2024 inductees celebrate annual Wall of Champions Ceremony

2024 inductees of the Salem Wall of Champions come togeter during halftime of the Salem v.s. Canton Boys Varsity Basketball game. Feb. 9, 2024.
2024 inductees of the Salem Wall of Champions come togeter during halftime of the Salem v.s. Canton Boys Varsity Basketball game. Feb. 9, 2024.
Cooper Scwartz

Ten Salem alumni, consisting of former athletes, coaches and administrators, made their mark in the Salem history books this past weekend through their induction into the Salem Wall of Champions. Inductees, from all eras of Salem High School, were recognized for their achievements during halftime of the Salem vs. Canton Boys Varsity Basketball game on Feb. 9, while the induction ceremony was held the day after at Fellows Creek Golf Club in Canton, Mich. 

The 2024 inductees include the following people and groups: late athletic trainer Tony Bowers; cross country and track and field runner Jared Biniecki; track and field coach Mark Gregor; football and basketball player David Houle; late Principal Gerald Ostoin; cross country and track and field runner Scott Pengelly; swimmers Adam and Lauren Seroka; baseball and football player Dave Slavin; and the 1993 state runner-up Girls Track & Field Team.

Salem Rock spirit at the Wall of Champions ceremony as inductees accepted their awards from Salem Athletic Director Tim Baechlar. The special ceremony was a “blast to the past,” according to Gregor when talking to past coaches, teammates and friends. Baechlar, who helps organize the annual event, finds joy in the ability to congratulate the school’s new honorees.

 “You see how much it means to these coaches and athletes. A lot of times it brings back family reunions and friend reunions when you get to this night, it is so worth it.” 

Brother and sister inductees, Adam and Lauren Seroka, graduates of the 2011 and 2012 classes respectively, are some of the best swimmers the school has ever seen. Both siblings swam at the varsity level for four years and led as captains for three years.  Outside of their high school careers, the two garnered many school records. Adam and Lauren Seroka also swam at the collegiate level for the University of Washington St. Louis and Kalamazoo College, respectively. Their brother-sister rivalry was what motivated them both to be the best they could during their time at Salem. 

“Having my brother there, who was only a year older than me, was a big factor in my successes, I think,” said Lauren Seroka. “We were always pushing each other while in the pool.”

Other inductees, like 1983 MHSAA First-Team All-State catcher Slavin, was heart-warmed when he found out he’d be inducted into the Salem Wall of Champions. “When looking at the others that are on the wall, it’s a small group. Because of that, I feel pretty honored.”

Slavin recalled a painful but funny memory when a part of the Rock’s varsity baseball team as a freshman.

“I remember I was in the batting cage as a freshman, during the early spring when it was windy and the ball was moving a bit. We were on a pitching machine and I could see the guys were doing something [to the pitching machine]. I then turned my back and all of a sudden the ball hit me in the shoulder at 100 miles an hour,” Slavin laughed. “The first thing my teammate said to me was ‘Oh my God, don’t tell coach,’ rather than, ‘Are you okay?’” 

The ceremony took a somber turn when the wife of Gerald Ostoin, Janet Loy, gave tearful remarks on the way that her husband had changed the lives of so many students at the Park from 1986-2008. Ostoin was a principal with a deep love for athletics, making sure to attend as many games as possible. Salem social studies teacher Darrin Silvester, a student Rock under Ostoin, has fond memories of Ostoin for the way that he interacted with students.

“Mr. Ostoin was Salem Pride through and through. He carried the Pride with him each day when he’d arrive at 4 a.m.. He often spoke that Plymouth-Salem was the flagship of the district and especially the Park,” said Silvester. “On graduation day [Ostoin] ended with, ‘When you go out into the world, you will compete with the best of them, because you graduated from Plymouth-Salem High School.’”

The Salem Wall of Champions is and has been a full-circle event for everyone involved. Baechler loves seeing all the alumni come together for this event.

“It’s a proud tradition to be a Salem Rock. I think everybody needs to know that. Athletics at Salem is another part of your education,” said Baechler. “The toughness, teamwork and work ethics you learn through sports lasts a lifetime. I love doing [the Wall of Champions Ceremony].”

 

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Lucas Gentilia, Business Manager / Sports Editor
Lucas Gentilia is a senior at Salem High School that loves being surrounded by friends and other energetic people. He is involved in all types of activities, including The National Honor Society, Student Council 2024, Link Crew, the Salem Rocks Baseball Team and The Perspective newspaper staff. His life isn’t always centered around school however; he is in love with music, and always has an Airpod in his ear. He enjoys artists like Mac Miller, Mac Demarco and Kendrick Lamar. In addition, he loves weightlifting, golf and watching sports in person whenever he can.

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