PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsutawney Sports Hall of Fame Committee is asking for nominations of former athletes in the Punxsutawney Area School District to be considered for induction with the next class.
"In October of 1994, Jack LaMarca passed away, and in the spring of 1995, a decision to form the Punxsutawney Sports Hall of Fame was formed," said Keith Hughes, Punxsutawney Hall of Fame Committee chair, adding that the principal reason was to create an organization that would recognize the contributions of people like Jack Hart and LaMarca, as well as numerous participants and coaches over the years.
Hughes said after several meetings from May 1995 until May of 1996, the group decided on a format for the first event, prepared the ballot, made the selections and notified recipients.
"In September 1996, the first class was inducted with Olympic wrestler Bruce Baumgartner serving as the featured speaker," he said.
"With the slogan, 'Celebrating the Athletic Experience,' the Hall of Fame recognized 72 athletes and coaches with a banquet and induction ceremony," Hughes said, adding that shortly after the third class was inducted, a decision was made to run the cycle every 18 to 24 months to have access to an assortment of personnel for speakers.
He said the original committee included: Tony Parise, Sherry Farkas, Bill
Sisk, Dr. Jack Smelko, Don Bishop, Lisa Good, Dick Neese, Pete Divelbiss, Wick Divelbiss, Hughes and Ralph Roberts.
"Kelly Shaffer served on the committee for a number of years as the sports reporter for the Punxsutawney Spirit," Hughes said.
The master of ceremonies for the organization's banquet and induction ceremony has been Bill Vassallo, currently the PAHS athletic director, who served in that capacity until he was inducted, and Matt Taladay served as the MC, Hughes said.
Hughes said each inductee has his or her name engraved on a plaque displayed in a trophy case of the Gym A lobby of the high school.
Currently the committee has 150 nominations on file — many of which are in need of updating with current information, he said.
Hughes said there are three eligibility requirements for the hall:
• All varsity letter winners from Punxsutawney Area School District, including those from the other smaller high schools that were absorbed into the Punxsy district such as Rossiter.
An athlete does not necessarily need to be a graduate of PAHS.
• Nominees shall become eligible for induction 10 years after leaving PAHS, except for posthumous awards.
• Individuals who have contributed significantly to the athletic program, such as athletic trainers, administrators and persons making a significant impact are eligible.
Hughes said nomination forms can be obtained from the high school office, athletic office or on-line and forms can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
He said updated nomination forms with current professional information and professional distinctions earned along with a current address are needed.
Dr. Jack Smelko, committee member, said that anyone who is nominating someone should bring supplement nomination packets with newspaper clippings (from the Punxsutawney Spirit archives at the Punxsutawney Memorial Library) to document and support athletic resume and awards and distinctions.
Smelko said the nomination packet should also include photocopies of college media guides/programs.
Hughes said college distinctions earned such as conference athlete of the week, All-Conference and college records that are held or broken should also be included.
The committee will accept nominations through Tuesday Dec. 4.
For more information call the Athletic office at PAHS.
PSHOF Committee members include: Smelko, Vassallo, Hughes, Taladay, Bill Sisk, Joe Steiner, Joyce Martino, John Miller, Patti Fallara and Nancy Maruca.