well all during his adult life where he continues to promote fitness and well being.”