Welcome to Harding High School Athletics & Activities

St. Paul, Minnesota

Hall of Stars Inductees - 2002

Tom Syfko
Tom Participated in three sports at Harding - football, hockey, and baseball. He earned nine varsity letters and was a member of the 1940 City and Twin City Championship football team. Winning the Twin City Championship 7 - 6 was a highlight of his career. In the spring of 1941, he signed to play baseball in Grand Forks, North Dakota in the prestigious Northern League at a salary of $75 per month. His career in the Northern League lasted a couple of months. Tom returned to St. Paul and registered for the draft - instead of waiting to be drafted, he enlgisted in the Navy's V-5 program and became a U.S. Marine Corp pilot. Tom married Shirley Zimmerman on August 24, 1943. They had eight children, six boys and  two girls. They have ten grandchildren. After the war, Tom operated a service station at Hudson Road and Griffith Street. The service station property was needed for construction of Highway I-94. Tom then went to work for the St. Paul Fire Department and had thirty-nine career, retiring in 1987. Tom has been a "great" supporter of the Harding Area Hockey Association - which is ongoing at this time and helped produce many Harding stars. He also coached many teams at East View Playground and coached many boy's and girl's softball, baseball, and hockey teams for St. Pascal's School. Tom now lives in Woodbury - and is enjoying retirement in the "Golden Years"

Will Benker
While at Harding from 1950 - 1953 Will was known as Will, Bill, Applecheeks, or Rube. Needless to say  "applecheeks" was not a personal favorite of Wills. Will played football, basketball, and baseball at Harding and excelled in all three. He enjoyed the seasonal changes from sport to sport. Playing varsity sports at Harding in Will's era didnt generate any championships - but the teams were always very competitive in and fun to participate in. He had many fine coaches - but John Rossi was his favorite. He had great teammates, fond memories, and Harding served as a great foundation in his life both educationally and athletically. His college years were spent at Hamline University - where he played football and baseball. Will graduated with a degree in a physical education and health and taught and coached for 37 years. Will retired seven years ago to beautiful western Colorado - and is shoeing. Being physically active is and always has been an important part of Will's life.

Roger Rudeen
Rog Rudee was a three sport athlete in baseball, basketball and football at Harding during the 54 - 56 years. Rog earned eight letters during his three years at Harding and won the coveted H Blanket award in '56. He was named "all city" basketball team in '55 and '56. Rog held the "most points scored in a single game" title in the basketball in '56. He was active in other Harding activities as well - he was President of the Junior Class and Student Council, sang in various choral groups, and many other organizations. He credits hard work and effort of his former teammates and coaches for helping him get a spot on the "wall". A person cant "go it alone" in team or even individual sports or life in general and wants to thank all the who helped him during his Harding years. Rog went on to play baseball at the University of Iowa and lettered for four years. He earned a spot on the U.S. Pan American baseball team. He enjoyed his experiences as this was "as close as he got" to major league baseball which was his boyhood dream. He had the opportunity in pitching in four games at Comisky Park and Wrigley Fields and playing with future major leagues Lou Brock, Ty Cline, and Dave Justee while playing on that team. Rog and his high school sweetheart Susan Kohn lef the Junior and Senior in '55 and they've been "walking together" for 47 years since then. Rog says that "many good things came from Harding and the best thing was my wife and best friend Susan". They have four children and nine grand-children. Roger worked for 39 years in the grocery business in Southeastern U.S. He and his family lived there for 30 years. He has been retired since '98 and resides in Orlando in the winter and travels during the summer. Roger enjoys returning to the east side to visit family and friends because there's a neighborhood spirit that welcomes you back and are happy to see you when you return. Harding, it's athletics, students, and faculty, past and we're certain, present, exemplifies this 'spirit'. Both Rog and Susan believe that their positive experience at Harding were fundamental to the great life and it's many blessings.

Mike Alexander
Growing up on the corner of Third and Johnson Parkway the parkway was like a home away from home. Johnson parkway was the pick up and practice playground for many upcoming athletes. Whether practicing pitching or catching with his brother, tossing a long pass, catching a fly ball, the parkway was very important stepping stone in Mike's life. In the winters two-backyard ice rinks in the neighborhood started his interest in hockey. Hockey skills improved while participating at Margaret and Bluff playgrounds. Pick-up games played with older kids taught a lesson in toughness and positive attitude necessary to become a successful athlete. Mike was a student at Harding from 1947 to 1961 during which the time he received ten athletic letters. Four in baseball and three each in football and hockey. he was elected All Conference honors in baseball, football, and hockey. Two highly respectable gentlemen, Mr. John Rossi were head coaches who instilled a hard work ethic and team spirit. the success of the Harding Athletic program was largely due to these coaches and the very talented athletes who were dedicated to their sports, most of which participated in three sports. In 1959 and 1960 the Harding football and hockey teams won the city championships and went on to play in the Twin Cities championship games. The baseball teams were always competitive  - however never winning the championship. As a result of his athletic interests Mike continued to be involved i children's sports teams, coaching and trying to instill the love of the games that are being played and friendships that are being made. Mike's presenter is Mr. John Ebert a great example of friendships made in sports. John and mike have been friends since grade school and played sports together and have remained friends forever - sharing their love for sports.

Katie Wasko Williams
Katie was a three sport athlete at Harding - running cross country, playing basketball, and running track. She began her Harding career as a freshman running cross country in 1977. Katie lettered every season in qualified and ran in the state cross country meet all four years and represented Harding well. Katie was also an outstanding distance runner in track - she qualified for the state track meet in either the mile or two mile race her sophomore, junior, and senior years. Her senior year she started on the Harding championship girls basketball team and ended the season runner - up in the State High School girl's basketball tournament. Katie went on to Creighton University in Omaha, Ne. Where she ran the cross country team. She has continued her passion for running and participated in many road races and has completed four marathons. She now lives in Apple Valley with her husband - Dennis, and three children - Jake, Anna, and Ben. She enjoys running and can still hold her own on the basketball court when the need rises.

Lisa Albrecht
Lisa was born in St. Paul and grow up on the East Side. Her parents sparked her interest in running when she was about 10 years old and greatly suported her thought out her athletic and academic career. She started racing in the High School Cross Country level when she was in the 8th grade and continued running all the way through her senior year in college. At Harding Lisa earned eleven varsity letters, participating in basketball and track&field all four years. Her track events were on the 800m, 16oom, and the anchor on the 4x400 relay. she also ran the 2 - mile, but only when Mr. Kissell, the coach, could convince her to do it. Lisa was the captain of the cross country meet her Senior year. She earned All-City in CC and Track all four years, she was voted MVP in CC all four years and MVP track her junior and senior years. She ran the Minnesota State Cross Country in meet her Senior year and ran the 1600m event at the state tack meet her Senior and Junior years. Lisa was the 1985 Harding Student Athlete Award winner and graduate as Class Valedictorian. Lisa attened St. Olaf college and earned ten total varsity letters. She ran with the cross country and track teams all four years. Her sophomore year she joined the Nordic Ski Team - learned the skate - sky method - and loved it! Lisa and her St Olaf teams were very competitive in conference competitions as well as placing very high in the tournament action. Lisa finished her college track career with total MIAC All - Conference (top 6) awards. Her greatest highlight was her last MIAC Track&Feild meet at St. Thomas where she ran two personal best times and finished with the top 5 in both 800m and 1500m, side by side with her best friend, Jill. Lisa graduated with the honors from college, Cum Laude, in 1989 with a major in Biology. A few years after college, Lisa lived in Turkey for three years with her husband, Ilker, and had the rare opportunity to experience how people live on the other side the world. They own a home near Como Lake and she works full time as a Field Services specialist for Harris Co. Lisa continues to run and ski for health and happiness and she does occasional road races for fun.

Jenny Pearson
Jenny was a three sport athlete at Harding. She played volleyball, basketball, and softball. How many Harding athletes can say they participated in four state tournaments? Jenny can. She lettered in three years and was all conference and all metro her Junior and Senior years. She was a member of Harding's first state volleyball tournament entry in 1987 - 88. Jenny played and lettered all four years in Basketball - she was All Conference three years, All - Metro two years, and All - State no year. She was News 11 Athlete of the week two times. Jenny was a member and a major contributor on 1988 Harding State tournament team. She was selected and played in the All - Star Basketball games at the end of the season. She wrapped up her Harding Basketball career by receiving a Basketball scholarship for Colorado State University. Jenny participated in softball and lettered in all four years. She also won several awards and honors for her softball prowess. Jenny was All - Conference two years and All - Metro one year. She participated with the Harding Softball team in two state tournaments - 1985 and 1986. the 1986 team finished as the state championship runner up - number two in the state. Jenny had a very good college basketball career. She set many records and garnered many rewards. She was named Honorable Mention - Kodak All - American - a very prestigious award! Jenny finished her collegiate  career at the University of Louisville.  She lives in the Harding community and still very active. How many Harding athletes can say they participated in four state tournaments? Jenny can!

John Rossi
John S Rossi was born to Italian immigrants parents on the east side of St. Paul. His father was the founder and owner of St. Paul Statuary, then located on East Seventh St. Mr. Rossi was educated in the St. Paul school system and was a member of the first graduating class in from Harding High School. While at Harding he taught and coached and was involved with in many extracurricular activities. John attended St. Thomas and graduated with a teaching degree in science and business and a coaching certificate. He began his teaching career at the High School in Frazee Minnesota, in the Red River Valley. Later he moved to the Iron Range where he taught and coached in Gilbert Minnesota. After a successful stay at Gilbert he returned home to Harding to teach and coach. John was elected president of the United States Hockey Association and served in that capacity for ten years. After his retirement he became a consultant on the construction of ice hockey arenas and was a frequent substitute teacher in the Roesville School District. His last coaching appearance was a benefit fund-raiser for a Harding athlete. Although he was battling terminal cancer at the time, John coached an old-timers Johnson - Harding hockey game. In 1965 the Harding 
Saga was dedicated to John Rossi with the following forward : Success in the Game of Life depends on planning the a scheme to follow help win that contest we face from day to day. In 1932 Harding graduated its first calls and numbered among this class was John Rossi. Beneath his picture in the first Saga were the lines from a song out of Robert Browning's Pippa Passes - 
the years at the Spring

And day's at the mourn
Morning's at seven
The hill sides dew pearled
The lark's on the wing
The Snail's on the thorn
God's in his heaven 
All's right with the world!

Even then he knew the secret - find an order to follow if you want win in the game of life. His success at living is evidenced at Harding by the respect and admiration give him by students past and present as well by fellow members of the faculty. Out of admiration to one so eminently successful in his contest, to Mr. John S. Rossi we respectfully dedicate this Game of Life Edition of the Harding Saga. Mr. Rossi's family, friends, and colleagues truly appreciate his recognition so long after his passing.

Tim Kiemel
Tim has had a long and successful career as a student athlete, coach, and teacher at Harding. During this time he coached many sports including Baseball, Boys and Girl's basketball, Football, and Gymnastics. Several off seasons he would supervise the weight room. Until he retired from Harding in 2002, Tim served 33 years as the head Baseball coach. As a baseball coach, Kiemel had 391 victories that included 6 conference championships, 1 region 4 Championship and a 3rd place finish in the State Tournament. Tim served as a varsity football coach for 29 years, 24 of those years as assistant coach to great coaches as Clyde McDonald and Ken Mauer. He was the varsity head coach for 5 seasons. He concluded his football coaching career with a big win - beating Johnson for the coveted Hatchet Trophy. Tim proved his "versatility" by coaching the Girl's Gymnastics team for three years, Girl's 9th grade Basketball for 5 years. Tim was not only a coach but also an excellent teacher. He was voted Teacher of the Year by his peers in 1995. As a student athlete at Harding High School and a Luther College, Kiemel lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. After college Tim had a short stint with the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team. His love for the fame of baseball continues today. During the summer months, Keimel can be found playing baseball with the East Side Merchants, a St. Paul Men's team which he co-founded in 1972 and on an over 35 team. His baseball season does not end there, now that he's retired he's playing in a Father/Son Tournament in Arizona and in several over 40 and over 48 tournaments in Flordia.