Greater Pueblo Sports Association inducts 6 local legends into hall of fame
By Ben Cason
The Pueblo Star Journal
Nov. 3, 2023
The Greater Pueblo Sports Association has announced their six inductees into their Hall of Fame who will be enshrined at their 51st annual banquet Nov. 15.
The new six inductees are Dale Cresswell, Todd Kelly, Casey King, John Loia, Dan Sanchez and Kory Sperry. With the addition of the 2023 class, the GPSA now has 376 members enshrined, with 336 of them men and 40 women.
The GPSA is a non-profit organization that promotes prominent athletes, sports teams and recreational activities in Pueblo County. 2022 was the 50th year of inductees, when seven were inducted.
This year’s Hall of Famers are:
Dale Cresswell is a longtime football coach and player in Pueblo. He played college football at the University of Southern Colorado (now CSU Pueblo). He started for three years as linebacker. He was a starter on the first team in USC history to make the playoffs. He earned an honorable mention for All-American in 1984. He played on the Pueblo Crusaders from 1986-1989 and was a key player on their 1989 championship team.
Cresswell became a coach at East High School in 1990. He put together a 41-33 career record and three state playoff appearances. In 2008 when CSU Pueblo relaunched their football program, Cresswell became an assistant LB coach. He coached at CSU Pueblo until 2019 and coached five All-American linebackers in his time. He was a key coach on the 2014 championship team.
Longtime CSU Pueblo head football coach John Wristen said, “He helped establish a standard of playing championship defense. He would also come in early on Sundays and help grade the film. I don’t know if you can find people like that anymore.”
Todd Kelly is a Pueblo native who played basketball, baseball and football at Centennial High School and has worked at CSU Pueblo as a Sports Information Director, Assistant Athletic Director and now as the President of the CSU Pueblo Foundation. Kelly was a key player on the 1983 basketball and football teams who won South Central League titles at Centennial. He was inducted to the Centennial HS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
Kelly also played on the Pueblo Crusaders football team as a defensive back and on special teams. He recovered a key onside kick in the 1989 national championship game to secure the win for the Crusaders. At CSU Pueblo, Kelly raised over $24 million for CSU Pueblo Athletics and was a founding member of the CSU Pueblo Athletic Hall of Fame committee.
Kelly also negotiated with the Colorado High School Activities Association to bring the 6-man, 8-man, 1A and 2A football national championship games to Pueblo until 2028.
Dan DeRose, former CSU Pueblo Athletic Director, said, “His leadership enabled the construction of the $2,500,000 Art and Loraine Gonzales soccer and rugby stadium on campus. Most importantly Friends of Football upon their disbandment entrusted Todd with ownership and management of the Thunderbowl.
King is a longtime Pueblo coach who now is the winningest volleyball coach in Pueblo West High School’s history. His record is 403-117. He started coaching volleyball in 1997 and coached until 2008. In 2013 he was brought back and still is coaching today. He has also served as the head baseball coach from 1997-2000 and head girls basketball coach in 2000 at Pueblo West.
King is now in the top 10 volleyball coaches in Colorado’s history in terms of wins. King has coached 18 South Central League championship volleyball teams and has now coached 30 All State athletes. Aside from coaching, King was a teacher at Pueblo West from 1997 to 2008.
Anna Martinez, Pueblo West’s lead ESS teacher and assistant volleyball coach, said, “The positive culture he creates everyday is what sets him apart from the others. For example, everyday, Coach King starts with a motivational quote for his players. The quotes are usually from professional athletes, but they go beyond any sport. It’s more about how to be a better teammate, a better leader, a better person, a better example etc.”
John Loia, a longtime Pueblo coach and administrator, coached the Central Bulldog football team to three Bell Game victories among other accomplishments. Loia was a running back and a sprinter for Southern Colorado State College, now CSU Pueblo. In 1973 Loia was a part of the conference championship team for the 4x100 relay. Loia coached track at Central in 1984 with the team winning the city and regional championship.
He was the head coach for Central football from 1985 to 1988 and again in 1990. His teams made the state playoffs in 1987 and 1988 with 7-3 records. He has served as an administrator at Risley Middle School and East High School since.
Rick Macias, Director of Athletics for Pueblo CIty Schools, said, “Mr. Loia’s best quality is his passion to help not only student athletes in any way he can, but he has a huge heart for every student he comes across in everyday life.”
Dan Sanchez has been Pueblo West High School’s head baseball coach since 2003. In his 19 years of coaching he has led the Cyclones to 10 league championships, six regional championships, four state championship appearances and the 2019 state championship for 4A baseball. He’s sent approximately 60 student athletes to college baseball.
Aside from baseball, Sanchez has jumped into other sports at Pueblo West. He served as the Offensive Coordinator for the football team for 10 years and the head coach of the boys golf team since 2015. He also was an assistant coach on the girls basketball team in 2020 and 2021.
Longtime Pueblo West High School Athletic Director Jerry Ribaudo said, “While his coaching achievements speak for themselves, the most important thing is the character, integrity and dedication he has displayed toward his players, coaches and his school.”
Sperry played basketball and football at County high school from 2003 to 2007. He played QB, DE and TE with the Hornets and was named first-team All State in basketball and football. He was named Athlete of the Year in 2004 by the GPSA.
He played football at CSU Fort Collins for the Rams and lettered all four years. He finished his career at Colorado State with the fourth most touchdown catches in school history. He played in the NFL as a TE from 2009-2013 between the Dolphins, Chargers and Cardinals. He totaled nine catches for 152 yards and a touchdown in his NFL career.
Since retiring from the NFL, Sperry works in the Broomfield Police Academy and is an instructor for a women’s defense class. He also coaches youth basketball and football.
Jarrod Lang, who worked with Sperry in Broomfield said, “His belief was always if you aren’t out there on the court or field giving your all, then you shouldn’t be there. I can see that drive and fire he has when he’s coaching his son’s football or basketball games.”
For more information on the hall of fame event on Nov. 15, visit the Greater Pueblo Sports Association website at pueblogshof.com.