Two former Kansas State players – women’s basketball player Nicole Ohlde and football player Martin Gramatica – are among eight members to be inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame announced on Monday. As part of the 2013 class, K-State’s newest members of the club both found success on the collegiate and professional level.
Nicole Ohlde was an All-American at K-State and was part of a homegrown team that featured possibly the greatest collection of girls to come out of Kansas since basketball ever, but could never quite meet expectations in the postseason. However, I remember watching Ohlde in high school (she played in the same league and was only a couple years my senior) on the basketball court on at the track, where she dominated both (she was also a state high jump champion). Between Ohlde and Kendra Wecker (Marysville), the North Central Kansas League probably had more talent at the top than any other in the early 2000s.
Ohlde was named the Big XII Freshman of the Year when she first set foot on campus, and her star continued to rise from there. She was named the league’s overall player of the year in both 2003 and 2004 while also being named a consensus All-American each season. She was also the overall Big XII Female Athlete of the Year in 2004. She was the first woman to have her basketball jersey retired when she graduated from the school, finishing in the top five in scoring, rebounds, field goals made, blocks, career double-doubles, free throws made, and minutes played at K-State by the time she was through. Of these, she was the school’s all-time leading scorer (2161), rebounder (970), and shot blocker (201).
In recognition of her incredible talents, Ohlde was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx with the sixth overall pick in 2004 and had a seven year career in the WNBA before retiring in 2011. She helped the Phoenix Mercury win the WNBA championship in 2009. While Ohlde’s natural position was power forward, she was forced to play center much of her career with teams in need of size.
In addition to Ohlde, kicker Martin Gramatica was also inducted to the Kansas HOF on Monday. Unlike Ohlde, Gramatica was not a Kansas native. Born in Argentina and a high school kicker in Florida, he came to K-State after recording a career-long 52 yard field goal during his prep career.
Gramatica was a four-year letter winner and is among the first names that come to mind when K-State fans reminisce about the 90s. A two-time All-American, he set school records for scoring, extra points, and field goals. Additionally, his 65 yard field goal in 1998 set an NCAA record for distance without a tee (I was once privy to seeing him kick a 75 yarder during warm-ups. Yes, that actually happened, and it was incredible). He won the Lou Groza Award in 1997 as the NCAA’s best kicker and was drafted in the third round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While at Tampa Bay, Gramatica was designated a Pro Bowl representative in 2001 and won a Super Bowl ring in 2002 with the team. After four years with the organization he signed with the Indianapolis Colts but was only used for kick offs (although he demonstrated incredible leg strength, he didn’t have the same accuracy as he demonstrated early in his career). Complicating matters were torn muscles in his lower abductor and lower abdomen. He retired after the 2008 season having completed over 76 percent of his NFL field goal attempts. Gramatica was honored in the K-State Ring of Honor in 2008 alongside David Allen, Terence Newman and Mark Simoneau.
The eight inductees will be honored on October 6 at the Boathouse in Wichita. 227 people have been honored t0-date. The Hall celebrates its 52nd anniversary this year, which moved from Abilene to Wichita in the mid-2000s.