August 20, 2014 - Like others before him, Danny VanVleet considers it "an honor" to be named as one of the inductees to the Oxford Hall of Fame.
Hall of Famer Danny VanVleet playing football for Oxford back in the early 1960s. (click for larger version)
VanVleet, who graduated in 1964, was one of the most versatile athletes of the mid 1960s.
VanVleet earned 11 varsity letters while a Wildcat. In Oxford's first year in the Tri-County League in 1963, VanVleet helped the Wildcats to a 7-2 record and a shared league crown, something VanVleet considered "really an accomplishment."
"We played in the tri-county conference where it was class A teams and we were a class B team," he explained.
While ailing from apparent appendicitis, VanVleet still scored two touchdowns for legendary Coach Walt Braun's Wildcats as the varsity beat Lake Orion, 25-7 and retained the famed "Double O Pigskin" trophy. He finished as a two-time team MVP and earned all-league, all-county and second team all-state accolades for his exploits on the gridiron.
"Walt Braun told me at 135 pounds 'you're the leader of this team, and you have to lead every lap," VanVleet said. "He pushed us and pushed us and pushed us and it all paid off."
VanVleet enjoying life today. (click for larger version)
In addition to being named team MVP in basketball as a junior, VanVleet earned varsity letters in baseball his freshman and sophomore years before transitioning to track & field. As a harrier, VanVleet set Oxford records in both the 330-yard low hurdles and as a member of the 880-yard relay team.
"We were undefeated I don't know how many years and meets in a row," he said. "It's unbelievable in both track and football how Coach Braun turned things around there."
Upon graduation, VanVleet was named the George Prince Award winner (most outstanding senior male athlete) and the Oxford Cup Recipient for 1964. VanVleet was a member of the Central Michigan University football team before graduating from CMU in 1968.
Looking back at his Oxford career, VanVleet also considered it a great honor that he got to play football with former Hall of Fame Inductee's Jim Bates and Mike Lantry.
"Jim and I have stayed really close friends," he said. "We hunt together in the winter and I've watched his football (coaching) career."
As far as how Oxford sports impacted his life, VanVleet said he owes a great thanks to Coach Braun.
"He was just amazing as far as what he did for Jim and me," he added. "The number of people he affected with the way he did things is unbelievable."
As for sports, VanVleet said in that time period sports was the thing to do.
"We woke up in the morning and the first thing we would do is jump on our bikes and go play baseball or we'd freeze our rinks over in the back of our yard and play hockey," he said. "We did nothing but sports all day long."
He currently resides in Florida with his family and is still active in sports as the president of a youth football league, but looks back on his own childhood in Oxford with great fondness.
"It was just a simple time to grow up and I feel blessed that I got to grow up in a little town. (It was) the Gravel Capital (of) the World at that time, where you knew everybody and your parents knew everybody. There was so much support in the community," VanVleet continued. "I'm looking forward to coming back and seeing what Oxford looks like today."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.