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Laker Hall of Honor inducts its third class

The Holmes Theater ballroom was packed Saturday night for the Detroit Lakes Laker Hall of Honor induction ceremony. Photo by - Brian Basham1 / 7
Darold Thompson spoke about his Laker career during Saturday's ceremony. Photo by - Brian Basham2 / 7
Former hockey coach John Jacobson talked about his former player, Mike Neitzke. Photo by - Brian Basham3 / 7
2012 Laker Hall of Honor inductees are Mike Neitzke, Darold Thompson, Rick Manke, Dagney Drews, who accepted the honor for her late husband Dennis "Bubby" Drews, Jessica Abrahams and Mike Gunderson. Photo by - Brian Basham4 / 7
Mike Gunderson tearfully said it is a great honor to be inducted with his former football coach Rick Manke. Photo by - Brian Basham5 / 7
Jessica Abrahams gets a hug from her former basketball coach Mike Labine. Photo by - Brian Basham6 / 7
Mark Hagan gives Dennis Drews' Hall of Honor plaque to his widow Dagney and daughters Lynn Bidlake and Denise Scott. Photo by - Brian Basham7 / 7

The 2012 Detroit Lakes Hall of Honor inducted its third class at the Holmes Theater last Saturday night.

The group of honorees for 2012 included Dennis "Bubby" Drews, class of 1943 (killed in an Air Force plane crash in 1954); Darold "Horse" Thompson, class of 1955; Mike Neitzke, class of 1976; Mike Gunderson, class of 1991; Jessica Abrahams, class of 1999; and Rick Manke, retired football coach and athletic director at Detroit Lakes High School.

Jessica Abrahams

The well-round Abrahams became a Laker hardcourt legend, after she became just the second DL girls' basketball player to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier, while ending her prosperous prep career in the all-time top 10 in points (1,072), rebounds (403) and assists (168).

"I've talked to other coaches from other towns and of all the kids they always remember, it's Jess," former coach Mike Labine said. "For me, Jess was the best basketball player I had the opportunity to be around."

Darold "Horse" Thompson

For Thompson, his ability to defy the odds after suffering a horrific injury as a two-year-old, is an inspiration to all youth athletes and a path in which he earned the nickname "Horse".

"He was just one tough, tough player," said Thompson's football teammate Jerry Fox. "He was just a hard-working and tough person. But he was very coachable and he showed up every day ready to work and ready to do it well."

Dennis "Bubby" Drews

Drews was named by The Becker County Record in 1950 as one of the four greatest Laker Athletes of the first half-century.

In the 1950 article, it stated, "There have been a lot of good football players turned out at Detroit Lakes High School, but in our opinion, none of them equaled Dennis (Bubby) Drews in all-around ability.

"Drews was the whole show on the Laker team he co-captained in 1942. A halfback, he could run, block, pass and punt a little better than anyone he ever competed against in high school."

Playing football, basketball and track, Drews was outstanding in all sports.

Mike Gunderson

If one wanted to make the perfect athlete, ingredients such as strength, speed and size are needed, as well as the intangibles of a hard-work ethic and a strong will driven by a high motivation to being the best one can be.

And if you needed a blueprint to make this perfect athlete, Gunderson would be a good start.

"He was a beast," said DL head football coach Flint Motschenbacher, who coached Gunderson as the defensive coordinator. "Mike set the tone for the whole program during his time here and was the best competitor I've ever coached.

"He knew one way to play -- hard."

Mike Neitzke

What began as playing outside on the frozen outdoor rinks during carefree pickup hockey games with his friends, turned out to be one of the best prep and college careers in DLHS history for the newest member of the Laker Hall of Honor, Neitzke.

But it was those long Saturday and Sunday afternoons on the rink near the DLHS, which helped create Neitzke's niche as one of the best Lakers to lace up the skates.

"Growing up, you don't know what's coming up in your life," Neitzke said. "I knew I wanted to be a Laker after watching the older guys. Going out there and playing on the same rink or field as those Lakers before me, was a really special honor.

"I'm extremely humbled and couldn't be more appreciative (of being inducted in the Hall of Honor)."

Rick Manke

It's no doubt the standards of the Detroit Lakes athletic programs have been set high and are still growing each year.

But the expectations and heights of Laker sports were propelled to the next level when Manke decided to join the DLHS teaching and coaching staff from Glyndon-Felton in 1985.

He made an impact by starting the Laker football dynasty, then later as the DLHS activity director.

"He was an activities director, not an athletic director," said DLHS principal Steve Morben, in an article published in 2007 for Manke's retirement. "We're not driven to place banners on the wall. We want our end product being kids getting involved, and Rick did a great job of helping to hire coaches who share that philosophy."

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.