Five individuals will be inducted into the Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 26. Jackie Thomas ’09 Goebel, Wally Hanas ’84, Jeff Horton ’08, Taylor Root ’14 Lopez and posthumous inductee Wally Gilbert ’22 comprise the 22nd class in Hall of Fame history.
Goebel was a mainstay on defense for the Valpo women’s soccer team from 2005 to 2008. She was a three-time First Team All-Conference honoree, earning First Team accolades in the Mid-Continent Conference as a freshman and as a sophomore before picking up First Team All-Horizon League honors as a senior, and was a Second Team All-Horizon League choice as a junior as well. Goebel was a member of the 2005 side which won the Mid-Con regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, as well as the 2006 squad which repeated as Mid-Con regular season champions.
Goebel backboned the defense as it recorded three of the top-five defensive seasons in program history in her final three years. She started 76 matches over her four-year career, eighth-most in program history. A threat on the attack as well, Goebel matched a then-program record with four game-winning goals as a junior in 2007 and finished her career with seven match-winners, tied for fifth-most all-time at Valpo. Also a standout in the classroom, she was a CoSIDA Third Team Academic All-American in 2007 and an NSCAA Third Team Scholar All-American as a senior in 2008.
Hanas was a standout for the Valpo men’s golf program from 1980 to 1984. He won seven tournaments in his time at Valpo, highlighted by his capture of the individual title at the 1982 Heartland Collegiate Conference tournament as a junior, and led the program in scoring average in each of his four seasons.
A four-time All-HCC honoree, Hanas placed second at the HCC tournament in the fall of 1980 as a freshman. He finished sixth at the HCC tournament in helping Valpo capture the team championship in 1981 as well. As Valpo transitioned to the Association of Mid-Continent Universities, Hanas placed third at the AMCU-8 conference tournament in the spring of 1983 and seventh in the spring of 1984.
Horton was a running back for the Valpo football program from 2003 to 2007. Valpo’s all-time leading rusher, Horton closed his career with 3,072 rushing yards —746 yards more than second place on Valpo’s career chart — and 24 rushing touchdowns. He finished his time at Valpo with 188 total points scored, third-most in program history.
Horton enjoyed his best season in 2005, as he was named to the NCAA I-AA Mid-Major All-America Team and was a First Team All-PFL selection. He set Valpo single-season records that year with 257 carries for 1,358 yards, rushed for 10 touchdowns and ranked among the top-10 nationally in both rushing yards per game and all-purpose yards per game. Horton broke Valpo’s single-game rushing record with 253 yards in 2005 against Wisconsin Lutheran, and matched the program’s single-game touchdown record with four TDs in 2006 versus Wisconsin Lutheran.
Lopez was a libero for the Valpo volleyball team from 2009 to 2012 and stands out as one of the most prolific back-row players in NCAA history. She was a three-time AVCA Honorable Mention All-American and three-time All-Midwest Region selection. One of only two players in Horizon League history to earn First Team All-League honors in each of her four years, Lopez was the league’s Newcomer of the Year in 2009 and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in each of her final three seasons.
Lopez holds Valpo’s all-time digs record and ranks fifth in NCAA Division I history with 2,752 career digs, and also ranks 11th in NCAA history with 5.55 digs per set. She owns three of the top seven single-season dig totals in program history, including a program-record 754 as she led the nation in digs per set as a sophomore in 2010. A three-time member of the Horizon League All-Tournament Team and 11-time Horizon League Player of the Week, Lopez set program single-match records during her career for digs in a three-set match and in a five-set match.
Gilbert was a three-sport standout during his time at Valpo, serving as team captain for the football, basketball and baseball teams during his senior year of 1921-22. He earned All-American honors on the gridiron as a halfback as a senior. Following his graduation, Gilbert played professional basketball on a number of touring teams and also spent two seasons with the Duluth Eskimos in the early years of the National Football League, where he was regarded as one of the league’s top punters.
Gilbert’s greatest professional success post-Valpo came on the baseball diamond, however. He played five seasons of Major League Baseball, manning third base for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1928 to 1931 and playing third for the Cincinnati Reds in 1932. A career .269 hitter in his five MLB seasons, he hit .304 with 88 runs scored and 58 RBIs in 1929 and followed by hitting .294 with 92 runs scored and 56 RBIs in 1930. Gilbert was selected by The Sporting News as the third baseman for the all-time Brooklyn Dodgers team when the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
The Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26 in Hilltop Gym at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The banquet is slated to begin at 4 p.m., with registration starting at 3:30 p.m. The cost of the banquet is $30 per person, and reservations can be made by contacting Sharon Jackson at 219.464.5471 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for making reservations is Friday, Jan. 18. The inductees will also be recognized at halftime of the men’s basketball game that evening.