On July 16, the University of Denver announced its 2014 Athletics Hall of Fame class. The new inductees include John MacMillan (hockey 1958–60), Jim Shea (skiing 1958–61), Jim Elliott (baseball 1988–90), Jessica Lopez (gymnastics 2006–09), Lorna Lyles (volleyball 1990–93), Milton Kurth (general maintenance foreman 1955–85), Kurt Smitz (skiing coach 1992–2006), and the 2004 NCAA national champion hockey team.
In 2004, the Pioneers hockey team capped off a 25-12-5 season with its first national championship title in 35 years. The Pioneers defeated Maine 1-0 in the title game, leaving the Frozen Four with the first of two championships in coach George Gwozdecky’s 19-year career at Denver.
John MacMillan (BS ’61) played hockey for Denver from 1958–60, helping the Pioneers to two NCAA championships. The team captain was given Frozen Four All Tournament honors in 1958 and 1960 before going on to win two Stanley Cups (1962 and 1963) with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jim Shea (BS ’61) captained the ski team and brought home All American honors during his time at Denver. He led the team to its fourth NCAA championship and went on to ski in the 1964 Olympic Games.
Jim Elliott (BA ’92) was an All-District catcher three times in as many seasons with the University of Denver baseball team, which ceased to exist in 1997. Elliot holds the single-season home run record and the career home run record for the no-longer-active team. He would go on to play baseball professionally with the San Diego Padres for three seasons.
Jessica Lopez (BA ’09) is perhaps the best gymnast to ever emerge from the University of Denver. The First Team All American vaulter finished the 2008 season with the best record in school history, finishing with nine all-around titles and 24 individual event titles. She would go on to compete in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games as the first DU Olympian Gymnast.
Lorna Lyles (BSME ’94) was named Colorado Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year in 1990 for her work on the volleyball court. She holds five school records in games played, kills, attack attempts, solo blocks, and total blocks. Lyles also was named first team All-Colorado Athletic Conference from 1990–93.
The two non-athletes named to the Hall of Fame were Milton Kurth and Kurt Smitz. Kurth worked as general maintenance foreman for the University from 1955–85 and was responsible for administrative oversight for all of DU’s indoor and outdoor facilities.
Smitz won four national championships in his 14 seasons coaching the DU ski team, including consecutive titles from 2000–02. Smitz also was essential in a myriad of individual national championship performances and All-American finishes.
“The individuals who make up the 2014 class are true Pioneers in so many ways,” says Peg Bradley-Doppes, vice chancellor for athletics, recreation and Ritchie Center operations. “We know of their fantastic exploits on the fields of play as student-athletes and support staff; however, these individuals have gone on to become outstanding ambassadors for our University in their day-to-day lives.”
The induction ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at Gates Field House as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend’s Taste of DU event. Registration for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be available through the Homecoming and Family Weekend website.