The weekend of April 21-23 you couldn't go to a restaurant or a bar in the north shore area it seemed without running into someone related to or who worked closely with the late Earl "Blacky" Zamzow.
That's because the well-regarded, late Whitefish Bay teacher and track coach was a major part of the latest four-person class into the Whitefish Bay Athletic Hall of Fame, ceremonies for which were held on April 23.
He was joined in his induction by 1977 graduate David Pelisek, a state champion tennis player whose 1975 Blue Dukes broke the eight-year WIAA state dominance of rival Nicolet; all-state football player and two-time state track champion Jim Bourne; and early girls basketball star and women's sports advocate and Tiffany Stone.
One quick look at Zamzow's induction plaque and one understands why so many people were in town that particular weekend.
"In his time at Bay, Earl coached a variety of sports including basketball, golf, gymnastics and football, but his accomplishments as the head track coach were his most significant. During his 14 years at the helm of one of the most dominant high school track programs in the state, coach Zamzow guided his athletes to excellence season after season. Under coach Z's tutelege the track program won 12 Suburban Conference championships.
"The success of his teams in the 1970s put Whitefish Bay in elite company as they captured the 1970 (WIAA) state title and were runner-ups in 1972, 1973 and 1975. In recognition of his success and promoter of the sport, he was inducted into the state coaches hall of fame in 1995."
The numbers are daunting when looking at his full resume. He coached and taught at West Allis Central from 1952-64 before coming over to Bay (coaching from 1965-77 and again in 1985-86) and out of 38 Suburban Conference meets (indoor, relays and outdoor) that Zamow led teams into, they were first or second 28 times, including two indoor titles, four relay championships and six outdoor titles.
In addition, in his time, Bay athletes set two state records, Howie Zien in the now no-longer run 180-yard hurdles in 1966 and a now legendary 4x220 relay team just a few years later. That relay record withstood the test of time as a school record until 2011 when Bay teams won both the 4x100 and 4x200-meter state titles.
So much more than just a coach and teacher, Zamzow was a strong promoter of character and integrity in his athletes. He was a 30-year active duty service member of the US Army Reserves, achieving the rank of Colonel. He was also an NCAA Division III All-American in football at Ripon and was a placewinner in the AAU National Decathlon championships in 1950. He worked 24 years at Bay as a coach and biology teacher before retiring and was inducted into the WISTCA Hall of Fame in 1995.
He passed away in 2009 but his memory lived on as many relatives, former students and athletes came for the induction ceremonies.
In her own way, Stone was just as historic a figure. After an outstanding basketball career at Bay, where she led the Jack Nagle-coached Blue Dukes to a WIAA state runner-up finish in 1986 (24-2 record), Stone was well on her way to finishing up an excellent hoops career at William and Mary of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) when just before her senior year, the school moved to eliminate the program as a cost-cutting measure. Stone and her teammates did not stand for that and led a very public legal challenge, waging a strong PR campaign to keep the program alive under Title IX.
As a reward, Stone was elected to the CAA's "Legends Team" in 2003 and, in 2012, she worked to keep the late Nagle's memory alive by establishing the Jack Nagle Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to an outstanding senior female athlete in honor of Nagle.
On the court, Stone was dominant, finishing her Bay career averaging a double-double. She was named Bay's Sportswoman of the Year in 1987 and was an all-state selection and WBCA All-Star. She was also a state tourney qualifier, captain and MVP in tennis. At William and Mary, she still holds the school career rebounding average record and is still second in total career rebounds. She finished with more than 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
Pelisek was also a groundbreaker. Though he was a three-sport athlete (basketball, volleyball and tennis), it will be tennis that he will always be known for. He earned four state individual top-three medals, including second in doubles with Keith Broadnax in 1974 and third in doubles in 1976 with John Larsen. He was also third in singles in his senior year of 1977.
But the big year was 1975, as Pelisek was a key part of the team that broke Nicolet's eight-year dominance of state boys' tennis as the Blue Dukes earned their first WIAA state team title. Pelisek also teamed with Clark Grodley to win the state doubles title that season.
Pelisek went on to win the prestigious Hilgendorf Memorial Award his senior year. He played tennis for four years at the University of Wisconsin, working his way up to captain as well as becoming the team's first singles and first doubles player. He was a two-time All Big 10 selection, including winning one Big 10 title and qualifying for NCAA team and individual tournaments. He also served as coach in 1981-82.
As with Zamzow, character is a big part of what Pelisek is all about.
His plaque reads in part: "He was a leader among his peers setting a high personal standard while also contributing to a positive team atmosphere. His competitive nature was matched by his desire to bring out the best in his teammates."
Bourne was a classic all-around athlete, earning nine letters in basketball, football and track. In track, he was an all-state tight end and team captain and played in the Wisconsin High School All-Star game. He then went on to win two WIAA state track titles in the shot put (school record 60-5 ½) and discus (176-5). Bourne attended Wisconsin on a football scholarship and earned three letters at tight end while playing for Barry Alvarez and also earning four letters in track.
He earned an engineering degree and remained active with the school after graduation, becoming president of the Gridiron Club.
Retired Bay Athletic Director Jeff Thielke said that Bourne: "Represented himself and the school with dignity, honor, commitment, humility, dedication and pride."