SIOUX FALLS — Two former National Football League players and the all-time home run champion in South Dakota amateur baseball history headline a group of 15 new inductees into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.
The banquet will be Sunday, September 26, 2021, at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Tickets for the public event will be available beginning Monday, August 16. Further information will be sent out at that time.
Doug Eggers graduated from Wagner High School and had an outstanding football career at South Dakota State University. He then went on to spend five years with the Baltimore Colts. Darwin Robinson of Redfield was a record setting football player and track & field athlete at Dakota State College. He then became a member of the Washington Redskins. Kevin Leighton of Madison hit more than 500 home runs in his long amateur baseball career, winning numerous state titles along the way.
Other inductees in the Class of 2021 include Sioux Falls residents Bruce Conley, Ronald Mitchell and Gary Reed; Duane Whalen and John Houska of Rapid City; Ken Ruml of Howard; Heather Sieler Goehner of Huron; Laverne Diede of Freeman; Randy Fletcher of Lennox; Jim Miner of Yankton; former Aberdeen standout Wally Johnson; and Steve Withorne (deceased).
Conley was a long-time sportswriter at the Argus Leader. Mitchell spent decades as a successful coach for deaf athletes, achieving national acclaim. Reed was a state champion high school coach and well-respected official who worked more than 50 basketball state tournaments. Whalen was a 40-year coach and athletic director who has been an organizer and leader in West River and South Dakota sports for decades. Houska officiated 30 wrestling state tournaments and was a 50-year coach in numerous sports whose teams won 18 state titles.
Ruml is one of the most successful wrestling coaches the state has ever produced. Sieler was an outstanding all-around athlete at Huron High School before starring in basketball at SDSU. Diede was very instrumental in the early development of girls’ sports in the state, especially track and field and cross country. Fletcher was an outstanding basketball player for Dakota Wesleyan.
Miner helped build Yankton High School into a football and track & field powerhouse and was known as a tireless recruiter who got many girls and boys involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities. Johnson was one of the best multi-sport athletes in the history of Aberdeen Central who played basketball and ran track at Northern State. Withorne, who died in 1999, was a multi-sport all-state performer at Rapid City Central who went on to play basketball at Dakota Wesleyan. Not only did he star on the court for DWU, Withorne joined the football team and eventually earned an NFL tryout.
With the 15 additions, the hall will have enshrined 321 women and men from every sport and corner of the state. The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1968 by the South Dakota Sportswriters Association. It is now managed by a group of volunteers from across that state.
There is a display honoring past Hall of Fame members and this year’s inductees inside the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. The entire list of people enshrined can be found at the website www.sdshof.com.