Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame

Algirdas Bielskus

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2000. 

- President of Žaibas (1950 - 1957). 

- President of Baltic Athletic Federation of North America (BAFNA). 

- President of Lithuanian Athletic Union of North America - LAUNA (1968 - 1970). 

- General Secretary of LAUNA / Žaibas (1970 - 2010).

- Legendary Žaibas Track & Field Coach for over 50 years.

Rytas Babickas

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2001.

- President of Žaibas (1957-1975). Legendary Žaibas Volleyball Coach. Žaibas volleyball was highly regarded in North American during 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

- His teams won numerous American Amateur Volleyball Association's AAU class tournaments, women's team won the Ohio State title for 10 consecutive years from 1959-1969.

- They also took the Regional AAU Women's volleyball championships seven times.

- Coach for the LAUNA women's all-star volleyball team on a 1973 European tour.

- On this tour, they won 14, tied once, and lost only two games playing some of Europe's elite teams.

Vytenis Ciurlionis

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2001

- Lithuanian skiing enthusiast, coach and section leader. Vytenis continues to be a stellar skier on the National level amongst the senior circuit.

- He has passed his passion for skiing on to numerous Lithuanian youth in the Cleveland metro area over the many years. 


Juozas Kijauskas

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2001

- Besides being one of the area’s top basketball players for many years, Juozas Kijauskas felt the need like so many others to give back to his sport and to his community. He was an active member of the Lithuanian Athletic Club, better known as ZAIBAS for over 40 years. His accomplishments during those years were numerous:

- He served as Žaibas’ basketball director from 1953 – 1965 

- He was also a longtime member of the club’s Executive Board which does fund raising like tonight’s events in order to pay for the annual costs of gym rentals and hosting of major tournaments in Cleveland.

- In 1975, he was elected the 3rd president in Žaibas history and he served 16 years from 1975 – 1991

- Representing Žaibas in the Lithuanian Athletic Union of North America which sponsors these annual tournaments, he served as a member of their Executive Council 

- However, I think one of Joe’s finest achievements over the years was his leadership in Lithuanian women’s basketball. He was a pioneer in this area and one of his proudest moments was when he was selected to organize and coach the North American Lithuanian women’s all star team.   His hard work and dedication culminated with his team traveling to Australia to participate in the Lithuanian World Games of 1988.

Ausra Barzdukaite-Babickiene

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2002.

- Ausra’s career in the sport of volleyball began in 1957 first as an outside hitter, later as a setter. But more importantly she was always the team’s captain, the brains behind the team as well as their source of inspiration and motivation. In a 17 year period, the Žaibas team participated in every tournament organized by the Lithuanian Sports Federation of North America, often winning the championships.

- Looking for new challenges, the team participated in many double A tournaments outside of the Lithuanian community, including Lake Erie AAU and USVBA Region IV Championships. In a 17 year period from 1958 through 1975, they managed to capture the AAU championship ALL but three of those years. From 1959 for 10 consecutive years they were Ohio champions, and 7 years they were USVBA Region 4 champions. This region consisted of 4 states, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and West Pennsylvania. 

- In those days the world of volleyball was dominated by teams from California, Texas and Hawaii. Yet this team with humble origins in Cleveland, Ohio under the leadership of Aušra went on to become a national powerhouse. Having won the Regional championship, this small ethnic team became five-time qualifiers for the finals of the United States Volleyball Association (USVBA). In 1965 and 1974 they placed an impressive 9th place in the nation, beating out many well-known, very accomplished and established teams.

Rita Cyvaite - Klioriene

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2003.

- Žaibas Juniors Track & Field Star in short distance events holding numerous club records: 100 yd & 100m, 200 m & 220 yd, 400m & 440 yd, 800m & 880yd., long jump.

- Captain of one of the finest teams ever assembled at Cleveland State University from 1973 to 1975. In 1974, they won the NCAA Midwestern regional title. 

- Won the "Most Outstanding Volleyball Player" award that year (1974).

- Was also named "Female Athlete of the Year" in 1975.

- In later years, she was inducted to the Cleveland State University Hall of Fame for volleyball. 

- At Cleveland State University, she along with 3 other Žaibas volleyball teammates quickly took over the scene and turned the program into a perennial winner.

- In 1975, Rita and her teammates won the NCAA Midwest Region Championships and qualified for the National Championships in Portland Oregon finishing fifth in the nation. 

- Captain of Žaibas women's volleyball during the glory years of the 1970s when Žaibas excelled at the local and national level. Rita and her teammates (including Hall of Fame inductee Egle Giedraityte-Laniauskiene) dominated the local Lake Erie AAU scene and eventually became one of the elite teams in the USVBA East region (which included Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York and Pennsylvania. They were frequent participants in the AAU National Championships and in 1973 Rita was selected to the North American Lithuanian All Star team which traveled to Europe for an exhibition tour.

Lenny Kedys

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2004

- Lenny was a star basketball player for St. Joseph High School, Tri-C and Cleveland State University .

- He was a premier point guard for Žaibas during his long and illustrious career. He was still considered a major threat even in his late 40s due to top notch conditioning.

- Was a very strong volleyball player as well for Žaibas winning numerous LAUNA men's championships.

- He coached Žaibas Juniors Basketball and Track and Field.

- In 1980, he was selected to the LAUNA all-star men's basketball team for an Australian tour.

- During the Australian tour, he also coached the Junior A (18 year olds) all- star team as well.

Egle Giedraityte - Laniauskiene

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2005.

- As a Žaibas Junior, Egle set records in numerous running events and field events such as long jump, high jump and baseball throw that still stand today in the North American Lithuanian record books. 

- Representing Žaibas, at the age of 16, she was the Lake Erie AAU women’s Pentathlon champion. At 17, she was the first Žaibas Junior to win in the North East Ohio Region High School championship in the Long Jump. She went on that year to the AAU Jr Olympics in Detroit Michigan and took second place in the Pentathlon. 

- Egle and her teammates (including Hall of Fame inductee Rita Cyvaite- Klioriene) dominated the local Lake Erie AAU scene and eventually became one of the elite teams in the USVBA East region (which included Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York and Pennsylvania. They were frequent participants in the AAU National Championships and in 1973 Egle was selected to the North American Lithuanian All Star team which traveled to Europe for an exhibition tour. 

- At Cleveland State University, she along with 3 other Žaibas volleyball teammates quickly took over the scene and turned the program into a perennial winner. In 1975, Egle (who was the team captain) and her teammates won the NCAA Midwest Region Championships and qualified for the National Championships in Portland Oregon finishing fifth in the nation. 

- She won 3 gold medals in the Lithuanian World Games 1978 in Toronto and continued to participate in the Senior Track meets even at the age of 37. 

- Today Egle coaches volleyball at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, OH.

Algis Motiejunas

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2005

- Participating in numerous AAU and Cleveland City Rec track meets, Algis was an early standout. In fact, during one of the Greater Cleveland Jr. Olympics finals whereby over 3,000 participants competed, Algis at the age of 10 came away with a bronze medal in the long jump. This was the first time a Žaibas junior athlete medaled in such an important event.

- Algis started his basketball career in Collinwood’s Junior High School, eventually becoming a 3 time letterman for Collinwood’s varsity and elected as the team’s captain his final year. 

- He was inducted into Case Western’s Hall of Fame where he starred on the university’s track, basketball and of all things varsity football teams. 

- He was the President’s Athletic Conference champion in the triple jump, long jump, 100, 220, and of course the relay race teams at Western Reserve. 

- He continued to represent Žaibas in Track and Field, winning numerous North American Lithuanian and Baltic championships. To this day, he continues to hold several club records in long jump and triple jump.

- In 1964, he was selected to the North American Lithuanian Men’s All Star team for an international tour to Australia. A total of 25 games were scheduled. His team dominated by winning 24 games and for the finale handily defeated Australia’s Olympic basketball team in an exhibition as well. On their return from Australia, the team was invited to play an exhibition game against Canada’s Olympic team which was also training for the Olympic Games in Tokyo that year. The Lithuanians again defeated an Olympic Team this time the Canadians in an overtime game. Algis represented his team well and obviously this was the highlight of his basketball career!

- Al continued his Žaibas athletic career for years to come participating in numerous sports including volleyball and also becoming an outstanding division I racquetball player.

Elvyra Siksniute - Vodopaliene

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2006

- At 14, she won her first gold medal in the 60 meter run at the first Occupied Nations Olympics held in Nuremburg, Germany. Over the next three years as a young teen she dominated the German track scene by winning gold medals in both short distance events and the long jump. Under the watchful eye of Algis Bielskus she became a local phenom.

- In 1952, at Ohio State University she starred in the women’s volleyball, basketball and table tennis. In fact, representing Zaibas she won 2nd place in the Ohio State Table Tennis Championships. 

- Even though there was no collegiate program, Elvyra became very well known in the US track circles. In 1952 representing Žaibas Track Club at the Ohio AAU track championships, she broke the Lithuanian record in the 60 meter dash and won 3 gold medals in the 50 yd dash, 100 yd dash and of course long jump. She went on that year to the US national AAU Championships and was invited to the US Olympic tryouts. 

- She continued to dominate the US Lithuanian and local Ohio track scene the next couple of years culminating with her finest moment in 1954 where she won the bronze medal in long jump at the National AAU championships. 

- In 1975, she earned a Masters Degree in Sports Administration from the University of Maryland where she also coached Womens Volleyball and Track and Field programs. 

- After moving from Cleveland, she founded similar Lithuanian sports clubs in both Los Angeles (1958) and Washington, DC (in 1972).

- She later became an executive member of the Lithuanian Athletic Union of North America (LAUNA)and helped organize numerous national sporting events for the Lithuanian youth. 

Ray Jonaitis

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2006

- At St. Joseph High School Ray starred in track and field winning the Ohio State Championship. His specialties were the middle distance races (i.e. 400, 800, 1500) and discus.

- He took over the reins of the Track and Field section from his one time coach and mentor Algis Bielskus and the Žaibas “Renaissance” period began. From 1976 – 1984, he actively recruited the Cleveland youth to the program and soon transformed the club back to it’s former glory days in track and field. During this period Zaibas not only dominated both Lithuanian and Baltic national track meets but also AAU Jr. Olympic track championship meets. 

- In 1980 and 1984, Žaibas Track dominated in the Freedom Olympics which were comprised of star athletes from 8 Soviet Bloc Eastern European countries. 

- He also played on numerous Žaibas men's basketball teams over the years and also had several stints of coaching Žaibas Juniors basketball teams as well. 

Vytautas Januskis

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2006

- Founding President of Lithuanian Sports Club in Cleveland - Žaibas (1950)

- Vytautas was very active in sports during WWII in a displaced persons camp in Hanau, German. Lithuanians love to compete so they formed the first sports festival in the camp competing with other Latvians, Estonians and Poles in various sports such as basketball, volleyball, track/field and table tennis. Vytautas was one of the first organizers of such games.

- He even found time to participate in the table tennis tournament winning second place in the mens division. These games became so popular that organized national clubs sprouted up and of course Vytautas joined the Lithuanian Sports Club Perkunas to head up their table tennis team. Table tennis became very popular in the DP camps and eventually all star tournaments were born. 

- In 1947, Vytautas ended up with 2nd place in the individual competition and 1st place in the doubles competition. 

- May 5, 1950, the Cleveland Sports Club Žaibas was formed and Vytautas Januskis was elected as it’s very first president. 

- Both basketball and table tennis became very popular not only in Cleveland but in other major cities in North America where Lithuanians immigrated to. Thus creation of the Lithuanian Athletic Union of North America (LAUNA). 

- Vytautas continued to compete in table tennis and even participated in the second annual games which were held in Cleveland in 1952

Henrikas Johansonas

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2007

- Henrikas in his youth, was an avid athlete and like many of his peers, he honed his athletic skills in the Lithuanian Displaced Persons camps in Germany during World War II. He starred in basketball, table tennis and chess. 

- Like many of the early arrivals in Cleveland, Henrikas saw a need to organize the athletes and provide an outlet thru athletics. On May 5th, 1950, along with Vytautas Januskis and Jaunutis Nasvytis they founded the Cleveland Lithuanian Athletic Club Zaibas. 

- Later that month, he organized the first Žaibas men’s basketball team and they played their first game ever against an established men’s basketball team from the Lithuanian parish – St. George’s. A healthy rivalry was born that day as neighborhood bragging rights were up for grabs ! He continued to coach the men’s team for several years participating in the Cleveland Muny league and numerous NALA tournaments.

- After successfully starting the Men’s program, Henrikas knew he wanted to do more. In 1956, he gave up his coaching position with the men’s team and turned his focus on the Lithuanian youth in Cleveland! Starting with 13-14 year old boys from the St. George’s Lithuanian neighborhood, he created the first Žaibas Juniors basketball team. 

- Like “mushrooms popping up after a good rain”, young basketball players sprouted up everywhere to join his teams. They eventually participated in 1957, in the North American Lithuanian Games in Toronto. To everyone’s surprise, Henriko team was not only talented but very well coached and they pulled off upset after upset defeating teams from much larger city’s like Chicago. A true Cinderella story - they came home that year as Champions of the NALA juniors games.   

- In true “Red Auerbach” like fashion, his teams continued their dominance over the Lithuanian Juniors basketball landscape for years to come, repeating as champions in 1958 and 1960. Star players and future Hall of Famers like Modestas, Silingas and Motiejunas all started with Henrikas’ teams and eventually travelled to Australia in 1964 to represent the Lithuanian American All-Star team. His passion for basketball was passed on to these players and in turn inspired many other individuals.

Steve Stempuzis

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2007

- Steve Stempuzis (husband, father and friend to many of us) stood out from his peers in the fact that he never took a break from the Lithuanian Athletic Club – he was truly a lifelong active member. He started his Žaibas career at the tender age of 7 years old in track and field and was an active member as juniors basketball coach until his untimely death at the age of 48 in 2002. 

- Like many of us, Steve started his athletic career in track and field with Žaibas under the watchful eye of coach Algis Bielskus. He fortified the Zaibas track team for many, many years in his field event specialties: javelin, discus and shotput. He also anchored his high school track team at St. Joseph in both events as well. He was a finalist and champion in many of the Lithuanian and Baltic meets that he competed in and participated in many AAU events well into his adult life. His records in javelin, discus and shotput have held up for many years. 

- In addition to track and field, Steve also shared a love for basketball and was captain for many teams throughout his Žaibas career and at St. Joe’s H.S. 

- He continued to participate in our club as a Juniors coach in both track and basketball. Steve’s style as a coach was endearing to the kids. Never one to raise his voice. He will always be remembered as a kind hearted soul who gave more than he took.

Vytautas and Onute Draugelyte-Jokubaitis

- Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2008 inductees

This power couple were a husband / wife team who were reknown for their organizational skills and their passion to make a difference. They are Vytautas Jokubaitis and Ona Draugelyte-Jokubaitiene. They have both passed but their memories and life long achievements live on.
Vytautas and Onute were both born in Lithuania in the early 1920s. As a youth, Vytautas enjoyed weightlifting and wrestling.

- Along with many Lithuanians, they emigrated to Germany during WWII where they met and were wed. They set foot on American soil in 1949 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio where they started their family and became lifelong members of our Lithuanian Athletic Club, Zaibas. 

- Vytautas was not only involved in organizing Zaibas but he was also involved in the Lithuanian Athletic Union of North America (where he was vice president for many years) along with being a member of the executive council and Vice President of the Baltic Athletic Federation of North America.

- One of his proudest achievements was probably in 1982, when he organized the Lithuanian games to be held in Cleveland and he was individually recognized for his work by then mayor of Cleveland – George Voinovich. The games were proclaimed throughout Cleveland as the Lithuanian Sports Day!

- Vytautas was involved in numerous other organizations (Boy Scouts of America, Lions Club International, Lithuania’s Supreme Liberation Committee, Lithuania Alliance of America, Lithuanian-American Community, Inc and of course he was a Director of the Lithuanian-American Club here in Cleveland.

- His awards and accomplishments outside athletics were too numerous to list, but a few notable ones were:

>        Lithuanian Presidential Medal (1993) conferred upon outstanding representatives of the world Lithuanian community for services to the restoration of the Independent State of Lithuania. 

>        Ohio Governor’s “Humanitarian of the Year” award (1994)

>        AFL-CIO “George Meany Award” – which was the national union recognition for significant contribution of service to America’s youth in Boy Scouts of America.

>        Numerous Boy Scouts of America awards for his contributions to the world Scouting movement

>        CYO “St. John Bosco” Award for contribution to physical, psychological, and social development of youth.

- Onute on the other hand was not to be outdone by her husband. She too was a member of our Zaibas club for over 40 years – many of those as the head of the ever important Parents Committee. She paved the way for Zaibas teams to use the OLPH parish gym. She not only was a huge fundraiser but also was responsible for organizing and sending many Zaibas teams abroad (i.e Australia, Europe and South America). Without her support many of these trips would not have been possible. 

- In 1971, during Žaibas’ 20th anniversary celebration, she was honored and recognized for her individual contributions towards those accomplishments.

- Ona was actively involved in numerous other organizations as well - Lithuanian Athletic Union of North America, Lithuanian Relief Fund, American Lithuanian Council, Lithuanian Alliance of America, and the Lithuanian-American Community, Inc. Her individual awards and accomplishments outside athletics were also very impressive:

>        Outstanding Citizen of the Year award (1960) presented to her by Cleveland Mayor Ralph Locher.

>        And as the Founder of St. Casimir’s Lithuanian School on Neff Road. 

- Their daughter Milda Jokubaityte-Sandragas put it best when asked about her parents. “My parents were always involved, wholeheartedly, and untiringly, with the restoration of the Independent State of Lithuania... the nurturing of youth ... and, they lived their lives for God, country, and their fellow man --- with their involvement in organizations deemed necessary for the procurement of such. “ 

- They were true sports activists/community leaders and this year’s inductees into the Žaibas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2008.

Gytis Barzdukas

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2009. 

- Gytis Jonas Barzdukas was born February 9, 1937 in Kaunas, Lithuania, the youngest in the family of three children. Both parents were teachers.

- During the Second World War, when the Russians started pushing Germans out of Lithuania towards the west, Barzdukas family was forced to leave their country and move with the German front. After the war, the family ended up in Rebdorf, Germany, in a DP camp. There Gytis started first grade in the gymnasium. With the kids in the camp he played soccer, basketball, learned how to swim. He was pretty good swimmer. In the camp for the children there were no organized sports. 

- After the Allies started closing the DP camps, in 1949 the Barzdukas family left for US. Gytis' mother had a cousin in the suburb of Cleveland and he invited the family to come.   Gytis attended St. George parish grade school, graduated from Benedictine High School. He served two years in US Army, where he played on a base baseball team. He attended Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. There Gytis played on the University's volleyball team. He continued to star as a basketball and volleyball player for many of Zaibas' teams. Once he retired from playing he also coached several Zaibas Juniors volleyball teams. His dedication to the sport and to our youth were self evident.

- Gytis sang in Ciurlionis Ensamble, was a sea scout, and mingled with Ateitininkai.

- In 1963 he married Vida Titas, who was also an outstanding track star and volleyball player for Žaibas. They raised 3 sons. Two older ones played volleyball on University of Michigan's team. He left 4 granddaughters and 4 grandsons.

Joe Cannavino

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2010. 

- Coach Joe Cannavino is a loving father and grandfather, a devoted husband, a friend to many and a living legend to all who played basketball for him. He was a high school standout in basketball/football at Collinwood HS which he was voted into their Sports Hall of Fame. He went on to play football for legendary coach Woody Hayes at Ohio State and starred on their 1957 National Championship team! He was also drafted into the NFL by the Baltimore Colts but played for the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills for a few years. But to be honest that is not the reason why we are all here.

- It was what Coach Joe Cannavino did after his playing days that stand out in our minds and the reason we come here tonight to celebrate. Joe Cannavino (along with other notable Fathers Club members) created a basketball dynasty at tiny Our Lady of Perpetual Help that lasted for over 15 years! This small school of 300 students (compared to some goliath schools like St. Williams and Holy Cross) became a basketball powerhouse - winning numerous CYO Championships at St. Joseph High School and even winning Cleveland City Championships. Many of these teams were comprised of tall lanky Lithuanian kids from this area including yours truly who without this program never would have excelled in sports. 

- Coach Cannavino’s passion and motivation are major reasons many of us learned to love the game of basketball at the grade school level and went on to future success - either with the Lithuanian Athletic Club Žaibas, St. Joes High School, or even into College . Under his leadership and guidance, Coach Joe even led our Žaibas Boys C team in 1972 to gold medals during a juniors tournament hosted here in Cleveland. The team pictures (there were many more) in today’s program basically tell the whole story.

- He was an inspiration to so many. I am sure - many of you can relate to this. I personally remember him coming to my house to convince my immigrant parents to let me skip Lithuanian School for a few hours on Saturday mornings just so I could participate in CYO. On other occasions he would drive a carload of kids down to Miami University so we could participate in a week long basketball camp during the summer . 

- What can I say but THANK YOU COACH CANNAVINO! You have no idea what that meant to me personally or to others that you reached out to as a positive male role model.

Vincas Gelgotas

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2011.

- Žaibas Mens Basketball Captain and organizer (1957-1983). 

- Phone: 216-481-5981

Stefa Juodvalkyte-Gedgaudiene

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2012. 

- Stefa Juodvalkyte was Žaibas's Volleyball / Track and Field Star of the late 50's and early 60's. Her volleyball teams were repeat AAU Regional Champions in 1959 and 1960. She dominated numerous SALFASS/LAUNA events.

Clifford Yanosko

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2013. 

This will be Coach Cliff's 20th anniversary of coaching Žaibas Juniors teams in the annual North American Lithuanian Juniors Basketball Tournament. He has coached for 20 seasons, boys and girls, teens and molecules. Throughout the years his methods were consistent and effective. Stressing the basic fundamentals and skills of the game before starting any scrimmages. His teams were always disciplined and well coached consistently vying for the championship year in and year out. Recently, his girls D team earned him his second GOLD medal of his career in last year's event. No small task when going up against cities like Toronto and Chicago every year! He has never missed a juniors tournament which is an incredible feat in and of itself. He has served on the Žaibas Executive Board for many of those years. He unselfishly accepts any coaching assignment given to him. He has earned the nickname of our "Go To Guy". Admired and respected by his peers, opponents and most importantly generations of Žaibas Juniors!

Valdone Karosaite-Ziedonis

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2014. 

Congratulations to Valdone Karosaite-Ziedonis who has recently been selected to be inducted into the Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2014. She was a member of the legendary Žaibas volleyball teams 1950s-60s-70s which gained national VBA recognition.

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2015 --- John Morris

John’s Zaibas experience spans over  20 years as a player, coach and organizer.  Having gone to grade school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, John was exposed at an early age to Zaibas basketball.   In 1973, John first put on a Zaibas jersey, competing in a local junior’s basketball tournament  He competed regularly through his youth and into his young adult years, having a ton of success in the Junior A ranks and taking memorable trips throughout the Great Lakes regions.  

John continued his success on the Men’s level, in both North America and Australia.  In Men’s A, John was part of a memorable Zaibas team that scored over 150 points in the World Games that took place in Chicago in the mid 80s.  That team ultimately finished 3rd in the World Games, after losing a memorable semi-final game against an Ausra team that delayed a game 40 minutes to fly in a 7 foot professional from Mexico.  In 1988, John was part of a Zaibas team that took their talents down under to compete in Adalaid, Australia.   

John wasn’t only involved in Zaibas Basketball, but also with the Zaibas Softball team that absolutely dominated the annual tournament at Wasega beach in Canada.  Over a 13 year period, these teams won 8 championships and placed 2nd 4 times.   John was truly the Babe Ruth of these tournaments both during the games and at the picnic table at the Mermaid Motel late into the night.  After one of these late nights, John had likely the most impressive batting display in the history of softball on a day when a corvette parade was going on in the parking lot beyond the outfield fences. In one game, John went 6/6 with six home runs, which included a one run home, two run homer, three run homer and a grand slam.  

During the early 90s, while Vidas Taturnas took the lead on resurrecting the Zaibas Junior’s program, John was key contributor as a volunteer, fundraiser, but most importantly as a coach..  He coached numerous teams and age groups over a 10 year period, from Molecules to Boys B.  There were a countless number of second place finishes with these teams, and the dedication finally culminated in a Boys B Championship in Detroit in 1993.  Its these kind of contributions that truly define a Zaibas Hall of famer and allow this organization to continue to exist.  Conrats Mo!

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2016 --- Algis 'Nagy' Nagevičius

Algis “Nagy” Nagevicius
was born in Canberra, Australia and made his way with his family to Cleveland in
1958.. Like many others in the Zaibas organizations, Nagy was introduced to numerous Zaibas sports by
Algirdas Bielskas, starting with track and basketball. Participating in Sprints and Long Jump at St. Joe’s
track, Nagy placed on a regular basis, but could never seem to overcome Bruno or Rick Staskis. In his
youth Nagy also participated in basketball.

In his 20s, there were numerous events that the Lithuanian community coordinated in the Great Lakes
region, even forming a annual bowling tournament between Toronto and Cleveland, as well as
racketball tournament in Baltimore.

It was about this time that Nagy made a trip to his Aunt’s cottage at Wasega Beach in Ontario, Canada.
While preparing to head up there one year he found out about the annual softball tournament and
decided to put a team together at the last minute.. They basically had one bat, a couple gloves and a car
full of guys ready to have fun. They finished 2-2 that year. Nagy continued playing into the mid-90s,
introducing the likes of John Morris, Lenny Kidys, George Piskouras and Ricky Borouskowski to the
softball tournament. Without Nagy, dozens of Clevelanders would have never had the opportunity to
participate in this event.

In 1975, Nagy participated in his first Salfass golf tournament……and he hasn’t stopped since. Since
1983, he has been the ‘President’ of the Cleveland Golf Club, only missing one of these annual
tournaments in the past 41 years. Last year was the 50 th tournament and there were over 100 golfers
that participated in the Labor Day outing in Northern Michigan. Nagy was quick to tell me that this is a
group effort to put it on. I’m confident in saying that if he did not stay involved in organizing this even
over the past 40 years, the event would not be in existence today.

Žaibas Hall of Fame Class of 2017 --- Jaunutis Pijus Nasvytis & Edmundas Čapas

Edmundas Capas was an active, proud Lithuanian, not only in the
Cleveland, but in all the other cities that host the SALFASS games, as well as in Lithuania. Born
and raised in Cleveland, Edmund spent 26 years in the the US Army, where he achieved the
rank of Colonel and even advised the Minister of Defense of Lithuania, where he was well
respsected for his work with NATO.

In addition to being an avid biker and crochet player, Edmund’s had a true love for table tennis,
which was passed down by his father. Surrounding players and spectators were often intrigued
by the way Edmund held his table tennis paddle, and his lively dance while playing would often
throw off even his strongest opponents. This love for the game drove him resurrecting the
interest of Clevelanders in the game, and organizing very competitive teams for SALFASS

It is somewhat ironic, yet very apropos that Edmund would pass away while playing the very
sport he loved at the 65th SALFASS table tennis tournament in Cleveland, which he himself was
instrumental in organizing. Following his death, a challenger cup trophy was established in his
memory, which table tennis players from all corners of North America vie for at the yearly
SALFASS tournament.

Aside from sports, colonel and philosopher Edmund Capas was not a typical American, nor was
he a typical Lithuanian. He was as unique an individual as there was, a free thinker, never
assigning one correct answer to any of life's questions. At the heart of his philosophy was
inclusion, often joining together polar opposites: war and peace, love and hate, goodness and
evil, conservatism and liberalism. That same philosophy carried him through his personal
relationships - he never met a person he didn't want to get to know and befriend.

Jaunutis Pijus Nasvytis, along with inaugural Zaibas Hall of Fame inductee
Algirdas Bielskus, founded our Zaibas organization in the early 50s. Jaunutis was a
tremendous table tennis player – regularly the #2 player in the SALFASS games behind
Canada’s #1 national player, who was also Lithuanian. He was in the top 10 in Lithuania,
when Lithuania was in the top 10 in the world. Table Tennis was an important to Jaunutis,
but the contribution that he had to Zaibas Juniors organization is one that is tough to match.
Jaunutis ensured that the kids in the Lithuanian community took part in annual competitions,
which typically happened in Chicago and Toronto. To ensure the kids made it, Jaunutis would
drive around Cleveland, picking all the kids up… making their way to Chicago or Toronto,
dropping many off at relatives in those cities then supporting them through the competitions
over the weekend. This was above and beyond what he did throughout the year to the
numerous practices that occurred in town.

Early on, there were many sports beyond basketball that kids were participating in, as well
his many more participants. The coordination and organization necessary to get these
competitors to different competitions was a herculean effort that Jaunutis was able

Jaunutis’ son Vytautas told me that his Dad’s goal of the organization was to provide the
athletes with great competition and to play with excellence. Jaunutis considered himself a
‘Professional Lithuanian’, but recognized early on that the organization would have to be all
inclusive and diverse if it was going to survive. Vytas was actually in tears on the phone
telling me that his father would be most proud and honored that the club he started over 60
years ago still exists today, competes regularly while promoting Lithuanian ethnicity and has
a strong diverse membership group.