THE UNDEFEATED 1965 OWOSSO varsity football team was honored at Willman Field prior to the Owosso High School (OHS) homecoming football game against Clio on Friday, Oct. 6. Spectators were also treated to a competitive game between their Trojans and the Mustangs of Clio, along with a performance by the Owosso Trojans Marching Band and alumni members.

  As part of the homecoming celebration, the 1965 team was inducted into the OHS Hall of Fame, as were Pauline “Denny” Hill, John Miller, Brad Van Pelt, and Teresa Vondrasek Graham. The 1965 team led the parade into Willman Field prior to the game. The individual hall of fame inductees were then honored at scheduled stoppages in play throughout the game.

  The 1965 team was coached by Bernie Conklin and was led by a stingy defense. The team allowed a total of 30 points in 1965 on its way to a perfect 9-0 record. Some of the team’s standouts included halfback Rob Van Pelt, quarterbacks Jim Hall and Denny Whiteherse, fullback Frank Kovach, and middle linebacker Ron Ossipove.

  Hill was a pioneer of girl’s athletics as a coach, teacher, and advisor in the Owosso Public Schools system for 28 years. Remembered fondly by her former players as “Ma Hill,” Pauline played professional baseball in 1947 for the Muskegon Lassies of the All-American Girls’ Baseball League. She lettered in tennis and field hockey at Western Michigan University before moving to Owosso in 1949. She retired from OHS in 1986 after overseeing the Trojans Girls’ Athletic Association, and coaching basketball, cheerleading, and softball. The OHS softball field was named in her honor in 1995.

  Miller contributed 35 years of service to Owosso Public Schools, during which time he was a teacher, a coach, and the school system’s first director of physical education and athletics. During his time as athletic director, OHS athletic teams won 18 conference championships, three district championships, and 10 regional championships. The OHS baseball field was dedicated in his honor in 1975.

  Van Pelt was a 1969 graduate of OHS and an all-state football and basketball player. He went on to become a two-time All-American safety at Michigan State University, and he was the first defensive back to be awarded the Maxwell Trophy as the nation’s top collegiate player in 1972. He was drafted by the New York Giants of the NFL, as well as by the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals of MLB. He went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL. His No. 10 was retired by OHS, and the 10-yard-lines of Willman Field are painted gold for games in his honor.

  Graham graduated OHS in 1979 after starring in basketball, volleyball, and track. She went on to play basketball at Oakland University, where she is enshrined in the school’s hall of fame. She also won a Junior Olympics National judo title in 1977 and two gold medals at the 1983 NCAA nationals, among many other medals. She retired as the principal of Owosso’s Central Elementary School.

(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)

1965 Owosso varsity football team honored was last modified: October 23rd, 2017 by Karen Elford