One of the inductees to the Escanaba Quarterback Club’s Wall of Fame says what he learned from sports helped him later in life.
Dan Levielle was a tackle on the Eskymos 1977 and 78 teams and played at Northern Michigan University. As a lineman, he said he learned to sacrifice himself for others.
“You’re taking the hits for others so they can succeed,” Levielle said. So, people like the guy behind us, like Jeff Nault who was the linebacker, could make the tackles. He made the tackles because people weren’t in his legs. And people weren’t in his legs because linemen had to be double teamed and prevented people from going out and hitting him. It prepares you for your work life, sacrificing for the organization, your family and the community.”
Those inducted were recognized at halftime Thursday night at the Escanaba-Alpena football game. They were Austin Young, Brent Lindstrom, Ron Gerstner, Dan Levielle, Butch LaBay and Jim Boyle.
They were presented plaques similar to the ones hung on the wall beneath the grandstands. They read:
Jim Boyle was recognized as the class of 1967 Gessner Award winner. He played four years of football with the Eskymos. He was the quarterback for hi junior and senior years. During the second game of his junior year, during which they beat Menominee, he was sidelined for the rest of the season. Under Jim’s leadership, the Eskymos finished with a 6-2 record during 1966 season. He was rewarded that year with an All Conference Honorable Mention and All U.P. Honorable Mention.
Hw net on to play on Central Michigan University’s football team for one year and graduated with a degree in physical education. He came back to Escanaba in 1972 as an elementary PE teacher and later as a middle school PE teacher. During his 38 years as a teacher in Escanaba he coached many different sports at all levels. He totally enjoyed working with hi former coaches as a Freshman Football coach for many years before taking over the Middle School football program. Jim’s positive influence on the many students he has coached during his career has been one of his greatest rewards.
Jim is retired and continues to help with coaching and track meets in a volunteer capacity. He is married and the father of three children. They live in the Hyde area.
Ron Gerstner, class of 1981, was an Esky running back from 1978 to 1981. He was a starter in the 1979 Class A State Championship game against Detroit Catholic Central. Ron’s 1980 Esky football season was his was his best stats of 980 yards, 171 carries and 12 touchdowns resulting in the “leading scorer.” In his senior year, he was an All-State, All U.P., received the Jean Timmons Award and voted “Most Athletic.” He also participated in varsity basketball and track throughout his memorable years as an Esky, at Escanaba High School. After graduating in 1981 with honors he attended NMU in Marquette. Ron also enlisted in the United State Army and was honorably discharged in 1987.
Ron is married to AnnaBelle, their blended family includes son Kyle and daughter IsaBelle. They’re currently planning to move back to Escanaba from Appleton, Wis., soon. Ron has stayed passionate about football and always will. He mentored his son Kyle, while playing football for eight years. He is always trying to teach his wife about football, during games on television and although she has a M.B.A. and M.A..E. she still has no clue what a first down is.
She supports his love for the sport, recognizes his passion for football and hopes one day Ron can mentor their future grandchildren about football.
Butch LaBay started playing football in the 8th grade and continued at Escanaba High School. During his high school years, he lettered in three sports: football, basketball and track. Butch was included in the honorable mention list of the Great Northern All-Conference football squad.
During Butch’s senior year, he would be part of the first Escanaba team to ever win nine games in a single season and six new school records would be established by the Eskymos. The unblemished season was under the direction of coach Jerry Cvengros. In November 1967, the Daily Press wrote the following, “One of the Peninsula’s most highly regarded lineman. LaBay averaged ten tackles per game, blocked one punt, recovered two fumbles, scored two touchdowns on recoveries, averaged forty-four minutes per game, was Esky’s top punt and kick-ff coverer and caught the only pass that was thrown to him during the season.” He was selected as one of two MVP’s by a vote of the squad.
That same year, Butch was the only U.P. player to make the honorable mention list in the Class A All-State selections, he also made the All-Upper Peninsula and All-great Northern Conference teams.
Butch received numerous full-ride football scholarship offers as both in- and out-of-state universities. His path in life, however, took jim a different route. He was drafted into the Army on January 7, 1967. He served in Vietnam for 13 months as a helicopter mechanic receiving an honorable discharge on August 10, 1970. On November 28, 1970 he started a near 40-year career at Mead Paper, retiring on June 1, 2010.
Butch is the proud father of two sons and one daughter, the owner of a spoiled two-year-old Golden Retriever puppy, as well as the grandfather of seven wonderful grandchildren. In his retirement, he enjoys reading westerns, watching college sports, hunting and attending the grandkids’ school sport and musical events. During the summer months, he and his wife Liz, split their time between their home on Lake Michigan and their cottage 45 miles south of the straits on Lake Huron.
In the 1970’s, Escanaba had a population of over 15,300 and supported two football teams; Class A Eskymos and Holy Name Crusaders Class C. When Holy Name High School closed in 1970, the two schools were combined both academically and in athletics. When I was a freshman, the Escanaba High Schoo enrollment was more than 2,000 students. Escanaba had three football team; freshman, junior varsity and varsity, with a combined roster of mor than 200 players. When we did sprints, we had 11 lines with 10 players across. During my sophomore year, we beat North Central varsity when they were ranked 8th in the state. We also played and beat Bark River-Harris varsity at their homecoming game. We were the “spoilers” that year and that continued though my career as an Eskymo.
You don’t get good with one year of good coaches. It was the program, all three levels. I was a two-way starter from my varsity years, made the All U.P. Dream team, was captain my senior year and received the Herman Gessner trophy as a lineman. When we finished my senior year, we brought back the Barber Trophy. It was quite an experience raising it up with my teammates. I was blessed with good teammates, good coaches, good competition and a community that loved football.
As a player on the varsity, I had the privilege of being on the field with teammates who went on to play in college and others who could have played at that level such as the Young brothers, the Shepeck brothers, Kirk Schwalbach, Jeff Crago, Pete VanEnkevort and Jim Livermore, to name a few.
I went on to play offensive tackle at NMU in 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983 making the playoffs in 1980, 1981 and 1982 and booming an Academic All-American. When I played at Northern Michigan, we played Saginaw Valley. At least four Eskymos were on the field between the two teams. I played my last year in college as a graduate student working on my Master’s Degree. After football, I married my beautiful wife Lori and we have four children Ryan, Kelly, Sheila and Mike. I coached football for my two sons in Georgia and Minnesota and loved it!
Brent Lindstrom was a very intense and passionate Escanaba football player. He was a player that displayed strong leadership by his actions. Brent was a quiet man that made a positive impact with his teammates on the game field with great effort and savvy play.
Brent is often remembered as an elusive, speedy running back for the Eskymos. He was also a great defensive end. Opponents would run at him without success, and when they ran the ball away from him, that provided him one of his favorite football thrills — chasing the ball carrier and making the tackle from behind. He earned all Upper Peninsula football recognition as both a junior and senior.
Brent took his football career in high school very seriously and was a team player. Although his life ended at an early age, he left us with many memories watching number 42 ply football with all his heart.
Austin Young lived to play high school football. Always striving to be the best he could, he was moved up to varsity his sophomore year for the playoffs and then moved to starting quarterback both his junior and senior years. Austin was described as a “slippery and elusive” quarterback who possessed great passing skills. Austin beat nine school records during his time as an Eskimo. During his career, he scored 398 points with 62 touchdowns and 3,004 rushing yards. His senior year’s 220 points with 35 touchdowns ranked third all-time in the U.P. Austin was honored on the U.P. All Star Team, U.P. Dream Team and U.P. Big School Team. He was named All-State and U.P. Offensive Player of the Year for his 2011-12 season.
Austin received a scholarship to play on Northern Michigan University’s football team where he started for four years as a wide receiver and specialist. He was nationally ranked as a punt receiver.
Austin completed his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from NMU. He graduated from NMU’s police academy as a squad leader in 2016. He was named Distinguished Graduate and won a physical training award. Austin returned to his hometown to work as a police officer for the city of Escanaba, where he currently lives with his wife and son.
In regard to being honored on the Wall of Fame, Austin says, “I an so thankful to my dedicated family and teammates. Without them, this moment would be impossible. It’s a great day to be an Eskimo!”