Ron Clindaniel, Jonell Pinkerton-McKenzie, Chuck Ford and Lamby Lamberson will join the Slicer Hubner HOF roster

Four standout Slicer athletes of the past will join the ranks of the Norman J. Hubner Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 26, 2018. Ron Clindaniel, Jonell Pinkerton-McKenzie, Chuck Ford and Lambert “Lamby” Lamberson will be honored that evening between the JV and varsity boys basketball games vs Crown Point at Slicer Gym.

The Hubner HOF is named for the longtime Slicer coach and athletic director who died in 1974. The Hall now boasts more than 50 members; the complete list, including the 2018 inductees, is below:   

2007 — Norman J. Hubner; 2008 — Bob Hoke, Ron Reed, Ken Schreiber, Bob Wilkinson; 2009 — Dick Alban, Dick Jones, Stan Klimczak, Jerry Saffell; 2010 — Dick Baumgartner, Hap Belzowski, Tom King, Staci Landis, Bob LeRoy, Bob Strieter; 2011 — Charlie Alsop, Dick Deardurff, Leon Kaminski, Dave Krider, Beth LaPaich, Suzanne Stewart; 2012 — Earl Dolaway, Sewell Leitzman, Dave Parsell, Lyn Swanson; 2013 — Dan Bigg, Matt Graham, Jerry Jackson, Dr. Edwin Mueller, Greg Tonagel; 2014 — John M. French, Jim Friend, Marv and Jane Goad, Wayne Pate, Vince Stigler, Rick Suitor; 2015 — Karen Day, Chip Jones, Rich Lenard, Joe Otis, Mark Scott, Irv Swanson; 2016 — Bob “Hop” Eldridge, Dave Reed, Dawn Buchanan, Mike Fout, Norm Tonsoni, Terry Stevens, Mike Hoke; 2017 — Mark Yates, Doug Schreiber, Dale Lubs, Bill Reed; 2018 — Ron Clindaniel, Jonell Pinkerton-McKenzie, Chuck Ford, Lambert “Lamby” Lamberson.

Here are biographies of the 2018 inductees:

Ron Clindaniel

Affectionately known as “Mr. C,” Ron was one of LaPorte High’s first pioneers in girls sports, becoming basketball head coach in 1978 – the second year for the sport in Indiana. At that point, girls coaches had not been trained because there simply were no sports for them except possibly volleyball and gymnastics. Early teams were filled with girls who had not been taught fundamentals at the grade and middle school levels and the facilities – once belonging only to boys – were extremely cramped, making practice time quite precious. There also was the delicate necessity for a male coach to be in a girls locker room.

Ron really had to start from scratch, but he had one thing that few others had at that time – he had been head boys coach at newly consolidated South Central High School for three years, compiling a 38-27 record and twice winning 15 games. It was a different game than what we see today because there was no 3-point basket and girls first used the same size basketball as boys. They later converted to a smaller basketball because it gave them better control.

Despite many obstacles, Ron compiled a seven-year record of 91-51 (66 percent) and won the sectional championship in 1980-81. The Slicers lost in the regional to Chesterton, which reached the state’s coveted Final Four in a one-class system. That team had an outstanding 19-4 record. He also had teams that posted records of 16-3 and 15-3 and twice captured Duneland Conference titles. He later spent four more years as a varsity assistant and freshman coach before retiring.

Outside of coaching, he (and Joe Otis) started Louie’s Night, and Ron also sponsored the Boys Service Club for several years and served as LaPorte County Council president.

Jonell Pinkerton-McKenzie

Jonell was a four-sport athlete – a rarity even for the era in which she played. Many of today’s athletes specialize in just one sport. Leadership and competitiveness were two of her greatest assets.

The 1991 LPHS graduate says, “I loved that I had the opportunity to letter in four sports and it made me a better (overall) athlete.”

The 5-foot-8 outside hitter lettered three times in volleyball and – another rarity – was co-captain and mental attitude award winner every year. She still says that being named co-captain as a sophomore “was my best achievement – that I could be a leader with Amy VanSchoyck.”

Jonell also lettered three times in basketball as a guard and was co-captain and mental attitude winner during her junior and senior years. She lettered twice in track, where she competed in the 400, 800, long jump, high jump and three relays.

Though she lettered just twice as a softball center fielder, she says that actually was “my first love.” Then she adds this blockbuster: “My only regret in all four years was that I really wanted to (also) play tennis my senior year. I didn’t care if it was only JV.”

Jonell received a volleyball scholarship to Butler University. “The Lord used sports to encourage me to go to college,” she said. She became the first person in her family to get a college degree when she graduated in 1995.

She started all four years for Butler volleyball and was a defensive specialist. In addition, she served as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle at Butler for two years and met her future husband, Bryan McKenzie, while working at an FCA summer camp.

Today they have six children – all athletes – and fondly call their family “Team McKenzie.”

Chuck Ford

Chuck built LaPorte High’s wrestling program from the ground up and his tireless work paid off with three individual state champions before he left for the head job at Carmel.

Chuck is a 1968 graduate of LPHS and earned four varsity letters in wrestling. He compiled a record of 42-21-3 while cutting weight each year from 160 pounds to 127. He was a sectional champion as a junior and senior, being team captain, high scorer and MVP in his final season.

After wrestling at Ball State University, he returned to LaPorte and was mentored by Jack Beck at Kesling Middle School, where he began building programs at the elementary and middle school levels. He eventually became head coach at LPHS and posted a 62-39-4 record. During that time he coached Mark Scott, Jerry Jackson and Vince Stigler to state championships. He also tutored eventual champion Matt Graham in his formative years.

Chuck’s record at Carmel was 74-24-1, with individuals taking third and fifth at the state. Between the two schools he sent 26 wrestlers to the state finals in 13 years, winning five team sectionals, four regionals and three semistates. He was twice nominated for National Coach of the Year and made the Indiana Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1991.

Another special honor while teaching at Carmel came in 1990 when he was named Indiana Geography Educator of the Year.

Chuck also was an instructor at the prestigious Doug Blubaugh Top of the World Sports Camp for 15 years and coached a team that went to China.

“I could never tell anyone at the end of the season what our record was. My priority was how I could make these kids be the best they could be,” he says proudly.

Lamby Lamberson

Growing up in LaPorte, Lamby had great pride in his Greek heritage and idolized Slicer football players Greg Kouttoulas and Charles Lemberis, who had a similar heritage. He was driven to make his own mark with the Slicers.

Though just 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds, the three-year varsity letterman was a fierce two-way competitor, starring in blocking as an offensive guard and tackling as a linebacker. The 1952 graduate was one of the leaders who cleared the way for running back Wayne Glassman to earn Most Valuable Player honors in the tough Northern Indiana Conference.

As a senior in 1951, Lamby captained the Slicers as they posted one of their best records ever – 8-1-1 – under coach John Janzaruk. He was rewarded with All-State and All-Conference honors and received a full football scholarship to Vanderbilt University.

Lamby describes himself as “a stubborn player. I liked to mix it up.” He still is ranked with current Hubner Hall of Famers Dick Alban and Bob Strieter as one of the Slicers’ best players of that era.

At Vanderbilt he “bulked up” to 180 pounds while again playing guard and linebacker. After a good freshman year, he injured his knee as a sophomore, which greatly limited his playing time. However, he came back strong as a junior and senior and helped the 8-2 Commodores upset Auburn in the 1955 Gator Bowl.  

Lamby climaxed his senior year by winning the coveted, first-ever Civitan Award, which still is given out each year to a Vanderbilt athlete who is most admired. It didn’t hurt that he also was an “A” student and graduated in 1956 with an engineering degree.

Now age 84, Lamby lives in Franklin, Tenn., but always returns to LaPorte at least once a year.

One Response to “Ron Clindaniel, Jonell Pinkerton-McKenzie, Chuck Ford and Lamby Lamberson will join the Slicer Hubner HOF roster”

  1. Max E Miller

    Dec 30. 2017

    Proud to have coached with Ron and to have had Jonell play for me. These two are very deserving!

    Reply to this comment

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