The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Tickets on sale for 2014 banquet

March 14, 2014 by



SIOUX FALLS, SD – Tickets are on sale for the 2014 South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame banquet to be held Saturday, April 12, at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

All tickets are being handled exclusively by Dakota Sports in Sioux Falls (605-332-2131 or 1-888-2193).  Tickets are $40 through April 9 with a limited number of tickets available for $50 at the door. Tickets for high school age and younger are $20.

A social hour starts at 4:30 p.m. with  the dinner at 6 and the program at 7.

 Nine people will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, bringing the membership to 245.

Ted Kessinger and Mel Tjeerdsma, two of the nation’s greatest small-college football coaches, are among the inductees. Also chosen were three former South Dakota State athletes: Jay Dirksen, Herb Bartling and Arnold “Nig” Johnson. Other honorees are football player Dick Callahan, basketball player Jack Theeler, baseball player Doug Stanford and softball pitcher Paul Ferrie.

Kessinger lives in Lindsborg, Kan.; Tjeerdsma in Maryville, Mo.; Dirksen in Hot Springs Village, Ark.; Bartling in San Antonio; Johnson in Cottage Grove, Minn.; Callahan in Denver; Theeler in Mitchell; and Stanford in Deadwood. Ferrie is being honored posthumously.

The Hall of Fame was established by the South Dakota Sportswriters Association in 1968 and is now an independent non-profit organization.


Ted Kessinger A Sioux Falls native who was a 1959 Washington High and 1963 Augustana graduate. Kessinger is one of the few South Dakotans to be inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame, in 2010.

He was the football coach at Bethany (Kan.) College for 28 years, compiling a 219-57-1 record with 16 conference championships. 

The Swedes were 1-9 in 1975, the year before Kessinger arrived, but they never had a losing season under Kessinger.  He was named Coach of the Year in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference 11 times. He was the winningest active NAIA football coach at the time of his retirement. Twenty times the Swedes were nationally ranked in the season-ending NAIA top 25.



Mel Tjeerdsma

The Springfield High and  1967 graduate of Southern State in Springfield was one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football.

He coached Northwest Missouri State to a 183-43 record  and three NCAA Division II titles in 17 seasons. Northwest was 0-11 in Tjeerdsma’s first season in 1994, then went 183-32 the next 16 years. The Bearcats won back-to-back national titles in 1998 and ’99 and added a third title in 2009 that capped an unprecedented run of five national championship game appearances that began in 2005. The 1998 team was the first NCAA Division II team ever to go 15-0. The Bearcats won 12 conference titles in Tjeerdsma’s last 15 seasons and they went to the playoffs 13 of the last 15 seasons. The winningest coach in school history,  he had more postseason wins than any coach in Division II (32-10 record) at the time of his retirement.


Herb Bartling

A 1947 Brookings High grad, Bartling was an All-America quarterback on the undefeated 1950 South Dakota State football team – SDSU hasn’t gone unbeaten since.

The 6-foot, 175-pound  Bartling was named Most Valuable Player in the North Central Conference after guiding the Jackrabbits to a 9-0-1 season in 1950 and a league championship under Coach Ralph Ginn. He also quarterbacked the 1949 team to a share of the title. Bartling was SDSU’s best passing quarterback to that date.

Bartling was all-NCC  in football in 1949 and 1950, and was all-NCC in basketball in 1950 and 1951.


Arnold “Nig” Johnson

The  Brookings grad was  named the captain of the all-state football team for 1952 by SoDak Sports and also the state’s Athlete of the Year for the 1952-53 school year.

The 5-foot-9, 150-pounder was a high school  All-American in football and set an Eastern South Dakota scoring record (102 points in seven games) in 1952.

He led Brookings’ 12 Iron Men to a 14-14 tie with mighty Sioux Falls Washington in one of the most memorable games in state history, scoring both Bobcat touchdowns despite being double-teamed all game long.

At South Dakota State, he played quarterback and halfback and was all-conference in 1956, when he led the North Central Conference  in total offense. He set several school passing records.


Jay Dirksen

A 1963 graduate of General Beadle High School in Madison, Dirksen excelled as a runner and a coach. The 1968 South Dakota State grad coached SDSU to the 1973 NCAA Division II men’s cross country title before spending more than 30 years as a coach at the Division I level, mostly at Nebraska.

He coached the Cornhuskers for 28 seasons. At Nebraska he was the head cross country coach and assistant head track coach in charge of distance runners. There he coached 14 cross country All-Americans, 39 track All-Americans, 45 track individual conference champions and five Big 12 women’s cross country team champions  (1985, ’88-89, ’91, ’93). Before his arrival, Nebraska had had only one cross country All-American (men and women).


Dick Callahan

 A 1960 Sioux Falls Washington High grad, Callahan was a starter on the 1963 Nebraska football team that was ranked sixth in the nation, went 10-1 and was the Big Eight and Orange Bowl champion.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Callahan had eight receptions for a team-high 157 yards during the regular season as the Cornhuskers won the Big Eight for the first time in 23 years. In a 23-9 win over Gale Sayers-led Kansas, he had three catches for 60 yards. Late in the season he was moved to safety, and in the 13-7 Orange Bowl win over Auburn he had an interception, knocked down several other passes and had a number of tackles.

In high school, Callahan was a member of three state championship track teams. He was first-team all-state in football and second team in basketball as a senior.


Paul Ferrie

The Sioux Falls man was perhaps the state’s greatest fastpitch pitcher. He started pitching in 1939 at age 12, playing on a team with his brother Buster and neighborhood friends.

            Over a 26-year career, Ferrie was a feared power hitter, but it was on the mound where he would really make a name for himself.  He was at one time rated one of the top five pitchers in the country. The 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander won four straight state titles from 1950-1953 with Pitts (’50), Empress Bar (’51-52) and Hilltop Tavern (’53). Paul won the state title again in 1956 with Bullpen Bar.  Over his career Ferrie won over 800 games, pitched 80 no-hitters, 11 perfect games and averaged 14 strikeouts a game.


Jack Theeler

A  1963 Sisseton grad, Theeler was one of the University of South Dakota’s all-time great basketball players.

The 6-foot-4 forward  was just the sixth player all-time to earn all-North Central Conference honors during three consecutive seasons (1966-68). He was an honorable mention All-American as a junior and senior. Theeler, who transferred to USD from the University of Minnesota, set school career records for scoring (1,573 points; 21.5 per game) and rebounds (720). He still holds the top two single-game scoring marks in school history (48 and 49)

And his average of 26.4 points a game during the 1966-67 is still a school record.

In high school, Theeler was a two-time first-team all-stater. He starred on the unbeaten state Class A champion 1963 Sisseton High team, which was coached by his father, Jack Theeler Sr.



Doug Stanford

A 1962 Rapid City Central and  1967 Black Hills State grad, Stanford was one of the state’s greatest amateur baseball players.

The pitcher-outfielder was a two-time state tournament MVP (1972 and ’73) and he hit 26 home runs in 1976 to tie the single-season state record. In 1973, the 6-foot-1½, 205-pound right-hander  pitched two complete games in 107-degree heat on the final day as Macy’s won the title, a feat that hadn’t been done since 1939. The year before he went 17.1 innings on the final day but Macy’s lost in the finals. In 1976, at the National Baseball Congress Midwest Regional he was named to the all-tourney team (future MLB Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith also was all-tourney that year).

He was the state’s Independent Athlete of the Year in 1972, when he helped Lemmon to the state amateur basketball title and was MVP of the state amateur baseball tourney.

He won his first amateur basketball title in 1970 with Haines Trucking of Faith.





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