Sports Hall of Fame inducts Class of 2020

Sports By Linda Trischitta, Editor Monday, December 20, 2021

   The Town of Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame inducted its latest class on Dec. 4 in an outdoor ceremony in Optimist Park.

     The five new members include former professionals in the National Football League and Major League Baseball; a college volleyball star and coach and two people who have dedicated years to coaching youth sports.

     Howard Schnellenberger, a college and NFL coach who lived in Miami Lakes for 30 years, died at 87 in Boca Raton in March.

     Schnellenberger was the star inductee for the Hall’s Class of 2020; the ceremony was postponed last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

     Schnellenberger was the offensive coordinator under University of Alabama Head Coach Bear Bryant when the Crimson Tide won three national championships in the 1960s. 

     He was an assistant coach and offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, including the 1972 undefeated team which was led by Don Shula, his friend, neighbor and fellow Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame member.

      He led the University of Miami from 1979 -1983 and to the first of its five national championships.     

      Schnellenberger was also head coach for the Baltimore Colts, Oklahoma Sooners, University of Louisville and Florida Atlantic University.

     Gus Gandarillas is a former MLB pitcher with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was a football and baseball star at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High and played at the Optimist Club.  

     After playing baseball at the University of Miami, the Minnesota Twins drafted him in 1992, the town said. Gandarillas is a local youth baseball coach. 

     Roland Gomez is a business owner and former Optimist Club president who led the construction of its first clubhouse, the town said. 

     The Optimist Club scholarship for high school students is named for Gomez. He played football for Miami High School and the University of Florida and has coached soccer in the Optimist program for two decades. 

     Miriam Ochoa was a star volleyball player at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High and attended the University of Florida on a scholarship. 

     As an assistant coach, Ochoa helped lead the Knights to five conference titles and four NCAA tournament appearances, the town said.

      She is a teacher and volleyball coach at her former high school. 

       The late Mike Uspensky played football growing up in West Palm Beach and earned a scholarship to the University of Florida, the town said. 

       He taught and coached football at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High and over 12 years, led the Trojans to district, regional and sectional championships, and some students played in the NFL.

     While Uspensky was an assistant coach in 1975, the team won the state championship.

     The Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee is chaired by Roman Garcia; Helen Roldan is vice-chair and Ryan Holland is secretary. 

     Other members are Karyna Cid; Jim Hamilton; Marcos Gutierrez and Dave Oliver.

     Sponsors for the event included Nu World Title: The Graham Companies; Vicky Bakery; Costco; Fiesta Carousel and Ocean Bank.