Paul Walberg said he’s a little puzzled that he’ll be inducted into the Whitmer Athletic Hall of Fame at the high school's 18th annual ceremony on Saturday.
“I haven’t thrown a pass or scored a touchdown, so I wonder why they selected me, but it’s certainly is a great honor, and I’m very appreciative,” he said.
His modesty notwithstanding, Mr. Walberg has made a great contribution to Panther football, athletic director Tom Snook said.
“He’s a good, quality guy who is our unofficial team chaplain. He speaks to the football team before each game, and just does a great job helping people to be better. He always has an inspirational story,” Mr. Snook explained.
Mr. Walberg will be among five inductees recognized at the ceremony for their contributions to Whitmer athletics. The event, which includes dinner, is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Cambridge Place, 1821 Alexis Rd. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person or $50 for couples, and may be ordered by calling 419-473-8382.
Mr. Walberg, a Christian counselor, has offered his services to the team since 1982. He is a former pastor, but stressed that his counseling is nondenominational. He and his wife, Maddie, were adult leaders of Whitmer’s Campus Life Club from 1978 to 1990.
“I don’t give pep talks,” he said. “The pep talk is the coach’s job, and I stay out of coaching. They give me 15 minutes right before the pregame meal to speak to the team, and my goal is to give them something from the Bible that will not only help them as athletes, but help them as people in their current lives and in the future.”
He said he makes a point of dropping by team practices a couple of times a week for 20 or 30 minutes. “If there are guys who have injuries or are discouraged, I’m just there to talk to them,” he explained.
The other inductees are:
● Tammie Dey Adduci, class of 1986: Ms. Adduci earned eight varsity letters in cross country and track and belonged to teams that competed in state cross country meets in 1983 and 1984. She has taught physical education at Jefferson Junior High for 23 years.
● Bridget Buss Black, class of 2003: She received four varsity letters in basketball and three in volleyball, serving as captain of both teams her senior year. She is Whitmer’s only girls’ basketball player to score 1,000 points, racking up a career total of 1,087. Today she is a third grade teacher at Shoreland Elementary.
● Julie Hunter, class of 2002: Ms. Hunter earned nine varsity letters in three sports: tennis, basketball, and track. Her biggest impact came in track, when she was the Great Lakes League 300-meter hurdles champion three times, establishing school and league records.
● Bruce Smith: Mr. Smith retired this year as Whitmer’s boys’ basketball coach, a position he held for 22 years, compiling a 311-170 record. His teams won seven championships in three different leagues. He was Coach of the Year five times in the Great Lakes League, twice in the Toledo City League, and once in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.