2014 University of Denver Athletics Hall of Fame Class Announced

July 16, 2014

DENVER- The University of Denver Division of Athletics and Recreation announced today the inductees to the 2014 Athletics Hall of Fame. Seven individuals will join the 2004 DU hockey team for the 15th celebration of the DU Athletics Hall of Fame. Inductees are listed below with brief bios on each: 

HERITAGE ERA INDUCTEES

John MacMillan                  1958-60         Hockey

Jim Shea                           1958-61         Skiing 

MODERN ERA INDUCTEE

Jim Elliott                          1988-90         Baseball 

FEMALE INDUCTEES

Jessica Lopez                    2006-09         Gymnastics

Lorna Lyles (Armani)          1990-93         Volleyball 

SPECIAL INDIVIDUAL

Milton (Mitz) Kurth              1955-85         General Maintenance Foreman 

FORMER COACH INDUCTEE

Kurt Smitz                         1992-2006     Skiing                                   

SPECIAL TEAM INDUCTEE

2004 Hockey Team            2004             National Champion 

This year’s induction ceremony will take place on November 1, 2014 at 6 p.m., as part of the Taste of DU event during the Homecoming & Family Weekend. The honorees will then proceed to Magness Arena to be introduced during the first and second periods of the Denver vs. Boston College hockey game. The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center (7800 East Tufts Avenue, Denver, CO 80237) will serve as the host hotel for inductees traveling in from outside the Front Range and special rates are offered to Denver alumni. A complete list of Homecoming & Family Weekend activities will be announced in the coming weeks through the University of Denver Office of Alumni Relations. 

HERITAGE ERA INDUCTEES 

John MacMillan – Hockey, 1958-60

A standout for Denver Pioneer hockey, John MacMillan set the bar for excellence.  In his first year playing for the Pioneers, MacMillan won DU’s first NCAA Championship, and again in 1960.  A captain and three-time letter winner, he was named to the Frozen Four All-Tournament Teams in 1958 and 1960.  In 1960, he was selected to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, with whom he won two Stanley Cups in 1962 and 1963.  He proceeded to play two years with the Detroit Red Wings before retiring from professional hockey in 1971. 

Jim Shea – Skiing, 1958-61

Jim Shea has made an indelible mark in DU skiing history.  A four-time letter winner, he brought success in his three years at DU.  In 1961, he was named team captain as well as an All-American, to go along with his team’s fourth all-time NCAA Title.  After his career with the Pioneers, he went on to be a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team in Nordic combined and cross-country skiing, and coached the U.S. Nordic combined and biathlon teams in 1970 and 1972, respectively.  In 2002, he was the torchbearer of the Winter Olympic Games, at which his son brought home the Gold medal in skeleton. 

MODERN ERA INDUCTEE 

Jim Elliott – Baseball, 1988-90

Winning All-District VII three times, Jim Elliott was a true Pioneer in the sport of baseball.  As a catcher, he was a Converse First-Team NAIA All-American in 1989, and as a freshman hit the single-season home run record.  His career home run record of 57 was accomplished in his three seasons at DU.  In June of 1987, Elliott was drafted by the Houston Astros Baseball Club, and in June 1990, opted to sign a professional contract with the San Diego Padres, where he would play three seasons. 

FEMALE INDUCTEES 

Jessica Lopez – Gymnastics, 2006-09

After a stellar University of Denver career, Jessica Lopez was named the team MVP in 2009. In her final season as a Pioneer, Lopez advanced to the 2009 NCAA National Championships as the nation’s No. 1 all-arounder. At the 2009 Nationals, she moved to the individual event finals on vault and finished sixth in the nation with a score of 9.8313. Lopez went on to earn First Team All-American on vault and Second Team All-American on beam. In 2008 she had the finest regular season in school history, winning nine all-around titles and 24 individual event titles. For her exploits, she was named the 2008 Colorado Sportswoman of the Year for gymnastics. She is a two-time Olympian (2008, 2012) and in 2008 in Beijing, China, became the first female gymnast in University of Denver history to compete in the Summer Olympic Games. 

Lorna Lyles (Armani) – Volleyball, 1990-93

No one in Pioneer volleyball history is more decorated than Lorna Lyles.  A letter winner all four years, she holds five all-time records in games played (528), kills (1,802), attack attempts (4,594), solo blocks (201) and total blocks (539), as well as four top-five records in block assists (second, 338), digs (second, 1,337), kills per game (third, 3.41), service aces (fourth, 157) and attack percentage (fifth, .241).  She was named Rookie of the Year in the Colorado Athletic Conference in 1990, first-team All-AVCA All Region in 1992 and 1993 and first-team All-Colorado Athletic Conference from 1990-93.  Additionally, she was named to the Silver Anniversary of Women’s Athletics at DU, nominated for the Colorado Sportswoman of the Year, and was a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Traineeship from 1995-98. 

SPECIAL INDIVIDUAL 

Milton (Mitz) Kurth – General Maintenance Foreman, 1955-85

Milton (Mitz) Kurth tenured 30 years at DU as General Maintenance Foreman from 1955-85.  He was responsible for administrative oversight of all indoor and outdoor facilities, and was an avid fan and supporter of all DU student-athletes and Pioneer sports programs. In spite of facility and budget limitations, Kurth went above and beyond to improve and uphold facilities and maintenance support. He served as a Mile High Red Cross Volunteer where he and his wife, Millie, donated hundreds of hours of volunteer time providing transportation support for senior citizens unable to drive. Kurth is also a long-time DU hockey season ticket holder.  

FORMER COACH INDUCTEE 

Kurt Smitz – Director of Skiing Operations and Head Alpine Coach, 1992-06

Kurt Smitz spent 14 seasons with the University of Denver ski program, during which time he coached his teams to four national titles.  Individually, he guided Pioneer skiers to individual national championships and a multitude of All-American finishes. Additionally, six Pioneer skiers earned Academic All-American honors and 10 received prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate scholarships in his tenure.  In 2000, Smitz led Denver to the first of three consecutive national championships, becoming the first team to pull off that feat since 1988.  The Pioneers won the 2001 title in Middlebury, Vermont, as Denver skiers won two individual titles and garnered 11 All-American honors, and in 2002 in Alaska they won their third, with dominating performances in the women’s giant slalom and men’s freestyle Nordic race.  Smitz and the 2005 Pioneers earned their fourth title in six years. 

TEAM INDUCTEE

2004 Hockey Team – National Champion

Bringing home the NCAA Championship to DU for the first time in 35 years, the 2004 Pioneers are a squad to be remembered.  Winning the Frozen Four with a 1-0 score over Maine in Boston, Massachusetts, they finished the season with a 27-12-5 (.614) record, including seven shutouts, tied for first all-time, and 10 shorthanded goals, tied for third all-time.  It would be head coach George Gwozdecky’s first of two national titles during his 19-year DU coaching career.  Additionally, they iced six players who would go on to play in the NHL: Adam Berkhoel (Atlanta), Ryan Caldwell (New York Islanders, Phoenix), Matt Carle (San Jose, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia), Gabe Gauthier (Los Angeles), Connor James (Los Angeles, Pittsburgh) and Brett Skinner (New York Islanders). Other members of the 2003-04 team: Max Bull, J.D. Corbin, Lukas Dora, Jeff Drummond, Glenn Fisher, Jon Foster, Luke Fulghum, Jussi Halme, Michael Handza, Ryan Helgason, Jon James, Greg Keith, Danny King, Matt Laatsch, Nick Larson, Scott McConnell, Brock McMorris, Jeff Rogers, Kevin Ulanski, Adrian Veideman and the late Ted O'Leary. 

-EXPERIENCE DENVER ATHLETICS- 

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