Tuesday the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame selection committee chose six athletic standouts from a deep class of Colorado talent as the Class of 2020 inductees.
Among them are skiing legend Lindsey Vonn, Paralympian Erin Popovich, Air Force grad and Olympian Alonzo Babers, Mitchell football star Terry Miller, former University of Denver hockey coach George Gwozdecky, and former Colorado Rockies general manager Robert Gebhard.
The inductees will be honored at the 56th Colorado Sports Hall of Fame banquet, set for April 23 at the Hilton Denver City Center.
Vonn, with Olympic gold and bronze medals, two world championships and four World Cup titles, is the most successful American skier in the history of alpine skiing. She lived in Colorado from the late 1990s and recently put her home up for sale in Vail. Vonn received 20 of 28 votes from the selection committee.
Erin Popovich became the Hall of Fame’s first Paralympic inductee and was described by committee members as the best Paralympian in history. The 34-year-old swimmer has 19 Paralympic medals, including 14 golds over three Olympiads. Popovich graduated from Colorado State in 2007 and was a walk-on to the CSU Division I swim team. She was the 2009 Colorado Sportswoman of the Year and a two-time ESPY Award winner for best Female Athlete with a Disability.
Babers won two golds at the 1984 Summer Olympics in the 400 and 4x400-meter relay, which he trained for at the Air Force Academy. Babers attended Air Force from 1979 to 1983, competed on the track team and was a walk-on on the football team. While training for the Olympic trials in Los Angeles, Babers was granted special permission to train and work as an active duty officer in the Air Force, and held rank of lieutenant. One month after the Olympics he reported to flight training and began his career as a pilot. He is a 777 pilot for United Airlines.
Miller was a first-ballot Colorado Sports Hall of Fame selection and is considered one of the most prolific running backs in Colorado prep history. The 1973 Mitchell High School graduate rushed for 2,785 yards as a senior. He also helped the Marauders to the 1973 basketball state championship, and was a state-champion sprinter on the track team.
Miller played football at Oklahoma State where he was an All-American in 1976 and 77, and finished second in the 1977 Heisman Trophy voting. He was later selected fifth overall in the 1978 NFL draft, played four seasons with the Buffalo Bills and spent a year with the Seattle Seahawks.
He was inducted into the Oklahoma State Hall of Fame in 2006, but remains absent from the Colorado Springs Hall of Fame.
Gwozdecky coached the DU hockey team for 19 seasons where he guided the team to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2004 and '05. He accumulated a 443-267-64 record in Denver, won three regular-season championships in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and four WCHA playoff crowns. In his final 12 years at the helm Gwozdecky the Pioneers won no fewer than 20 games in a season.
Gebhard played a vital role in bringing the Rockies to Colorado. He was the first general manager of the Rockies and supervised the building of the farm system, ran the expansion draft and was responsible for bringing some of the biggest names to Colorado, helping the Rockies find success almost immediately. With a wild-card playoff appearance in 1995 — just two years after the inaugural season — the Rockies were the fastest expansion team of any sport to make the playoffs at the time.
Editor’s note: Preps editor Lindsey Smith and Gazette columnist David Ramsey are voting members of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame selection committee.