1958 American football player, SMCHS Hall of Fame inductee


BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – Each spring, St. Mary’s Central High School announces its Hall of Fame inductees.

They go to great lengths to ensure that every future Hall of Fame member receives the royal treatment; often they surprise them at home or in the community. This year, they’re starting to surprise the next Hall of Fame class early on.

Sheldon Cieslak graduated in 1958 from St. Mary’s and the first inductee announced in 2022 into the school’s Hall of Fame.

Photos of Cieslak fill the pages of these St. Mary’s Central High School yearbooks. The 1958 graduate has been involved in everything from drama and speech, to athletics, basketball and football.

“I did my best in everything I tried there,” he said.

“He was a hard-working student, and when you talk to his former classmates, there is real love for him,” said Gerald Vetter, president of SMCHS.

Cieslak was excellent at everything he did, but he really stood out on the football field.

“I played football a lot when I was a kid,” he recalls.

He played both on offense and defense, but defense was his specialty.

“I really thought it was important to hit and hit hard. I was pretty good at it, ”he laughed.

Good enough to be named a high school All-American player in his senior year. The memories of that season are still fresh in his mind.

“We lost to Bismarck High on a hard blow, 27-26,” Cieslak recalls. “It was the most memorable game of my career.”

Today, Cieslak is recognized for his achievements as a saint of Saint Mary. He was surprised to learn that he will be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in the fall.

“It was a total surprise,” he said, biting back tears.

A surprise shared a little early, due to health concerns. Cieslak had two strokes and now the football star is paralyzed on his left side.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to stay here,” he said.

But the news of his Hall of Fame induction gave him yet another reason to keep fighting. He chokes on the thought of honor and his time as a saint.

“I’m sorry, I’m so emotional,” Cieslak apologized.

“You know it meant something and sharing that with his family members and with his brother was a good thing. It’s the right thing,” observed Vetter.

The good things that memories and the Hall of Fame are made of.

Additional inductees will be announced this winter and spring. The 2022 Hall of Fame class will be officially inducted next fall.

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