In front of 600 cheering people, St. Francis Borgia Regional football Head Coach Dale Gildehaus was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Sunday.
Gildehaus, honored for his 32 seasons as Borgia’s head coach where he’s won 262 games before this Friday’s district championship contest at Camdenton, was one of 19 individuals and programs honored during the St. Louis induction ceremony at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel.
“The enshrinement was something that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Gildehaus said. “Sitting next to Isaac Bruce and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, just to find out they are so friendly. To see Frank Cusumano and Mr. Soccer, Bill McDermott, along with everyone who were inducted were so friendly.”
Gildehaus said many people have made this possible.
“I have been so blessed to have so many so many people who have helped me over the years,” Gildehaus said. “I could not do this without the support of my wife, Beth, and my family and all my assistants, the players and their families. The support from Borgia and the administration over 32 years has been wonderful.”
Gildehaus felt every honoree was treated with incredible class, whether they were being honored as a high school coach or one of the top athletes in the world.
“Honestly, I had no idea what to expect yesterday,” Gildehaus said. “The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame did an amazing job with the enshrinement from how each person was treated to the professionalism with the interviews to the video about each person.”
Another aspect was having a lot of support from the community as there were over more than a few tables there with people who came to honor Gildehaus.
“To have so many friends and former players as well as coaches attending the day just leaves me speechless which does not happen very often,” Gildehaus said. “I would like to thank everyone for the kind words, which is so appreciated. But as I have said many times, this award is about the kids, the parents, my coaches, my family and the Lord. None of this would have been possible without them.”
For the inductees, the day was even longer. They had to be there over two hours early to meet with media and prepare for the event.
“The first man I see as I walked in was Squeaky Marquart (HOF Class of 2015) in a wheelchair who drives down to congratulate me,” Gildehaus said. “How nice is that? Mr. (Charlie) Varni, who has the cowbell at all the football games made the trip down. What a wonderful day. Thank you.”
Varni pulled out the cowbell and rang it at the conclusion of the national anthem to start the event.
Soon after, the program started, opening with the President’s Award to Mercy’s Donn Sorensen.
Each inductee had a video before their speaking time, capped at three minutes. Inductees were instructed that the music would start at that time and by another 15 seconds, nobody would be able to hear what was being said. That was the only way to keep the event moving at a good clip.
“I really don’t recall being so nervous before a football game like I was up in front of 600 people on Sunday,” Gildehaus said. “The emotions that I felt as I was standing at the podium next to so many so many outstanding individuals was something I will remember forever. Listening to my son Chris and my granddaughter Anna and Russ Henderson during the presentation, I was overcome with tears.”
Then the clock started for comments.
“Then I have three minutes to thank everyone, oh my,” Gildehaus said. “I started out fine but then I kind of got off track. Then I hear the music start to play, which means my time is about up, so then I had to raise my voice to make sure everyone could hear me.”
Gildehaus said he called an audible on his remarks.
“Just before I was to be introduced I’m listening to everyone as they were thanking everyone, then I began thinking, oh my, I don’t want to miss anyone,” Gildehaus said.
Kary Booher, media relations director for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, stated the Gildehaus speech was one of the best at its events in years.
It wasn’t the first time Gildehaus has been honored by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2012 with the 1969, 1970 and 1971 Northeast Missouri State College (now Truman State University) football teams. His head coach with the Bulldogs, Russ Sloan (HOF Class of 2007) was one of Gildehaus’ nominators and also was in attendance.
The rest of the induction class consisted of:
• Isaac Bruce;
• Jackie Joyner-Kersee;
• Mark Buehrle;
• Bernard Gilkey;
• Irv Goode;
• Bill McDermott;
• Dr. Matt Matava;
• Pete Woods;
• Al Nipper;
• Karen Davis;
• Frank Cusumano;
• Jim Halliburton
• Myron Holtzman;
• Travis Brown;
• Mark Edwards;
• Dan Rolfes;
• Terry Michler;
• The Incarnate Word Academy girls basketball program;
• The CBC boys soccer program; and
• President’s Award winner Donn Sorensen.