Former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula recently headlined the inaugural class of the Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame inductees, the NFL’s most winningest coach who guided his team to the only undefeated season in NFL history.
Joining Shula was his former player tight end Jim Mandich, former MLB player Alex Ochoa and longtime Miami Lakes Optimist Club member Jack McCall.
The induction ceremony for the 2017 class Hall of Fame took place May 13 during the grand opening of the new Optimist Club house at Miami Lakes Optimist Park.
The selection committee, which included chairman and AP sports writer Tim Reynolds, vice chair Roman Garcia, secretary Carlos Alvarez and committee member Jim Hamilton, who’s also a long time member of the Miami Lakes Optimist Club, voted unanimously for the four nominees to enter the Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made at the May 2 Miami Lakes Town Council meeting.
According to Reynolds, who’s among the 100 sports writers around the country who vote for the NBA’s MVP, said the four inductees epitomized the basic criteria for selection, that being they have made significant contribution to sports and the local community.
The committee reviewed 10 candidates for the Hall of Fame, generated both internally and from the public, before selecting the inductees.
Shula, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is still widely regarded as the best coach in NFL history. His record includes 347 victories, two Super Bowl championships as coach of the Dolphins, and he engineered the NFL's first and still only Perfect Season. Before his coaching tenure in Miami, Shula led the Baltimore Colts to the Super Bowl against Joe Namath and the New York Jets in the Orange Bowl.
Shula has also had enormous impact on the town as a businessman, with a hotel, restaurants and a golf course within the town bearing his name.
Mandich was a Miami Lakes resident and longtime star tight end for the Miami Dolphins. After his playing days, he became a successful broadcaster and radio host for Miami Dolphins games, as well as a restaurateur and owner-operator of a drywall contracting company. He died in April 2011 from bile duct cancer, and his family – through the wildly successful fundraising Dolphins Cancer Challenge – continues his legacy and impact on the community today.
Ochoa, a Miami Lakes native born and still a resident of the town at this time, spent parts of eight seasons with six different Major League Baseball franchises before continuing his playing career in Japan. He was a career .279 batter in the majors, was part of the 2002 Anaheim Angels team that won the World Series, and now operates a training facility for major leaguers.
McCall has spent 45 years as a coach, officer and volunteer for the Miami Lakes Optimist Club, plus has been an officer both locally and overseeing the entire South Florida Optimist district. He has coached hundreds if not thousands of children over three generations, including even his own grandchildren. His commitment to his “Green Machine” team is unparalleled, and he is a member of the South Florida District Optimist International Hall of Fame.