Finally, after a couple of failed efforts to get it started in the past, Centre County is going to have its own sports hall of fame. It will be the newest chapter in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Membership will be open to anyone and with a membership comes the right to nominate someone for the hall, the right to vote on the nominees and a chance to vote on nominees for the state hall of fame.
“I think if it is presented in the right way people will support it,” said Ron Pifer, who is president of the county chapter and a former two-time PIAA wrestling champion at Bellefonte, NCAA runner-up and three-time All-American at Penn State. “We need to be able to recognize people who have done good things. Something needed to be done and we’re right where we need to be.”
The Centre County chapter will be one of approximately 30 chapters in the state. The purpose of the state hall of fame is “to perpetuate the memory of individuals who have brought lasting fame and recognition to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its people through their achievements in athletics and to honor people who have done great things in sports.”
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The same holds true for the Centre County chapter. Nominees can be from any sport and any era. One of the criteria for a nominee is that he or she must have either been a native of the county or have spent the majority of his or her life here.
Athletes may have been a member of teams at the county public schools or in other venues such as the County League in baseball, the Big Spring fast pitch softball league, on the county golf courses or in the bowling alleys once popular in the county.
Each class of inductees will also include one athlete in the Legendary category which will cover individuals going back to early in the 20th century like Bellefonte’s John Montgomery Ward and Miles Thomas, a State College High School graduate who played for the New York Yankees alongside Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
A concerted effort will be made to include athletes from all regions of the county from the Mountaintop to Penns Valley, Port Matilda to Howard, regardless of gender.
The Board of Directors includes Pifer, Lloyd Rhoades, BEA youth wrestling coach; Dick Rhoades, former BEA wrestling coach; Doug McDonald, former CDT executive sports editor; Don Burris, former BEA assistant wrestling coach; Bud O’Brien, former P-O football coach and radio announcer; Scott Vogt, former Penns Valley athlete; Norm Palovcsik, former PIAA champion and Penn State wrestler from Clearfield; Bucky Quici, former Bellefonte girls’ basketball and softball coach; Ron Bracken, former CDT sports editor; Ron Pavlechko, former State College football coach and athletic director; Bud Meredith, former Penn State ticket manager; and Keith Bierly, former Centre County commissioner.
Even though there is a heavy wrestling presence on the committee, Pifer stressed, “It’s not just for wrestling. This is for all sports. I like all sports. And this is a way to honor all sports. It’s something to be cherished. It’s part of our heritage, our history. And the younger generations won’t know about it if we don’t do this. I think it’s time we have this.”
Applications for membership are available from Lloyd Rhoades at 814-933-0121 or firstname.lastname@example.org or any of the board members. The first class will be inducted in 2017. A fundraising golf tournament is planned Oct. 15.