DeLaSalle inducted seven individuals or groups into its Hall of Fame August 10 as part of the school’s annual Alumni Weekend celebration. Three awards make up the DeLaSalle Hall of Fame. (You may click on the award to view past recipients.)
Established in 1989, the DeLaSalle Hall of Fame perpetually honors and commemorates those graduates and friends whose leadership and achievements in the areas of Christian faith, education, service, and athletics have made an outstanding and enduring impact on DeLaSalle and its tradition. Because of what these award recipients have done in their lives and for DeLaSalle, it can be said that DeLaSalle would not be the same without them.
Sally Nordling – 2017 Hall of Fame Award
“I can do more.” Those four words – spoken by Sally Nordling upon experiencing DeLaSalle’s mission at the Christian Brothers’ Gala in 2011 – cemented Sally’s role as an Islander and became the genesis for a scholarship bearing her name that she launched a year later.
The Sally’s Scholars program, which has become a tradition on Nicollet Island, each year helps a group of twelfth grade students whose families are facing unforeseen hardships fulfill their financial obligations so students can graduate. With Sally’s commitment to “do more”, 100 families in the past five years have been able to truly celebrate their graduation, having met all their obligations to the school. Sally’s unwavering pledge is characteristic of the work of the Christian Brothers, who vow to work “together and by association” with lay partners to provide a Christian education.
Sally’s impact is felt by the many students and families whose lives her generosity has touched. Scholarship recipients note the transformative effect of a DeLaSalle education, made possible with Sally’s commitment. “DeLaSalle has prepared me for the future in more ways than I have ever imagined. I originally went to De for the academics and the community aspect, but over the past four years I have realized what it has really done for me. De has given me a stronger relationship with God and stronger roots in my faith journey,” a recent graduate reflected.
As a mother of three, Sally understands well the importance of providing a nurturing environment in which students can excel. The philosophy of helping deserving students is shared by Sally and her family, whose support extends beyond DeLaSalle to also include grassroots non-profit organizations locally, nationally, and globally. Sally has previously supported students at the San Miguel Middle School in MInneapolis.
Sally’s induction into the Hall is an appropriate and fitting public recognition of her quiet, behind-the-scenes work to improve the lives of those within the DeLaSalle community. Her mantra “I can do more” is an inspiration that challenges each of us to identify how we, like Sally, can do more to improve the lives of others.
Established in 1989 to recognize and honor select DeLaSalle graduates and friends whose current efforts and achievements uniquely reflect St. John Baptist de La Salle’s vision of Christian leadership, support of education, and service for the world in which they live. Their continued efforts are worthy of honor, support, and gratitude.
Philip Paquette ‘69 – 2017 Lasallian Award
Phil Paquette learned many important lessons as a DeLaSalle student in the 1960s, including the value of hard work and serving the less fortunate. Those lessons have been a constant beacon, helping Philip not only achieve success but also guiding him to give back to DeLaSalle in particular and Catholic education as a whole.
Phil’s leadership is reflected in the many boards and committees on which he has served, including as past chair of the Archdiocese’s finance committee and as a current member on the Aim Higher Foundation board of directors and Archdiocesan strategic planning implementation group. Philip and his wife of 43 years, Connie, have also personally supported many students pursuing a Catholic education, especially at DeLaSalle, St. Bernard’s, and Hill-Murray.
“That seed that was planted at DeLaSalle has, over the years, defined who I have become as a person, husband, father, and sibling,” noted Phil, who went on to earn his bachelor’s degree at the University of St. Thomas and serve as a certified public accountant for more than 40 years. He taught master’s and undergraduate classes as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas for 14 years. Phil and Connie raised two children, Tony and Christina, and now enjoy five grandchildren.
DeLaSalle has also benefited from Phil’s work as a partner with the Boyum & Barenscheer accounting firm, advising the school on its financial audit and growth strategy.
Phil is steadfast in his support of DeLaSalle. As a true Lasallian, he champions DeLaSalle as a place for students to mature into adulthood and find their own success regardless of individual or family background.
R. Patrick Reak ‘67 – 2017 Lasallian Award
DeLaSalle is literally a brighter school today because of Pat Reak. The founder of North Star Electrical has had a hand in nearly every major school improvement since the mid 1990s. In that time, Pat has provided hands-on electrical contracting for significant school projects, such as the new Center for Innovative Learning, converting from fluorescent to LED lighting, connecting rooftop solar panels to the electrical grid, and wiring up the school’s fire, alarm, and building access control systems. Pat’s service to the school shines as an example for others and has earned him this Lasallian Award.
Pat and another co-captain led the Islander hockey team to the state tournament in his senior year. Though the Islanders lost to top-ranked Duluth Cathedral, the four-year hockey starter had fostered what would become a lifetime passion for the sport, which he continued playing at St. John’s University and later as a coach at DeLaSalle.
Pat developed his career as an electrician first by designing electrical equipment for Allen-Bradley in Milwaukee before starting his electrical contracting business in north Minneapolis in 1985. With his wife, Teri Lynn, Pat has raised three children – Patrick, Michael, and Kati Jo.
Of his years as an Islander student, Pat remembers “being surrounded by good people [who] really led the way.” It is fair to say that Pat himself has led the way for others through his service and example and is deserving of this honor.
Established in 1995, the Roberts-Reinhart Award honors those Hall of Fame recipients who have earned special recognition in the area of athletics. It is named in honor of George Roberts and Dick Reinhart, DeLaSalle Hall of Fame Inductees and coaching legends.
Michael Jakubik ‘67 (Posthumously) – 2017 Roberts-Reinhart Award
Mike Jakubik loved sports – from playing three sports at DeLaSalle to watching his children and grandchildren compete athletically. Though he passed away last year at the age of 67, Mike will be remembered for giving each sport he played and the family he raised every ounce of his energy.
Lynn Jakubik called her late husband a natural athlete. “To him the best part of sports were all the people it enabled him to meet along the way,” she said, adding that every stranger became his friend. “He had a gentle, very humble and friendly way about him that won over most everyone he met.”
Mike’s off-the-field personality contrasted with the scruffy, tough player on the field who played to win. Mike played basketball for all four years, including as a member of the 1966 varsity team that finished runner-up in the state. In track, Mike earned first place in state with a 46-foot-4-inch discus throw and a second place state finish in shot put.
But Mike found his home on the gridiron. Head Coach Don Joyce described the three-year varsity fullback starter as the most improved player on the team in an interview with the Minneapolis Star midway through Mike’s senior season. By the end of the season, Jakubik earned All-Conference honors in the Central Catholic Conference in which DeLaSalle played.
From his high school years on the field to his later years as a spectator, Mike never missed a game in which his two daughters or three grandchildren played – from mites through college. His love for the game and for his family make Mike Jakubik the sort of impeccable character worthy of this Hall of Fame induction.
Tom St. Aubin ‘67 – 2017 Roberts-Reinhart Award
Tom St. Aubin’s Hall of Fame induction honors a lifetime of athletic achievements as a player, coach, and referee. What has stuck with Tom the most since he graduated from DeLaSalle 50 years ago has been a “God-centered life filled with prayer, service to others, coupled with respect and love for all.”
Tom played football all four years at De. An offensive guard, he was identified by Coach Don Joyce as one of the key players in improving blocking on the 1966 squad. Tom’s efforts earned him All-Conference honors. Tom went on to play football at North Dakota State University, including as a player on the 1968 and 1969 national championship teams, which were both later inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
Tom continued to enjoy football, spending 22 years as a referee for the Minnesota State High School League. He later returned to his alma mater, serving four years as an Islander varsity football coach, two of them as head coach.
Beyond his athletic prowess, Tom has been a leader in community and church initiatives to improve the lives of residents throughout the Twin Cities and across Minnesota. He once dressed up in a decontamination suit to lobby state lawmakers to pass a measure that would allocate $60 million to clean up polluted industrial sites, known as brownfields. In another initiative, Tom played an instrumental role in the merger in the mid 1990s of two church-led community coalitions to create a louder voice for social justice.
Tom believes strongly that God has blessed him abundantly. The DeLaSalle community, in turn, is blessed to count Tom as an alumnus whose athleticism and leadership serve as a model for others.
Gary Kos ‘67 – 2017 Roberts-Reinhart Award
Gary Kos learned about and practiced the value of excellence as a DeLaSalle Islander in the 1960s. Even as the awards stacked up recognizing Gary’s skill as an offensive and defensive tackle, including the first All-American honors for an Islander football player since 1954, Gary remembers how humbled he was by the experience and how the award reflected his teammates’ collective efforts.
“Gary is one of those players who listens all the time for instructions. Then he carries out his assignments letter perfect,” Coach Don Joyce explained in a September 1966 interview with the Minneapolis Star. In his senior season, Gary anchored the Islander defense with fellow team captain Mike Dalsin, successfully tackling many of their archrivals.
Gary was named a first-string tackle on the New World’s Catholic All-American team. Additionally, he earned All-Conference honors in the Central Catholic Conference as well as All-State accolades.
After DeLaSalle, Gary continued his football pursuits. Recruited by legendary coach Ara Parseghian of national champion Notre Dame, Gary shone in the spotlight as a two-year starter for the Fighting Irish, including legendary back-to-back games against top-ranked Texas in the 1970 and 1971 Cotton Bowls. Gary’s performance in those games helped lead to his being drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. He earned his bachelor degree in sociology from the university and spent his career with the ACDelco division of General Motors, raising a family of three along the way.
Gary’s achievement as an All-American takes on greater significance as he wasn’t the first Kos to be lauded for his football talent. Gary’s older brother, Dave, a 1961 DeLaSalle graduate, was named a small college All-American while at the then College of St. Thomas.
Gary’s excellence on the gridiron set a tone for his classmates and successive generations and is a vivid reminder of the reward that comes with hard work and perseverance.
1985 Boys’ Basketball Team and Coach Don Zierden ‘76 – 2017 Roberts-Reinhart Award
The 1985 boys’ basketball team stands out among DeLaSalle’s rich tradition in the sport. The squad, led by the young Islander alumnus Don Zierden ‘76, captured the school’s first state basketball title since joining the Minnesota State High School League a decade earlier. The championship reflected the team’s unity under Zierden’s direction and its 26-2 overall record showed that the team, which had finished 10-13 the previous season, had turned the corner. The only two losses for the Class A Islanders came to Class AA teams – and DeLaSalle avenged one of those losses with a win in the rematch against then-conference foe, Totino-Grace, later in the season.
Zierden himself had been the starting point guard for the 1975 Islander team, which advanced to the State Tournament in the first year that tourney included all Minnesota high schools, fittingly making DeLaSalle the first non-public school to play in the MSHSL tourney. The 1985 team, the third Islander squad to make an MSHSL State Tournament were the trailblazer champions, as DeLaSalle has now captured ten more MSHSL Championships since that first title. Senior guard Damon Dragotis was named first team all-state and a Mr. Basketball finalist, but without question, the entire team enjoyed a cohesive bond unique to most championship squads.
“Don Zierden has made all the difference in the world,” the Minneapolis Star and Tribune quoted senior Brad Baker after the Islanders defeated Catholic powerhouse Winona Cotter 56-46 in the championship game before nearly 8,000 fans at St. Paul’s Civic Center. The win made Zierden only the second rookie coach in MInnesota history to win a state championship in his first season. Dragotis contributed 24 points in the title game.
Zierden felt the championship wasn’t the most important outcome for his team. “When they leave this program, I want them to be able to say they learned something about life at DeLaSalle,” Zierden told a newspaper reporter. “I just want our guys to be good Christian young men, and these are the types of players I think we have.”
Teammates found several ways to bond throughout the year. Many adopted a crew cut hairstyle, taking to heart their coach’s early season advice to cut their hair like they were going for a job interview. And Zierden fueled a “boys-just-want-to-have-fun” attitude by showing them “Revenge of the Nerds” the night before they won the crown.
Zierden and his players went on to achieve success in their personal lives and professional careers, many raising families and living out the values of teamwork, dependability, and excellence that marked the 1985 season. For Zierden, the journey continued at the collegiate and professional levels and has included assistant coaching jobs with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards as well as being head coach of the Minnesota Lynx WNBA team for two seasons.
The 1985 squad secured its spot in the Hall of Fame in part because of its accomplishments, but also because the team laid the foundation for state tournament runs and championship wins that have become a hallmark of DeLaSalle teams over the past three decades.