Sports Hall of Fame 2024 inductees to be honored in June

December 26, 2023

Free Soil High School 1974 baseball team

Sports Hall of Fame 2024 inductees to be honored in June

LUDINGTON — The Mason County Sports Hall of Fame has announced the Class of 2024 inductees along with highlights of their respective accomplishments.

“These inductees exhibit the highest level of athletic achievement and the board is proud to honor yet another excellent class of great athletes and teams,” said Mason County Sports Hall of Fame President Vic Burwell.

“With each new year, the sports hall of fame becomes more keenly aware of the rich history of athletic talent in Mason County and narrowing the selection to a class of six becomes increasingly challenging. We have so many deserving athletes who span decades of achievement in Mason County.”

LHS 2017 equestrian team

The 2024 class of inductees are the 1974 Free Soil baseball state runner-up team, the 2017 Ludington Equestrian team, individuals Derek Shoup, Robert Kapcia, John Kasley and Theresa (Knizacky) Shoop.

“The class of 2024 merits enshrinement into the Hall of Fame for their stellar level of athletic accomplishment. This year we will be inducting individuals from Free Soil, Mason County Eastern and Ludington high schools.”

The enshrinement will take place on June 22, 2024. The unveiling of the class will be at noon at the Mason County Historical Society’s Historic White Pine Village in Pere Marquette Township with the induction banquet held at 6 p.m. at Lincoln Hills Golf Club in Hamlin Township, on the same day.

In 2024, the 1974 Free Soil baseball team will celebrate the 50th anniversary of a run to the state finals and a runner-up finish. Free Soil’s roster was made up of 12 players; five seniors who brought experience to the team. one junior, two sophomores, a freshman and three eighth graders, who were the true youth of the team.

If a school had an enrollment under 75 students, eighth graders were allowed to play high school sports. At the time, Free Soil’s enrollment was 52. The Pirates were 11-0 in the regular season before making a historic run in the tournament, ending in a 2-0 loss to Cheboygan Catholic High School.

Robert Kapcia

The loss was particularly difficult for the Pirates as starting pitcher Charles “Buzzie” Jacobson was forced to leave the game in the first inning after struggling with a muscle pull in his back. Max Carey, Jr. was called on to pitch, but the state rules prohibited a pitcher from throwing more than 10 innings in any one portion of the tournament and Carey pitched five innings in the semifinal win over Adrian-Madison. The team’s coach, Max Carey (senior) indicated in a Ludington Daily News article on June 17, 1974, “We hurt Cheboygan’s pitcher worse than anybody has during his career. That’s what Leo (Yeck) told me.” Yeck was the Cheboygan Catholic coach and a former Ludington St. Simon athlete.

Along with coach Carey, team members included Max Carey, Jr., Michael Heath, Scott Heath, Charles Jacobson, Ben Knizacky, Matthew Knizacky, Curtis Luomala, David Papes, Richard Papes, Thomas Papes, Michael Rybicki and John Shereda.

Ludington’s equestrian teams have a rich history of success, including 25 years of continuous state qualification. In 2017, there were 42 equestrian teams in the B Division and Ludington captured the state championship. The championship came after the Orioles were state reserve champions (runner-up) in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

In equestrian, there is a district, regional and state tournament. In 2017, Ludington won the district, were reserve champions in the regional and came back to avenge the regional loss to Grand Haven by capturing the state championship. At the start of the last day of the four-day event, Bullock Creek was in the lead. The Orioles came back with Saddle Seat Pattern and the Two-Person Relay to win the championship in dramatic fashion.

Ludington was coached by the late Doyle Fenner, Tanya Walter and Lynne Bennett; assisted by Janelle Beaver, Meghan Gillies and Alyssa Walter. Team members included Garrett Bennett, Carley Hindman, Brianna Hindman, Carly Holcomb, Claire Leikert, Jasmin Martinez, Zach McMaster and Ella Wickham. Grooms were Chesney Griffis, Lydia Hale, Allie Long and Evan Bennett.

Derek Shoup

Derek Shoup is a 1999 graduate of Ludington High School and attended Mason County Eastern from 1996 – 1998. Uniquely, Shoup holds track records at both high schools. His six records at MCE are in the 100 meter, 200, 400. long jump and he was a member of the the 400 and 800 record relay teams. He also holds four records at Ludington, in the 100, 200, 400 and was a member of the 1600 relay record team.

Shoup won two state championships and two state runner-up titles in track and in his senior season, Shoup finished in the top 10 at state in four events. Shoup also competed in the United States Track Federation Junior Olympic Program, qualifying for the Junior Olympic Finals at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Shoup placed sixth in the long jump at the finals with a jump of 22 feet, 7 1/4 inches. Shoup is in the Michigan High School Indoor Track and Field All-Time Top 10 with a time of 5.8 seconds in the 50 meter.

Shoup is the county record holder in the 100 and 400 meters and is a member of the county record 800 and 1600 meter relay teams. After graduation, Shoup went on to run four years of varsity track at Western Michigan University. Shoup was on the WMU All-Time Performers List with his 500 meter time of 1:06.64 and his 600 time of 1:23.58.

Robert Kapcia graduated from Mason County Eastern in 1976 and held the county record for the Most Points in a Basketball Career, 1,520, until 1992 when his record was surpassed, but he currently still remains second overall.

Kapcia was selected first team all-state his senior year and all-state honorable mention his junior year. He continues to lead the list of Most Points in a Season with 710 in the 1975-76 season. Kapcia had 514 points his junior year. Kapcia is on the Most Points in a Game county list three times, scoring 54 in 1976 in a game against Baldwin, 44 against Leelanau and 41 against Walkerville.

Theresa Shoop

In all, Kapcia earned 10 varsity letters at MCE. In baseball, Kapcia was 6-3 his senior year as a pitcher with a 2.57 earned run average, threw a no-hitter and was a .325 batter. He continued his athletic career at Lake Superior State College where he played basketball.

John Kasley

John Kasley, a 1981 graduate of Ludington, was a standout swimmer, capturing a state championship in 1981 in the 50 meter freestyle as well as state runner-up titles in the 100 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay. Kasley was the first Oriole to win a state championship in swimming. Upon graduation, Kasley held six school records at Ludington, the 50 and 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 Medley Relay, 200 Individual Relay and was a member of the 400 freestyle relay record team. He also held pool records in Traverse City, Muskegon and Muskegon.

Kasley went on to swim at Michigan State University from 1982 – 1985 and competed in four Big Ten Championship Meets. He was a MSU record holder in the 400 freestyle and in 2009, Kasley was honored with the William Heusner Memorial Service Award at MSU.

Theresa (Knizacky) Shoop is a 1985 Free Soil graduate who excelled in volleyball, basketball and track and field. Shoop led the Pirates to a final four trip in volleyball her senior year and was second team all-state, scored 1,326 career points in basketball, fifth in the county, selected honorable mention all-state, and placed fourth in the shot put at the state track meet her senior year.

Shoop played one year of volleyball at Aquinas College and ran three years of track and field. She was co-captain of the 1989-90 track team and was a three-time conference qualifier in shot put and javelin. Shoop held the Aquinas College record in the javelin throw at 124 feet, 10 inches from 1989 – 2023.

Shoop has coached for 25 years plus at Ludington. She was selected 2016 Coach of the Year in the Lakes 8 Conference and led the Oriole volleyball team to the quarterfinals in 1996-97. She has been a volleyball registered official since 2019 and has officiated at the district and regional level and in 2022 was selected to line judge at the MHSAA volleyball state finals.

The Mason County Sports Hall of Fame, located in Ludington is a charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, honoring and enshrining those who have made outstanding contributions to sports in Mason County. Nominations for consideration can be completed online. If you believe you know someone who is deserving of nomination to the Sports Hall of Fame, please visit us at and complete the online nomination form for future consideration.