HIBBING — It’s almost three decades later, but three former Hibbing Community College athletes will finally get their due.
Rob Schoenrock, Nick Theising and Dwayne Walters will all be inducted into the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame during a ceremony today before the volleyball contest against Rainy River.
Schoenrock played men’s basketball for Cardinal coach Doug Schmitz from 1993 to 1995. Theising played men’s hoops at that same time as Schoenrock, and Walters was a baseball player for Schmitz from 1992 through 1994.
Schoenrock, who would eventually go on to play for Clem Haskins at the University of Minnesota, was taken aback by the honor.
“It blew me away,” Schoenrock said. “I never looked for the limelight. I never expected this to happen. We didn’t have individuals on that team. We had a great team, I didn’t have much for statistics.”
Schoenrock played with the likes of Theising, Rob Bigelow and Spencer Aune.
“I knew we were going to have a decent team,” Schoenrock said. “We meshed so well. Everybody got along, and we had a good time. This honor, I couldn’t believe it. When I found out who was on the list, it was short. There’s so many others that are deserving.”
Schoenrock took a year off after the 1995 Cardinal season before he moved to the Gophers.
“That was a dream come true, playing in that arena,” Schoenrock said.
Theising, like Schoenrock, was surprised by the induction.
“It’s a big deal for me,” Theising said. “I had a fun time playing basketball with Rob, Spin, Bigs and Jeremy (Fleming). We were a good team, but we were friends as well. Those friendships made us a better team.
“We had a lot of success because we were friends. That made us that much better as a basketball team. For me, personally, the team was so good. I don’t feel like one of the best players on that team. We did what we needed to do to win.
To be honored from that team is special.”
Theising gave Schmitz a lot of the credit for the success of those teams.
“It was a great fit,” Theising said. “Doug was a coach who wanted you to play defense, but he also wanted you to push the ball. We had athletes and shooters. It was a great style. I had to learn how to play defense, and it was a challenge.”
Theising was a quick study. His time at Hibbing propelled him on to Southwest Minnesota State for his final two seasons of basketball.
“It made me a well-rounded player,” Theising said. “Doug had high expectations. That made us better as a team. It allowed me to go to the next level. I learned more there and progressed more there than the other two years of my career.”
Being inducted with his teammate makes it more special.
“He was a dominant big guy,” Theising said. “He was skilled. He played defense, and he was an outstanding rebounder, who could score as well. He was a well-rounded player and only got better.”
Walters had heard rumors that he may be inducted, but he didn’t find out until Schmitz sent him his induction letter.
“At first, I thought it was somebody playing a joke on me, then I saw the letter and I thought, ‘This isn’t a joke.’” Walters said. “I was surprised. I had heard talk earlier, but with all of the COVID protocol, it wasn’t going to happen last year.
“I was surprised when I saw it. I never would have thought about it. I’m shocked and excited about it.”
Walters is looking forward to the ceremony
“At one point I was like, ‘Should I go, or shouldn’t I go,’” Walters said. “There aren’t that many people that get this opportunity, so when it comes along you have to take advantage of the opportunity.”
“To get two Hibbing kids that are a couple of years apart going in at the same time, that’s pretty good.”
Four former female athletes will be honored as well. Nina Lutmer, Kristen Riesgraf, Breanna Chamernick and Kelsey Wirtanen were all scheduled for induction in 2020, but due to COVID, that was put on hold.