MHS alumni inductees recognized in Hall of Fame

Riley Coesens, Editor in Chief

Most high school athletes hope to be remembered in some way by their peers; few create a legacy where they are honored for generations to come. On Friday, Feb. 7 during the varsity basketball game against Lakeland, Milford High School welcomed seven candidates to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Chosen by the 10-member Hall of Fame Committee in November, these Milford alumni illustrate the value of interscholastic sports, proudly representing the community. 

Originally created by Gene Balawajder, this event has unified students and families for years. It was created to showcase the tremendous efforts made by student athletes who excelled in their sport at MHS and often beyond. This year, the following athletes were acknowledged for their dedication: Kalie Burdick, 2008; Chris Cunningham, 2010; Shawn Kemp (Raisig), 1999;  Amber Pearsall, 2006; Kayla Schoenle (Ogden), 2010; Seth Thibodeau, 2004; and Brandon Wallace, 2012. Each athlete was recognized for school, county, and state awards and records during his/her seasons at MHS, and greatly contributed to the success of the teams at the time. 


Milford’s first honoree of the evening was Kalie Burdick, a 4-year varsity softball player and captain of her team senior year. While at MHS, she earned 1st-Team all-conference four times, 1st-Team All-District three times, 1st-Team All-Region once and Honorable Mention All-State. Burdick was also in the Top 50 players in Oakland County and Oakland County Athlete of the Month (April 2008), named the Most Valuable Player her senior year, and held the school record for Game-Winning Hits at her graduation. She continued her love for softball as an athlete at Saginaw Valley State University and currently trains youth around the Mid-Michigan area. 


Chris Cunningham, class of 2010, earned seven varsity letters in basketball and golf. As part of the basketball team, he earned 1st-Team All-Conference and was awarded Team Most Valuable Player. He graduated 4th All-Time in career and had the most 3-point baskets made (84). “Chris was a good teammate and worked hard at everything he did. He was a skilled shooter too,” said MHS teacher and basketball coach David Gilbert. As part of the golf team, Cunningham led his teammates to victory with a MHSAA State Championship runner-up finish in 2006. Individually, he was a 3-Time team captain, 3-Time All-Conference, 3-Time All-County, and 2-Time 1st Team All-State golfer. Cunningham continued to excel at Grand Valley State University and played professional golf on various mini-tours. 


Shawn Kemp (Raisig), class of 1999, received nine varsity letters as part of Milford’s Cross Country, Track and Field, and Volleyball teams. For her cross country career, Kemp was a 3-Time team MVP, 4-Time All-Conference runner, 4-Time All-County runner, and a 4-Time MHSAA finalist. In 1995 and 1997 she earned All-State honors and was named the KVS individual champion in 1995. For track and field, she was a 3-Time MHSAA State Finalist and a 2-Time MHSAA State Medalist (both in the 3200m run). When Kemp graduated, she held the school record in the 3200m at 11:23.0. In addition to her athletic feats, she also graduated as Valedictorian, attended the University of Michigan, currently teaches English at the University of Tübingen in Germany, and now trains a group of runners doing the Half Marathon in Copenhagen in September 2020. “She was a great leader among her peers,” Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Brian Salyers said. “Shawn made sure to have fun with everything she did.”

Amber Pearsall, class of 2006, earned seven varsity letters as part of the basketball and track and field teams. As a runner, she won four consecutive Kensington Valley Conference championships and four MHSAA Regional championships. “Amber’s incredible talents and versatility helped our girls track team go undefeated in duals during her career,” Salyers said. The program flourished during her time, finishing with 29 wins and zero losses in dual meets. During her senior year, Pearsall was a member of the 1600m relay team that became MHSAA Regional and State champions, earned 13 MHSAA medals, and was an MHSAA state qualifier in nine events. She graduated with the fourth all-time high score at MHS (465.25 points), and continued her athletic career at Grand Valley State University as part of the track and field team, and is now coaching student volleyball, track and field, and basketball teams. 


Kayla Schoenle (Ogden), class of 2010, received seven varsity letters as a member of the basketball, track and field, and volleyball teams. She was named the track and field team’s MVP twice, earned All-Conference honors all four seasons, and helped her team win a conference title and an MHSAA regional title in 2007. She was also the individual conference champion in the following events: 100m (2008), 200m (2008), and the 400m (2010), and held the school records for each event upon graduation. “She is tough and loved to compete, and is always positive and outgoing,” Salyers explained. Schoenle attended Kent State University post-graduation, where she continued to run for the Golden Flashes. 


Seth Thibodeau, class of 2004, earned eight varsity letters as a runner for MHS’ cross country and track and field teams. As a member of the cross country team, Milford won consecutive Conference, Oakland County, and MHSAA Regional Championships with Thibodeau’s support; he also led his team to an MHSAA State Runner Up finish in 2002 and an MHSAA State Championship in 2003. Individually, he was a 2-Time All-State runner, a KVC and Oakland County champion in 2003, and held the Kensington course School Record time (16:00.0). He was the 3200m MHSAA Regional Champion (2003), the 1600m Oakland County Champion (2004), and the 4x3200m MHSAA Regional Champion (2004), and held the 3200m school record (9:15.33). “Seth Thibodeau is the most legendary man in the storied history of the Milford Cross Country program. In Middle School, he was the slowest person on the team,” Salyers explained. “As a freshman, he made his way up to the 10th fastest freshman. His unrelenting work ethic resulted in a constant improvement throughout his four years.” After graduation, Thiodeau attended the University of Michigan, ran Cross Country all four years, and still enjoys running today. 


To end the evening, Brandon Wallace, class of 2012, was honored as a 10 varsity letter athlete in Basketball, Football, and Track and Field. He earned All-Conference honors and was named Team MVP his senior basketball season. In 2012, Wallace also was named 2nd-Team All-State, 1st-Team All-Conference, and Offensive MVP during the football season. His best sport, however, was Track and Field; his success came with various awards for the 800m run and relays: Oakland County Champion (2011), MHSAA State champion (2012), 4x800m MHSAA State Champion relay, and 4×800 MHSAA State Record time holder upon graduation (7:36.32). “Brandon is a gentle giant. [He was] a multi-sport athlete that excelled at nearly everything he attempted,” said Salyers. After high school, Wallace went to Michigan State University, where he was honored for both his athletic and academic success for the Spartans. “He was a freak of nature, a stud athlete in all aspects,” added Gilbert. “He was selfless and gifted, and always focused on the team.”


All seven athletes overcame challenges and left a legacy among their peers and community members. Each made an impact in the hearts and minds of supportive friends, family, and MHS staff, and encouraged others around them to be the best they could be. Their accomplishments will live on in Milford history, and will inspire future generations of athletes to achieve success in their own ways.