LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – On Thursday night the Lansing Center was filled with powerful memories and magnificent moments at the 47th Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Two of the three teams inducted in the 2023 class were the 1986 and 1987 Lansing Sexton Track and Field teams, which thanks to legendary Coach Paul Pozega, went on to win back-to-back state titles. Current Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller was a member of both teams and is now a multi-time inductee into the GLAHOF after being inducted as an individual back in 2016. Although Coach P as he is better known as has passed on, his team took every opportunity to remind people in the room he was in fact there in spirit. The other team inducted was the 1985 State Champion Lansing Catholic Football team.
Three individual females were inducted including East Lansing Alum Christina Cleland-Hursey who earned 12 varsity letters between soccer, basketball, and softball at Albion College. Cleland-Hursey is currently the girls soccer coach at Mason and has over 20 years of experience as the head gal in charge for the Bulldogs. Melanie Miller was also someone who had her name solidified in history. Miller served as Lansing Sexton’s Athletic Director from 1987-2005. Dewitt alum Jennifer Smith-Topping rounded out the female induvial inductees. The Mid-Michigan standout went on to play for the University of Michigan before heading to the WNBA and playing professionally overseas. But where she really found joy in the game was through coaching her son’s AAU team she and her husband founded.
“It’s incredible,” Smith-Topping said. “It’s something that I never expected but without a doubt, it’s the best feeling to see your kids out there loving the sport you love. My daughter is just going to be in third grade this year and she’s excited. She’s been asking when she can play on a real basketball court so there’s nothing that I love more. I’ve always loved kids and always prided myself in being a role model for the younger generation.”
Four male individuals were inducted including National Champion Basketball Coach Steve Schmidt. The Lansing Waverly alum lead Mott Community College to four National Titles and is the winningest coach in the history of Michigan Collegiate Coaches. Brian Smith was also a part of the 2023 class. The storied umpire has over 40 years of experience which includes the Women’s College World Series, Women’s Olympic Softball Trials, and the USA Softball National Championships. Two Lansing Everett Vikings were in the class, Henry Patino and Desmond Ferguson Sr. The standout basketball player at Lansing Everett went on to lead his alma mater to back-to-back state semifinal appearances before turning pro and seeing stints in the NBA and then overseas in Europe, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, etc. Ferguson Sr. then went on to found Moneyball Sportwear and Moneyball Pro-Am, all things he has been able to accomplish thanks to his time as a Viking.
“It all started right here at home at Lansing Everett,” Ferguson Sr. said. “From me being a freshman and having to play on the freshman team to then having a growth spurt and putting in work over the summer to play varsity as a sophomore. That kind of showed me the ups and downs of basketball and just the ups and downs of life as well. That really helped carry me on to my collegiate and to my professional career as well.”