Rockford Public Schools athletic department is excited to announce its second RPS Hall of Fame class. Five awards will be handed out at the second Champions Ball March 1 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center. This year's winners feature former standouts from East, West, and the original Rockford High School:
Ernie Kent – West High School Basketball. Kent, a 1973 graduate who now lives in Oregon, will return to Rockford as guest speaker at the event. During his prep career, Kent was named Parade Magazine All-American, Scholastic All-America by Scholastic Magazine, IHSA All-State, received the American Legion Outstanding Achievement Award and was a member of the National Honor Society. He is best known for his tremendous college coaching career, which included University of Oregon. The Ducks reached the NCAA tournament in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2008 and the Elite Eight in 2002 and 2007.
Donna Cargill – East High School Track and Field. Cargill is one of the most decorated female athletes to come out of RPS. A 1992 East graduate, she was a seven-time state champion in girls track and field. In 1991 and 1992, she won all three state sprinting events (100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter) and twice won NIC-10 Female Athlete of the Year honors. She was also a standout for University of Alabama.
1939 Rockford High School Boys' Basketball team – The team won the state championship in 1939 and finished the season 23-2. Since their win, only two Rockford teams have won state titles in boys basketball — the back-to-back championships by the 1955 and 1956 West teams. Those teams were inducted in the inaugural RPS Hall of Fame class. Keith Mulford, a member of the 1939 team, will be an honored guest March 1.
Jim Laude – Rockford High School basketball coach and East High School basketball program founder. The late Laude led the 1939 Rockford High School Boys' Basketball team to the state title before starting the basketball program at East High School the next year. His coaching career spanned four decades before his retirement in 1954.
Brad Muzzarelli – East High School's manager for football and boys basketball for 38 years, the man everyone knew as "Muzzy" will receive the RPS Hall of Fame Community Service Award. He'll be recognized for his lifelong dedication to E-Rab Athletics. Muzzarelli won the NIC-10 Service Award in 2009 and died from cancer later that year.
Sponsored by SwedishAmerican Health System, the Champions Ball benefits the Rockford Sports Coalition and RPS athletics. Tickets are $75 a person or $525 for a table of eight and will go on sale in December. Contact RPS Project Coordinator Emily Tropp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-966-8960 for more information or for tickets. Last year's inaugural RPS Hall of Fame inductees: Genelle Samuelson (Community Service), Alex Saudargas (Coach), Jerry Latin (Athlete), Lisa Coole (Athlete), 1974 East Football (Team) and 1955 and 1956 West Boys Basketball (Team).
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