Alpena Sports Hall of Fame announces Class of 2022
ALPENA — The Alpena Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors announced Tuesday its Class of 2022. The four members of the 2022 class will be inducted during the Hall of Fame’s annual banquet on Saturday, May 6, 2023.
The four members of the Class of 2022 are:
∫ John Cunningham (Alpena HS Class of 1963)
∫ Phil Straley (Alpena HS Class of 1966)
∫ Tim Holsworth (Alpena HS Class of 1973)
∫ Michele Suszek-Yates (Alpena HS Class of 2000)
The soon-to-be Hall of Famers were chosen after tallying the votes of the members of the Hall of Fame Voting Association. Ballots with 15 nominees were mailed to 650+ members to make the selections. The members’ ballots were counted to determine the selections.
Cunningham was a record-setting gymnast and golfer at Alpena High who went on to join the University of Michigan’s gymnastics program.
Since the end of his days as a competitor, Cunningham has gone on to become a decorated gymnastics coach. In 1979, he became Plymouth-Canton’s gymnastics coach and still holds that post today. In his tenure, he has coached 12 MHSAA individual state championships, six state runner-up teams and one MHSAA state champion (2014).
He has been chosen as Michigan Coach of the Year four times, a runner-up for the National Coach of the Year Award three times and a winner of the award in 2018.
Cunningham was inducted into the Michigan Gymnastics Coaches Hall of Fame in 1995, the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001, the National High School Athletic Coaches Association in 2019, and the Inaugural Canton High School Hall of Fame in 2019.
In 2021, he received the Michigan High School Coaches Association 50+ years of coaching award.
Straley played basketball on two of coach Dick Dennis’ best teams in 1965 and 1966 at Alpena High. In 1965, the Wildcats lost just one game on the way to a regional final appearance. The next season, they advanced to the quarterfinals and went 20-2.
Straley’s greatest athletic successes came on the golf course. He golfed for Alpena Community College, setting a low-score record before going on to golf at Ferris State University. He later served in the Army and was on a golf team in the Panama Canal Zone.
Straley is well-known in local golf circles as an eight-time Alpena City Open winner. He is also a 14-time winner of the Alpena Country Club/River’s Edge Club Championship and has won the Big Rapids City Open.
He was also Michigan 2008 Tournament Champions runner-up and also placed in the Top 10 at Florida National Tournament of Champions.
Holsworth played baseball as a youngster and was on the Huron Shores All-Stars team in 1968 that won the district championship. He was the winning pitcher in the sectional final win over Midland which advanced the team to the State Little League finals.
He was also a two-time baseball letter winner at Alpena High.
But Holsworth made his biggest mark as a boxer and his 1-2 punch was felt throughout the state.
He went undefeated at the regional level during his amateur career and won the prestigious Julius Piazza Award in 1975 for the Outstanding Boxer in the Saginaw Region. He also won the Outstanding Boxer Award in 1980 at the Wisconsin State Finals for the Northern team.
In 1975, he won the Michigan Open Division State Champ Welterweight division to advance to the National Tournament of Champions in Knoxville.
It was there that Eddie Bridges, Michigan’s head coach invited Holsworth to join the Kalamazoo Boxing Academy which had a pro team consisting of top World contenders like Vonzeil Johnson and Floyd Mayweather, Sr., who became a frequent sparring partner.
Holsworth did fight a couple of notables: Brian Brunette and Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns. The Hearns vs Holsworth bout was the headliner fight in Oct. 1977 at the famed Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie.
Holsworth gave Tommy a good fight but, in the end, it was Hearns’ arm that was raised with a close decision.
In 1979, he took his position at the outside corner of the ring as a trainer. He worked the corner for the Wisconsin Open Division champions at the Nationals. In 1980 he strapped the competition gloves back on one more time and won the Wisconsin State Welterweight Open Division title. He advanced to Shreveport, Louisiana for the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions. He hung up the gloves after this year.
In October 1995, just shy of 40 years old, Holsworth entered a Tough Man contest and all four of his matches, 1 by KO, and 3 by decision.
MICHELE SUSZEK YATES
Yates is a four-time national champion in the ultra-trail events and has numerous course records and wins in trail and ultra-races. She was also crowned Ms. Figure Colorado in 2008 where she had no less than a top two finish in each event she competed in within the year.
In high school, Yates was involved in soccer, track and cross country where she lettered 14 times. Yates was named 2000 Female Athlete of the Year.
In running, Yates is a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon and a four-time USATF National Team member in the mountain and ultra-trail events representing the US at the World and NACAC Championships. She has completed over 20 marathons, with 9 wins, and still holds numerous course records at the elite level.
In the coming months, the Hall of Fame board will announce honorees for its annual Team of the Year and Booster of the Year awards.