GVSU to induct 2015 Hall of Fame class

Martin, Finnerty highlight six-member class

By Adam Knorr | 10/22/15 1:02am


GVL / Archive Cullen Finnerty

The 2015 Grand Valley State Athletics Hall of Fame class features a now-Division I football coach, the all-time winningest college quarterback, and some of the best athletes from GVSU cross country, volleyball and basketball history.

The 2015 class will be inducted at the Hall of Fame banquet on Oct. 23, at the Kirkhof Center. The six members will be honored at halftime of the GVSU vs Findlay homecoming game on Oct. 24.

The diverse class features just two members from the same sport. Those two, former head football coach Chuck Martin and former quarterback Cullen Finnerty, graced the field together during from 2003 to 2006 when Finnerty graduated.

Their time as part of the same program highlighted one of the most dominant runs in NCAA football history.

Cullen Finnerty

Finnerty, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 30, remains the all-time winningest quarterback in football history, regardless of division. As a starter from 2003 to 2006, Finnerty helped the Lakers win 51 of 55 games, including three Division II National Championships.

With Finnerty under center, the Lakers won national championships in 2003, 2005 and 2006. GVSU fell to North Dakota in the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2004.

In 2006, Finnerty was a First-Team All-American and finished second in the Harlon Hill vote for best player in Division II.

Finnerty is one of just two Division II quarterbacks to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards in a career.

The standout from Brighton, Michigan totaled 141 touchdowns in his four-year career – 110 of which came through the air. Finnerty’s 13,275 total yards rank ninth all-time in Division II.

The GVSU quarterback cradle is stocked with memorable names, but Finnerty may just be the best Laker play-caller of all time.

Chuck Martin

Martin took the reigns from Brian Kelly as GVSU’s head coach in 2004, and served at the Laker helm until 2009. During his head coaching tenure, the Lakers compiled a 74-7 record. In his first season, Martin’s Lakers lost three games. After that, GVSU strung off four seasons with four total losses.

“I know what a huge honor it is,” Martin said of the induction. “I know what Grand Valley has meant to me and my family and what it has meant long-term for my career. We had a great run but it has also helped me to have success in my professional life.”

Martin, now the head coach at Division I Miami (Ohio), won national championships in 2005 and 2006 with the Lakers, and brought his squad to the 2009 national championship. Under his lead, GVSU turned in a Division II record 40-game winning streak between August 2005 and December 2007.

Martin was named the American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year twice during his time at GVSU.

Nate Peck

The Grand Valley State cross country program has turned into a bona fide dynasty under head coach Jerry Baltes. Standing out from the crowd of nationally recognized runners at GVSU is a tall task.

Former runner Nate Peck had no difficulties distinguishing himself during his time as a Laker. Peck was a United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-American 11 times in 12 seasons as a Laker, and owns the most All-American honors in GVSU athletics history.

After being redshirted, Peck went on to win the GLIAC Freshman of the Year award in 2004. From 2005 to 2007, Peck earned the GLIAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year award, helping the Laker men finish in the top six nationally each year.

Peck’s accolades and achievements will live on in GVSU lore forever, but his memories are more of the times spent with his teammates than the times he recorded.

“The actual act of running is not all that enjoyable. I think at any point everyone thinks about quitting. If it wasn’t for all the guys I ran with (I might have), all we had was each other’s company,” Peck said. “You can’t hang your hat on (the accomplishments), it’s just all the good memories that we had that’s what I look back on and puts a smile on my face.”

Allyson Riley

Allyson Riley didn’t smash down kills or swing momentum with stonewall blocks, but her role for GVSU volleyball was no less important. Riley, a three-time GLIAC Libero of the Year, helped the Lakers earn the 2005 Division II National Championship.

Riley’s position at the back of the GVSU rotation kept her away from the limelight, but on Friday, she will be immortalized in the hallows of Laker athletics.

The legendary libero came to GVSU with plans of being a setter, but things changed. Riley ranks 19th all-time in Division II in digs, and tallied 731 digs in the 2005 national championship season – still a school record.

Riley is the only Laker to ever top 5.00 digs per set in a season. She did it three times from 2005 to 2007, and holds the top three records in single season digs. Riley’s numbers may not pop in significance to the casual fan, but rest assured, her contributions will hang around the Laker record book for quite some time.

Erika Ryskamp

Along with Finnerty and Riley, former basketball standout Erika Ryskamp was a catalyst in the 2005-06 athletic season that proved to be one of the best in GVSU history.

Ryskamp, a 3-point specialist from Schoolcraft, Michigan, dropped 1,409 points in her GVSU career – good for seventh on the all-time scoring list. Ryskamp’s 223 career 3-pointers place her second in GVSU women’s basketball history, just behind Amy Rehmann’s 239 from 1996-99.

The gritty guard earned All-GLIAC North Division Second-Team honors in each of her last three seasons, and is one of three players in program history to rack up 1,400 points and 350 assists.

Her tenure as a Laker highlights some of the most successful seasons in GVSU women’s basketball history.

Katy Tafler

Former Laker soccer standout Katy Tafler came down from Canada and became perhaps the greatest player in what may be the greatest athletic program in GVSU’s prolific Division II history.

Tafler, an Ontario native, posted almost-comical stats from 2005-08 under then-head coach Dave DiIanni. Her 269 career points (114 goals, 41 assists) rank first in GVSU history by a wide margin, vastly outpacing runner-up Mirela Tutundzic’s total of 184.

Tafler was a two-time Daktronics National Player of the Year, and won GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year three times from 2006 to 2008. She is the all-time GVSU leader in goals, game-winning goals and points per game, along with total points.

"It's hard (to pick a best memory) because I think, like a lot of athletes or people who are perfectionists, you tend to focus on the bad things," Tafler said. "I have kind of a general overall feeling of just what a great experience it was. It's hard to pick out specific things, but the road trips and the feeling of what it felt like to connect with teammates for a goal was great."

Her standing on the field was nearly eclipsed by her efforts off. The biomedical sciences major graduated with a 3.925 GPA, and earned the 2008 NCAA Top VII Award – one of the highest honors a student-athlete can achieve for on and off the field success.

Tafler is now a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

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