This spring, the St. Olaf Athletic Hall of Fame will welcome four new, exceptional members to its legacy: volleyball coach Cindy Book, Nordic skier Kelly Underkofler ’05, running back Manuel Spreigl ’02 and catcher Dan LaManna ’02.
To be considered for the Hall of Fame, athletes are either nominated or chosen by the Athletic Department to be added to a list of eligible candidates. Athletes must wait at least 10 years after graduation before they can be considered for selection. The Hall of Fame committee, made up of Athletic Director Ryan Bowles, Associate Athletic Director Mike Ludwig and current and former coaches, selects the inductees.
“We are extremely excited about this year’s class,” Bowles said. “We feel that they represent some of the best Ole athletics has to offer. Their accomplishments in their respective sports truly are outstanding, and [we] feel that they deserve to stand among the other Ole greats in the Hall of Fame.”
Book coached volleyball at St. Olaf for 22 years in addition to two seasons at Keene State and eight at Bethel University, collecting 473 of her 716 career victories during her time with the Oles. She retired last fall, finishing eighth in total wins among all Division III coaches in history, carrying the second largest active total at the time of her retirement. Throughout her career, Book coached seven players to All-American honors while earning a .669 career winning percentage, ranking 35th in Division III history. She led her teams to six MIAC regular season titles, including a four-year reign atop the conference from 1993-1996 in which St. Olaf volleyball went a combined 43-1 in conference play. Under Book, the Oles made it into nine NCAA tournaments, most notably six consecutive appearances from 1993-1998, with her 1996 squad advancing all the way to the Final Four.
Along with her credentials on the volleyball court, Book was always commended for her respect towards St. Olaf’s opponents and her uncanny ability to bring the Oles together to play with inspired teamwork. Whether it was giving roses to graduating Carleton players in addition to her own team whenever they squared off on senior night or motivating the Oles with positive reinforcement born from a pure love of the game, Book embodies the best of St. Olaf athletics, and is more than worthy of being selected to headline an exceptionally talented 2017 Hall of Fame class.
During his football career at St. Olaf, Spreigl ranked second in career rushing touchdowns (36) and third in career rushing yards (3,122) in school history. He led the Oles to a 7-3 record in 2000, their best finish in a decade, posting 1,304 rushing yards, second most in St. Olaf history within a single season, along with 16 touchdowns. Spreigl decimated Carleton on Nov. 11, 2000, setting the MIAC record for most points scored in a single game with 36.
“My time at St. Olaf was special, and this accolade helps to shine light on what made my time there so transformative: the people that I played with, the coaches that we had and the opportunities that were available to me,” Spreigl said. “My life is so rich, and if I were to trace back what I felt were the ingredients to allow me to have such a sweet setup, today it would be those faces that I saw daily, the coaches that took interest in me as a person, and the faculty [and] advisors at St. Olaf that helped me navigate my four years on the Hill.”
After being born without the under portion of her left arm, Underkofler started Nordic skiing at the age of four, quickly developing a natural feel for the sport despite a disability that would have discouraged most other athletes. After racing competitively in high school, she continued her inspiring success by representing the United States in the 2002 Paralympic Games at the age of 17. After graduating from St. Olaf in 2005, she began training full-time, eventually participating in the next two Paralympics in 2006 and 2010.
LaManna made St. Olaf history as a three-time All-MIAC catcher for the St. Olaf baseball team, with which he played in three regular season MIAC championships. He ranked fourth in St. Olaf history for career hits (176), second in career doubles (47) and sixth in RBIs (119). LaManna led the Oles to three consecutive first-place finishes from 2000-2002, posting an incredible .449 batting average in 2000 and a .697 slugging percentage with 19 doubles the following season, the latter of which is a St. Olaf single-season record.
“I’m lucky to join a few of my teammates in the St. Olaf Athletic [Hall of Fame], and would fully expect to see others from the late ’90s to early 2000s teams join as well,” LaManna said. “It goes to show you the depth of our baseball teams and work ethic of my lifelong friends. My family and I have fond memories and reminisce of those most enjoyable four years on the Hill.”
In previous years, the induction ceremony has been hosted during Homecoming weekend, but this year’s ceremony will take place during reunion weekend on June 3, 2017 in an effort to give these accomplished athletes the proper spotlight they deserve.
“We feel this gives us an opportunity to attract a better audience and to recognize some of our other outstanding student athletes and championship teams,” Bowles said.