Miami Lakes names Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
The five inductees for the Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 have ties to the University of Miami,
University of Florida; Florida Atlantic University;
Miami Lakes Optimist Club and Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School.
Former Miami Hurricanes football coach and Miami Dolphins assistant Howard Schnellenberger headlines the class, which also includes the late Mike Uspensky, Gustavo “Gus” Gandarillas, Miriam Ochoa and Roland Gomez.
The town council unanimously approved the selections on April 21.
“That class is unbelievable, the amount of talent, the amount of work ethic, folks that coached, folks that played, all around,” Mayor Manny Cid said then.
Schnellenberger was head coach at Miami from 1979 through 1983, ending his tenure after leading the Hurricanes to the first of their five national championships.
He also was an assistant on the Dolphins’ 1972 undefeated team under fellow Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame enshrinee Don Shula.
Uspensky is a former Hialeah-Miami Lakes High football coach and played at Florida.
He died on April 2, shortly after learning he was selected for the class.
Uspensky received notice ahead of other inductees because of his health issues.
Gandarillas played quarterback for Uspensky at HML before focusing on baseball, which he played at the University of Miami and then professionally for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Ochoa is a former HML girls’ volleyball standout and remains the volleyball coach there.
Gomez played college football for Florida and became a soccer coach for the Optimist Club of Miami Lakes in the 1980s.
The 86-year-old Schnellenberger is a former head coach for the Baltimore Colts, Oklahoma, Lousiville and Florida Atlantic University.
He played for legendary coach Bear Bryant at
Kentucky, then became part of Bryant’s staff at the University of Alabama.
Schnellenberger and his wife, Beverlee, raised their three sons in Miami Lakes.
Uspensky will be inducted posthumously with his widow, Carolyn, accepting the honor for him.
He was 72 when he died.
Uspensky was born in Columbus, Ohio; his parents moved the family to West Palm Beach when he was a kid.
He played fullback at Palm Beach High School and earned a scholarship at Florida.
Uspensky was the head football coach for HML when the Trojans won district, regional and sectional championships in 1978 and 1990.
Gandarillas, 48, played one season for the Brewers and spent 12 years in the minor leagues.
Besides competing at baseball in high school, Gandarillas also played quarterback for the Trojans.
He is a lieutenant with the City of Miami Fire Department and earned All-Dade and All-State baseball honors in 1989 after his team advanced to the state final four.
“Growing up playing the sport as a kid, I never imagined being inducted into the Hall of Fame,’’ Gandarillas said. “It’s an incredible honor.” Joining the Hall with Uspensky and Schnellenberger was also a thrill.
“These are legendary coaches,” he said.
Gandarillas is an assistant coach for the Miami Lakes Avengers, a traveling baseball team that practices at Optimist Park.
He also hosts baseball clinics in Miami Lakes.
Gomez, a longtime Miami Lakes resident and volunteer for the Optimist Club, said he was surprised when he learned of his selection.
“A nice surprise. I’m very honored,” he said.
Gomez, 81, said his wife, three children and two grandchildren will attend his enshrinement.
Gomez is a lawyer in Miami. He was born in New York, raised in Miami and is a member of the Miami High School Hall of Fame.
He helped build the Optimist organization’s first clubhouse.
Gomez has dedicated nearly three decades of his life to youth sports in town.
The Optimist Club named a scholarship after him, The Roland Gomez Scholarship Award, which each year gives $1,000 to a high school boy and girl that they will use toward their college costs.
Ochoa graduated from HML and played college volleyball at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
She later coached women’s volleyball at the college before returning home to her high school alma mater to teach and coach.
The induction ceremony, originally scheduled for June 6, is delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.