Panthers honored at Hall of Fame banquet

Panthers honored at Hall of Fame banquet

The 1977 National Championship softball team and former wrestler Mario Galanakis were inducted into the Ellsworth Community College Hall of Fame as part of the Homecoming festivities.

Even decades later, all 12 of the newest members of the Hall of Fame remembered the friendships.

"Probably more than anything, just the relationships I made with a lot of people around here. Good, good friends that turned into more than just teammates but lifelong friends," said Galanakis. "It's a tight knit community. Everybody kind of knows everybody, rather than a big college where most people don't even know who you are."

Galanakis didn't get recruited to attend ECC, he had plans of going to the University of Northern Iowa but before school started he received a letter saying that he didn't qualify and was missing some paperwork. A former high school teammate of his was going to Iowa Falls to wrestle for Jack Denholm and told him to go to ECC.

Galanakis was a four-time Iowa High School State Tournament place-winner and while at ECC was 59-12.
His sophomore season, Galanakis went 32-3 and finished third at the NJCAA National Tournament and was an All-American.

All 10 players – and head coach Dick Larson – were in attendance to accept their plaques. The squad went 23-3-1 for the spring season. At the first ever NJCAA National Tournament, the Panthers went 3-0 including a 3-2 comeback win in the title game. Teri (Kirk) Taylor, Gloria (Andersen) Zimmerman and Lori Stielow were named to the All-Tournament team after finishing 3-0.  

The softball team joins two other National Championship squads in the Hall of Fame: 1976 and 1987 football teams.

Larson, Stielow and Zimmerman were inducted as individuals in previous classes.

"I can't begin to tell you how much this means to me. Yes, being inducted as an individual was a huge honor but to be able to go into the hall with all of my teammates is indescribable. I love these women. We've been friends for 40-plus years, we get together and it's like old times," Stielow said. "It's such a tremendous honor to go in with my entire team and coach. Which is also very important to all of us, that he is going to be here today to accept this along with us."

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