Sault sports hall of fame welcomes three new membersSaturday, June 23, 2012 by: Brad Coccimiglio
The Sault Sports Hall of Fame welcomed three new members on Friday night in a ceremony at city hall.
Inducted were soccer mainstay Tony Celli, longtime football coach Len Monico and gymnastics athlete Michael Zuke.
Tony Celli has played an instrumental role in helping grow soccer in Sault Ste. Marie, having been involved with the Sault Amateur Soccer Association in various capacities since 1963.
His various roles have included being an executive member and coach.
Celli was also involved with the Sault International Tournament from 1978 to 2002.
Celli has also been involved in the founding of ladies soccer in the city as well as indoor men’s soccer and helped begin the local high school league as well.
“I’m just speechless in the sense that I never expected any of this to happen,” said Celli of the induction. “I’m grateful and honoured. When I came over from Italy at 14-years-old, I never dreamt of anything like this. I enjoy the company of the young people I’ve had the pleasure of coaching and teaching. To me, that was a reward that cannot be matched by anything. This is something to remind me of how lucky I’ve been.”
Also this year, Celli was awarded the city of Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit.
Len Monico was among the group that founded the original Sault Steelers team in 1972 that entered the Northern Football Conference.
He took on the duties of coaching the Steelers and led the team to three NFC titles (1972, 1975 and 1976) and helped lead the Steelers to a national championship in 1972.
Monico is also a three-time NFC coach of the year and was inducted into the league hall of fame in 1988.
“At first I was so emotional, I couldn’t talk about it because I’m that kind of person. I’m a very emotional person,” said Monico of learning about the induction. “Then you start to think about how did I get here? It really started when I was in high school. I had some great football coaches like Tom Tipton, Frank Donnolly, John Milligan and Doug Hargreaves. They instilled in me, not only the knowledge of football, but they instilled he knowledge of life.”
Michael Zuke enjoyed plenty of success as a gymnast.
In 1967, Zuke earned a pair of silver medals in the first National Canadian Winter Games, earning fourth overall standing in the process. Also in 1967, Zuke earned top all around gymnast honours in the Ontario High School Team Gymnastics Championships and in the Ontario Provincial Individual Gymnastics Championships.
Zuke attended Northern Michigan University on an athletic scholarship and was a top all around gymnast all four years.
“At first (the nomination) came as a surprised and then as I thought about it I felt really good about it,” said Zuke. “It’s not something you expect to happen. You go through and do what you do. I did everything because I loved it and it does feel a bit odd that you get an award for doing something that you really liked.”